2016 ushered in an exciting year for PC gamers and PC enthusiasts alike. After four years on 28nm, both Nvidia and AMD were finally moving to smaller (16nm/14nm) nodes. With it, the promise of higher clock speeds, lower temperatures, and much better per watt performance. Nobody really knew what to expect regarding Nvidia’s newest Pascal architecture built on 16nm. CES (The Consumer Electronics Show) came and went, with nothing to show from Nvidia but a mocked up Drive PX2 board and some information about their Deep Learning initiative. Rumors started to swirl around the interwebs that Pascal would be delayed. Enter late-May. Seemingly out of nowhere, Nvidia hosted its Power of 10 marketing campaign and with it, a 3 hour long event at which the new GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 were revealed. Soon after, board partners launched their iterations of the Geforce cards. Among these, is the beautifully designed and refreshingly simplistic, MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Armor 8G OC. Today, I’ll be reviewing this lovely GPU.
The Package –
The MSI Armor Geforce GTX 1080 8G OC comes in a fairly typical, package with little to no frills. It’s the standard shape and size measuring in at approximately 10.5” long, 13.5” wide and 3.5” deep. Great as it’s the common size found on retail shelves and perfect for standard, low cost shipping boxes. The package itself is predominantly a black & white design. The bold, white Armor logo stands prominently front and center, while the essential green Nvidia branding band calls out that this is indeed a Geforce GTX 1080. The Nvidia branded VR Badge adorns the top right corner, while the MSI logo dominates the left. It’s worth noting, these elements received a high gloss spot varnish, while the background “armor” pattern is a nice soft matte finish. The back panel of the box gets into specifications and features while offering a few photos of the product. I noted that MSI did not make hard claims like “X% better cooling” or “X decibels Quieter” for this product. Rather, they callout the “Classy Black & White finish,” the Torx fan and a Heatsink with “Advanced Airflow Control.” I’d imagine this was done so those specific selling points could instead be applied to the package of their more expensive GTX 1080 models. Inside the box, I found nothing special; a booklet, a CD (who still uses CDs?) and a few uninspired stickers. Oh, and a GTX 1080 (wrapped in an anti-static bag of course).
The Product –
This GPU looks VERY classy in my opinion. The wonderfully neutral black and white color scheme is a blessing. For me especially, since the color scheme of my build happens to be Black and White. The MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Armor 8G OC’s design is gorgeous and well thought out. The overall shroud is a dual fan, dual slot design. This helps ensure the GPU will not be too long or too fat for most standard ATX, Mid-ATX, or some SFF cases. Being a bit shorter than the jet-black PCB, the Armor shroud encompasses about 90% of the GPU. Sitting atop a massive 5-pipe nickel-colored heatsink, the black and white shroud seems to just ooze confidence. A segmented pattern of sharp black and white geometric shapes surround two giant round fans. The fan blades are black while the outter rim of the fan trimmed in white. It looks awesome.
This design has perfect aesthetics for a build like mine. The GPU matches really well with my black and white MSI X99A-SLI Krait motherboard. I appreciate the fact that the MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Armor 8G OC lacks any sort of LED lighting. I didn’t like the LED-lit logo that used to crown my older MSI GTX Geforce 980 TI Gaming edition so I’m happy this new one is without. One thing to take note of is that the GPU seems to already sag a bit more than my old MSI 980 TI (with a back plate). It’s not really that bothersome, and I may be nit-picking, but staring at the new GPU through my large case window, I do notice it.
Getting away from the design aesthetics, the card has dual SLI fingers. The I/O offers support for 3 display ports (DP 1.4), HDMI (2.0b), and DVI-D. Unlike the reference board, this MSI model is powered using 2 Supplementary Power Connectors: an 8 pin and a 6 pin. Turning the card over, I was quite disappointed to find it had no back plate. Now I know some would argue that back plates are pointless, but for me, I like a nice back plate. Not only for being visually appealing, but I like how they protect and add rigidity to the overall product. I know this is not MSI’s top priced Geforce SKU, even among the 1080s, but still, I’d prefer having a back plate. On that note, there is a “front plate” of sorts. It’s a cooling plate for the memory and the MOSFETS. It may not be called out anywhere on the package, nor on MSI’s website, but it is a welcome added bonus.