MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 Review

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Introduction

The MSI 3080 Gaming X Trio is our next round of review for the GeForce RTX 3080 graphics cards, after our detailed performance review of the Asus RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC. From a theoretical perspective, the RTX 3080 is the best graphics card on the market after the RTX 3090 cards. But there is a problem regarding the demand and supply of these cards as they are extremely desirable cards with extensive performance. Due to their high demand, the customers complain about their availability in the online market.

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 front

The price for the MSI Gaming X 3080 Trio directly competes with the Asus 3080 TUF OC with almost the same set of features. However, the MSI 3080 X Trio includes a larger fan and more RGB lighting for the money. Also included is a support bracket, which is very appreciable among the gaming community. This 2-slot mounting bracket weighs 3.5 pounds. That is what we have seen on similar cards. Additionally, it features more than the usual three PCIe 8-pin power connectors for getting additional juice. Many people commented on the use of these connectors, claiming that they are either useful or merely decorative.Well, from our performance analysis, they show a connection with the overclock.

The specifications are identical to the ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 OC, except the MSI RTX 3080 card defaults to an 1815 MHz boost clock, while the Asus RTX 3080 OC card defaults to a 1785 MHz boost clock. We will discuss these differences at a later time, but for now, let’s just say that the specifications of the MSI and Asus are equal, except the MSI has a slight performance advantage due to its default boost clock. Even on ASUS, you can get close to these numbers with ASUS GPU Tweak ll.To be perfectly honest, I enjoy that I do not have to install another piece of software, but that may not be the case for everyone.

While the Asus card is just slightly less expensive, in the end, the MSI card is an excellent substitute for the ASUS and Nvidia Founders Edition cards. But at the end of the day, the availability of the RTX 3080 cards decides the buying decision. This is only speculation on our part, but there have been unconfirmed reports indicating that demand for the Ampere release was almost four times more than what Nvidia witnessed with the Turing debut that happened in the past. That is not surprising for us, as the Ampere architect is a dramatic improvement in performance over the previous technology. In this, we have seen the ultimate improvements in deep learning, gaming hardware, and infamous ray tracing. This is the sudden improvement in the RTX cards as it certainly contributes towards performance boost and technology improvement.

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080

Muhammad Kashif

Design
Price
Features

Summary

The MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 is a high-performance graphics card that comes in large form factor due to higher TDP and an extensive triple-fan cooling system. The MSI card has impressive stats and shows great performance on our benchmark tests. The latest driver updates by NVIDIA covered all the insecurities that we observed in the card at launch.

4.7

Specifications

ManufacturerMSI
ModelGeForce RTX 3080 GAMING X TRIO 10G
GPUNvidia Ampere GA102
GPU Memory Size10 GB
GPU Memory TypeGDDR6X
Clock Rate1440 MHz
Boost Clock Rate1815 MHz
Memory Interface320-bit
Memory Clocks19 Gbps
Memory Consumption340W
Power connector3x 8-pin
Recommended PSU750W
Display outputsDisplayPort x 3, HDMI x 1
Multi-Display CapabilityYes, 4
DirectX12 API
OpenGL4.6

Instead of making substantial adjustments from the Founder Edition and ASUS cards, MSI decided to only bump the boost clock from 1,710MHz to 1,815MHz in the Gaming X Trio. This probably isn’t the first in a long line of other variants. We saw our first sign of what was to come in the design of the MSI variant as the “10GB” ending of the name, which indicates 10GB of VRAM. 

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 dimension

There is certain aesthetic customization in the MSI 3080. There is a single LED strip located on the front-facing side of the card. This is a programmable LED strip that stretches over virtually the entire length of the card. And to talk about length, this card has been generously provided with lots of length at a staggering 12.3 inches from front to back. The size of the card is not ideal for small-sized rigs. In the event that you are thinking of installing compact rigs, you will need some great skills to arrange the things inside. But with years of experience with PC building, any dedicated gamer can plant this card inside with creativity.

A Closure Look

The MSI Gaming RTX 3080 is similar to the NVIDIA Founders Edition and ASUS 3080 cards. Even its similarity with the prior generations is evident. Upon its initial release, the card showed a distinctive feature, but upon our hands-on experience, we observed it to be similar to the MSI RTX 2080 Trio. Despite their visual similarity, the VRAM and GPU are unique.

The MSI RTX 3080 cuts off access to the PCIe slots and does not support SLI. But if you are using ATX and similar builds, then you can use two GPUs at most. To maintain the temperature to the normal ranges, three 90 mm fans are present. The fans have a perfectly integrated rim that covers them on the outside. The blades mount on the rim that boosts the static pressure and air direct flow.

