MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT GAMING X TRIO review

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MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT GAMING X TRIO review

MSI is back with their finest customized offering of AMD's Flagship consumer graphics card, the Radeon RX 6900 XT in the flavor GAMING X TRIO. It's big, agile, and a treat for the eyes. Join us in this extensive review; much like the 6800 XT GAMING X TRIO, this 6900 XT version shows a bit more TLC as it has been fitted with custom cooling. The result is a graphics card that looks both handsome and is remarkably silent as well. The card was fabbed around a custom PCB, premium components, a triple fan TriFrozr cooler, increased clock frequencies, as well as an increased power limiter for this X revision. This by far, is one of the best performing acoustic products in its default operating modes.

It was a long wait for AMD and, sure, us. When the first NAVI based graphics cards were launched, they became well respected. The 5600 and 5700 series does offer some good performance. But during that launch, everybody was already talking about one thing, where is Big Navi? In November 2020 that completely changed. For AMD its world of graphics technology, a new dynamic was added, Raytracing. Or, I should say DirectX Raytracing (DX-R). NVIDIA was pioneering two years ago with their RTX 2000 series already, and AMD made the call to delay that for the original Navi GPU. As the graphics landscape changed somewhere done the line, so this the roadmap for AMD change. Microsoft and Sony consoles embedded with AMD technology revealed that Raytracing was going to be supported. And that did set the trend for the desktop graphics card we see announced. AMD announced three graphics cards based on Big Navi; they all hold the very same GPU, just binned and somewhat 'weakened.' Interesting to learn is that the new GPUs are fabricated on an optimized 7nm node derived from TSMC.  The cards will be PCIe 4.0 interface compatible. The number of hardware-accelerated RT cores is set up in a 1:1 creation towards the CU count. The cards released all fall into a high-end to the enthusiast-class category and are priced as such.  The flagship Radeon Radeon RX 6900 XT is to cost 999 USD, the RX 6800 XT costs 649 USD, and the Radeon RX 6800 will cost 579 USD with performance levels matching the completion RTX 3070 running up-to the RTX 3090. It does that by many architectural improvements, but sure, increasing transistor real-estate comes into play as the shader processor count has nearly doubled up over last generational products. Three SKUs with a very similar design, all based on the same chip I stated, and that statement stand. The Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB GDDR6 graphics card will get the full 80 CUs enabled. Multiply that with 64 shader units, and you'll count 5120 shading/stream processors. This card gets 16 GB of GDDR6 memory based on a 256-bit memory bus. So that means 512 GB/s of memory bandwidth and, in fact, would be equal to the bandwidth of the RTX 3070. The TDP listed is 300 watts. This fully enabled Big Navi based chip has a whopping 26.8 billion transistors. The clocks are the same as the 6800 XT at a 2250 GHz boost and 2015 MHz game clock. According to AMD (below), this card will battle with the GeForce RTX 3090. The card will become available on December 8th for 999 USD.

Radeon RX 6900 XT

The 6900 XT, which we review in this article, receives 80 activated CUs multiplied by 64 shading cores is 5120 shading processors. This card gets 16 GB of GDDR6 memory based on a 256-bit memory bus, not to confuse the new GDDR6X memory NVIDIA uses for RTX 3080 and 3090. So that means 512 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The reference TDP listed is at 300 watts for this product. The 2250 GHz boost clock is high. Much like its two siblings, the card has that new 128 MB 'infinity cache' (we'll call it L3 cache). The card is to take on NVIDIA's finest (currently), the GeForce RTX 3090. In its reference design, this graphics card will cost you a sweet sum of 999 USD, which is a third cheaper than that GeForce RTX 3090. 


GPU Stream Processors RT Cores Max Boost GPU clock (MHz) RAM type RAM volume (GB) RAM bandwidth (GB/s) RAM width TDP (watts)
6900 XT Gaming X TRIO 5120 80 2340 GDDR6 16 512 256-bit 300
6900 XT Gaming TRIO 5120 80 2250 GDDR6 16 512 256-bit 300
Radeon RX 6900 XT 5120 80 2250 GDDR6 16 512 256-bit 300
Radeon RX 6800 XT 4608 72 2250 GDDR6 16 512 256-bit 300
Radeon RX 6800  3840 60 2105 GDDR6 16 512 256-bit 250
Radeon RX 5700 XT 2560 1605 GDDR6 8 448 256-bit 225
Radeon RX 5700 2304 1465 GDDR6 8 448 256-bit 180
Radeon VII 3840 1400 HBM2 16 1024 4096-bit 300
Radeon RX Vega 64 4096 1247 HBM2 8 484 2048-bit 295
Radeon RX Vega 56 3584 1156 HBM2 8 410 2048-bit 210
Radeon RX 590 2304 1469 GDDR5 8GB 256 256-bit 185

All 6800/6900 cards released by AMD and their board partners will receive GDDR6 memory, 16 GB of them. Again that's for all three cards. So that means a 256-bit wide memory bus. However, AMD has got a few tricks up their sleeves architecture wise, as they added a big phat whopper of an L3 cache into the GPU.  RDNA2 based graphics processors are DirectX Ultimate compatible, a naming placeholder for extra feature levels such as DirectX Raytracing (DXR), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Mesh Shaders, and Sampler Feedback. 


You will have noticed that MSI will be releasing two revisions in the series, a Gaming TRIO and Gaming X TRIO. The latter one we test runs a faster boost clock and this brings in a notch more performance. Other than that, the hardware and components are 100% identical. As you can see the TRIO series is receiving the same cooler that you will have noticed on the premium GeForce RTX products, aside from an aesthetic tweak that is. The NVIDIA cooler is all dark-themed, the AMD revision has silver-colored insert elements, which we dislike a bit. Other than that, you can expect a product with a nice fast Turbo at 2340 MHZ (2250 MHz reference) and, of course, that 16GB of graphics memory. The product is a bit of a novel because it offers a TRIO TriFrozr cooler cooling down all primary elements, that's GPUm DRAM and the entire VRM segment. The card has a length of 32.4cm and uses a 2.7 slot design. It holds massive triple 8-pin PCIe power connectors; so if you do the math here you'll end up at 150+150+150+75(PCIe) yes, 525 Watts of board power. it comes fitted with a backplate and the right amount of RGB bling. In the I/O area, the card includes three DisplayPort 1.4 ports, one HDMI 2.1 connector. The 16GB GDDR6 memory clocks in at 2000 MHz (16 Gbps effective). We have to talk pricing as well, these cards should be in that 1000 USD marker, but they will be hard to find for many months, we do expect prices to hover upwards of 1400 USD due to that. Yeah I know, there's little else we can say really. We'll talk more about this in conclusion. As always, we have a lot to talk about and show you; next page, please.

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