MSI GeForce RTX™ 3090 GAMING X TRIO

It’s not everyday that you get an email asking if you’d like to try out the world’s fastest gaming Graphics Card, not only that but considering that pretty much anything RTX related these days is about as scarce as finding a needle in a haystack, when MSI reached out asking if we wanted to test the GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio, we immediately agreed.

While we can’t exactly comment on the price of this behemoth as stock levels and pricing is all over the place right now (thanks, covid), we can at least test it out and see what it’s like to live like a king for a couple weeks.

To test the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio we paired it up with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, 16GB Aorus DDR4 3600 MHz CL18 RAM, B550 Aorus Elite PCIe 4.0 capable Motherboard, 1TB Sabrent PCIe 4.0 SSD, Cooler Master Hyper 212+ Cooler, Cooler Master Silencio S600 Chassis and Cooler Master V750 Power Supply. While Nvidia suggest that you use a 850W PSU for this monster, we were pretty confident that the 750W in our test bench would suffice as the rest of the components weren’t particularly power hungry.

The MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio might not be their highest end card at this point, with only the MSI 3090 Suprim above it, but it’s one heck of a unit. Its dimensions are 323 x 140 x 56mm taking up 3 expansion slots in your chassis. It requires 3x 8-pin PCIe power connectors to drive its insane 10496 Cuda Cores, 24GB of 382-bit GDDR6X Memory running at 19500 MHz and its core is rated at 1785 MHz Boost, an 80MHz increase over the GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition. The RTX 3090 features 82 2nd Generation Ray Tracing Cores, 328 3rd Generation Tensor Cores, and is capable of running their proprietary technologies such as Nvidia DLSS, Nvidia Broadcast and G-Sync. As for I/O the MSI 3090 Gaming X Trio features 3x DisplayPort 1.4a and 1x HDMI 2.1 capable of running resolutions up to 4K at 120Hz or 8K (7680×4320) at 60Hz.

MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio Specifications

Specifications aside, how well does the RTX 3090 run our test-suite of games? We left everything at stock as Nvidia’s GPU Boost sets the frequency of the GPU at the highest possible MHz according to how hot the card runs. For testing we ran Horizon Zero Dawn, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and a few of the 3DMark Benchmarks.

Horizon Zero Dawn sees impressive results from 1080p up to 4K, with the RTX 3090 averaging over 60fps in all three resolutions with the game set to Ultimate Quality Preset. The minimum framerate stays consistent through all resolutions at around 45fps which is completely playable. While Nvidia touts the RTX 3090 being capable of 8K gaming, the MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio only manages to pull 29fps average at this resolution. It is worth noting that Horizon Zero Dawn was originally made for consoles targeting this framerate so it’s still deemed “playable”, but the experience at 4K is a lot smoother.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider shows a similar story with framerates being more than playable from 1080p through 4K resolutions with both Ultra Quality Preset in RTX-on and RTX-off. The inclusion of DLSS in SottR helps drive the framerates up when RTX is enabled and literally no stutter is ever seen at the highest possible graphics detail. Again, such as with Horizon Zero Dawn, the RTX 3090 only manages to pull just under 30fps at 8K resolution. It’s worth noting that you would be able to lower the graphics detail at this resolution to try get closer to a smooth 60fps mark, but with 4K being over 60fps at highest detail already it really doesn’t seem worth it unless you really just want to show off your new 8K TV running a game in native resolution.

Looking at the results of Metro Exodus above, by now it should be obvious that there’s a trend when it comes to the RTX 3090 Gaming Performance. Regardless of what settings you use the RTX 3090 is capable of above 60fps gaming up to 4K Resolution, thanks to the included 2nd Gen RTX Cores and 3rd Gen Tensor cores, the RTX 3090 is able to run the latest games with RTX-On when DLSS is enabled, allowing for a visually stunning and smooth gaming experience. Even with its gargantuan 24GB of VRAM, 8K gaming at highest detail is not yet possible unless you’re looking for that “cinematic frame rate” but realistically with barely any 8K displays being on the market it’s not really a concern for us as 4K gaming barely manages a sweat on this card.

To test thermals and sustained clock frequency we ran five back to back runs of 3DMark Port Royal, with the final fun ending on a score of 13 101. Diving into the details of the benchmark we saw an average Clock frequency of 1851 MHz, a whole 66MHz higher than the advertised 1785 MHz, all while maintaining a reasonable temperature of 72°C while in the not so airflow friendly Cooler Master Silencio chassis.

A relatively new benchmark included in 3DMark is the Nvidia DLSS feature test, which shows off DLSS in its Quality and Performance settings. For those not in the know, Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) is a post-processing technique that uses a pre-trained deep neural network to extract features of the rendered scene and intelligently construct a high-quality final image. This means rendering in a lower resolution, and then “upscaling” to the targeted resolution.

At 4K resolution in the Quality Mode (1440p Internal Resolution) the framerate is increased from 29.5fps to 52fps, and with the Performance Mode (1080p Render Resolution) the framerate increases to 73.58fps. While 29.5fps would likely still be classed as “playable”, the Performance and Quality Presets help to make the game smoother getting ever closer to the 60fps sweet spot. Running the feature test at 8K without DLSS sees a grim 7.6fps average. With Quality Mode (~1440p Internal) the framerate increases to 14.62fps, Performance Mode (1080p Internal) still sees an unplayable 21.94fps and Ultra Performance Mode (720p Internal) finally achieves a playable 33.64fps. If it isn’t crystal clear by now, even with DLSS 2.0 enabled there’s practically no reason to try output 8K as the internal resolution needed to get to this output resolution is very low and only about as fast as just running a game at native 4K.

While we could test out the mining performance of the RTX 3090, we decided to rather leave this out of our review as we’re not prepared for the pitch-forks of gamers who aren’t able to pick up GPUs due to global shortages, that and the fact that mining has really gotten out of hand – read our article on the energy consumption of the Bitcoin network here.

The RTX 3090 is clearly a titan when it comes to 4K Gaming, but gaming isn’t the only reason that some users may be interested in picking up one of these GPUs. The enormous amount of CUDA cores and VRAM also makes it a great GPU to consider for professional use, in terms of compute.

While running both Blender’s bmw27 and classroom benchmarks, the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio completely stomps on the Ryzen 5 5600X in our test bench. Going from 3 minutes and 47 seconds in the bmw27 benchmark, down to only 20 seconds while using CUDA Rendering, and only 9 seconds with Optix. These gains alone could easily justify a user wanting to purchase one of these to speed up their workflow. The classroom benchmark shows even more impressive results, from 9 minutes and 45 seconds using the CPU – enough time to walk to the kitchen, put the kettle on, and make a coffee – down to less than a minute with CUDA and only 37 seconds using Optix. As much as frames per cost is a consideration for gamers, shaving minutes off of a professional users workflow could easily account for the exorbitant price of the RTX 3090.

It’s clear that when Nvidia said that the RTX 3090 was basically the new RTX Titan, they meant it. The MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio is by far the fastest Graphics Card we have ever encountered. It absolutely crushes Games at resolutions of 4K, and while 8K is just a pipe dream for now, any lower resolutions are practically small change to this GPU. While pricing and availability is mostly uncertain at this point due to global shortages, it doesn’t change the fact that this card is virtually the Bugatti of the GPU world, and its users aren’t those who consider price before purchase. If you have the money for this card it’s clear you’re in for a treat, though if you’re a peasant like me running anything under 4K you’d probably be better off getting the RTX 3080/3070 or something more reasonably priced.

9/10

MSI GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING X TRIO

Tremendous Performance at a Stupendous Price.