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 tripple fan

The MSI has a white plastic strip above the GPU, which helps to diffuse the illumination. This is the primary light source to illuminate the GPU. The MSI logo on the top is lit using RGB lighting. However, the lights are much dimmer. Also, the front of the card has three RGB-illuminated light spots. Unfortunately, most of the time, these lights are covered up by the case.

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 RGB

The outputs on the MSI Gaming RTX 3080 Trio are identical to those on the 3080 Foundation Edition. There are three 1.4a DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI 2.1 output. In this category, Asus receives the benefit, as it features dual HDMI 2.1 ports. Three 8-pin PEG connectors are a big addition and should be taken into consideration. If you do not have a power supply capable of at least 850W, then you should make certain to upgrade it before upgrading to an RTX 3080 card as they work on this power. Furthermore, the higher-wattage PSU is not as extravagant if you plan on overclocking, as a 1200W or greater PSU is sufficient.

Check Out ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3080

There is still one question mark remaining about the capacitor layout on the GPU. Some people have claimed that with a pure MLCC configuration, they can use up to six blocks in the desired arrangement. A single MLCC with five SP-caps for the rest of the sections is enough.  We have seen evident cases of RTX 3080 cards encountering problems while being set up at the factory settings. They also routinely crashed during testing. In the end, the subsequent improvements to the current 456.55 drivers seem to have remedied the prior unreliability, and using only pure MLCC and pure SP-Caps or a combination of these two appears to be a less significant variable for these performance issues as previously related before the 456.55 driver release.

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 ports

In recent high-end GPUs, there are hundreds of components and capacitors that are spread out throughout the PCB. Trying to put instability in any one area is wishful thinking unless you have tools, prior expertise, and restricted-level access to things like Nvidia. Furthermore, you should also remark that driver performance stayed stable when relative to the launching drivers. A small percentage of the time, it is exactly 1% faster; yet on other occasions, it is about 2% faster. We could get the same level of variance if we run our tests on each GPU multiple times.

The removal of the heatsink and backplate from the rest of the body is quite simple for MSI 3080 Trio. Four screws hold the GPU positioning bracket, but 11 more are used to hold the enormous heatsink to the motherboard. Without the screws in place, it is only thermal paste and thermal pads that regularize the temperature. These both bind the three layers of the board together, and removing them is as simple as loosening a couple of screws.

One of the sites where there are multiple thermal pads is where the average power consumption is 340W. The immense amount of work involved in keeping the capacitors, VRAMs, GPU, and inductors cool. The thermal pads have another purpose as well. They protect the cooler from compressing or harming certain components. A considerable amount of thermal paste needs to be put into the GPU as well. When something is plentiful, it is good to pour too much of it. The prevailing belief about the thermal paste is that you should use enough yet getting more will not have any effect on the card.

MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 back plate

This motherboard comes with 10-phase power distribution for the GPU. Although a lot of changes have happened in the memory system of the RTX 30-series, it is possible that the primary change was an increase in the performance of the GDDR6X memory. When it comes to the 20 series, we have noticed additional parts like chokes, resistors, and capacitors. All these parts actively contribute towards supporting the 340W GPU in the RTX 3080.

Overclocking

Before the release of new drivers for MSI RTX 3080, it was a perception that the cards were operating already at their peak. It had stability issues that many users faced. Overclocking is a tricky process where you find a perfect balance between performance and stability. We achieved a stable overclock by increasing the clock to 20 MHz to test some benchmarks in the old driver. But with the new drivers in hand, we observed an increase in its overclocking limits.

In our case, we find out the increase in the voltage on new drivers is not fruitful. At the start, we increased the voltage by a good 100mV but that proved a terrible idea and it disturbed the stability. Later on, even a 40-50mV increase does produce the same results. It should also be noted that for many users, the voltage and frequency curves are nerfed, but this is not a limiting factor for normal cooling.

There is not much space for overclocking in MSI Gaming RTX 3080. The overclocking is mostly relevant to the game in which you are trying. However, the values can sit between 65 to 125 MHz on the GPU cores when run on MSI Afterburner. The gap seems obvious, but in the real world, the performance seems the same. For example, we have tested Metro Exodus and on the stock clock it showed an average value of 1980 MHz, while on the overclocked state the GPU showed a clock of 2070 MHz,

Besides GPU overclock, memory overclocking has shown more promising results compared to the Founders Edition RTX 3080. The MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 generates 20.5 Gpbs speeds on the GDDR6X RAM which is 750 MHz more. The results are similar to the other RTX 3080 cards and it packs more than 8% boost, which is at least better than the base value.

