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Pros: The water blocks on these cards are really nice. They're pretty much on par with any EK full coverage block. But these have a cool looking MSI Dragon on the block that only the few people who buy the Sea Hawk X EK cards will have. The cooling section of the block is copper and the face of the block is clear acrylic. Which I usually prefer. Because if you're using UV lights and reactive coolant the blocks will light up and it looks awesome. Although, with acrylic for graphics cards, they're usually facing down and therefore can't really be seen unless you're right up next to it.
This card requires an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCI-E power connectors. The GTX 1080 in general is very efficient. It really doesn't draw a lot of power and because of that the 8 pin and 6 pin connectors will provide far more power than the card can handle without modification. Another benefit of the low power draw is these cards will run cool. Even on air they don't really get that warm. Straight out of the box, with my cooling system, the highest temp I saw from one of these was 42C. That was over clocked and running at around 115% power draw.
Due to the problems I had with one of my cards, I ended up pulling the blocks off and applying a better thermal paste. After that the maximum temperature I have seen so far is 38C. They typically idle around 24C. I have an exceptional cooling system on my GPU loop, so those temps shouldn't be expected with a basic loop.
The GTX 1080 supports 2 way SLI out of the box. Nvidia recommends a High Bandwidth SLI bridge, which you can order straight from Nvidia. Before I ordered the HB bridge, I was using a 3 way SLI bridge, which covers both of the SLI fingers. I have heard of others using two flexible bridges. The HB bridge didn't improve performance for me at all, that I could tell. I have read some reviews and benchmarks that show that they will improve performance pretty significantly at super high resolutions. Like 4K surround or 8K. If you don't want to buy an HB bridge, just make sure you use either two single bridges or a 3 way bridge as you will take a performance hit with only a single bridge. You can actually run these cards in up to 4 way SLI, but you have to pay for an unlocker from Nvidia to enable it. In my opinion, SLI isn't doing very good these days. There have been quite a few games lately that don't support SLI. So 3 and 4 way is a massive waste of money unless you're primarily into benchmarking. 2 way still works in some newer games and a lot of older games.
These cards have full size DisplayPort v1.4 capable of up to 8K resolution and an HDMI 2.0 port that, using an HDMI 2.0 cable, can put out a 4K 60hz signal to your UHDTV or monitor as long as your TV has HDMI 2.0. If you're using a 4K monitor it probably has a DP, but most UHDTVs only have HDMI. You can only actually run your UHDTV at 4K30hz in RGB or YCbCr 4:4:4. But you can get a 4K60hz signal by reducing the color format to YCbCr 4:2:0. There is a noticeable degradation in color quality. But the smoothness of 60 fps vs. 30 fps makes up for it in a big way. I have a 4K monitor, but I definitely prefer gaming on my 4K TV, even with the small loss in quality.
In SLI these card have enough power that a lot of games can be played at resolutions beyond 4K. Which you may be capable of using DSR. DSR is a feature that can allow you to run downsampled resolutions up to 4 times your monitors native resolution. It can provide a huge quality improvement. Anyone with a 1080P display can definitely take advantage of that feature and run games at 4K, even with a single card. I have played a few games in 8K and it looks phenomenal.
Turbo Boost 3.0 can make over clocking a bit different depending on how you do it. But for most people, you just crank up the voltage and power limit to their maximum setting and over clock like you normally would. You can set a custom clock speed curve if you want. I tried that, but it was a waste of time. For anyone who is buying this card, heat won't be a concern. So your card will never throttle due to heat and therefore will always be running at the maximum voltage. So determine your max stable clock speeds and be done with it, just like older cards. The only thing is, you can't actually set a custom voltage, there is voltage slider, but it represents the voltage %. I've found that it will run at max, which is 1.093v, regardless of where it's set as long as your GPU core temps are cool enough.
To my surprise, the GPU core clock on both of my cards boosted to 1974 MHz straight out of the box without any modification. Using Afterburner the max stable over clock I was able to achieve on the GPU was 2063 MHz. The VRAM surprised me though by over clocking to 11.7 GHz. The VRAM would actually clock a bit higher without artifacts or destabilizing but over clocking past +850 MHz had a significant negative impact on performance.
