MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio review: A silent, face-melting behemoth

Big and badass

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Rainbow Six Siege

Like GTA V, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege still dominates the Steam charts years after its launch, and it’ll be getting a visual upgrade for the next-gen consoles. The developers have poured a ton of work into the game’s AnvilNext engine over the years, eventually rolling out a Vulkan version of the game that we use to test. By default, the game lowers the render scaling to increase frame rates, but we set it to 100 percent to benchmark native rendering performance on graphics cards. Even still, frame rates soar.

rb6 Brad Chacos/IDG

Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2020 benchmark at 4K for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else. We note the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter, which measures the power consumption of our entire test system. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

This isn’t a worst-case test; we remove the Core i7 8700K’s overclock and specifically choose a GPU-bound game running at a GPU-bound resolution to gauge performance when the graphics card is sweating hard. If you’re playing a game that also hammers the CPU, you could see higher overall system power draws. We saw over 500W of whole-system power draw in some scenarios. Consider yourself warned.

power Brad Chacos/IDG

The RTX 3080 cards draw substantially more power than their predecessors did—even the $1,200 RTX 2080 Ti. It’s worth it for this level of performance, in our opinion. MSI’s Gaming X Trio sips just slightly more than the Founders Edition model, which makes sense considering its slight overclock, RGB lighting, and three spinning fans.

We test thermals by leaving GPU-Z open during the F1 2020 power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temps Brad Chacos/IDG

Here’s while all the heavy metal and fancy fans on the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio 10G shine. While Nvidia’s graphics card manages to stay cool enough and significantly quieter than its Founders Edition predecessors, MSI’s custom RTX 3080 runs even chillier. It’s almost silent even under heavy load. You can hear it a bit, but in practice, the liquid CPU cooler and case fans in our test system easily drown it out. This is an exceptional showing by MSI’s thermal engineers.

Next page: Should you buy the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio?

At a Glance
  • The MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio 10G slaps a monstrous cooler on Nvidia's monstrous enthusiast-class GPU, with spectacular results. It's powerful, yet cooler and nearly silent.

    Pros

    • Staggering performance upgrade vs. last gen
    • Excellent 4K and 1440p gaming
    • Ray tracing at 4K and 1440p
    • Ultra-fast GDDR6X memory
    • Very effective, almost silent cooler
    • HDMI 2.1, AV1 encoding, PCIe 4.0, 8K/30 fps capture
    • Reasonable $50 premium over MSRP

    Cons

    • Utterly massive in every dimension
    • Very high power consumption
    • 10GB of VRAM capacity may not be enough for 4K long-term
    • Plastic shroud, few extra features
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