MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G
The arrival of the GeForce RTX 3050
presents a new way to look at an entry-level graphics card, as NVIDIA
’s RTX technologies make their way to the entire GeForce line-up. Of course GPU pricing is still on the crazy side, so calling anything entry-level is weird, but there are indications that the situation is settling down and will continue to drop over the next several months as supplies normalise.
Basically, it’s now possible to order an “in stock and ready to ship” RTX 3080, RTX 3070, RTX 3060, and RTX 3050. Okay so that little sales detour aside, the exciting aspect of the new GeForce RTX 3050 is how it can leverage technologies like DLSS rendering to support ray-tracing in demanding titles with respectable performance. As a proper DirectX 12 (and HDMI 2.1) card it also has no issue running modern, demanding titles, at 1080p with detail settings cranked all the way up or somewhere in the ‘high’ or ‘very high’ region. The inclusion of an impressive 8GB of GDDR6 memory certainly helps in this regard.
DLSS is definitely a secret weapon for the RTX 3050, with or without ray-tracing. Especially for the 1080p focus. With the RTX tech enabled we were able to push DOOM Eternal
into the 140 frames-per-second region on the MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G
. Another stand-out bit of performance was seen in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
with ray-tracing and DLSS enabled, which hit close to 90fps in 1080p and even 70fps in 1440p.
Naturally, there’s a drop-off when compared to the RTX 3060, but the results still firmly sit on the impressive side. And with MSI’s Gaming X version of the RTX 3050 you’ve got a near-silent GPU that runs ridiculously cool out of the box.
Inside The RTX 30 Series
The below is a summary of the RTX 30 Series technology, applicable to all RTX 3050 models. An Ampere primer if you will.
With the arrival of the RTX 30 series, AMD’s latest Radeon RX line, and the one-two console combo that is the PlayStation 5
and Xbox Series X
-- we’re seeing more and more real-time ray-tracing and cutting edge visuals as the months roll by.
This new generation of games across PC and consoles, in terms of AAA high-end titles, is driven by resolution, frame-rate, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing. The latter is well and truly here thanks to NVIDIA’s Turing and Ampere 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’ made that tech-dream of real-time ray-tracing a reality.
DLSS is definitely a secret weapon for the RTX 3050, with or without ray-tracing. Especially for the 1080p focus.
From NVIDIA’s side, being first to implement ray-tracing also meant being on the cutting edge from the get-go, and at the forefront of in-game performance. Additional hardware in the form of RT Cores were brought into the picture to take some of the taxing computation off of GPU processors. To ensure that games ran at the coveted 60-fps, Tensor Cores were added into the mix -- building on NVIDIA’s expertise in the field of AI to drive rendering with DLSS.
, Cyberpunk 2077
, and more -- DLSS is without a doubt one of the most impressive visual feats we’ve seen in a long time. With or without ray-tracing, it allows for a generation leap in performance without sacrificing visual quality. 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).
There’s also the new chipset that radically re-designs the Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) to effectively double the concurrent calculations and what have you. To get technical we’re talking about FP32 and INT32 operations, two things that are, err, things. In the end Ampere is all about the future -- resolution, frame-rate, AI-rendering, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing using smart design that features forward thinking innovations.
It’s the stuff that powers the GeForce RTX 3050, making it as much ‘next-gen’ as it is entry-level RTX.
Of Numbers and Heat Sinks
In a lot of ways it’s graphics cards on the lower end of the product pricing scale that impress on the account of efficiency and a ‘bang for your buck’ mentality driving the design. This is not to say that the GeForce RTX 3080
and GeForce RTX 3090
aren’t marvels of design, it’s just that they push the Ampere architecture as far as it can go in terms of speeds and power and cooling requirements and all of that stuff. As the entry-level RTX 30 series option the RTX 3050 runs off a single power connector and only draws 130W when in peak usage mode.
As the entry-level RTX 30 series option the RTX 3050 runs off a single power connector and only draws 130W when in peak usage mode.
This leads to smaller in-case real-estate too, with the added benefit of not having to worry about whether or not it’ll fit, on top of whether or not your power-supply could handle the change.
MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G
- Architecture (GPU): Ampere
- CUDA Cores: 2560
- RT Cores: 20
- Tensor Cores: 80
- GPU Boost Clock: 1845 MHz
- Memory Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
- Memory Interface/Clock: 128-bit/7000 MHz
- Memory Bandwidth: 224 GB/s
- TDP: 130W
Compared to the mainstream GeForce RTX 3060 there is roughly a 30% reduction when it comes to things like CUDA Cores, RT Cores, Tensor Cores, and even memory stuff. This all points to a limit of 1080p when it comes to fast frame-rates, though the addition of 8GB of GDDR6 memory does open the door to a lot more demanding titles and visual effects.
As there was no RTX 2050, this is a direct successor to the GeForce GTX 1050 - a card that is now well and truly showing its age. The addition of RTX features presents a true generation or two leap, bringing it in line with the expectation we all have of 60 fps gaming. Something you wouldn’t think would be possible, but it is across a huge range of titles.
