- Introduction, Packaging, Specification and Initial Impressions
- Closer Look
- Utility and Overclocking Impressions
- Test Bench and Testing Methodology
- Futuremark Benchmark
- OpenGL Benchmarks
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- GPU Computation Benchmark
- Folding at Home and LuxMark OpenCL Benchmark
- Overclocking Profile and Manual OC Impressions
- Online Purchase Links
- View All
Disclosure: This graphic card is sourced from MSI
MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X graphic card is a two- slot- two- fan- two- colour design with two overclocked profiles- gaming and overclock. The OC profile has a 100MHz bump in the memory clock. Both overclock settings are clocked lesser than the Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme, a very impressive GPU with a very large cooler and design. While it may not seem practical for a very small set of people, for an ATX PC system user the size of the GTX 1070 Amp! Extreme would not be a big deal. I’ve seen longer cards (with dual slot design) going in a mini-ITX system which exceeds its VGA length limit without any modding. At the end of the day, what will attract is the design, cooling performance and other factors such as utilities, warranty period, etc. It needed to justify that, and showing it to be better than the Founders Edition isn’t enough. With so many brands coming out nowhere, its will be very difficult to stand out. Some companies will bank on previous card’s success, while some will overflood the GPU market with more than four SKUs. Some will pull all stops- from design that looks bonkers, designs with multiple LEDs enough to be called as a Christmas tree or even an all white design.
Same thought would be applied on any non-reference cards. The MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X maintains the two-slot design. This is the first MSI graphic card that I am testing. So, let’s see how it goes…
To know more about the GTX 1070, you can check the Founders Edition review!
|Graphics Processing Unit||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070|
|Interface||PCI Express x16 3.0|
|Boost / Base Core Clock||
|Memory Size (MB)||8192|
|Memory Clock Speed||8108 MHz (OC Mode)
8010 MHz (Gaming Mode)
8010 MHz (Silent Mode)
|Output||DisplayPort x 3 (Version 1.4) / HDMI (Version 2.0) / DL-DVI-D|
|Digital Maximum Resolution||7680 x 4320|
|Virtual Reality Ready||Y|
|DirectX Version Support||12|
|OpenGL Version Support||4.5|
|Multi-GPU Technology||SLI, 2-Way|
|Card Dimension(mm)||279 x 140 x 42 mm|
|Card Weight (g)||1100|
|Power consumption (W)||150|
|Recommended PSU (W)||500|
|Power Connectors||6-pin x 1, 8-pin x 1|
Just like Gigabyte G1 Series, MSI has three clock speed profiles. Gaming profile is enabled by default.
I got the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X graphic card with the infamous BIOS with OC profile enabled. I wasn’t able to change the settings using its utility. MSI gave two BIOS replacements- one for Gaming and another for OC. None of the BIOS exceeded its intended clock speed.
MSI does not shy away from showing off its card which is a good sign. Just like Zotac, it mentions all its features, minimum requirements and product specifications. The card is protected with foam. Just like with the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080, this is a big accessory box but contains very little accessories. You get a couple of reading materials, a set of stickers and the driver disc. Providing MSI’s dragon logo as a metal case badge would have been a nice touch. It is a premium card in MSI GTX 1070’s stable.
Graphic Card Overview
MSI sticks with two colours- red and black. This would attract a lot of system builders who prefer sticking to such colour schemes. You can easily make out that the black-coloured section of the GPU shroud has LED lights surrounding the fan. The card’s width is 5.51 inches and length is 10.98 inches. In comparison, the Founder’s edition is 4.37″ wide and 10.5″ long while Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme is 5.82 inches wide and 12.79 inches long. A flat design (Zotac uses wrapped-style) backplate with dragon’s logo is embossed on it, with some cut-outs on it for aesthetics and passive ventilation.
Outputs and Interface
The card supports two-way SLI. Just like its Founders Edition, it has the same video outputs and placement with a different I/O shield design. Keep in mind that this is a DVI-D port, followed by 1x HDMI and three DisplayPort. You can easily see the GPU shroud extending through its I/O shield.
What did catch my attention is this particular bracket that takes support from the rear PCIe slot and goes all the way in. We’ll know where it leads once the card is dismantled.
The card takes power from a 6 pin + 8 pin PCIe power connector. In comparison, the founders addition takes additional power from a single 8-pin and Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme takes additional power from dual 8-pin PCIe connector.
Judging by the open front section, there is a separate heatsink for the VRM and the MOSFET array.
