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MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio Review

MSI has been on a run with its Gaming X Trio line-up. I’ve looked at every version so far, from the behemoth RTX 3090 to the more mainstream RTX 3070, and today the even more accessible RTX 3060 Ti. Coming to market at $499, does it continue the trend of improving upon the Founders Edition to earn its higher MSRP?

MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio

MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio – Design and Features

Visually, the Gaming X Trio line-up has a specific look and the RTX 3060 Ti version falls right in line with what we’ve seen before. The graphics card features the same triple-fan design (hence the “Trio” branding) and 2.5 slot cooler. Likewise, it features the same prominent RGB lighting: three strips crossing the center fan, as well as a backlit logo and bright diffuser strip along the side. The diffuser strip shows some hotspots, but otherwise looks good if you’re a fan of RGB. The lighting effects can also be customized within the Dragon Center software, which is great for matching it to the rest of your PC, or turned off if you find the extra lights distracting.Since the RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio uses the same Tri Frozr 2 cooling system we’ve seen across each entry in its line-up. The system is topped with its three Torx 4.0 fans which use MSI’s novel combined blade system that increases static pressure and forces more air between the fins. The heatsink underneath is long and wide at a 2.5 slot thickness and is composed of specially waved fins to disrupt airflow and dissipate more heat. The surfaces making contact with heat-generating components have also been custom-made to increase contact area for better thermal transfer. It’s a multi-part system that works just as well here as in prior cards in this line-up.In my testing, the Tri Frozr 2 system proved to be a solid upgrade from Nvidia’s own dual-axial cooler found on the Founders Edition. Across my testing, I recorded a peak temperature of 68C in my Lian Li LanCool II mid-tower PC case. Under the same testing circumstances, the Founders Edition peaked at 75C. That extra cooling capacity doesn’t come at the expense of extra noise either. Using a decibel meter, the Gaming X Trio didn’t raise the noise floor at all from the Founders. It didn’t improve it either, but given the extra fan and lower temps, I consider that an impressive result.

Like all RTX 30-Series cards, the RTX 3060 Ti is built on the latest generation of Nvidia’s Ampere architecture. Since this is a topic I’ve covered extensively in previous reviews, I won’t rehash everything here and will refer you to my review of the RTX 3080 for a more thorough breakdown. Buying into Nvidia’s latest series of cards gets you a number of benefits, however. Dedicated cores for ray tracing and AI open the door to real time ray tracing in games, as well as other features like Nvidia Broadcast which leverages those cores for background noise and environment removal.

Likewise, RTX GPUs can utilize Deep Learning Super Sampling to intelligently upscale games to higher resolutions. This is shaping up to be one of the defining features of this generation as it allows gamers to play at higher resolutions than they otherwise would be able to with only minor performance and visual drawbacks. With DLSS, it’s entirely possible to play ray traced games at ultra settings at 1440p with this card when a similarly priced AMD GPU would require you to step down to 1080p to achieve the same frame rate.

The Gaming X Trio is identical to the Founders Edition RTX 3060 Ti in overall specs but benefits from a fast factory overclock. Like the FE, it features 4864 cores, which is more than double last generations RTX 2060 Super. It also comes equipped with 8GB of GDDR6 video memory, which is more than enough to play games maxed out at its intended resolutions. It steps things up when it comes to clock speed, however, with a factory Boost Clock of 1830 MHz.

That’s +165 MHz over reference, but also means the starting point for manual overclocks can begin and, with luck, end at higher overall speeds. I also found that the Gaming X Trio clocked itself higher than the Founders Edition with GPU Boost, too, which is Nvidia’s automatic overclocking tool. In my playtesting, the FE peaked at ~1875 MHz; the Gaming X Trio stopped just short of 2 GHz.

Finally, when it comes to video outputs, the card features three DisplayPort 1.4a connections and a single HDMI 2.1. It can support up to four simultaneous displays with a maximum resolution of 7680×4320 (or 8K).

MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio – Performance

<aside>Test system: Z390 Asus ROG Maximus XI Extreme Motherboard, Intel Core i9-9900K CPU (stock), Corsair H115i PRO RGB 280mm AIO CPU Cooler, 32GB Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro DDR4-3200, 1TB Samsung EVO Plus NVMe SSD, Corsair HX1200 1200-watt power supply.</aside>

To test graphics cards, I run each through a series of synthetic and real-world gaming benchmarks. This allows me to gauge each card’s relative performance against one another and to determine actual frame rates you can expect in an array of representative games. Since this generation has focused heavily on hardware-based ray tracing, each card is also tested in a mix of ray traced games and synthetics. All games are tested at Ultra settings (or the highest preset) unless otherwise noted. DLSS is enabled wherever possible and set to the Quality preset.

Note that due to a recent performance anomaly sub-4K, Wolfenstein: Youngbloods has been removed from these results. I have reached out to Nvidia for support and will re-test each card once a solution has been found to include that title in future benchmark round-ups.

MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio – Synthetic Benchmarks

Kicking things off, I ran the card through 3DMark’s Fire Strike Ultra and Unigine’s Heaven benchmark. The Gaming X Trio performed very well, outperforming the RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition in both tests. Both versions fall significantly below AMD’s RX 6000 series, however, which is to be expected given the different performance category and positioning of those cards.

Moving onto ray tracing, I used a trio of tests to gauge performance. The first, 3DMark’s Port Royal renders a score similar to the previous two tests. Again, the MSI tops out the FE and falls behind the AMD Radeon RX 6800. Things begin to switch in the FPS tests, however. Since Surgical Scalpels’ Boundary benchmark supports DLSS, the Gaming X Trio comes close to doubling the frame rate of even the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT in Rage Mode. In 3DMark’s Ray Tracing Test, which navigates a still image without DLSS, the MSI RTX 3060 Ti outperforms the RX 6800 and falls less than half a frame behind the RX 6800 XT.

MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio Benchmarks

MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming Benchmarks

With synthetic tests out of the way, I turned my attention toward real world gaming benchmarks. Even though the card targets 1440p, I was curious how it would compare across all three major resolutions. For readability, I limited my expanded testing to the most relevant cards for comparison given that this is a third-party version purporting to improve upon the OG 3060 Ti.

Beginning with 1080p, the Gaming X Trio performs extremely close to the Founders Edition with frame rates ranging from 2% slower to 4% faster, leading to an overall average difference that is less than half a percent. In real world terms, I couldn’t notice much difference at all when playing at this resolution.

At 1440p, things widen a little bit with ranges from 0% to 6% faster, leading to an average improvement of 3% over the RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition. Thanks to DLSS, it comes in a full 20% faster than the RX 6800 but when limited to rasterized games that flips entirely and it comes in 18% slower. Compared against the 2080 Super, as Nvidia did in its marketing of this GPU, it comes in a full 8% faster.

Finally, at 4K the Gaming X Trio delivers its most impressive leads over the Founders Edition yet, running an average of 4% faster overall. Compared against the Nvidia RTX 2080 Super, it ran 7% faster. Across all games, RTX and DLSS included, it outperformed the RX 6800 by a whopping 43%, highlighting the impact of DLSS. In sheer raster, it lagged the RX 6800 by 18%.

But is it playable at 4K? When it comes to actual FPS, the Gaming X Trio outperformed the Founders Edition but still struggled to hit 60 FPS in the majority of games at Ultra settings. Minecraft RTX and Doom Eternal were each able to exceed this marker, but the remaining nine games fell short. That said, each was able to play at 30 FPS or above with all of the bells and whistles enabled, which is equivalent to many current gen console games in Quality mode, while simultaneously offering improved graphics.

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