Cons: When I first got my cards I didn't really look them over very carefully. Which was a mistake. I ran them for about 3 weeks and the temperature on GPU 1 kept running much hotter than GPU 2. GPU 1 was hitting temps around 50-51C under heavy load. GPU 2 was running closer to 36C. I played Gears of War 4 for a few hours, which doesn't support SLI. The average temp was around 50C. So I got up and felt the side of my radiators. They were cool to the touch. Which told me that there was a problem with the water block. If the water block were doing its job, temperatures as high as 50C would be warming up my radiators. So I decided I was gonna pull my cards apart and replace the thermal pads and thermal paste in an effort to improve temperatures. Initially hoping that it would allow me to improve the overclock on my GPU. When I pulled the cards, I inspected them visually to find that the water block on GPU 1 wasn't installed correctly. What happened was, during assembly, one of the posts that you screw into, which clamps the water block to the GPU, wasn't tight enough. So when MSI assembled it, when they tightened the screw that fits into that post. The post came loose and created this gap between water block and the GPU and PCB. It also bowed the card a bit. Fortunately, the PCB is flexible enough that it didn't seem to do any physical damage to the card.
Anyway, when I saw this, I was shocked and disgusted that this quality problem was missed and allowed to make it out the door at MSI. Clearly, they have some quality problems that need to be addressed. So, as I said, I wanted to replace the TIMs. But upon inspection of the card, there is this little sticker on the back of one of the screws that hold the water block to the PCB that says, "Warranty Void if Sticker is Broken." Or something along those lines. Again, I was disgusted that MSI doesn't allow their customers to perform maintenance on their cards without voiding the warranties. Maintenance that could make the difference between having to RMA a card within the warranty period and thereby saving MSI money. And I totally understand that some people shouldn't be messing with that stuff, because they don't know what they're doing. But, as I have a lot of experience with graphics cards and water cooling, I was confident I could fix this problem.
So I called MSI support. I talked to one of their support reps and told him the problem I was having. Initially, he suggested I RMA the card. Which I didn't want to do. Because in the past, I have RMA'd hardware just to get back a used refurb in exchange for my brand new hardware. I informed the support rep that I was certain I could fix the problem, if they would give me permission to disassemble the card without voiding the warranty. So, to my surprise, he told me that I would be allowed to disassemble the card. And as long as I didn't do any damage to the card MSI would honor the warranty if something happened later.
I got to work and pulled the water block off. When I got the block off of GPU1, I saw that the thermal pad covering the VRMs and MOSFETs wasn't installed correctly. It was folded over in the middle and ripped. Fortunately I bought some thermal pads with the intention to replace the factory installed pads prior to pulling the block off. So I replaced the damaged pad, but left the others as it appeared that the pads MSI used were identical to the pads I had purchased. Just some medium grade thermal pads from Arctic. I couldn't afford to spend a small fortune on high end thermal pads right now. They're surprisingly overpriced. I replaced the factory applied EK paste, which is mediocre at best, with my paste of preference, PK-3.
I reassembled the cards and got them reinstalled in my system and everything was good. The temperature difference between the 2 cards in SLI is now usually 2C instead of 10-14C. The temps on GPU 2 dropped by 4C on average. Unfortunately, even though the GPUs were running significantly cooler, I wasn't able to improve my over clock at all. But, one good thing, they're running cool enough now that I can run my radiator fans on a low setting without worrying about temperatures.
One thing that has become very irritating, and I can't tell you if it's just this cards design or if all 1080s are like this is the placement of the display outputs on the back of the card. The way my case is laid out, every graphics card I've ever owned, and there have been many. All mount in exactly the same way. I've never had trouble with this before on any other card. But on these cards, the HDMI port and DisplayPort are set too high up. I couldn't even get an HDMI or DP cable to fully insert correctly without modification. I had to take my Dremmel to the top part of the plastic cover just behind the jacks on both of my cables and shave it down quite a bit just so they would seat correctly.
Other Thoughts: I am not at all impressed with the over clocking capability of the GPU on these cards. I am very impressed with the VRAM though. Unfortunately, Nvidia has Pascal BIOS locked up tight. I read an article by KingPin that said even with the proper modifications and a huge increase in voltage, the over clocking potential isn't that much better than what you'll get on air or water. Due to the design and architecture of the GPU. It just can't handle a ton of voltage like previous generations. He said that for extreme overclocking, the GTX 980 Ti's were outperforming the GTX 1080s. My max stable GPU clock speed is 2063 MHz and even that's not universal. Some games I have to drop it to around 2025 MHz to maintain stability and avoid artifacts. I was hoping for more, but I guess I lost the silicone lottery big time. Some people are hitting 2200 MHz on air. That would really be nice, especially since my temps are below 40C.