When asked about the overall impact of the overclock, it appears to be almost negligible. When we run under extreme stress, performance appears to improve only slightly. The improvement was only 3% for the 4K ultra over stock performance. However, for using it for the long term, we recommend no power overclock, +450 MHz increase in memory for getting relatively stable stats and performance.

Power and Temperature Testing

The MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 consumes more power than the Founders Edition and ASUS GTX 3080 cards. It accounts for 20W more and is limited to 340W. To analyze the relation between power consumption and the performance of the card, we have tested the benchmarks. We extracted the power drawing capacity of the GPU with the help of Powenetics, which works collectively with the GPU-Z. The temperature reading, GPU clock speed, and fan speed are easy to observe using software and hardware monitoring.

To test the extreme settings, we have used a graphic intensive game with 1440p resolution and extreme presets. Alongside the game, we ran FurMark on the most extreme stress settings. During the whole process, the DLSS and ray tracing remained off to properly record the statistics. For comparing and evaluating the performance of users, we have run the tests on both 456.38 and 456.55 drivers.

During our test using FurMark extreme settings, we saw a clear increase in power consumption of MSI Gaming X Trio GeForce 3080 over the Founders Edition cards. It consumed nearly 25W more power. This power consumption is even greater than the ASUS RTX 3080 cards and surprisingly touches the values of RTX 3090 Founders Edition. Despite the increased power consumption, there is a significant performance increase of 3% over the RTX 3080 FE. Finally, the MSI RTX 3080 represents a significant improvement over previous generations of cards. However, we have observed that the hype created by the 456.55 drivers for performance increase is not true. They contribute to other factors rather than performance.

MSI Gaming Trio RTX 3080 noise and temperature are well balanced and show premium quality and manufacturing excellence. We have recorded 48.9 dB on the MSI variant, which is only 1 dB less than the ASUS 3080 variant. This is the result of a lower fan speed which is approximately 250 RPM lower. The combination of high performance and lower fan speed results in quieter running and lower temperatures. In new drivers, the temperature further lowers down as a cut has been made to the power consumption and voltage. Previous drivers were near to the temperature readings of the RTX 3080 Founders Edition. It reaches 70 degrees in most conditions, which is manageable and should not be an issue in most cases. However, you can use MSI Afterburner to control the fan values and its speed curve. Slowing it down decreases the temperature, but a balance of temperature and performance is ideal.

Gaming Performance

The overclocked MSI provides increased performance in relation to the factory overclock. After a successful overclock, we have observed that the MSI is 3% quicker than the RTX 3080 Foundation Edition at 1440p ultra-resolution. This is not a very huge increase but impressive for demanding games. When tested on 4K ultra-resolution we observed a 3.5% faster performance. The cost increase of MSI Gaming X Trio 3080 is 7%, but it is actually worth it as the lower temperature and RGB setup are better on this card. Out of all the RTX 3080 cards that we have tested, the MSI RTX 3080 emerges as a solid choice for spending your bucks.

Although the MSI Gaming X Trio 3080 is the clear leader in most areas, there are some other RTX 3080 cards that we still need to test for performance. Please keep in mind that we tested the Asus card in both the default “Gaming Mode” and “OC Mode,” but the MSI 3080 still takes the top spot on the performance sheet with its outstanding performance and features. In our view, this extra boost on MSI is due to the larger TDP and extra cooling performance owing to its triple fan design. Even though the margin between the MSI 3080 Trio and the other 3080 cards we’ve evaluated is minimal, the MSI 3080 X Trio frequently emerges victorious in various comparisons.

Bottom Line

The MSI GeForce X Trio GeForce RTX 3080 became the best performing RTX 3080 we’ve tested thus far. Of course, you’ll need a large enclosure and triple 8-pin power connectors, but a moderate power supply should suffice for anybody planning to use the RTX 3080. This is an excellent alternative for anyone who desires a better factory overclock without having to mess with the hardware. Due to a large gap between availability and demand, purchasing an RTX 3080 remains difficult. You can either seek a reference-clocked model or pay a large premium for a factory-overclocked system.

Reasons to Buy
  • The higher factory overclock rate than the Foundation edition
  • Significant performance boost over other 3080 GPUs
  • Quiet triple fan model
  • Fantastic potential for memory overclocking
  • Bright RGB lights
Reasons to Avoid
  • Requires additional case space due to gigantic dimensions
  • Special requirement of three 8-pin power connectors
  • The triple-fan model still runs hot

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