MSI’s RTX 4090 Suprim X
One of the more attractive RTX 4090 variants is MSI's Suprim X, and I've always been a fan of the Suprim X line. Three of MSI's Torx 5.0 fans and a sizable heatsink are housed inside the elegant silver casing. As I'll explore later, they can manage even an overclocked RTX 4090.
Although MSI hasn't officially disclosed the Suprim X's official clock rates or power consumption, it does ship overclocked. The card's peak power draw at stock was 460 watts, which is 10 watts more than the Founder's Edition RTX 4090's official specification. The Founder's Edition card, however, only drew 426W during my testing.
Similar to the RTX 4090, Nvidia claims that the Founder's Edition model's maximum boost clock speed is 2.52GHz, although I recorded 2.76GHz at the card's highest point. Even so, MSI's Suprim X has a boost out of the box and, in the games I played, has a clock speed of 2.82GHz. Despite being factory overclocked, this card has a dual BIOS switch that enables you to set it to Silent mode when you don't need all of its power.
Overclocking the RTX 4090
It has a size to match and is a gigantic graphics card with a gigantic GPU. The MSI Suprim X occupies three slots and a little amount of space in your case at 13.2 inches long, 5.6 inches wide, and 3.1 inches thick. Thankfully, MSI supplies both a specifically made Suprim X mousepad and a GPU support bracket, as it usually does with Suprim X cards.
Recent Nvidia cards are designed to operate as quickly as possible right out of the box, so performance increases from GPU overclocking are typically little to nonexistent.
Pushing the Suprim X did result in some noticeable performance improvements, albeit I didn't notice any significant changes. It won't change the way you play the game, but pushing your RTX 4090 with enough cooling can lead to better gaming performance.
I could only get the Suprim X variant to outperform the Founder Edition RTX 4090 by 9% when I manually overclocked Gears of War. The advantages are substantially less significant elsewhere. You should expect an increase of about 5% in Cyberpunk 2077 and approximately 4% in Red Dead Redemption 2. Since the RTX 4090 can already achieve frame rates that are well above 60 fps in the most taxing games at 4K, overclocking it isn't necessary for the majority of games.
The Cyberpunk 2077 Ultra Ray Tracing mode was an exception. Without Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), this is still very demanding, and overclocking the Suprim X produced a respectable 7.7% performance boost. Although that might not seem like much, the OC version meant that the game would frequently run in the low 50s and occasionally even crack 60 frames per second.
Other areas also benefited from overclocking. The overclocked results in Red Dead Redemption reveal significantly higher minimum frame rates. Even while the average frame rate remains largely identical, this results in a generally smoother gaming experience.
To reach these results, you don't even need to get your hands dirty with GPU overclocking. I conducted several experiments with MSI Afterburner's OC Scanner, as you can see in my charts. This scanner automatically overclocks your card on Nvidia GPUs in approximately 30 minutes, and my manual overclocking results are just marginally better (not enough to matter).
I achieved the majority of the performance gain for my manual overclock by simply increasing the Afterburner power limit. I finally arrived at a 108% power limit, an 88° Celsius temperature limit, a 220MHz boost to the core clock, and a 200MHz boost to the memory clock after a lot of trial and error. However, this is only barely unstable. For instance, in Red Dead Redemption 2, I had to lower the core frequency to 200MHz in order to complete the benchmark.
Thermals, power, and clock rates
Thermals are the main constraint on RTX 4090 overclocking, but the Suprim X's cooling system lets you push the GPU even farther. On an outdoor test bench, the GPU's maximum temperature with my manual overclock was 67 degrees Celsius. Only 3 degrees separate that from the Founder's Edition model and standard card.
When you consider how much power was flowing through the RTX 4090 Suprim X, that temperature is even more remarkable. The card's maximum power draw was 460W under standard conditions and with the OC Scanner, but after my manual overclock, it consumed 511W. With only a tiny thermal hit, it is almost 90W more powerful than the greatest power I could measure on the Founder's Edition design.
Although clock speed doesn't necessarily indicate performance, the RTX 4090's scaleability is remarkable (and in particular the Suprim X model I tested). I was able to crack 3.06GHz with my manual overclock, which is absolutely ridiculous. Unfortunately, the clock speed appears more faster on paper than it actually does in use. OC Scanner achieved almost similar performance with hardly any increase in clock speeds.
My memory speed was increased by 200MHz by OC Scanner, which didn't appear to significantly alter the power limit or clock speeds. The RTX 4090 may be overclocked for more performance, however sometimes going for ridiculous clock speeds won't result in noticeable performance improvements.
Should you overclock the RTX 4090?
The RTX 4090 shouldn't be overclocked for the majority of users. A little extra performance can be found, but the effort of experimenting with crashes and overclocking settings isn't worth it. The OC Scanner from MSI performs admirably, which is fantastic news. With a manual overclock, you can get a little bit more performance out of some games, like Gears Tactics, but OC Scanner allows you to rapidly set your overclock and forget about it.
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