If you're thinking about buying a GTX 1080, but can't decide which one you want. Then there are a few things the average person probably doesn't know. With the Pascal architecture, the over clocking capability of the GTX 1080 isn't really all that different from one brand or one model to the next. For example, with older generation cards, a card like this one. With more power phase's than a base model card, would typically have an advantage in overclocking. More power phase's means better stability once you start increasing voltage. But in this cards case, the GPU overclock potential didn't end up being any better than a base model card. If you're into over clocking, it can improve your cards longevity though. So it's not completely worthless here. Another thing is this card has an 8 pin and a 6 pin PCI-E power inputs. Not at all necessary. This card runs on remarkably low power. And contrary to popular belief, 150 watts to an 8 pin and 75 watts to a 6 pin PCI-E Power connectors is not their limitation. That's just the industry required standard for those connectors. I had a set of GTX Titans that were running over 400 watts each with a 6 pin and an 8 pin PCI-E power connector. Which is well above the 300 watts they would have been limited to if that were the truth, the PCI-E slot also provides 75 watts of power. This card comes with a nice custom EK water block and back plate. The water block is awesome and can potentially save you money if you're going to water cool your cards anyway. But typically, EK back plates are meant to keep your cards rigid and usually provide passive cooling to some components. This back plate, although very cool to look at, doesn't provide any additional cooling.
My System Specs:
i7 4790K 4.9 GHz
z97 OC Formula
16 GB Trident X 2666
RAID 0 SSDs
SLI GTX 1080 Sea Hawk X EK
Single GPU Benchmarks:
(Note: All gaming benchmarks are maximum settings at 4K resolution with MSAA at low or disabled)
Gears of War 4: Min: 49 Avg: 58 Max: 68
Dragon Age Inquisition: Min: 28 Avg: 38 Max: 61
Deus Ex Mankind Divided: Min: 28 Avg: 35 Max: 42
Time Spy 2K: Graphics Score: 8035
Time Spy 4K: 3929
Fire Strike: 18664
Fire Strike Extreme: 10533
Fire Strike Ultra: 5733
3D Mark 11: 23561
3D Mark 11 Extreme: 11202
Doom 2016 had no benchmark, but ran great at 60 fps most of the time with dips into the low 50s on occasion.
Batman Arkham Knight looked incredible at 4K. Frame rate was usually in the low 50s to high 40s with some areas running solid 60 fps.
Dragon Age Inquisition: Min: 52 Avg: 72
Deus Ex Mankind Divided: Min: 58 Avg: 74 Max: 93
Fire Strike: 25578
Fire Strike Extreme: 17606
Fire Strike Ultra: 10335
3D Mark 11 Performance : 29166
3D Mark 11 Extreme: 18307
Time Spy 2K: Graphics Score: 15591
Time Spy 4K: 7538
Time Spy 8K: 1966
Call of Duty Black Ops 3 ran a solid 60 fps.
The GTX 1080 in general is awesome for high resolution gaming with its 8 GB of VRAM. My 980s had only 4 GB and that limited them severely on a lot of newer games. I have seen a number of games using nearly 6 GB of VRAM. So that single aspect makes it a worthwhile upgrade for me.
In the end, due to the limited over clocking capability of the GPU and the quality problems. I am giving this product 3 Eggs.
Pros: The price is very reasonable for a 120 GB solid state drive.
Unfortunately due to my personal experience with this drive, that is the only Pro I am able to come up with at this time.
Cons: Originally, I was persuaded to purchase this drive due to the price, which was very reasonable for an SSD, and a review stating that this drive had excellent performance. Well I can't argue the price, but for me, the drive performed far less than what I had hoped for.
Core 2 Quad Q8300 3.0 GHz
4 GB DDR2 Dominator 1066 MHz
GTX 580 3 GB
Blu Ray, HDD, SSD
Win Vista 32 bit
The PC I installed this drive in is primarily an HTPC. So speed isn't a major concern, but still, I want it to be fast. It must be said that my system only has support for SATA 3 Gb/sec, so I can't utilize this drives full potential. But, that being the case, benchmarks with other SSDs provided bandwidth double of that I received with this drive. Using several HDD and SSD benchmarking software, including AS SSD, Crystal Disk Mark and AIDA 64, I received a MAX of 125 MB/sec sequential read speeds and 110 MB/sec sequential write speeds. Those speeds were reliable and I rarely saw bandwidth dip below that. But still, I expected upwards of 200 MB/sec at least. Even the first gen SSDs could achieve those speeds. I tried various SATA ports and I also tried several different SATA cables. The bandwidth stayed the same regardless of which port it was connected to and different cables, even brand new ones meant for use with SSDs didn't affect the speed in one way or the other.
