The MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio is a large piece of hardware, a no-holds-barred implementation of the RTX 3090 with a hearty triple-slot, triple-fan cooling solution. Unlike past generations, the bulk of the card's RGB bling has been moved towards the top-edge of the card, near the backplate, as those parts of the card are more readily visible to you in a typical windowed case than the front end with the fans. There are still some ARGB streaks near the fans.
Dimensions of the card are 32 x 14 cm.
Installation requires three slots in your system.
Display connectivity options include three standard DisplayPort 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1. Interestingly, the USB-C port for VR headsets, which NVIDIA introduced on Turing Founders Editions, has been removed—guess it didn't take off as planned. The DisplayPort 1.4a outputs support Display Stream Compression (DSC) 1.2a, which lets you connect 4K displays at 120 Hz and 8K displays at 60 Hz. Ampere can drive two 8K displays at 60 Hz with just one cable per display.
Ampere is the first GPU to support HDMI 2.1, which increases bandwidth to 48 Gbps to support higher resolutions, like 4K144 and 8K30, with a single cable. With DSC, this goes up to 4K240 and 8K120. NVIDIA's new NVENC/NVDEC video engine is optimized to handle video tasks with minimal CPU load. The highlight here is added support for AV1 decode. Just like on Turing, you may also decode MPEG-2, VC1, VP8, VP9, H.264, and H.265 natively, at up to 8K@12-bit.
The encoder is identical to Turing. It supports H.264, H.265, and lossless at up to 8K@10-bit.
Unlike the NVIDIA Founders Edition card that introduces the new 12-pin power input, MSI sticks to industry standard 8-pin PCIe power inputs, but there are three of them. Combined with PCIe slot power, this configuration is rated for 525 W. MSI's own typical board power number for this card is 370 W, or 20 W higher than reference, which would have been too close to maxing out a dual 8-pin with slot-power setup.
The GeForce RTX 3090 supports SLI and features a newer-generation NVLink bridge interface, which means you can't use your NVLink bridge from your Turing cards. Be warned that with Ampere, NVIDIA isn't supporting SLI as in implicit multi-GPU (SLI as you know it), but explicit multi-GPU that's developed and supported by game developers. With multi-GPU game support pretty much non-existent, this basically means SLI is dead. Perhaps creative and 3D modeling applications that support explicit multi-GPU can benefit from SLI.
Disassembling the MSI Gaming X Trio is a breeze, no guitar picks needed. You simply undo a bunch of screws to remove the backplate and then turn a second set of screws to pull out the cooling solution. The cooler comes out in one clean piece, leaving behind the PCB and a base plate.
A small base plate is used as a heat spreader for some of the VRM MOSFETs. This plate also counteracts PCB bending.
Unlike the RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio, the RTX 3090 features memory chips on even the reverse side of the PCB, and so MSI used a metal backplate for better cooling. On the RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio they used a plastic backplate with graphene composite core. The backplate also features a pair of flat copper heat pipes that pull heat from the memory chips and spread it across the length of the backplate.