TEST: MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio

There has been a very extreme demand for video cards in the last six months, and the shelves are still completely empty in most stores here in Norway. Now launches Nvidia RTX 3060 series. 60-screen cards are usually the most popular among players, as they provide good value for money for gaming in 1920×1080.

Is that the way it is?

We have borrowed the MSI RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio to run some tests and assess whether it is worth the investment. This card comes with 12 GB of GDDR6 memory, 3584 CUDA cores and a clock speed of 1852 MHz.

Design

The MSI RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio is virtually identical to all the other Gaming X Trio cards from MSI. You get a back plate in black metal, fans with a shiny MSI logo in silver in the middle and a fan cover in black and gray. Below is MSI’s highly efficient Twin Frozr 2 keels.


CLASSIC DESIGN: MSI has not changed much. Photo: Mikkjell Lønning / Gamer.no

The card is about 32 centimeters long, so it takes up some space in the cabinet. It’s quite similar to the RTX 3070 version. The card has 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI output, which gives you what you need to run both a TV and a bunch of screens at a time.

I can not help but think that it would be nice to do something new with the appearance on the map after a quarter. We have tested many Gaming X Trio video cards, and all are exactly alike. Although there are stylish cards with plenty of RGB, it is an advantage to be a little creative.

Some thoughts on price

The Pascal 10X card GTX 1060 is by far the most popular choice for users on Steam. It should basically be in the same class as this, but launched at a significantly lower price. In fact, many of the 1060 cards launched at a price of around 3,000 kroner.


NEW PRICE RANGE: All video cards on the market have increased in price recently. RTX 3060 launches at a much higher price than Nvidia promised. Photo: Mikkjell Lønning / Gamer.no

This costs twice as much. MSI has recommended a price of 5249 kroner for RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio, but at the time of writing, the only card here in Norway is out at a price of 6300 kroner (ProShop). It’s a ridiculous price jump. It went up from 3000 to around 4000 kroner with RTX 2060, but here we are talking a completely new price range.

The 60 series is by no means a middle class card anymore. For the 5000 kroner that MSI recommends, you still get a lot of performance for the money, but for over 6000 it costs almost as much as the RTX 3060 Ti version from MSI. It is relatively safe to say that the RTX 3060 is a very bad deal with current prices, especially in relation to what the GTX 1060 and partly the RTX 2060 were.

Prices fluctuate so extremely much at the moment that here we almost have to come back later with an overall test when stocks are more stable. Now the demand is so high that I doubt that it will happen before the end of 2021 again.

Yting

Nvidia markets the RTX 3060 as about as fast as the RTX 2070, and about 30 percent faster than the RTX 2060. My tests show that it holds water in some games, but not all. In both Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, RTX 3060 is clearly weaker than RTX 2070, and far from being 30 percent faster than RTX 2060. In Far Cry 5, there is a deadlock between RTX 3060 and RTX 2070

We no longer have copies of the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 lying around, so the basis for comparison with the previous generation is a bit thin. Due to a delayed driver, we have not been able to test all the games we want, and we will therefore not give any final grade on the video card today. It also becomes easier to set a rating when several stores have the prices ready.


BACK PLATE: MSI went for the black metal back plate this time too. Photo: Mikkjell Lønning / Gamer.no

Overall, the RTX 3060 is a great card for those who play in 1080p, even though we are below the limit where the video card is a bigger bottleneck than our overclocked Intel Core-i7 8700k processor. RTX 3060 will probably keep the boil at 1440p for a couple of years if you adjust the settings a bit too.

Beam tracking is far too demanding for it to make sense to use, and it looks particularly good with the RTX 3060. Here the frame rate drops. In Control, the video card below the 60 limit is already in 1080p. “Deep Learning Super Sampling” contributes to a big boost for RTX 3060 in the games that support it, but I would still stay away from the radiation tracking.

I was a little surprised that Nvidia chose to equip the RTX 3060 with 12 GB of video memory, because it is strictly speaking not very much used for gaming in 1080p and 1440p. There is hardly anyone who buys this for higher resolutions.

The tests were performed on a PC with an i7-8700k processor clocked at 4.9 GHz, a fast nVME SSD and 16 GB with 4.4 GHz DDR4 memory. You will see the results on the next page.

Power consumption, temperature and noise level

MSI shows once again that they can make particularly efficient coolers. Like all other Gaming X Trio cards, the fans stand still at idle, and under full load they produce only 31 decibels. It is the smallest I have measured so far of all the video cards I have tested. The Noctua NH-D15 cooler for my processor drowns out the video card as soon as the processor has something to do.

With a consumption of only 168 watts under full load via the two 8-pin connectors, and a maximum temperature of 58 degrees, there is little to complain about when it comes to power consumption and temperature. At full load, the fans ran at just under 1120 revolutions per minute. These are very good numbers.

Overclocking


DOUBLE CONNECTOR: MSI has equipped its Gaming X Trio coolers with dual 8-pin connectors. With such low power consumption as this, it was not really necessary. Photo: Mikkjell Lønning / Gamer.no

Ampere video cards have generally had little to offer in terms of overclocking, because Nvidia and third-party manufacturers have milked the screen monitors for what they are good for. It often varies from game to game, but we have not been able to get anything special from either RTX 3070, RTX 3080 or RTX 3090.

With the RTX 3060, it seems like there is a bit more to go on. In Horizon Zero Dawn, performance increased by as much as eight percent across 1080p, 1440p and 2160p. In Middle-earth: Shadow of War I got seven percent extra image per second in 2160p, while the difference was around two percent in Far Cry 5. For the last two it was only in 4K I noticed a difference.

With a stable overclocking of 76 MHz, I got the video card up to 2055 MHz in total, but even without overclocking boosts the card all the way up to 1972 MHz. That is far beyond what MSI promises. High clock speed is not unique to Ampere cards, but it is only on this video card that the increase in clock speed has actually meant anything special to the frame rate.

Conclusion

For example, it is a bit difficult to assess the RTX 3060 due to the uncertain price. MSI has really delivered with a capable keel with impressively little noise and low temperature, but if one actually has to pay 6000 kroner for this, then it is hardly a particularly good buy.

The 60 series has placed itself in a completely different price range than before. We may have to change the definition of the middle class after a quarter, but even at 5000 kroner I do not think this can be as popular as the GTX 1060 was. It is simply too expensive.

The performance is still more than good enough for most people who want to play with a high frame rate in 1080p. For 1440p I think RTX 3060 Ti or RTX 3070 is the best solution, but we will come back to that. We have a 3060 Ti ready for testing next week.

If you are sitting on a Turing card such as RTX 2060, I see no point in upgrading, but it can be something for those who still have a Pascal or Maxwell card.

My first impression is that Nvidia (and MSI) have pushed themselves in the foot by setting prices so high. Now there are so many who want to get hold of cards that they will probably be sold anyway, but this opens the door for AMD to take over the lease in the middle class segment. It will be very interesting to see what AMD can offer with the RX 6700 XT and RX 6700.

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