It was a Friday like any other in the COVID-19 world. At 12:32 PM PST, one of the technology inventory tracking Discords I follow went off.
An MSI Ventus 3x Geforce RTX 3080 was available on Amazon, sold by Amazon directly, at a fair price relative to the MSRP. I had the funds and had planned starting on Friday to pursue a graphics card more fiercely, watching for any of the Geforce RTX 3080, Radeon RX 6800 XT, or Radeon RX 6900 XT to become available. So I followed the link.
It was still there, albeit on backorder. Sold directly by Amazon, so that is a risk I was willing to take. I added to cart, and it was there. I started checkout, but I needed to ensure the card in question had a waterblock.
Two different models of waterblock, it turns out. I tabbed back into Amazon and placed my order.
It went through, no delivery date estimate. Plenty of time for them to cancel, just as Newegg had cancelled my Radeon RX 6900 XT order after about 20 minutes of false hope.
Plus, it was a backorder anyways, so I thought it’d be weeks before I got any sort of confirmation even if I was going to get one. Right?
I laughed it off and spent the rest of the afternoon playing WoW and wondering if I was going to get the card in question. That evening, after my wife was off of work, we went to a beauty supply store for some Christmas shopping and then to get some toys for our niece and nephews. While we were out on our first stop, I received an email from Amazon.
Surely they’d be cancelling the order, I thought.
No, quite the opposite. My backorder had been fulfilled same-day and I would have my new GPU on Sunday.
I watched the tracking almost hourly with bemusement. Surely it hadn’t been this simple, right? I’d clicked dozens of inventory tracking links, tried almost one hundred different attempts at getting any new graphics card, much less the most popular flagship and a card that is somehow less available than the lower-tier models and the higher-tier RTX 3090, at least after a month of watching.
It was in progress and being ferried to the US Postal Service until this morning, the day of delivery, when they suddenly showed it as handed off and out for delivery. There was no way, surely. It couldn’t be this easy.
At 10:36 AM, a knock on my door, and a ghost had come and left. An Amazon box, on my doorstep, with the heft of a triple-fan baseline graphics card model.
I opened it, and…huh, well, look at that.
I am now the owner of a Geforce RTX 3080.
Who could imagine it would have been this easy?
While this is technically for my new system (technically…), I couldn’t even wait. I was holding the card like a child, staring at it, propping it up in front of me (I don’t have a problem and YOU CAN’T STOP ME) so naturally, I pulled my old 1080 Ti (an ordeal because as a hybrid card, it has a linked radiator and tubing that also must be dealt with), installed the RTX 3080, and immediately ran benchmarks, as I had done a before-run back in November once my new build was confirmed as happening.
My 3DMark synthetic scores all shot drastically up, with Time Spy going up by 5,900 points, and the Port Royal raytracing benchmark (which you can run on any DX12 capable card even without dedicated RT hardware, resulting in bad scores!) went from 2,097 to 11,006!
Some choice results – the Civilization VI GPU test was up 50%, my Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmarks with raytracing on beat my prior system with same settings sans raytracing, and the performance improvement was anywhere from 25%-80% higher than my prior GPU.
The results were great and I was floating, but most of my upbeat demeanor is just sheer confusion at how easy it was for me to get this card. While record-breaking stock shortages and difficulty buying continue unabated, somehow I just snuck in at the right time, grabbed a card, tabbed out to think about it by searching out waterblock options, and then came back and somehow still got a card via backorder, which then shipped the same day and is now sitting with fans on next to me in my current build.
At this point, I only need the new CPU and a GPU waterblock to complete my new system build, at which point I’ll move this card over, after shucking the heatsink off of it and replacing it with a waterblock.
Lastly, some observations about the MSI Ventus 3x model for anyone looking at it:
-It has a zero fan mode which runs very well and can sit fans-off until 60 C, at which point the fans kick on. In my case and mounting scenario, intakes blow directly into the heatsink, which may also be influencing that slightly.
-It has no power limit increase allowed in BIOS, which means it isn’t an overclocking champion if you’re trying to run it to the ragged-edge under watercooling or exotic options. It does boost well, and I’ve seen a maximum boost clock of 1995 MHz while gaming even with the power-conservative options set in the Nvidia Control Panel.
-The 3 fans are pretty quiet, and because of that, my noise-tolerant ass is running the card at a fixed 85% fan profile, which allows it to run at worst 10 degrees Celsius hotter than my hybrid-cooled 1080 Ti, which was a very cool-running card.
-Some YouTube videos of independent owners of the card I’ve watched suggest that the heatsink can pull slightly away from the PCB, raising temperatures by around 10 degrees as a result when mounted normally in a case. This was a launch model, so it may very well be fixed under new production models, but something to be aware of!
-MSI says that the card has a “graphene backplate” which works for cooling, and they sell it with thermal pads attached on the backside to sink heat into this plate. However, it feels like plastic, sounds like plastic when you knock on it, and while it felt slightly cold to the touch out of the box (after being delivered in cold winter weather), I find the suggestion BS, especially since the 3090 model uses a metal backplate. Don’t try and fool me, MSI!
-MSI as a company has a…checkered…reputation of being not the best company, and so I would have vastly preferred not to have bought one of their cards, despite their 30-series lineup being fairly solid. However, I ultimately had to make a quick call on whether or not I wanted the card, and I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. I decided my desire to get the card and end that part of my component hunt was worth the iffy feeling of supporting one of the less-reputable companies in the PC enthusiast space.
And so, as of now, my GPU hunt has concluded, and I am the happy, if slightly confused, owner of a Geforce RTX 3080 card. The only sore spot remaining is all the wasted hours on Radeon RX 6900 XT launch day chasing a card, only for this one to fall into my lap.
Oh well, at least I beat the availability boss at last, after a few wipes.