I configured this drive brand new out of the box with a clean install of Windows. Given, Vista is not the ideal OS for use with SSDs. But even so, a new SSD should have been wicked fast. The only thing Vista lacks is TRIM. For me, even though I don't have access to TRIM support, it's not really a major concern as I'm using this drive as a primary OS drive. I won't be writing to it very often, so read speeds are the only thing I'm really concerned with. TRIM doesn't really affect read speeds as it does writes. I assume the drives onboard garbage collection process should help negate that disadvantage.
Mushkin doesn't offer any type of software for their SSDs. Many manufacturers offer software to optimize and clean up their SSDs for operating systems like Vista that don't support TRIM or other important features.
There are no firmware updates available for this drive. I hadn't anticipated needing one, but when I searched all I could find was firmware updates for the Chronos series of Mushkin drives. You would think that there would be firmware updates for more than just a single series of SSDs.
Other Thoughts: The drive worked for me out of the box just fine. But my system eventually started freezing. I swapped out the SATA cable and haven't had any trouble since then. But I am very nervous that it might not stay stable.
As I cannot confirm without any reasonable doubt that this drive is entirely to blame for the pathetic performance I recorded during my benchmarks, I can't give it an overall score that reflects that. So I am giving this drive 3 Eggs. The price is reasonable for a newer series of SSDs. But, if your mother board doesn't support SATA 6 Gb/sec or especially if you're using an Nforce 780i, then I do not recommend this drive.
For anyone else thinking of purchasing this drive, I would not take the top favorable review posted on Newegg without a bit of skepticism. Either that person is running RAID and failed to mention that, their system is the absolute ideal configuration for this particular drive or it was a review posted by someone who was intent on creating a very favorable review, regardless of the real world performance. I seriously doubt most people can hope to achieve over 500 MB/sec sequential read and writes. It is possible I may be wrong. I wish I had a different system to test it on. Although my personal experience with this drive has been less than stellar, my mother board may be the culprit here, not originally being designed for use with SSDs. Take more time than I did and read more reviews than just one that makes this drive sound too good to be true.
A few months ago I ended up installing this SSD into my new HTPC build:
AMD FX 9590
990FX G1 Gaming MoBo
8 GB Rip Jaws DDR3 2133
GTX 580 3GB
2TB Data Drive
Windows 10 Home Premium 64 bit
The benchmarks I provided before are identical on this system. This system supports SATA 6 Gb/s and TRIM. Neither of those features helped with this drives very underwhelming speed. So now that I've had a chance to really test this drive in multiple systems across a couple operating systems, I can say that I DO NOT recommend this drive. Even though it's not very expensive, you can get a 1 TB hard drive for the same price that will perform roughly at the same speed as this SSD. Don't get this SSD, get something that actually performs like a proper SSD.
Pros: Ordinarily, I would only use the best of the best of thermal pastes. But, I have been experimenting with thermo electric coolers. Which can get cold enough to freeze some thermal pastes solid. Once that happens, your thermal paste stops working correctly. This thermal paste has a much lower freezing point than most standard thermal pastes. Maybe not good enough for liquid nitrogen or helium. But good enough for TEC coolers.
The thermal performance of this paste is ok. It's definitely nowhere near as good some of the best pastes money can buy. But if you want a huge tube of thermal paste and you're not obsessed with reducing your temperatures like I am, then this is a good choice. This is the paste my cousin uses on all his stuff, and he has never complained about its performance. He usually doesn't over clock his hardware though. I do.
This paste comes in a 14 gram tube which is gigantic compared to what I'm used to seeing. It's enough for at least 100 CPUs or GPUs. But if you're using it on larger stuff like 40x40mm or 50x50mm TEC coolers. You may go through it much quicker. I've actually had to buy a second tube of this stuff already. But for what it costs, you can't go wrong under normal circumstances.
It's very easy to spread. One of the easier thermal pastes I've ever worked with.
Cons: Not the greatest thermal paste for standard air cooling or even liquid cooling. It's definitely better than most of the cheap thermal pastes you'll get with your air cooler or water blocks. If you're into extreme overclocking, unless you're using TEC, phase change or liquid nitrogen or helium, then you may want to consider a better thermal paste. But for people who don't over clock or only get into mild over clocking, this paste isn't a bad choice. Although, if you're a system builder who builds a lot of systems, this is a great way to save a few bucks. Let the customer decide if he's happy with the performance later. Maybe they'll learn something.
Other Thoughts: Decent performance, easy to apply, very inexpensive, huge supply. That pretty much sums it up.READ FULL REVIEW