MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio Review 4

MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio Review


Value and Conclusion

  • According to MSI, their RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio will retail for $470.
  • Faster than RTX 2080 Super
  • Capable of 4K in many games
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Idle fan stop
  • Extremely quiet
  • Second-generation hardware-accelerated raytracing
  • Low temperatures
  • Power limit increased
  • Support for HDMI 2.1, AV1 decode
  • DLSS improved
  • PCI-Express 4.0
  • New GeForce features: 8K, Reflex, Broadcast, G-SYNC 360, and RTX-IO
  • 8 nanometer production process
  • Actual market pricing and supply levels unknown
  • Large increase over $400 MSRP
  • Energy efficiency lost
  • Runs in power limit all the time
  • Unrealistic boost clock claims
  • Memory not overclocked
  • Overclocking more complicated due to power limit
We have six reviews for you today: NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition, ASUS RTX 3060 Ti STRIX OC, Gigabyte RTX 3060 Ti Gaming OC Pro, MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio, Palit RTX 3060 Ti GamingPro OC, and Zotac RTX 3060 Ti Twin Edge.

With the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, NVIDIA is finally pushing the Ampere architecture below the $500 price point, which makes it attractive to an even larger audience of gamers. The new RTX 3060 Ti is based on the same GA104 graphics processor as the RTX 3070, just with some rendering units disabled. The RTX 3060 Ti is targeted at definite 1440p gaming with 60 FPS and entry-level 4K at lower details or with DLSS enabled. Raytracing is a core focus of NVIDIA's Ampere lineup, too; the RTX 3060 Ti will offer a great RT experience at 1080p and 1440p in most titles.

Out of the box, MSI has overclocked their RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio to a rated boost of 1830 MHz, which is +165 MHz or 10%. Averaged over our whole test suite at 4K resolution, we measured a GPU frequency of 1953 MHz, 76 MHz higher than the 1877 MHz we saw on the Founders Edition. Claiming a 10% boost is quite misleading. The MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio is 3% faster than the Founders Edition. Against other cards, it beats the RTX 2080 Super by 6%, which makes it only 9% slower than the RTX 2080 Ti that cost a fortune not long ago. The performance uplift over the RTX 2060 is a staggering 61%, and 41% more than the RTX 2060 Super. The RTX 3060 Ti sits right in the middle of the AMD competition—the RX 5700 XT is 23% behind the RTX 3060 Ti, and the RX 6800 is 17% faster, which suggests we'll soon see an RX 6700 Series from AMD that will go head-to-head with the RTX 3060 Ti.

With these performance numbers, RTX 3060 Ti is an excellent choice for gamers using the 1440p resolution. It also has enough horsepower to handle 4K, but you'll have to reduce details a little bit in the most demanding games. Considering the price, this will be a reasonable tradeoff for many. I can also imagine plenty of 1080p Full HD gamers wanting the RTX 3060 Ti because it will give them enough FPS for high refresh-rate monitors, even with enabled raytracing at maximum details—just check out the Average FPS page, where the card scores over 144 FPS on average. You can only expect frame rates with e-sports titles to be higher still.

Raytracing performance on the RTX 3060 Ti is comparable to other Ampere cards. Of course, there is still a significant performance hit from enabling raytracing, but it's much smaller than on AMD, which introduced raytracing just weeks ago. For example, RTX 3060 Ti raytracing performance is comparable to the RX 6800 non-XT with DXR raytracing enabled—a card that's otherwise 20% faster in rasterization. Of course, there are only a few raytracing titles out there, but the new game consoles are using RDNA2 technology, so this might change in the future. NVIDIA also has DLSS, which uses upscaling to improve performance, a technology AMD does not have at all, though they are working on something similar.

MSI is using the same cooler shroud on all their GeForce 30 Gaming X Trio cards—all the way from the RTX 3060 to the RTX 3090. Under the hood, things are different, though. The 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio shares the heatsink with the RTX 3070 Gaming X Trio, which means it has tons of cooling potential and could probably even handle an RTX 3080. With 68°C, temperatures are good. At only 29 dBA, noise levels are much more impressive, almost whisper-quiet, the quietest measured today. Only the ASUS STRIX can match the Gaming X Trio, but you have to activate the "quiet" BIOS on that card. I have to praise MSI for consistently giving us excellent noise levels, with a good balance between temperature and noise, even without a dual BIOS. Still, the NVIDIA Founders Edition does very well with noise levels, too, as it's only marginally louder at 30 dBA, yet manages to do so with a compact dual-slot form factor, but at higher temperatures, of course. NVIDIA introduced fan stop on their Founders Edition with Ampere, which means all board partners are expected to adopt this crucial feature, too. Outside of gaming, the fans on the MSI Gaming X will shut off completely for the perfect noise-free experience.

While NVIDIA is using their new 12-pin power connector on the Founders Edition, MSI is sticking with standard dual 8-pin PCIe—good. We saw surprisingly high power draw from the Gaming X Trio, at 245 W, while the Founders Edition was using 200 W. MSI dialed up the power limit. While great, as well as necessary for any meaningful gains from the factory overclock, I do have to wonder whether 3% performance is worth a 23% increase in power consumption. This brings performance per watt down quite a bit and puts more stress on the heatsink.

While there has been a lot of discussion on 10 GB VRAM for the GeForce RTX 3080, even more so considering AMD offers 16 GB on their cards, the RTX 3060 Ti will be perfectly fine with 8 GB. It offers substantially lower shading power compared to these "4K" cards, so the limiting factor will be the shading-rate capability, not the amount of memory. Next-gen consoles do have more memory, but their 16 GB is for the OS, game, and graphics combined, which means effective graphics memory is close enough to the 8 GB offered by the RTX 3060 Ti. I've been hearing good things from developers about the direct-to-GPU disk streaming capabilities of the new consoles, especially on PS5, which could reduce VRAM requirements considerably. Guess we'll have to wait and see. Should you ever feel VRAM is running out, just sell the RTX 3060 Ti and buy whatever card is right at that time.

According to MSI, the RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio will retail for $470, which is considerably less than the ASUS STRIX at $500, but still quite a big increase. $70 gets you 3% in extra performance—not enough to justify the cost. The cooler is definitely impressive, but the Founders Edition will run a bit warmer with slightly higher noise levels for $70 saved. Why should anyone pay that much extra? I suspect the answer will lie in the supply levels. Looking at recent launches from both AMD and NVIDIA, it seems MSRP prices are a fantasy true for only the first batch, there to impress potential customers, with actual retail pricing ending up much higher. If the RTX 3070 Founders Edition comes back in stock at $500, it could also be an interesting alternative as its performance is 10% higher and noise levels are similar, for $30 more.
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