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MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Review

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MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking:

Now that I have looked at the first two iterations of NVIDIA's GP104 16nm Pascal architecture, it's time to take a look at the first aftermarket GPUs I have gotten in at OCC, the MSI Gaming X 8G series. The performance verdict is in and I have to say that NVIDIA and its partners have put together some really nice cards that hit all the performance marks. What we got is a performance powerhouse that exceeded most of our expectations. The GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 from MSI and NVIDIA, running at the factory clock speeds and the dynamically managed GPU Boost 3.0 clock speeds, have delivered excellent FPS performance across the board. The stock clock speeds for the GP104 core are variable depending on the BIOS programming and the factory base and boost clock speeds. Managing clock speeds dynamically, NVIDIA uses GPU Boost 3.0 technology to cycle between the base and GPU Boost 3.0 clock speeds. Usually, you see a bit of margin left for the enthusiast to grab a bit more performance above what proves to be a pretty substantial boost clock on these two cards from MSI.

In the images below, you can see that when clock speed offsets are adjusted on a linear curve, you have the potential to lose performance based on the inability to modify individual voltage frequency offsets to fill those lost gaps. However, out with the old and in with the new. To take advantage of this technology, each of the usual suspects are putting together new enhancements to their overclocking tools to take advantage of this opportunity. Having used the latest Alpha version of EVGA's Precision XOC tool to tune the voltage/clock speed curve, using MSI's Afterburner application is a little bit of a change from that experience.



MSI offers two different applications, three if you count the mobile version of Afterburner, to overclock the video cards. Afterburner was one of the very first overclocking and tuning tools for GPUs and has proven time and again to be easy to use with a large user base. I will be using this tool to get the most out of the MSI GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G video cards. The main GUI window allows you to set the overvoltage amount, power and thermal limits, core clock boost speed increase, memory speed increase and fan speed % with simple to use sliders. A monitoring window is useful for viewing the temperatures and clock speeds during a run. This window does break out of the application for an extended time window that can be as large as your screen can handle.

There are up to five individual profiles that can be saved at the bottom of the tool. I find these useful for working on my final clock speed configurations by saving maximum core clock  and memory clock speed profiles. The settings are pretty detailed when you break into the menu and offers a wealth of flexibility. If you want short sweet and to the point, then MSI's Gaming App allows the user to select from a trio of pre defined profiles that use different core clock speeds. Overclocked gives the highest average clock speed, while gaming drops a bit of core speed MHz and, of course, silent drops a bit further down the scale to ensure the thermals stay in check.





By not using the Precision tool for a solid baseline on the core clock speed / voltage relationship, I used tried and true methods to get the maximum core speeds out of both the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G. Knowing that each of these Pacal GP104 cards is going to fall into what seems to be the clock speed window for most of the Pascal GP104 cores, I just started at +50MHz on the core and started testing for stability. The GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G delivered the best overclocked core speeds of right at 2100MHz consistently. I maxed out the power limit and thermal sliders, cranked the fan speed up to 100%, and started testing. The final core clock speed offset I was able to use was +213MHz regardless of the driver revision I tested. Memory overclocking on the GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G was much like what I was able to pull out of the Micron GDDR5X on the Founders Edition card, but with a higher end result of +527MHz. Pretty sick bumps when you look at it. In this configuration, the card would stick close to the reported 2100MHz core clock speed, but depending on the load would just go up a bit higher.

Cranking up the GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G followed the same script. Overclocking was not as lucrative as it was with the GTX 1080 Gaming X 8G, but was pretty decent on its own. I started the process by ramping up the fan speed to 100%, set the power and thermal limits to the maximum end of the range, and cranked up the fan speed to 100% to ensure the best possible results. I was able to bump the core clock speed up by using a +77MHz offset that gave me a solid 2088MHz core clock speed under most loads. Keeping the thermals in check with the higher fan speed helps in this department. The memory used on the GTX 1070 Gaming X is a high-speed GDDR5 that overclocks pretty well. I was able to reach a +449MHz offset to fall right behind the Founders card I tested.

Overall, these cards from MSI deliver better clock speeds over most of the testing I ran.



MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G: Testing Setup

Testing Setup:

Comparison Video Cards:

  • XFX R9 390X DD
  • MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G
  • PNY GTX 980 XLR8
  • XFX R9 Fury
  • PowerColor R9 390
  • NVIDIA GTX 980Ti
  • NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition
  • NVIDIA GTX 1070 Founders Edition


Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consisted of looping Unigine Heaven 4.0 for thirty minutes each to see where the clock speeds failed when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment failed, then the clock speeds and tests were re-run until they passed a full hour of testing.

  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Fallout 4
  2. Grand Theft Auto V
  3. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  4. Far Cry Primal
  5. Battlefield 4
  6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  7. Hitman (2016)
  8. Tom Clancy's The Division
  9. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
  10. Ashes of the Singularity
  11. 3DMark


  • Usage:

  1. Temperatures
  2. Power Consumption

  1. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G: Overclocking & Test Setup
  2. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Testing: Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto V
  3. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Testing: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Far Cry Primal
  4. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Testing: Battlefield 4, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
  5. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Testing: Hitman (2016), Tom Clancy's The Division
  6. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Testing: Unigine Heaven 4.0, Ashes of the Singularity, 3DMark
  7. MSI GTX 1080 & GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G Overclocking Testing: Temperatures, Power Consumption, & Final Thoughts
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