MSI sent us the Radeon RX 6800 XT Gaming X Trio, its flagship custom-design graphics card based on the RX 6800 XT "Big Navi" that shook things up in the discrete graphics card market this November. This card sees MSI pull out its very latest generation Gaming X board design that debuted with its RTX 30-series products. Unlike the previous generation, the company used consistent cooler visuals between its NVIDIA and AMD products, including innovations such as its Tri Frozr 2 cooling solution, TorX 4 axial-flow fans, and a graphene-treated backplate.
The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT introduces the new RDNA2 graphics architecture to the PC platform. This architecture powers both of the latest-generation game consoles and has been scaled up for the PC. This is important as game engine developers optimizing for the console end up optimizing for RDNA2. The architecture offers full DirectX 12 Ultimate support, including real-time raytracing.
Real-time raytracing is the hottest new feature in consumer graphics. While pure raytraced rendering is still some time off, it's possible to combine conventional raster 3D graphics with certain raytraced visual elements, such as lighting, shadows, and reflections, to improve realism. Even this requires enormous amounts of compute power. AMD approaches this by significantly increasing the SIMD power of its graphics architecture with a combination of a doubling in shaders over the previous-generation RDNA, a near-doubling in engine clocks, and using fixed-function hardware called Ray Accelerators to compute the ray intersections.
The Radeon RX 6800 XT also comes with a doubling in memory amount to 16 GB, using the fastest JEDEC-standard 16 Gbps GDDR6 memory. The memory bus width is still 256 bit. AMD shored up memory bandwidth by deploying a new component called Infinity Cache, an on-die 128 MB L3 cache that runs at extreme bandwidths. Based on the 7 nm "Navi 21" silicon, the Radeon RX 6800 XT features 72 RDNA2 compute units, working out to 4,608 stream processors, 72 Ray Accelerators, and 288 TMUs. The chip also features 128 ROPs and a 256-bit GDDR6 memory interface.
MSI has given the Radeon RX 6800 XT its highest state of tune, with the engine boost frequency stepped up to 2285 MHz. As mentioned earlier, the RX 6800 XT Gaming X Trio features the company's latest Gaming X Trio non-reference design. The Tri Frozr 2 cooling solution features a chunky triple-slot heatsink and lavish use of RGB LED lighting. MSI is pricing the RX 6800 XT Gaming X Trio at "at least $850," which is a $200 premium over the $650 AMD baseline price, or more. In this review, we take the card for a spin.