MSI RTX 2080Ti Duke Review
Published: 16th April 2019 | Source: MSI | Price: |
These are always fun reviews to do. There is a lot of our job that is somewhat of a grind. Imagine how long it takes to install all the tests we do, and set the systems up, and run all the tests, making sure that the results bear out that which we should reasonably expect. Then putting all that into graphs, sorting the graphs, highlighting things, it all takes huge effort. The behind the scenes stuff is, sometimes, an awful lot of grief and effort. However, despite this being a job it is also our passion. The old expression is that 'if you like your job you never need to work a day in your life', and that's largely true. Because it's our passion we love to play with hardware that is far beyond our fiscal means, and any time you get to tinker with what is the best around, it makes for a fun time.
The RTX 2080Ti is one of those products, like an AMD Threadripper or i9-9980XE, or that time we ran four NVMe drives in RAID0, that you get a chance to really see what is possible. It reminds us that PC hardware has exploded in performance in recent years. Gordon Moore might have slightly had his tongue in his cheek when he suggested that hardware would double in performance or halve in price every two years, but it's amazing how long that adage has held true. One of our team has been gaming so long that even Voodoo2 seems to him like a recent invention, so the fidelity of modern graphics is barely believable. Of course you can experience a similar thing yourself by just grabbing something a little older off the Steam store - Quake Arena, Half Life 2 - and checking out what was once cutting edge. When you compare that to things like Horizon Zero Dawn, or God of War 4, then you quickly realise what modern graphics technology can do for you, and the RTX 2080Ti is the peak of modern graphics technology in a public format.
All that means that you already know where the RTX 2080Ti fits into your wishlist before we tell you how the MSI Duke compares. If you can afford one, you've already got one, and if you can't then it all remains the stuff of dreams. Just think though, a GTX 780Ti - for example - is now so outclassed it doesn't appear on a single one of our graphs. Yet here we are a few generations later with a card that not only can let you completely ignore any setting that isn't "ultra" but can also play games at 4K at around 60 FPS at the low end and way above it in less strenuous titles. High resolution is the future, not VR or 3D, and 4K was the stuff of slideshows when it was first an option for home users, and already the RTX 2080Ti has got the job done and busts out smooth gaming experiences. Yes at an investment, but 4K is an investment just like HDR is.
The Duke is a very capable card, very very similar to the MSI Trio we looked at when we first were testing the Turing GPU cards. To be honest it's so similar to the MSI Trio we aren't entirely sure what it offers that that card didn't. What it does show is that the basic formula of Turing cards, massively powerful GPU and Tensor/RT hardware kept cool by a good cooler, is a winning formula in anyone's book and you would have to do something truly insane to make it a bad recipe. It's like an espresso, or fish and chips, very difficult to get wrong. Luckily MSI are old hands at this and there isn't a chance of them screwing it up, and the Duke is the latest in a long line of graphics cards with bags of performance, good looks and excellent cooling capacity.
If you've been looking lustfully at the MSI Lightning but can't quite justify the extra expense above a regular RTX 2080Ti, then give the MSI Duke a chance. It's cool, quiet, looks great and goes like a top fuel dragster off the line.