The GPU shroud is plastic which makes an impression of being a good quality. There are red backlit LEDs highlighting the black coloured shroud. If you haven’t noticed, MSI is using a patented fan blade design called ‘Torx 2.0 fan’. The blades have alternate placements each other. The idea is to have steeper airflow curve, which results in 22% more air pressure as per their product listing. The MSI LOGO on the left side has a multi-colour LED function in it.
It’s easier to remove and maintain the MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X. It’s just a shame that you’ll end up breaking the warranty label by removing one of the four spring loaded screws surrounding the core.
You will need to remove 15 screws from its backplate including four of its spring-loaded ones. The PCB and the GPU Cooler easily separates without the need to worry about messing the VRAM and VRAM/MOSFET’s thermal pads. This is because this card uses two metal plates for the VRAMs and VRMs.
There are four standard sized nickel-plated copper heatpipes with a solid heatbase. This ensures proper contact. MSI practically brags about this in its product page. It is worth mentioning that as direct heatpipes cooling, in reality, is just a cost-cutting measure rather than a feature.
It is good to see such implementation on the Gaming X. If you dismantle this card to change the thermal paste, you wouldn’t mess with the thermal pads over the GDDR5 memory chips and the MOSFETs. You dismantle the card, clean the heatsink, clean and re-apply your preferred thermal paste and put it back together. Back to business as usual!
Gigabyte was pretty close-ish to do this on the G1 Gaming GTX 1080 since the VRAM plate was on the heatsink. The VRAM plate on the Gaming X is flat because it touches the heatfins and heatpipes, enabling heat exchange upon contact. The fan blows over the power management area of the PCB. Therefore, it makes sense for the other plate design as a passive heatsink.
MSI says its uses a premium thermal paste for its Gaming X. The thermal paste looks more ‘liquid’ compared to many graphic card’s TIM application I’ve seen so far. As you can see, the VRAM’s plate is connected to the I/O shield. I am assuming this is to help the card from sagging? Not sure if this will card will since it’s much lighter than the Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme due to the choice of materials and size of the cooler. Nevertheless, it’s a good practice from MSI.
Once you remove the heatsinks for the VRAMs and MOSFET/VRAMs, you’ll see eight Samsung GDDR5 chips.There’s a total of 10 chokes with a thicker thermal pad above it. The card has two connectors for fans and one for its LED. Unlike the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme.
MSI has three separate utilities. One for downloading and flashing GPU BIOS (Live Update 6), another to swap between profiles (Gaming App 6) among many things and the most recognized MSI Afterburner/Kombuster overclocking and stress test utility. I really wish MSI has a single app just like the others. It simply makes it easier to manage.
MSI Live Update 6
MSI Live Update 6 is self-explanatory. It does have few other functions where I feel it’s unlikely to be used as GPU BIOS roll outs are not done frequently.
Gigabyte Xtreme Gaming app did not have any BIOS update utility. Zotac Firestorm does have the option to manually flash and backup BIOS. MSI should consider keeping a BIOS backup function. In an unfortunate scenario of bad flashing (due to power outage at a convenient time), a user can always switch to onboard, set the GPU priority to integrated graphics (assuming the chipset has onboard graphics), re-install the card except the video output, start the system, re-flash, revert BIOS setting and change the video output cable. It saves the unnecessary trip for RMA.
Of course, if there’s going to be a backup function you will need manual BIOS flashing function.
MSI Gaming App 6
The main interface of the MSI Gaming App 6 shows the current clock speed which fluctuates depending on the GPU’s load. Zotac Firestorm utility does the same. Gigabyte’s XG app updates the Base and the boost clock after an overclock setting is set. It also displays the current clock speed just below it. This makes it easier since Afterburner does not show the actual base/boost clock speed once a setting is applied.
Gaming App 6 has other functions. One of them is one those eye strain reduction software. MSI calls it ‘eye rest’. I prefer my default setting as this changes the colour setting of the panel.
The LED tab allows you to control two LED highlights- one is on both sides of the fan area of the black coloured section of the shroud (which MSI calls it ‘front’). And another on the left side logo. While the logo uses multi-coloured LED, the LED highlights on the fan shroud is only red. If you select both or front, you can only play with the effects. With side option selected, you can do all that and set your preferred colour. The card’s LED effects can change according to the music you’re playing. This function is also there on Gigabyte XG app.
