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.
|RX Vega 64||$400||4096||64||1247 MHz||1546 MHz||953 MHz||Vega 10||12500M||8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit|
|GTX 1080 Ti||$650||3584||88||1481 MHz||1582 MHz||1376 MHz||GP102||12000M||11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit|
|RX 5700 XT||$370||2560||64||1605 MHz||1755 MHz||1750 MHz||Navi 10||10300M||8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RTX 2070||$340||2304||64||1410 MHz||1620 MHz||1750 MHz||TU106||10800M||8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RTX 2070 Super||$450||2560||64||1605 MHz||1770 MHz||1750 MHz||TU104||13600M||8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|Radeon VII||$680||3840||64||1802 MHz||N/A||1000 MHz||Vega 20||13230M||16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit|
|RTX 2080||$600||2944||64||1515 MHz||1710 MHz||1750 MHz||TU104||13600M||8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RTX 2080 Super||$690||3072||64||1650 MHz||1815 MHz||1940 MHz||TU104||13600M||8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RTX 2080 Ti||$1000||4352||88||1350 MHz||1545 MHz||1750 MHz||TU102||18600M||11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit|
|RTX 3070||$500||5888||96||1500 MHz||1725 MHz||1750 MHz||GA104||17400M||8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RX 6800||$580||3840||96||1815 MHz||2105 MHz||2000 MHz||Navi 21||26800M||16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RX 6800 XT||$650||4608||128||2015 MHz||2250 MHz||2000 MHz||Navi 21||26800M||16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|MSI RX 6800 XT |
Gaming X Trio
|$850+||4608||128||2110 MHz||2285 MHz||2000 MHz||Navi 21||26800M||16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RTX 3080||$700||8704||96||1440 MHz||1710 MHz||1188 MHz||GA102||28000M||10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit|
|RX 6900 XT||$1000||5120||128||2015 MHz||2250 MHz||2000 MHz||Navi 21||26800M||16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit|
|RTX 3090||$1500||10496||112||1395 MHz||1695 MHz||1219 MHz||GA102||28000M||24 GB, GDDR6X, 384-bit|
The MSI GeForce RX 6800 XT Gaming X Trio is a large piece of hardware. We've seen the massive cooler design on several other MSI cards before, both for AMD and NVIDIA. 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, and it weighs 1549 g.
Installation requires three slots in your system.
Display connectivity includes three standard DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.1.
The card two 8-pin power inputs. This configuration is rated for up to 375 W of power draw.
The AMD Radeon RX 6000 series doesn't support multi-GPU.
MSI's heatsink is huge, the main component provides cooling for the GPU and memory chips. Six heatpipes quickly move any heat away from the GPU core and to a large array of fins, where it is dissipated in the airflow of the three fans.
Once the main heatsink is removed, three additional components become visible. A metal reinforcement bar is run along the top edge, which helps prevent sagging. Two additional heatsinks provide cooling for the VRM circuitry.
The backplate is made out of plastic and protects the card against damage during installation and handling. MSI claims it's a graphene composite, which basically means plastic mixed with carbon—this is not real graphene. Thermal properties are still fine, and the added thermal pads help more than whether the backplate is made out of plastic or metal.
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