Table of Contents
Today we’ll take an in-depth look at MSI’s RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio. This is the first Ampere-based GPU with more of a mainstream price: $399 for reference models and a $469.99 MSRP for the Gaming X Trio we are testing today. The Gaming X lineup has dropped a notch this year and given up the top spot to the Suprim X line of cards from MSI and is a tier above the Ventus line. The Gaming X GPU series still features the new Tri Frozr 2 thermal design, a custom PCB with a graphene backplate, RGB LEDs, and a robust power delivery system. Let’s dive in and see how our first RTX 3060 Ti measures up!
Specifications and Features
|Nvidia RTX 3000 Series Specifications|
|Model||RTX 3090||RTX 3080||RTX 3070||MSI RTX 3060 Ti|
Gaming X Trio
|Manufacturing||Samsung 8 nm||Samsung 8 nm||Samsung 8 nm||Samsung 8 nm|
|Tensor Cores |
|L2 Cache||6 MB||5 MB||4 MB||4 MB|
|Base Clock||1,400 MHz||1,440 MHz||1,500 MHz||1,410 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1,700 MHz||1,710 MHz||1,730 MHz||1,830 MHz|
|Memory Speed||935.8 GBps||760 GBps||512 GBps||448 GBps|
|2x PCIe 8-pin||2x PCIe 8-pin||1x PCIe 8-pin||2x PCIe 8-pin|
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
|Max Resolution||8K (7680 x 4320)||8K (7680 x 4320)||8K (7680 x 4320)||8K (7680 x 4320)|
|TDP||350 W||320 W||220 W||200 W|
MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio
The RTX 3060 Ti is a cut-down version of Ampere using the GA104-200-A1 die. This new GPU consists of 4864 CUDA cores, just under half of what is found in the RTX 3090. We also have 8 GB of Samsung GDDR6 on a 256-bit bus which yields 448 GB/s bandwidth. The RTX 3060 Ti doesn’t need all the power that the RTX 3090 does but this sample from MSI uses 2 x 8-pin PCIe connectors. This allows for 375 W of total power available which is more than ample for this 200 W TDP card.
As mentioned above, the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio would have been MSI’s top trim offering until the release of Ampere. They added to their existing lineup which now consists of the Suprim X, the Gaming X Trio/Gaming Trio, and Ventus/Ventus 3X. The Ventus cards start the product stack with the Gaming line above it and the Suprim X on top of both. Even though it’s no longer top dog, the Gaming X Trio is still a well-built and sleek-looking GPU.
The new Tri Frozr 2 heatsink uses three Torx Fan 4.0 fans. The new ball bearing fans bind together pairs of blades with a linked outer ring design MSI says focuses airflow into the updated Tri Frozr 2 cooling system. The Suprim also implements MSI’s Zero Frozr technology where the fans shut off below a certain temperature threshold.
The heatsink itself is redesigned to improve airflow dynamics. MSI installed deflectors that provide additional surface area and directs air to where it is needed for maximum cooling. The Wave-curve 2.0 fin edges are said to disrupt unwanted airflow harmonics resulting in reduced noise. In addition to the new fin array, MSI uses precision-machined square core pipes to achieve maximum contact between the GPU and copper base plate in order to spread the heat along the full length of the heatsink. Overall, the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio stayed around 66 °C under load at stock and overclocked while remaining whisper quiet.
On the software front, MSI uses their old standby MSI Afterburner to monitor and control their graphics cards. Afterburner has been updated with additional functionality including the OC scanner to automatically overclock the card and includes additional skins keeping it up to date. In addition to Afterburner is the MSI Dragon Center to control the system itself and Mystic light to control the RGB lighting.
Retail Packaging and Accessories
MSI’s retail packaging for the RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio is the usual black box-in-box type. There’s an image of the card diagonally across the front along with the Gaming X Trio branding, and the RTX 3060 Ti model designation. Flipping the box around you’ll see several features and specifications listed.
When you open the box up, you’re greeted by an envelope with the MSI name which is fit into the foam packing top. The envelope holds all of the paperwork (manuals, offers, etc.) that are included. The Gaming X Trio also includes a GPU bracket designed to support this heavy graphics card. The bracket attaches to the I/O section of the case along with the card which gives it additional horizontal support. Included in the slideshow below is an image of the bracket installed, it comes with additional padding if needed.
Meet the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio
The MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X is mostly black with some gunmetal gray accent pieces around the edges of the plastic shroud. The shroud has an angular design with most of the real estate taken up by the three large Torx 4.0 fans, each of which is badged with the MSI Gaming Dragon. The center fan has RGB LED accents on two opposite corners between the outer fans.