MSI’s Gaming App works for its motherboard and graphic card lineups. Which is why the CPU/Mobo-centric options are greyed-out as this is reviewed on the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT. The OSD creates an overlay in the game or running a benchmark. It does not work with games/benchmarks using DX12 or Vulkan API. I wish there was a way that the Gaming app could record the minimum/maximum/average FPS or take multiple screenshots like FRAPS. Maybe it’s too much to ask? Maybe not. You decide. You can set the font size. The font colour is red and you cannot change it. The function is more or less the same as the function in DOOM’s in-game overlay. MSI just needs to work on DX12 and Vulkan API-rendered games/benchmark utilities compatibility.
The snow-flake icon is a cooler boost option. It doesn’t have a dedicated panel, but judging by the sound on the fans I believe it increases the fan speed for a short time.
I am not sure what to make of Dragon Eye.
At first, it made an impression that it records gameplays and lets you upload to twitch/Youtube. But it’s a utility that allows you to view user-submitted videos or streams while you’re playing a game in the pre-selected corner. There are those who do watch streams and play games on their at the same time. Most of such people have more than display panels. MSI is more like a poor man’s solution. At the time of writing, there were a handful of submitted videos on the list. MSI posted a tutorial for this function:
This overlay works for some games. Most of them are well-known PC titles such as The Division, DOTA2, TF2, CS:GO, Fallout 4, etc. Some games are required to turn off some settings, such as disabling UPlay’s in-game overlay.
Issues with Afterburner
Then there’s the Afterburner 4.2.0. This is a widely used overclocking utility that uses Rivaturner’s guts.
Afterburner is used by most enthusiasts, reviewers and YouTubers for overclocking even on graphic cards made by others. But manual overclocking and fan control did not work with Gaming X. Gaming App has an option to override manual fan settings, but it still didn’t go as planned after unchecking it. Since Gaming app does not display updated base/boost clock speed post overclocking, I had to use the XG app. This was the case with both OC and Gaming BIOS.
It’s at this point it became clear I couldn’t overclock the card using Afterburner. After overclocking the card using After Burner, 3Dmark Fire Strike Ultra passed through generating the benchmark as same as Gaming Mode’s scores. With the GPUZ’s clock speed and other settings set at max, it showed that Afterburner is ineffective as it showed Gaming profile’s boost clock. I had no choice but to use Gigabyte’s Extreme Gaming app to manually overclock. And it worked!
I am speculating this is due to the BIOS provided to me by MSI. It lets me swap between two pre-programmed BIOS containing the same overclocks as ‘Gaming’ and ‘OC’ profiles via NVFlash. That doesn’t explain how Gigabyte’s Xtreme Gaming app is able to override and manually overclock irrespective of the BIOS used.
Initially, I’ve added 125 MHz over MSI Gaming X GTX 1070’s OC profile and increased the fan speed manually to 86%. GPUZ’s Sensor tab showed that manual overclocking worked the way it should with the XG app. I didn’t try with Firestorm, simply because XG app displayed the newly updated base/boost clock. GPU-Z wasn’t able to show the base/boost clock readout for some odd reason.
Hardware BBQ gets very minimum support from hardware manufacturers since we have a no-strings-attached policy and ended up blacklisting even tier 1 brands for improper misconduct. But thanks to a handful of companies who value the importance and benefits of providing components for the test bench, we do what we’re good at with the resources at hand. I would like to thank:
- Gigabyte India for providing Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT Rev 1.0 motherboard
- WD India for providing 4x WD Red 3TB NAS drives
- Coolermaster India for providing Coolermaster GX450 RS-450-ACAA-D3 Power Supply
|Test Setup for:||MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G|
|CPU+ CPU Cooler||Intel i7 4790K + Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT Motherboard|
|Memory||Kingston 8GB 1600MHz DDRIII|
|Primary OS drive||SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD + WD Red 3TB WD30EFRX|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX750|
|Chassis||Lian Li A70F Full Tower PC Case|
Driver Version: 368.39 WHQL
The fan speed is kept at auto for stock benchmark and on 100% when overclocked.
- 3DMark: Sky Diver, Fire Strike, Fire Strike Extreme and Fire Strike Presets
With more tests coming soon, we’ve given 3DMark a new interface that’s faster, more flexible and easier to use. What’s more, you can now get faster downloads and save storage space by choosing to install only the tests you need.
- 3DMark 11: Xtreme Preset
OpenGL Benchmarks: Cinebench 11.5 and Cinebench R15
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor DX 11 with 3 presets
Ashes of the Singularity DX 11 and DX 12 with 3 presets each
- Rise of the Tomb Raider DX 11 and DX 12 with 3 presets each
- Hitman (2016) DX 11 and DX 12 with 3 presets each
- DOOM OpenGL 4.5 with 3 presets each
For measuring GPU computation, I’ve included Compubench benchmark workloads.
