MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio
$1469 AUD ($759 USD)
In our review of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition
we marveled at its design, the form, how it looked like it was ripped from an ad featuring some form of stylish European future-tech. It’s a look that also features a radical departure to what we’ve seen in the GPU-space when it comes to cooling -- a fan on either side. Compared to the RTX 20 series Founders Editions, the RTX 3080 is indeed quieter and cooler by an impressive degree.
But, with partner cards for the RTX 30 series also about to hit shelves they will represent the bulk of the RTX 3080 models we see out in the wild this year. Cards that traditionally feature better cooling and tools to help monitor, overclock, or balance throughput for better performance.
For the RTX 30 series these partner cards will look familiar, featuring more traditional designs that leave the exact cooling methods and materials used to companies like MSI to flex their best Tri Frozr 2 and Torx Fan tech. Plus, RGB lighting. Of which the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio
proudly features. A card that encompasses our first RTX 3080 partner review. And it’s an impressive showing.
Now, talking about cooling so early on is to highlight what the Gaming X Trio represents -- a premium RTX 3080 from MSI that is built like a Rolls Royce. Classic design with quality through and through -- the Gaming X Trio features a Graphene backplate that remains relatively cool in addition to being sturdy. It’s whisper quiet to boot, which will have you wondering what exactly is happening with the triple fans under the (optional) brace.
Yeah, the Gaming X Trio is a beast. It has the look of a powerful GPU, but it's also large and bulky. With expanded throughput and power consumption over the Founders Edition, 340W versus 320W. The Gaming X Trio is also primed for overclocking, but even at stock settings it trumps NVIDIA’s own RTX 3080 by about 5% on average in 4K tests. In some titles it hovers close to 10% faster.
From Turing to Ampere
The below is a summary of the RTX 3030 technology, applicable to all models. An Ampere primer if you will.
The next generation of gaming across PC and consoles, in terms of AAA high-end titles, will be driven by resolution, frame-rate, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing. The latter is already here thanks to NVIDIA’s Turing line of graphics cards, first brought to the scene in 2018 with the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. The original ‘RTX On’, the 20 series of GPUs from NVIDIA made that tech-dream of real-time ray-tracing a reality.
The Gaming X Trio represents a premium RTX 3080 from MSI that is built like a Rolls Royce.
In order to make that possible, additional hardware in the form of RT Cores were brought into the picture to take some of the taxing light rays bouncing around a scene computation off the GPU processors, NVIDIA’s CUDA Cores. To ensure that games were, well, playable, Tensor Cores were also introduced -- leveraging NVIDIA’s expertise in the field of AI to drive rendering with DLSS.
Ray-tracing was groundbreaking in 2018 but it took a while to take off. Hardware appeared on shelves long before the first ray-traced games did, and from there everything from game optimisation to Windows 10 support to NVIDIA’s own AI-based DLSS rendering went through a growth period. The results though, came in due course. Remedy’s Control
with DLSS 2.0 is without a doubt one of the most impressive visual feats we’ve seen in a long time. And with Cyberpunk 2077
and Watch Dogs: Legion
coming soon, with RTX and DLSS support to boot, there’s plenty of room for a sequel.
This is where Ampere comes in, the architecture that powers NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series. Think of it as the second generation of RTX – the PlayStation 2 to the original PlayStation. Ampere features second generation RT Cores (NVIDIA’s dedicated ray-tracing hardware) and third-generation Tensor Cores (the AI stuff that makes DLSS the perfect match for hardware intensive ray-tracing in addition to simply boosting performance).
But these are only two of the RTX 3080 stars. There’s also cutting-edge memory in the form of a fast 10GB of GDDR6X, developed in partnership with Micron. Then there’s the new custom Samsung 8nm process, re-designed board with a ‘Select All’ to a few of the RTX 2080 numbers and multiplies them by two. Ampere is all about the future -- resolution, frame-rate, AI-rendering, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing.
Of Numbers and Heat Sinks
As one of the first Ampere GPUs from MSI, the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio takes the route of using all of the architectural advances that come with NVIDIA’s new line-up to create a graphics card that is not only about keeping things cool, but offering up the sort of tools and features that would make any high-end PC extend its arms in a welcoming embrace. Translation, open up the case and throw out whatever was keeping the PCIE slot warm.
MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio
- Architecture (GPU): Ampere
- CUDA Cores: 8704
- RT Cores: 68
- Tensor Cores: 272
- GPU Boost Clock: 1815 MHz
- Memory Capacity: 10GB GDDR6X
- Memory Interface 320-bit
- Memory Speed: 19 Gbps
- Output: DisplayPort x 3 (v1.4a) / HDMI 2.1 x 1
- TDP: 340W
- Dimensions: 323 x 140 x 56mm
- Weight (with packaging): 1565 g
With double the CUDA Core count of the RTX 2080 Ti, thanks to NVIDIA following the “it’s smaller so let's put more of them in'' approach, Ampere is powerful. Throw in fast GDDR6X memory and bandwidth and support for PCIE Gen4, the story could just as easily become entirely focused on the power increase over the RTX 20 series. It’s a combination of the above, alongside the new RT Cores and Tensor Cores that provide the bigger picture.
The MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio is entirely focused on leveraging the RTX 3080 architecture and putting it’s full power into the hands of gamers whilst keeping things both cool and quiet.
That said, the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio is entirely focused on leveraging the RTX 3080 architecture and putting it’s full power into the hands of gamers whilst keeping things both cool and quiet. Yes, it’s larger and heavier than the Founders Edition but the Gaming X Trio is a checklist of smart, and puzzling (at first) design. Smart, great fans that offer speed and "shhh" levels of silence.
The look of surprise when unboxing this beast came with seeing that it uses three, yeah three, 8-pin PCIE power connectors. For a total power draw of up-to 340W. Why three instead of two? Well, the Gaming X Trio features a custom PCB (the, err, thingy that regulates power and stuff) coupled with cooling that results in efficient performance. In terms of in-game stuff, not potential power bills.
With an idle temp in the mid 30-degrees Celsius range and topping out at around 65-degrees when pushed (after an extended benchmarking session) -- the Gaming X Trio is a pure class. Something for those that want high-end RTX 30 series performance, consistency, and enough head-room to Overclock without worry. The fact that it has a Graphene back-plate that stays relatively cool says it all. Don’t tell MSI but we, very carefully, kept touching it.
It’s worth noting that we tested the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio with stock out-of-the-box settings paired with MSI’s excellent Afterburner and Dragon Center software to monitor temperatures and clock speeds. Of which, via NVIDIA’s own FrameView software, Gaming X Trio (seemingly) runs at the same overall clock speeds as the Founders Edition model - the default boost sits at a higher 1815 MHz. With lower temps and excellent power management and throughput, i.e. efficiency, no doubt the following numbers could be pushed even higher.
In the single ‘very slight’ overclocking we applied hitting around 10% faster on average than the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition is entirely possible. Which is impressive. In all tests carried out, the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio performed faster than the Founders Edition.
Well, there was one exception - Far Cry New Dawn in 4K. Which ran identical across both cards. Those neon future cultists just wouldn’t have it. But enough jibber jabber, onto the charts!
But first, a brief summary of our testing hardware.
- GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
- Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY
- Memory: HyperX FURY DDR4 RGB (32GB at 3600 MHz)
4K gaming is where the RTX 3080 shines, with the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio performing on average 40% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti -- at a lower cost. That’s worth mentioning because in terms of high-end PC gaming in 4K, the 2080 Ti has been the only real option for cranking detail settings all the way up. Maintaining 60fps at 4K or higher? Hello Gaming X Trio.
40%. Insane. That equates to over 150fps in DOOM Eternal, 146fps on average in Forza Horizon 4. Even something like 80fps in Horizon Zero Dawn is remarkable. That’s around a 90% increase over the RTX 2080 SUPER.
In terms of official review materials the big talking point from NVIDIA and its partners has been that the RTX 3080 provides a massive leap over the RTX 2080. And that makes sense, in terms of price-point and like-for-like comparison the RTX 3080 is the 2080 successor. On that front the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio is anywhere from 50-100% faster. It can climb even higher when it comes to ray-tracing in stuff like Minecraft and Quake II RTX which feature full path-tracing.
Lower the resolution to 1440p though, and the story changes. The MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio still outperforms the RTX 3080 Founders Edition, but the performance increase over the RTX 2080 Ti drops to an average of 26%. Why? Well, we’re not entirely sure.
We know testing in 1080p would result in bottlenecks so maybe that’s the case with 1440p and high end cards like the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 3080. Or, the gains are limited to the best optimised titles out there. Case in point, DOOM Eternal at close to 250fps on max settings in 1440p is something to behold.
Ray Tracing and DLSS
When it comes to ray-tracing performance, thanks to the next-gen RT Cores and Tensor cores for DLSS, the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio performs over 50% faster than the 2080 Ti on average. Ray-tracing has matured to the point where the RTX 3080 offers triple-digit performance with DLSS at 1440p. That's over 100fps in Control.
Which, yeah, is remarkable.
After a barrage of numbers and percentages that represent the sort of finer detail, there is a practical application. Maths, as teachers tell students, can help you when you get a job. As we all know that’s a lie, the truth is maths will help you when you use the money from said job to build a new PC gaming rig specifically for CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077. Based on the RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio’s performance, with ray-tracing and DLSS we’re all but prepared to see that insanity running at near 100-fps on a PC.
If not, well we’ve got the tools to get there.
The OC Way
One of the benefits of partner cards is access to monitoring tools and software that lets you tweak fan curves and maybe even dabble in a little overclocking, and on that front MSI’s Afterburner software is easily one of the best out there. When paired with MSI’s Dragon Center, which offers an easy to read UI, you get a great moment-to-moment look at your PC hardware.
When it comes to ray-tracing performance, thanks to the next-gen RT Cores and Tensor cores for DLSS, the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio performs over 50% faster than the 2080 Ti on average.
With its larger power draw and three 8-pin requirement, OC LYF is a part of the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio. Again, it’s faster than NVIDIA’s Founders Edition. The Gaming X Trio’s physical design and excellent cooling definitely place it in the high-end enthusiast realm, as does the price. In terms of tinkering we’re keen to tap into that potential. Even using it’s out of the box spec the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio is one of the most powerful GPUs on the planet. That is, until the MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio arrives.