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MSI RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z 11GB Review – The £1500 RTX!

Rating: 9.0.

If you are a hardware enthusiast, then MSI's Lightning series will need little introduction. Designed to offer ‘balls to the wall' performance, with not a thought for power consumption or physical limitations, these cards are often the best in their class. Today we look at the latest in this high-end family – the RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z, with an MSRP of £1439. If you just want the best of the best, regardless of the cost involved, is this the card for you?

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If you thought £1099 was asking a lot for the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition, then you will probably just laugh at the £1439 MSRP for MSI's RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z. Matters aren't helped by the fact that, at the time of writing, the cheapest we have seen it on sale for is £1499 as stock appears to be very low, though MSI is optimistic it can get more stock into the retail channel shortly.

Even so, RTX 2080 Ti was never about offering good bang for buck – it's about getting the absolute fastest card you can, regardless of cost. In that sense, the Lightning Z makes several improvements to eke out even more performance – including upping the boost clock to 1770MHz, beefing up the GPU power delivery, and delivering quite possibly the largest cooler we have ever seen on an aftermarket graphics card.

GPU RTX 2080 Ti (FE)  GTX 1080 Ti RTX 2080 (FE)  GTX 1080 RTX 2070 (FE)  GTX 1070 
 SMs  68 28  46  20 36 15
CUDA Cores   4352  3584 2944 2560 2304 1920
Tensor Cores   544  N/A 368 N/A 288 N/A
 Tensor FLOPS  114  N/A  85 N/A 63 N/A
 RT Cores  68  N/A 46 N/A 36 N/A
 Texture Units 272  224 184 N/A 144 120
 ROPs  88  88 64 64 64 64
Rays Cast   10 Giga Rays/sec  1.1 Giga Rays/sec 8 Giga Rays/sec 0.877 Giga Rays/sec 6 Giga Rays/sec 0.65 Giga Rays/sec
RTX Performance   87 Trillion RTX-OPS  11.3 Trillion RTX-OPS 60 Trillion RTX-OPS  8.9 Trillion RTX-OPS 45 Trillion RTX-OPS 6.5 Trillion RTX-OPS
GPU Boost Clock   1635 MHz  1582 MHz 1800 MHz  1733 MHz 1710 MHz 1683 MHz
 Memory Clock  14 Gbps  11 Gbps 14 Gbps 10 Gbps 14 Gbps 8 Gbps
 Total Video Memory  11GB GDDR6  11GB GDDR5X  8GB GDDR6  8GB GDDR5X 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5
Memory Interface   352-bit  352-bit  256-bit  256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
 Memory Bandwidth  616 GB/sec  484 GB/sec  448 GB/sec  320 GB/sec  448 GB/sec 256 GB/sec
 TDP  260W  250W  225W  180W 185W 150W

While the number of SMs, CUDA cores, RT cores and Tensor cores is the same for every RTX 2080 Ti, Nvidia did things a bit differently for the clock speed of its flagship graphics card. That's because the reference boost clock for an RTX 2080 Ti is actually 1545MHz, while Nvidia's sells its own Founders Edition cards with a factory overclock of 1635MHz. That means MSI's Lightning 2080 Ti, with a 1770MHz boost clock, is actually 225MHz faster than reference speeds, and is still 135MHz faster than the Founders Edition.

This clock speed increase, coupled with beefed up VCORE power delivery, contributes to MSI rating the Lightning Z's power consumption at 350W – 90W higher than the 260W TDP of the 2080 Ti Founders Edition. More power means more heat, hence the reason MSI has opted for the triple slot, triple fan cooler used with this card.

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