- Face Detection and TV-L1 Optical Flow Test
- Ocean Surface Simulation Test
- Particle Simulation-64K Test
- Computation Benchmark- Graphics and Video Composition
- Bitcoin Mining
- Folding at Home Benchmark
- LuxMark OpenCL Benchmark
3DMark 11 Benchmark
Fire Strike Extreme
Fire Strike Ultra
|Texture Quality||Medium||High||Very High|
|Sun Soft Shadows||Off||On||High|
|Depth of Field||On||On||Very High|
|Level of Detail||High||High||Very High|
|Specular Reflection Quality||Normal||Normal||Normal|
|Screen Space Reflections||Yes||Yes||Yes|
DX 11 Test
DX 12 Test
|Preset 1||Preset 2||Preset 3|
|Level of Detail||Low||Medium||Ultra|
DX 11 Test
DX 12 Test
|Player Self Shadow||Off||On||On|
|Directional Occlusion Quality||Medium||High||High|
|Virtual Texturing Page Size||Medium||High||Ultra|
|Motion Blur Quality||Medium||High||Ultra|
|Depth of Field||Off||On||On|
|Depth of Field Antialiasing||Off||On||On|
|Show Performance Metrics||Off||Off||Off|
The single precision implicit model most closely relates to current folding performance. Nvidia GPU will involve tests involving CUDA and OpenCL while AMD Radeon is limited to OpenCL tests.
This is the lowest ASIC quality that I have seen, but do keep in mind that varies from unit to unit and this is a review sample. But in personal experience, while high ASIC quality does not mean over overclocking potential, it does help in getting lower voltages. Pascal is a cool little processor with a properly designed GPU cooling system. Keep in mind that I wasn’t given the retail BIOS where I can swap between profiles “OC”, “Gaming” and “Silent”. But MSI did provide a set of files and individual BIOS both OC and Gaming which did not cross the profil’s boost clock speed. All I had to do is restart twice- one for the BIOS and second one for the system to enable the driver. The end users should be able to use Gaming App 6 without restarting.
The profiles gives you the following clock speeds:
|Founders Edition||Silent Profile||Gaming Profile||OC Profile|
The silent profile’s clock is the same as its founders’ edition. Though I haven’t checked out the GTX 1070’s variant, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080’s silent profile has a bit higher clock setting than its FE version.
If you’ve read the utility’s impressions, you’ll know why I’ve used Gigabyte’s XG app once you read everything.
With the OC profile enabled by default as a baseline, I’ve added +135 MHz using Gigabyte XG this time. The first attempt crashed Fire Strike Ultra (but not the system) before it would start. The +125MHz over the OC profile was stable enough to run Fire Strike’s test 1 and test 2 but crashed in combined test.
The stable overclock is +89MHz over its overclock profile which uses base/boost clock speed of 1607/ 1797 MHz. The card produced base/boost clock of 1696/1886 MHz. This is a 5.53%/ 4.95% increase over its OC profile.
With the fan speed set on auto that ran up to 30% max during 3DMark Ultra run, the card touched 67 degrees Celsius. The auto fan profile should have increased its speed to further decrease the temperatures. Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme manual base/boost clock of 1700/ 2052MHz at an auto fan speed of 38%, it as at 68 degrees Celcius. Though the difference between the manually clocked stable base clock is just 4MHz, the boost clock on the AMP! Extreme is 166MHz more than Gaming X.
The post manual OC benchmark comparisons including the OC preset, Gaming preset, the Founders Edition’s default clock and AMP! Extreme- the highest overclocked GTX 1070 out-of-the-box performer seen so far.
As you can see, MSI Gaming X GTX 1070’s Gaming and OC profile’s performance stays below Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme’s performance numbers.
Game Benchmarks- DX 12/OpenGL 4.5 Highest presets
Disclosing is caring!
MSI took itself through unnecessary controversy by having the OC profile enabled by default for reviewers. The argument from MSI is that while its card does offer two overclocked profiles, many reviewers don’t show the performance of its highest clocked profile.
While this is true that many Youtubers and newer websites don’t bother using the manufacturers’ in-house utility, informing them and giving the option for providing retail BIOS would have avoided the situation. Hardware BBQ had the same problem with a particular tier 1 manufacturer a few years ago that sent two motherboards to a former reviewer. Without informing, the reviewer was instructed by the company ( a mutual former friend) not to flash it with retail BIOS as it’s designed by one of their in-house engineers. It’s a red-flag, and it couldn’t have come at a more difficult time since it was when Hardware BBQ its ethics policy and was under the watchful eyes of potential investors for a larger expansion at the time.