More Than a Number
One of the big draws that comes from NVIDIA’s latest GPU range sits beyond raw performance, it’s the stuff that is either here right now -- like DLSS and ray-tracing -- or on the horizon. Resizable BAR support, as seen in the RTX 3080 Laptop GPU
, impacts the RTX 3050 by improving 1080p and higher performance by better utilising PCIe express lanes across AMD and Intel-based CPUs.
As there was no RTX 2050, this is a direct successor to the GeForce GTX 1050 - a card that is now well and truly showing its age. The addition of RTX features presents a true generation or two leap, bringing it in line with the expectation we all have of 60 fps gaming.
In terms of competitive games and esports, NVIDIA Reflex
is something of a game changer in its own right, lowering system latency across a wide range of titles (that is reducing the time between input and the action you actually see being carried out on screen) like Fortnite, Apex Legends
, Rainbow Six Extraction
, and even God of War
Paired with NVIDIA G-Sync it’s another value-add and forward thinking bit of tech that goes beyond looking at fps. For content creators RTX Broadcast
turns any space into a streaming setup with AI powered voice controls (that can go so far as to remove the background noise of a hair-dryer or lawn-mower) and green-screen-free green-screen effects. The same goes for video production, where rendering and editing videos is fast thanks to Ampere.
All of these cool things are the direct result of hardware, software, and AI coming together - a testament to a future where raw power only represents part of the story.
That said, it also comes down to numbers. Frames-per-second, response times, and 3D Mark scores that we all assume mean something. The key indicator whenever we put a GPU through its paces is to figure out the resolution where 60-fps and higher is possible without having to do a lot of tweaking to settings.
Performance and visual fidelity go hand-in-hand, with the other big question mark associated with the RTX 3050 being - can it handle ray-tracing and still be playable? Here’s how the MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G performs at both 1080p and 1440p on the following hardware.
NVIDIA’s latest GeForce Experience offers a simple one-button ‘autotune’ overclocking function -- which improves performance based on a variety of factors. The following figures are based on stock settings.
- GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
- Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY
- Memory: HyperX FURY DDR4 RGB (32GB at 3600 MHz)
As expected, the GeForce RTX 3050 delivers at 1080p, with performance bolstered by DLSS rendering. Although not available across the board, DLSS is showing up in most new high-profile PC releases which is great to see. With both Far Cry 6
and Forza Horizon 5
hitting over 60fps in 1080p with detail settings turned up, it presents a pretty impressive picture of the RTX 3050’s raw performance capabilities.
Now, comparing a DLSS enabled game to performance when the setting is unavailable or turned off isn’t a like-for-like comparison. DLSS is after-all a form of upscaling, albeit one powered by AI hardware that turns in results close or even better than that of native rendering. It’s inclusion here is more than a “nice to have”, it’s a key feature. With more and more titles adding DLSS support, it’s something that makes sense to include in benchmarks.
The benchmark results also highlight how the 8GB of memory helps when upping the resolution to 1440p. Although we wouldn’t recommend this for those with a native 1440p display, the drop-off is definitely a lot smaller than we thought it would be when bumping up the resolution.
With both Far Cry 6 and Forza Horizon 5 hitting over 60fps in 1080p with detail settings turned up, it presents a pretty impressive picture of the RTX 3050’s raw performance capabilities.
There are of course titles that don’t quite hit the 60-fps target even at 1080p, like Cyberpunk 2077
, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
, and Total War: Warhammer III
- which represent some of the most demanding games on PC today. This wasn’t all that surprising, but does mean that messing with settings to get the highest possible frame-rate is something RTX 3050 owners will have to do.
Compared to the RTX 3060’s 1080p performance, which we heralded as the main reason to go that option, you’re looking at a drop-off of around 19% in raw performance with the MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G. As one of the fastest, if not the fastest, RTX 3050 cards on the market - this represents the ideal version of that sort of comparison too.
Switching gears to competitive games, something that’s becoming the go-to reason to upgrade or put together a budget-oriented build, the RTX 3050 is a great option. With DLSS and NVIDIA Reflex, the 140-fps performance of Rainbow Six Extraction points to a similar situation for titles like Rainbow Six Siege
, Fortnite, CS:GO, and others.
Entry Level RTX
As far as RTX 3050 design and technology goes there’s a lot to like, especially as an entry-level bit of RTX On. When it comes to the MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G though, you’re also looking at one of the most robust, well-built, and down-right impressive options to boot. From the metal backplate to the heatsink to MSI’s cutting edge fan design, this thing is basically silent and when pushed on stock settings the temperature sits in the 55-60 degree region.
When it comes to the MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming X 8G though, you’re also looking at one of the most robust, well-built, and down-right impressive options.
Pretty awesome, and with out-of-the-box Boost Clock speeds higher than other RTX 3050 offerings (like the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3050 EAGLE 8G
we recently reviewed) we found that it ran cooler and faster across most benchmark tests carried out. The catch of course is pricing, with this Gaming X coming at a noticeably higher price-point than other models. Something to take into consideration for sure.
With the full RTX 30 series line-up out in the wild (barring a few more Ti-sized surprises) the RTX 3050’s entry-level performance does present a big difference when stacked up against the RTX 3070s and RTX 3080s of the world. But the benefits of Ampere are here, even for something that aims for acceptable 1080p performance. From DLSS to ray-tracing to the content creator benefits that come from the RTX range, it’s all here. It all works. And, it’s all impressive.