The top of the card is where most of the RGB lighting is located; including a light bar along the edge of the backplate and the MSI logo with the Gaming Dragon illuminated on the outside edge of the shroud. The colors are saturated and bright, but not blinding. The graphene backplate displays the MSI Gaming Dragon and GEFORCE RTX printed in white. Graphene was the material of choice with MSI since it’s 4X stronger than plastic and 20X better at dissipating heat. How that compares to aluminum or what that does to the price, we aren’t sure.
The MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio is a good-looking card and the mostly black theme should fit into most builds. The card takes up two slots and does extend past our EATX-sized Maximus XII Extreme motherboard so make sure you have the room to house this card inside your case.
A Closer Look
Starting with the I/O area, MSI gives us three DisplayPort ports (v1.4) and a single HDMI (v2.0b) with a maximum digital resolution of 8K (7680×4320). The I/O plate also has small holes cut out for venting warm air, but an overwhelming majority of the heat is dumped inside the chassis. As mentioned previously, power is sent to the card by two 8-pin PCIe connectors.
Removing the heatsink reveals the RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio PCB and the Ampere GA104-200-A1 die. The MOSFETs are 45 A OnSemiconductor NCP302045 power stages controlled by an OnSemiconductor 8-phase NCP81610 controller (Vcore and memory). As we see later this configuration is plenty to support the card at stock and while overclocked.
In the picture to the right, we can take a good look at MSI’s “Core-Pipe” design consisting of six heat-pipes, the Wave-curved 2.0 fins, and some of the thermal tapes for the MOSFETs on the heatsink. I should mention the thermal tape on the memory is very thick and two different sizes if anyone is considering replacing it but this would be completely unnecessary as the Tri Frozr 2 performed very well.
Below is a closeup of the power bits, Samsung GDDR6, the Ampere GA104-200-A1 die, and control ICs.
GPU-Z and the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio on the test bench…
As you can see from the GPU-Z shot above, the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio has a stock operating clock of 1410 MHz with an 1830 MHz Boost. The full boost speed from this sample peaked at 2010 MHz. Below is a picture of the card on the test bench showing off its size and RGB prowess.
Test System and Benchmark Methods
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme, EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi|
|CPU||Intel i9-10900K @ stock|
|CPU Cooler||EVGA CLC 240|
|Memory||2×8 GB G.Skill Royal 3600 MHz CL16-16-16-36|
|SSD||Gigabyte Aorus 2 TB NVMe Gen4 (OS + Applications)|
|Power Supply||EVGA 750 W G3|
|Video Card||MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio @ Stock, Nvidia 457.40 Win10 64-bit drivers|
Our test system is based on the latest mainstream Intel z490 platform and uses the i9-10900K 10/20t CPU. The CPU is overclocked to 4.9 GHz on all cores/threads with cache set to 4.3 GHz. The clock speeds used provides a good base to minimize any limitations the CPU may have on our titles, particularly when using the lower resolutions, and should be attainable with a good air cooler or better. The DRAM is in a 2×8 GB configuration at 3600 MHz with CL16-16-16-36-2T timings, a middle of the road option balancing performance and cost.
We have made some significant changes since the last update adding a few new titles and dropping some of the older games. More details can be found in the GPU Testing Procedure article, which we have updated with our latest benchmarks. Below is a quick summary for easy reference.
- UL 3DMark Time Spy – Default settings
- UL 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) – Default settings
- UL 3DMark Port Royal – Default Settings (Ray Tracing capable cards only)
- Unigine Superposition – Performance, 1080p High
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider – DX12, “Highest” preset (will add RTX when it has been patched)
- The Division 2 – DX12, Ultra preset, VSync Off
- Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – Ultra High preset, VSync Off
- Far Cry New Dawn – Ultra defaults
- F1 2020 – DX12, Very High defaults, TAA, and x16 AF, Australia track, do not show FPS counter
- Metro: Exodus – DX12, Ultra defaults
Our first set of benchmarks hail from Underwriters Laboratories, who acquired Futuremark back in 2014. Earlier in 2018, a rebrand occurred, and since that time, Futuremark is now UL. The benchmarks have not changed, just the name. We chose to stick with 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy as these tests give users a good idea of performance on modern titles. We’ve also added 3DMark Port Royal which is the first Ray Tracing benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs and graphics cards with Microsoft DirectX Raytracing capabilities.
3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) is a DX11-based test that runs at 1080p resolution. UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games. 3DMark Time Spy is a DX12 benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs. It supports new API features such as asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, multi-threading, and runs at 2560×1440 resolution.
