MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z 11 GB Graphics Card Review – The Card That Goes SHAZAM!



MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z

January, 2019
Type Graphics Card
Price $1599.99 US


MSI is starting 2019 with a bang with the launch of their flagship graphics card, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z. The MSI Lightning series have always gained special attention of overclockers and enthusiasts and the reason behind this is that they deliver on the promise of superb overclock and stability. This new card is no exception and while the price is definitely not cheap, you should expect it to perform way better than other variants, especially the reference model which retails for $1299 US.

The factory overclock on the MSI GeForce RTX 2080 TI Lightning Z comes in at 1770 MHz for the GPU while the memory is clocked at the reference clocks of 14 Gbps. Given that the card is able to handle much higher loads with its 19 phase power design, up to 380W TDP limit (highest on any RTX 2080 Ti custom model so far), MSI could've offered a triple BIOS that offered even better clocks considering some custom models already offer over 1800 MHz factory overclocks for the GPU and overclock the memory beyond its reference specs. The Samsung GDDR6 memory used on the card overclock really well so I was excepting a good overclock on them but I guess MSI leaves it to the users to tweak the memory themselves too.

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That said, the card lets you unlock its full clock potential through manual tuning and that's what this card is all about. To let the user tweak it as they like and during my time testing this card, I found it a lot of fun to tune than the other RTX 2080 Ti cards I tested. The overclocking power of this card shows when you get a final score that's way ahead of the other flagship custom models from different manufacturers. The reason is that MSI Lightning Z is able to maintain those higher clock speeds and doesn't fluctuate thanks to its better power delivery and higher board power limits. There's also the new Quadruple overvoltage system and the LN2 BIOS that go hand in hand to deliver some of the best overclocking results possible on any RTX 2080 Ti graphics card. But I'd say that to unlock the full potential of this card, LN2 is a must and the PCB design reflects that.

The design of the card is also a return to form. While the previous Lightning Z (GTX 1080 Ti) was great in its own right but I think it looked a bit bland. The Lightning Z solves this through the use of a full carbon fiber shroud, backplate and impressive Lightning bolt accents on the front. This is a true Lightning card and the gold / black color theme goes well on it. The RGB Lightning is not overdone on the shroud itself but I think the fans could've used a slightly better implementation. They don't look bad by any means and you can get over the stock lightning effect by customization through the Mystic Light app but I think the effects could've been better here. Also worth noting is that the Zero Frozr mode isn't available on the stock BIOS and you have to load the LN2 BIOS to enable it which is confusing.

The OLED panel can display a range of GPU details and has a cool starting splash screen featuring MSI's mascot, Lucky the Dragon. It has good uses and provides a good array of statistics which come in handy to users, especially those who benchmark a lot.

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MSI has really hit the notes right with their flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z graphics card. A strong contender in the custom RTX 2080 Ti lineup and a card that features excellent cooling, excellent overclocking and an excellent design. The card sure comes at a high price but if you're going for the best in the market than the RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z is definitely the best RTX 2080 Ti on the market right now.


MSI has really hit the notes right with their flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z graphics card. A strong contender in the custom RTX 2080 Ti lineup and a card that features excellent cooling, excellent overclocking and an excellent design which even at its high price is totally worth it.

Design & Aesthetics10


  • One of the fastest GeForce RTX 2080 Ti models available right now
  • Stellar gaming performance at the 4K resolution
  • Great upgrade from GTX 1080 Ti and GTX 1080
  • Factory Overclocked Out of Box (Up To 1770 MHz)
  • Excellent 19 Phase Power Design With Up To 380W TDP Limit
  • Stunning Tri-Frozr Design With Carbon Fiber Shroud and Backplate
  • OLED Dashboard for real-time GPU/VRAM Statistics (Includes Splash Screen)
  • Zero Frozr Fan Technology Included on TORX 3.0 Fans
  • Great overclocking potential, full tuning options
  • Memory modules on the Lightning Z can hit more than 750 GB/s bandwidth
  • Backplate includes heat pads for increased heat dissipation
  • MSI Mystic Light RGB support on the shroud and back look stunning
  • Support for real-time ray tracing and DLSS features in next-generation gaming titles
  • Good driver support for GeForce products, compatibility with DX11, DX12, Vulkan, OpenGL titles
  • Lot's of display connectivity, great for VR and multi-display PCs.


  • Ridiculously High Priced ($1599.99 US)
  • Very high power consumption when overclocked
  • Factory Overclock Not As Impressive As Other Custom RTX 2080 Ti cards
  • No Zero Frozr enabled on default BIOS
  • Very few DLSS and RTX titles available right now
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