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MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning Z 11GB Review

Our acoustic measurements are less precise on this mid-range test system, the noise floor of the totally quiet testing room is 34 dBA as measured with a Benetech GM1351 Digital Sound Level Meter.

We take our measurements with the decibel meter on the top and middle section of the case, overhanging the side panel (PSU side, not Motherboard tray side) by exactly 1 inch to avoid any airflow pressure coming from the exhausting H100i V2.

The underlying noise level of the system, emitted by all the non-GPU hardware combined, is 35 dBa thus anything above this level can be attributed to the graphics cards. The PSU is passive for the entire power output range we tested all graphics cards in and all CPU and System fans have a fixed fan speed completely isolating them from any changes in temperature across the system.

Noise levels were measured after 5 minutes of load under three scenario: Furmark, Unigine Heaven and desktop idle in sequential order with 2 minutes downtime in between each test.

It’s not the quietest graphics card on test but it is among the quietest GTX 1080 Tis available. The MSI Lightning Z is only marginally louder than the Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Ti, to the tune of 1 dBA, and is roughly as noisy as the Palit Super JetStream and MSI Gaming X GTX 1080 Tis.

For reference the load fan speed percentage was between 50 to 55% and the RPM read-out at approximately 1400RPM.

Our only gripe is that within about 2 minutes of going under load the fan spins up really fast (approximately 2200RPM) for 2 or 3 seconds before ramping back down to normal levels. We’re not sure why and it seems like a vBIOS glitch that ought to be ironed out at a later date.

EDIT: MSI replied to our fan speed concern above on the 10th July 2017 and they said this was implemented on purpose.

  1. The function helps remove the dust on the fan blade and fins of thermal module.
  2. It also helps warm up the bearing of fan and make it smooth while rotating.

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  • Lelisevis

    I don’t know…..everyone raved about the triple fans on the Sapphire R9 290X Vapor-X in reviews but I had to live with the thing for 3 years and believe me in real life that thing was like a caged bee. I’ve just made the move to a MSI GTX1080 Gaming X plus with the Twin Frozr and those much larger dual fans are way more quiet.
    I like to think of it like this, when picking a radiator given the choice we would all rather have a 140mm over a 120mm, it’s cooler and quieter. Some of those triple fan GPU’s look like they have squeezed a third fan in and when they ramp up…..in the real world be it from a warm CPU or hot sunny day you may live to regret it.

  • Allan

    ryan did stress in the review this card isnt too loud mind you. Sometimes i find it can be fan pitch or vibrations, or turbulence between some fans can be the most annoying.

  • Lelisevis

    Yeah it’s just crazy how we all spend a fortune on the biggest slowest fans we can possibly get then we are a happy putting a 90mm, 1400rpm fan on the hottest component in our PC, that’s before the overclock. We’ll be going back to NForce chipset fans next πŸ˜‰

  • Dennis Zweverink

    3000 units worldwide? Seems like a shame for such a solid card. In any case, great review guys! I’ll try to keep an eye out for this card.

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  • Berdugo

    Well I just installed my GTX 1080 Ti Lightning (the X version with “slower” clocks) and the fan “issue” (where the fans start spinning loudly for 3 seconds then slow down) is quite annoying… I can believe there is no workaround…

  • bonomork

    From MSI forum:
    You can prevent the spin ups when you disable Zero Frozr in Gaming APP and thus keep the fans spinning permanently