In our synthetic tests, the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio performed well. We’ll see a consistent theme throughout all of our testing, in that the RTX 3060 Ti performs right in the RTX 2080 Super/RTX 2080 Ti range typically slipping right between the two and around a 50% gain over the RTX 2060.
For gaming benchmarks, we have updated our testing suite to bring more modern titles into the mix. Gone are Battlefield V, F1 2018, Far Cry 5, AOTS:e, and World of Tanks, which were replaced with Metro Exodus, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, F1 2020, and Far Cry: New Dawn. We kept The Division 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The games should provide a good view of the overall performance of the card. Many of these are DX12 games.
1080p (1920×1080) Results
Our gaming benchmarks show the MSI trading punches with the RTX 2080 Super again. Outside of Far Cry which doesn’t respond well at the lower resolution, everything falls into place here. Overclocking the MSI RTX 3060 Ti gave it the nudge it needed to surpass the RTX 2080 Super in some of the tests where it fell behind at stock but still a very strong showing against cards that are over twice the cost upon release.
2560×1440 and 4K UHD Results
Below are the higher resolution results starting with 2560×1440 and the gaining in popularity 3840×2160 (4K UHD). These resolutions prove to be a bit of a stretch for some cards, especially in the budget range.
In looking at the charts above, we see the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio handles the 1440p resolution well, maintaining 60 FPS or better through all of our tests. Bumping up the resolution to 4K UHD proves to be a bit more difficult for the 3060 Ti with the details set to high. A slight quality reduction in the settings and we could have an affordable 4K gaming card.
RTX and DLSS Testing
Below we did some testing in Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ray tracing (RTX) turned on at 1440p and 4K. As you can see, DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) did improve frame rates, but they were still well below our previous results without ray tracing enabled. Gaming at 1440p with RT enabled would be possible with the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio but 4K is just a bit of a stretch here.
For overclocking, we used MSI Afterburner 4.6.3 beta 2. With some tinkering, we ended up at +133 for the core and +529 on the memory. This change yielded a peak clock of 2130 MHz in-game. We simply raised the power limit to its maximum which was a meager 104%, and fan speeds were left on auto. This gave us a performance boost of up to 5% across all resolutions.
MSI Afterburner has been a part of a video card overclocker’s toolbox for quite some time now. Over the years it has improved its appearance and added additional functions, but is still a lightweight overclocking utility with built-in monitoring, save slots, and will start with Windows eliminating the need to initialize it.
Temperatures and Power Use
We test power consumption by running through the game benchmarks of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and F1 2020 at stock speeds and while overclocked. We monitor temperatures throughout this testing, with the peak temperature being what is listed in the data below. To more accurately simulate real gaming conditions, the benchmarks are extended (time) to allow the card to settle.
When we tested for temperatures, we left the fans on auto for stock and overclocking, the card peaked at 66 °C at stock and 67 °C while overclocked in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The card was quiet throughout testing and the fans never went above 35%. The Tri Forzr 2 cooling solution does an excellent job of keeping the card cool and quiet during operation.
Power use on this 200 W+ card peaked at 430 W (system) overclocked and 417 W while at stock in the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark. The RTX 3060 TI gives us great performance per Watt when compared to some of its bigger siblings and stayed well within its power rating. A quality 550 W PSU will be sufficient for most setups including overclocking both CPU and GPU and still allowing for headroom and quiet operation.
MSI’s RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio is shaping up to be a great value gaming GPU. It may not handle 4K well using Ultra settings, but would if they were dialed back a bit. At 1080p and 1440p resolutions, the RTX 3060 Ti breezed through them at full details. The card can even use Ray-Tracing at 1440p. Considering the performance is on par with the RTX 2080 Super and very close to the RTX 2080 Ti in some tests, the RTX 3060 Ti is shaping up to be our performance per dollar entry-level gaming card.
The Gaming X Trio from MSI has a lot going for it and not just its good looks. On the surface, we have a sleek-looking design and tasteful RGB LED implementation but inside also has what it takes to perform. There we have a custom PCB with ample power to push the RTX 3060 Ti core and 8 GB of GDDR6, delivering excellent performance, but the star of the show is the Tri Frozr 2 cooling solution: this improved cooling design works so well I never once heard the card sitting on the open bench which is less than a meter away.
These types of improvement typically come at a premium and this is true for all AIB offerings. Nvidia has suggested MSRP is $399 whereas the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio comes in at $469.99. But considering what we get it’s well worth it. Overall we have an excellent entry-level gaming card and can easily give the MSI RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio the Overclocker’s stamp of approval.
– Shawn Jennings (Johan45)