The difference with how MSI handled it now and then with another brand is the opposite, while both could have been avoided if it informed in advanced and rejected/accepted accordingly. The series of events back then were so bad that it resulted in a lack of responsibility and unprofessionalism from their end, even to a point where one of their executives claimed they can make or break any review websites. Alas, our plans with investors were cut because it raised serious questions. The only part that I am glad during this worst time is that the reviews were never published. Hardware BBQ does not interact with this particular management on principle and the fact that some of their employees- former and current- and its pseudo-fanboys showered with meet invites and freebies take it upon themselves to talk bad about what is done. It’s just too bad some of them were friends, well before I even started to review in tech forums (pre-BBQ days) and before they worked in such companies.
This is terrifying because it’s not very easy for any review website to establish credibility with readers unless it works on it with consistency and plans to product quality reviews that matter.
I can understand TechPowerUp’s need to publish such findings. Even Tweaktown had to talk about Kingston V300’s NAND on the retail units which were not the same as its review unit. After the backlash from readers and reviewers, this prompted Kingston to advise its customers that they don’t make controllers and NANDs in-house (as with many SSD makers) so it might change if the chip stocks are limited. Fair enough. Something good came out of it.
It is important that review units same as a typical retail unit- software and hardware. Or it could have been discussed where the reviewer can accept or reject, depending on his work ethics and reasonable differences that don’t influence people to buy the mislabeled products. No exceptions. If a reviewer is lazy to show both profiles, then explain to that particular individual. If they are still dumb, avoid.
The other (and the main reason) is that while the BIOSes provided maintained the clock speed of its profile, it wasn’t the same as retail. I am somewhat sure MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X would have allowed me to switch between gaming and OC profiles with the actual retail BIOS without the need to start. That would have enabled MSI Afterburner to work properly. It’s just so much work and it stresses the situation at hand. It does not save time. If you know someone with this card and it does require to restart for switching between profiles, that’s a negative point. Unfortunately, I cannot verify it for the reason mentioned above. This is why I am not including it in the main cons list.
When MSI admits many reviewers don’t bother to use its app to switch to a higher clocked profile, it raises a question about the users. It’s about time manufacturers ditch the dual/triple settings and stick to a single, highest possible clock speed out-of-the-box. Just like the CPU, the GPU’s core downclocks itself to 200-250MHz when the system is at idle. Hence the power draw is reduced. With newer chip being more energy efficient, having such OC profiles is now a novelty item.
This is why I like Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme. It is out-of-the-box overclocked at 1632/1835MHz with 8000 with 200MHz memory overclocked. Maybe if Zotac used the same VRM plate design and take support the I/O slot that rests on the case, the sagging wouldn’t have existed. Other reasons were minor. Its warranty extension is a HUGE plus. Even Gigabyte is providing extended warranty for its Xtreme Gaming lineup.
Zotac’s GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme’s PWN design feels more fine tuned. Even with manual overclock it was cool. MSI did that, but with lesser clocks. MSI’s fans spring into action just when it crosses 60 degrees while Zotac increases the fan speed as per the temperature starting from as low as 1-4%. The fans on the MSI starts from 20% but stays under 40% fan speed. The difference in gradual fan speed increase was clear in GPUZ’s logs.
GTX 1070 Founders Edition
Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme
MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G
But I have no such reservations with this card. The MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X may have received a gold standard recommendation if it worked on some parts. While it had benefits, the card could have been better to justify the ‘X’ factor. MSI had lesser of everything compared to AMP! Extreme, including the factory overclock. Zotac is providing better value in that regards. MSI GTX 1070 Gaming X has a three-year warranty. Zotac provides up to five after registering the product. Zotac’s card is all metal wrapped shroud and backplate design.
I am not sure if the card even needs an 8-pin connector and a 6 pin PCIe connector. Same could be told about Zotac GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme, but it had three fans cooling design, two multi-colour LED bling, higher factory overclocks with a potential to really overclock more.
- 100MHz bump on the memory clock (OC Mode)
- Better than FE’s cooling design
- Easy Maintenance
- Should have just provided a single highest-possible out-of-the-box factory overclocked card
- Issues with manual overclocking and fan control via Afterburner
- Memory clock speed increase only on the OC Mode
- Less value-for-money compared to other options
- Warranty void label on of the screw
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) July 29, 2016