Roaring right out of the box

MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming Z by Koh Wanzi

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming Z by Koh Wanzi

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The Founders Edition of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 is one goodlooking card, but maybe you want some of the bells and whistles that NVIDIA’s partners are offering, like factory overclocks, fancy cooling shrouds and RGB illumination.

This is where the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming Z comes in. The card boasts some of the most aggressive factory overclocks yet. In OC mode, it has a base clock of 1,771MHz and boost clock 1,991MHz.

The Gaming Z actually upstages its Gaming X counterpart at the top of MSI’s product stack, and you can expect the best out-of-the-box performance, in addition to a couple of other features like an illuminated backplate and upgraded power phase design.

The illuminated MSI logo on its backplate can be customized independent of the lighting zones on the side and around the cooling fans. This is done through the MSI Gaming App, and you can choose from a palette of 16.8 million colors and several different lighting effects.

To further sweeten the package, the custom PCB has a 10+1 phase power design, a doubling of the 5-phase power delivery circuit on the Founders Edition card. The additional power phases should theoretically help provide cleaner and more stable power, and MSI has clearly designed this card to be overclocked, or at least to accommodate the high factory overclocks.

There is an extra 6-pin power connector on board that supplies an additional 75 watts of power to the GPU, which puts the total available power draw somewhere in the range of 300 watts.

The Twin Frozr VI cooler also sports several improvements over the previous generation Twin Frozr V cooler. For one, the Torx fans have been upgraded to version 2.0, which use double ball bearings for quieter and more reliable operation. This is actually a very silent cooler, and MSI has done an admirable job of keeping the card quiet under load. It also keeps things very chilly, and we measured a peak temperature of just 68°C.

And to round things off, you get all the bleeding edge performance that the GeForce GTX 1080 offers, plus a little more. In games like Hitman, the performance advantage of the MSI Gaming Z over the Founders Edition could hit as high as eight percent.


An exceedingly strong performer that runs both quiet and cool.


CORE CLOCK 1,771MHz (OC mode)
MEMORY CLOCK 10,108MHz (OC mode)

The card comes with an additional 6-pin power connector.
The card comes with an additional 6-pin power connector.
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