MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT GAMING X TRIO review

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Final words and conclusion

Final words

MSI did well with the Gaming X TRIO, this little Dragon flies silent but when it spews its fire, it's swift and fast. That said, obviously, this product will sit in a very compact niche. I mean even if manufacturers even can get their hands on a good volume of GPUs, they'd still be hard to find. What can we say, it's the status of the market in 2021, and that will likely last for a while longer. Everything and anything it's all about gaming price, performance, and, of course, rendering quality. If we dilute performance from that equation, we see a product offering let's say 4% maybe 5% more performance (depending on workload and resolution) over the reference card, with vastly increased power consumption being at likely a third more expensive. So yes, that is a hard sell in my book concerning rational purchasing decisions. That said, we do like our share of premium products, and admittedly, the 6900 XT Gaming X TRIO definitely does belong in that category. For just that, we applaud its state of presence.


Cooling & noise levels

The 6900 XT Gaming X TRIO offers good results in even stressed conditions, all thanks to the cooler, of course. You'll be hard-pressed to hear the card and that is the honest truth. And considering there's a GPU under the hood capable of producing 350W of heat, that's quite an accomplishment. We're looking at 34 DBa values under load, and temps closer to the 70 Degrees C range, all fine. Board analysis also shows all critical components are tied to some form of cooling. FLIR imaging shows the card is hardly bleeding heat. Overall, we're very comfortable with what we observe.


Heat output and energy consumption are closely related to each other, as (graphics) processors and heat can be perceived as a 1:1 state; 300 Watts in energy consumption equals close to 300 Watts in heat as output. This is the basis of TDP. AMD is listing them at 250 (6800) to 300 (6800/6900 XT) Watts for the flagship products, which is okay at best for a graphics card in the year 2021 at this performance level. We measure numbers passing the advertised values for the XT. Roughly 350 Watt while gaming as a typical power consumption; that's total board power, not TGP. You'll get an extra 12% on the power limiter for tweaking, so that's given, or take 390 Watts once you activate it.

Coil whine

The 6900 XT Gaming X TRIO much like any other card these days, does exhibit coil squeal, but only slight amounts of it. Is it annoying? Well, it's certainly at a level you can hardly hear it. In a closed chassis, that noise would fade away in the background. However, with an open chassis, you can hear coil whine/squeal. Graphics cards all make this in some form, especially at high framerates; this can be perceived. 



I feel I indicated enough about it already, of course, you can expect prices running 1250~1500 USD depending on availability (if there is any at all). It is a kind of price level that makes you barf a little into your mouth and then swallow it back in, bitter yet a little sweet. Up-to that 1500 USD, we could perhaps understand and justify your purchase; anything after that, just no. The reference design cards are silent, perform less than 10% worse, but offer you far more value for money, and that is the truth. But of course, we also acknowledge that this is the premium segment in graphics cards where prices always are somewhat trivial.


AMD does enforce limits on the memory subsystem, limiting your GDDR6 memory overclock. We don't like that as we feel we could have gone a notch further. Results will vary per board, brand, and even card due to cooling (GDDR6/GPU/VRM). GPU tweaking wise we'd reach a really proper 2750 MHz on AMD's finest and biggest enabled GPU. That's without anomalies and crashes whatsoever. Depending on load, game/app, and board assigned power, we now see the dynamic clock frequency hovering in the 2600~2700 MHz range. That's pretty darn impressive.  All that tweaking and extra energy consumption will bring you a max of ~5% extra performance at best, but seen from reference, you just gained roughly 10% perf in Ultra HD gaming accumulated. Also, and let me reiterate this, for an overclock to be successfully listed here, it needs to pass 4 game runs (different games) in ultra HD to be deemed stable.


Of course, any Radeon RX 6900 XT is awesome, the GAMING X TRIO however is premium and distinctive in several ways. Majestic cooling, dignified acoustics, and with a bit of a tweak, noble game performance is what this dragon breathes back in fire at you. We really like manufacturers thinking outside the box that share our appreciation of the premium products, but of course, that also will come with a price tag that is just hard to swallow. From a hardware and manufacturing point of view, MSI did things correctly. They are retrieving as much as they can from this GPU with a properly designed board matching all our needs and requirements that you need to appreciate. I'll say this though; factory tweaked performance these days is disputable and debatable; I mean, if you gain perhaps 4% in perf, does that justify that price premium? Many of you will quarrel on that, while the others will have no difficulty with it. If you find this product too costly, you have choices as you can buy a reference card or even drop down towards the 6800 XT if your color preference is red. Overall, we're absolutely impressed by this product, aside from that price point. The tweaking experience on this board managed to please me as well. With pricing filtered out of the equation, this has to be a top pick. However, in Q1 2021 ... pricing however steers it to recommended.

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- Hilbert, LOAD"*",8,1.


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