MSI's GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X is the company's most premium version of the GeForce RTX 3050. NVIDIA announced the GeForce RTX 3050 at CES Las Vegas just a few days ago. Earlier this week, the review embargo has lifted, but the MSI RTX 3050 Gaming X was stuck in customs for another day. The GeForce RTX 3050 is the most affordable desktop graphics card based on the Ampere architecture and meant for 1080p gaming with fairly high details—ray tracing is very much possible, but you'll need to tone down the settings or make good use of the DLSS feature. A section of the market will see this more as an affordable Ampere meant for 1080p gaming, particularly e-sports.
The RTX 3050 is based on the same 8 nm GA106 silicon as the RTX 3060, but with huge differences in specifications. While the latter nearly maxes out the GA106, featuring 3,584 out of 3,840 CUDA cores present on the chip, the RTX 3050 is carved out by disabling a third of the streaming multiprocessors (SM), resulting in 2,560 CUDA cores, 20 RT cores, and 80 Tensor cores. Keeping with the theme of "two-thirds," the RTX 3050 only gets 8 GB of memory compared to 12 GB on the RTX 3060. The memory bus width is proportionately narrowed to 128-bit and uses slower 14 Gbps memory chips (compared to 15 Gbps on the RTX 3060).
The most remarkable difference in specifications between the RTX 3050 and RTX 3060 has to be the PCI-Express bus width, which has been halved to PCI-Express 4.0 x8. The GA106 very much does support 16 lanes, and every custom-design board, including this one, has rudimentary PCB traces for all 16 lanes, but only 8 lanes are enabled. NVIDIA explains this by stating that "dropping to 8 PCIe lanes improves supply. It allows us to source a wider variety of chips for the life of the product." In other words, the company is currently consuming all the GA106 inventory that didn't make the cut for the RTX 3060, and in the future could carve RTX 3050 cards out of the smaller GA107 silicon, which physically has 3,072 CUDA cores, a 128-bit GDDR6 memory bus, and, more importantly, an 8-lane PCIe Gen 4 bus. Such a switch should result in no change to performance.
MSI has paired the RTX 3050 Gaming X with a large dual-fan, triple-slot cooling solution. The card draws power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. Display outputs include three DisplayPort 1.4a and an HDMI 2.1. The Gaming X is overclocked out of the box, to a rated boost frequency of 1845 MHz, up 68 MHz from the 1777 MHz NVIDIA baseline. In terms of pricing, the card comes at an MSRP of $379, a significant increase over the NVIDIA RTX 3050 MSRP of $250. Currently, the card is listed for $420, out of stock, but Europe has some cards, at €500. We expect a market price of $500 or above.