MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X Review 66

MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X Review

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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.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Market Segment Analysis
GTX 1650 Super$4001280321530 MHz1725 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M4 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
GTX 1660$480 1408481530 MHz1785 MHz2000 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
RX Vega 56$8003584641156 MHz1471 MHz800 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1660 Super$5501408481530 MHz1785 MHz1750 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1660 Ti$5001536481500 MHz1770 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 5600 XT$7002304641375 MHz1560 MHz1500 MHzNavi 1010300M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 6500 XT$3501024322685 MHz2825 MHz2248 MHzNavi 245400M4 GB, GDDR6, 64-bit
RTX 2060$5701920481365 MHz1680 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 5700$9502304641465 MHz1625 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2060 Super$8002176641470 MHz1650 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX Vega 64$850 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
RX 5700 XT$10002560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3050$500
MSRP: $250
2560321552 MHz1777 MHz1750 MHzGA10612000M8 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
MSI RTX 3050
Gaming X
MSRP: $380
2560321552 MHz1845 MHz1750 MHzGA10612000M8 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
RTX 2070$7502304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6600$5701792642044 MHz2491 MHz1750 MHzNavi 2311060M8 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
RTX 3060$7503584481320 MHz1777 MHz1875 MHzGA10612000M12 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RTX 2070 Super$8002560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$8003840641400 MHz1800 MHz1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RX 6600 XT$6002048642359 MHz2589 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2311060M8 GB, GDDR6, 128-bit
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