Final words and conclusion
Admittedly, the Radeon RX 6950 XT in this specific AIB Gaming X TRIO jacket manages to impress seriously.
Probably this is the best card yet out of the entire refresh. You need to keep in mind that we tested a factory tweaked 6950 XT, and not a reference card. So you'll not only get the standard +10% in performance, you'll also get the additional factory tweaked bit, and this round with this MSI product that's substantial. In our findings that can result in an up-to 15 to even 20% performance increases coming all the way from a reference 6900 XT. Yeah, the memory tweak, plus serious clock frequency bump as well as an extra extended power range for this MSI card, can bring in 15 to 20% performance extra, as seen from the 6900 XT reference, and that is huge. See if a 6900 XT normally renders say 175 FPS it will now reach up to even 210 FPS. And that certainly shifts the dynamic into AMD's favor compared to team green. So overall this card performs brilliantly until you flick on Raytracing that is. It's the main Achilles heel for AMD rDNA2.
Cooling & acoustic
The MSI Radeon RX 6950 XT Gaming X TRIO performs admirably in temperatures, owing to the cooler, of course. You're unlikely to hear the card, and that is the truth. And with a GPU capable of outputting ~450W of heat under the hood, that's quite an accomplishment. We're looking at 35 DBa values under load and temperatures in the 75 Degrees C area, which is quite acceptable. Additionally, the board examination reveals that all important components are cooled in some way. We do have to note that initially the card fans spin up and result in a 40 DBa acoustic level. However once the card settles in, the fan RPM drops and the card returns towards roughly 35 Dba of noise, which is silent. Since our charts reveal peak levels, we felt a need to add this as a note.
Heat output and energy consumption are closely related to each other, as (graphics) processors and heat can be perceived as a 1:1 state; 250 Watts in energy consumption approaches close to 250 Watts in heat as output. This is the basis of TDP. AMD is listing the card at 325W, which is okay at best for a graphics card in the year 2022. We measure numbers far above the XT's advertised reference values; we measure the entire power consumption of the card to close in at a staggering 430 Watt, that's total board power, not TGP (fans and RGB can easily utilize ~15 Watts).
Like any other modern card, the 6950 XT Gaming X TRIO exhibits some coil squeal, but only at very small levels. Is it troubling? To be sure, it is at a decibel level that is hardly audible. That noise would fade into the background in a closed chassis. However, with an open chassis, coil whine/squeal can be heard. All graphics cards do this in some degree, particularly at high framerates; this is perceptible.
In the past have been quite outspoken about the horror prices of the past two years. While advertised at 1099 USD for the reference model. you may anticipate pricing for this AIB card ranging between 1250 and 1500 USD, depending on availability. The reference design cards are not seeded to media, but we expect them to be silent, perform somewhat poorer than the reference design cards, but bring greater value for money, and that is true. Of course, we recognize that this is the premium area of graphics cards, where prices are always quite low.
Well, smack my ass and call me Hilly, the MSI card really surprised me. GPU tweaking wise we'd reach a really proper 2850 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 2800~2900 MHz range. That's pretty darn impressive. All that tweaking and extra energy consumption will bring you a max of 5~10% extra performance at best, seen from reference. The memory was quite tweakable as well, we reached 19.6 GHz (effective datarate). For an overclock to be successfully listed here, it needs to pass 4 game runs (different games) in ultra HD to be deemed stable.
As stated, we're very pleased and even impressed to see what MSI brings to the table here. The card is offered as a factory tweaked product, and for once, it really has a pretty impressive factory tweak. Coming from a reference 6900 XT you can expect an up to 10% performance increase for any reference 6950 XT. However, MSI allows additional higher power usage and clocks the max boost clock an extra 150 MHz as well. All that results in yet another performance increase. So in the long haul, if a 6900 XT pushes 200 FPS, a card like this can reach 230~240 FPS, and that is a serious incremental number. What also helps AMD is that SAM works out better and better for AMD, as opposed to NVIDIA which hardly benefits from it with their Ampere-based cards. The GAMING X TRIO is premium and unique in a number of ways. This dragon pours fire back at you in the form of majestic cooling, dignified acoustics, and, some factory tweaking bringing you some noble gaming performance. We adore manufacturers that go beyond the box and share our admiration for superior products, but with a price tag that is hard to stomach. MSI executed everything perfectly in terms of hardware and manufacture. They are extracting as much information as possible from this GPU using a well-constructed board that meets all of our wants and specifications, which you should appreciate. I will say this; factory-tuned performance is disputed and debatable these days; after all, you can tweak these cards yourself, so does it justify the price premium? Many of you will disagree, while others will have no problem with it I guess. If you find this product to be prohibitively expensive, you may purchase a reference card or even downgrade to the 6750 or 6800 XT if your preferred color is red. Apart from the pricing point, we're quite satisfied with this card. The experience of tweaking this board pleased me as well. Who's gonna buy this then? Well, AMD aficionados still in that Series 5000 we expect. other then that we think most people will wait until Series 7000 surfaces later this year. But without regard for cost, this has to be a top selection.
- Hilbert, LOAD"*",8,1.