At the beginning of all reviews of serial graphics cards, we update our knowledge about the performance of the family to which the booster belongs and its competitors. All this is subjectively assessed by us on a scale of five gradations.
It doesn’t even make sense to comment: this is the fastest videocard for today. It’s great for 4K resolution at maximum graphics settings, and in some games using Nvidia DLSS technology it’s also great for 8K resolution.
MSI (MicroStar International, MSI trademark) was founded in 1986 in the Republic of China (Taiwan). Manufactured OEM products by third-party orders. Manufacturing of products under its brand was started only in 1994. Headquarters in Taipei/Taiwan. Manufacturing in China and Taiwan. 50% of products – by order of third-party companies (OEM).
|Parameter||Tested Value||Nominal Value (reference)|
|GPU||GeForce RTX 3090 (GA102)|
|Interface||PCI Express x16 4.0|
|GPU Frequency (ROPs), MHz||1395—1785(Boost)—2010(Max)||1395—1695(Boost)—1965(Max)|
|Memory frequency (physical (effective)), MHz||4875 (19500)||4875 (19500)|
|Bus width of the exchange with memory, bit||384|
|Number of computational units in the GPU||82|
|Number of operations (ALU/CUDA) in a block||128|
|Total number of ALU/CUDA blocks||10496|
|Number of texturing blocks (BLF/TLF/ANIS)||328|
|Number of rasterization blocks (ROP)||112|
|Number of Ray Tracing blocks||82|
|Number of tensor blocks||328|
|Number of slots in the system unit occupied by the graphics card||3||3|
|Power consumption peak in 3D, W||382||364|
|Power Consumption in 2D Mode, Watt||35||38|
|Power consumption in “sleep” mode, W||10||11|
|Noise level in 3D (maximum load), dBA||26,9||34,7|
|Noise level in 2D (watching video), dBA||18||18|
|Noise level in 2D (simple), dBA||18||18,2|
|Video Outputs||1×HDMI 2.1, 3×DisplayPort 1.4a||1×HDMI 2.1, 3×DisplayPort 1.4a|
|Support of multiprocessor operation||SLI (NVLink)|
|Maximum number of receivers/monitors for simultaneous image output||4||4|
|Power supply: 8-pin connectors||3||1 (12-pin)|
|Power supply: 6-pin connectors||0||0|
|Maximum resolution/frequency, Display Port||7680×4320@30 Hz|
|Maximum resolution/frequency, HDMI||7680×4320@60 Hz|
|Maximum resolution/frequency, Dual-Link DVI||2560×1600@60 Hz (1920×1200@120 Hz)|
|Maximum resolution/frequency, Single-Link DVI||1920×1200@60 Hz (1280×1024@85 Hz)|
This graphics card has 24 GB of GDDR6X SDRAM memory, placed in 24 chips of 8 Gb on both sides of the PCB (12 on each side). Micron memory chips (GDDR6X, MT61K256M32JE-21) are designed for a nominal operating frequency of 5250 (21000) MHz.
Features and comparison with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition
We would like to remind you that Nvidia has made two PCB designs: for its Founders Edition cards and for its partners (cards without a typical cutout). However, MSI engineers have created their own design, which is only basically based on a reference one.
The MSI card turned out to be more compact, but this is determined by its very cumbersome CO. The total number of power phases for the reference card is 22, while for the MSI card it is 18. The distribution of phases is different: MSI has 14 phases per core and 4 phases per memory chips, while Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition has 18+4 phases. MSI card has free space on the PCB – perhaps, under a steeper version of Lightning, which supports more serious overclocking.
The power supply circuit of the core is green and the memory circuit is red. There are no phase doublers (dubblers), two uP9512R PWM controllers (uPI Semiconductor) are used to control the GPU power circuit, each of which can control 8 phases at most. Both are located on the back side of the board.
On the front side there is another PWM controller On Semiconductor NCP81611, which controls a 4-phase power circuit for memory chips.
In the power converter, traditionally for all graphics cards Nvidia, used transistor assemblies DrMOS – in this case NCP302045 (On Semiconductor), each of which is designed for a maximum of 45 A.
There are also two uS5650Q controllers (uPI Semiconductor) responsible for card monitoring (voltage and temperature tracking). And the backlight is controlled by a separate controller ITE8295FN (ITE Tech).
OEM memory frequencies of MSI card are equal to reference values, but the kernel frequency is slightly higher (by 1.5%). I tried manual overclocking, but TDP can only be raised up to 106%, so it’s likely that the drivers will limit overclocking to the usual 5% performance gain regardless of frequency setting. I tried to set +120 MHz on kernel and +750 MHz on memory, which gave the maximum frequencies at 2100/21000 MHz.
As for the notorious earlier “scandal” with game downfalls on the desktop, which faced some of the few owners of GeForce RTX 3080, then, firstly, it was really one-time cases (just thanks to social networks and bloggers, even a couple of cases can be rasterized to the level of “all GeForce RTX 3080 / 3090 – marriage and foullo! “), secondly, the release of the driver version 456.55 removed the problem so such, and thirdly, no tantalum capacitors are not to blame at all. Not only that the last time in 10 times more expensive than ceramic, that at the root of destroying the theory of supposedly greedy manufacturers who for the sake of economy more often put tantalum capacitors, rather than ceramic, so it is also and in general nothing. At least, no one could not establish patterns in the influence of these factors on the fallout of games.
Obviously, the problem was in specific instances of the GPU, it was corrected programmatically. At the same time, there was no reduction of frequencies below 2 GHz, which was also mentioned by bloggers, in the new drivers.
The card is controlled with the well-known MSI Dragon Center utility.
There is an optimization of games (graphics settings) for this card, as in Nvidia GeForce Experience
Monitoring – mandatory element
MSI standard operation presets, but in reality the difference is minimal. But you can programmatically control the stopping of fans in the simple
Heating and cooling
Nvidia decided to make the GeForce RTX 3080/3090 card more compact PCB and invented a new cooling system that blows the radiator through (while partially leaving the heated air in the body). MSI, however, decided to go the old proven way by making the PCB longer and installing a cooler of the familiar design.
That’s why we have a huge two-section nickel plated radiator with heat tubes forming a direct contact sole with the GPU. The memory chips are cooled by a plate screwed to the heatsink base and the VRM power converters are cooled by individual soles on the same heatsink (one of these plates also serves as a rib).
The rear plate not only serves as a PCB protection element, but also serves to cool the back of the board via a thermal interface. It should be noted that due to the increased area of the GPU crystal, a “four-blade” shock-absorber clamp has been used, which helps to evenly distribute the clamp of the heatsink sole over the entire crystal area.
On top of the radiator is a casing with three fans ∅95 mm Torx 4.0 type, having a special design of blades (connected in pairs) to enhance the air flow directed at the radiator.
Stop fans at low video card load occurs if all three conditions are met: GPU temperature drops below 50 degrees, heating of memory chips – below 80 degrees, GPU consumption – below 35-45 W. Of course, the CO becomes silent in this case. When you start your PC, the fans are running, but when the video driver is loaded, the operating temperature is polled and they turn off.
Temperature monitoring with MSI Afterburner:
After a 6-hour run under load, the maximum core temperature did not exceed 74 degrees, which is an acceptable result for flagship graphics cards. The monitoring confirmed that the frequency of GPU with the 456.55 driver version rises above 2 GHz, and in general the difference between the card with different driver versions, including the original 456.38, no, all within the measurement error. The power consumption of the card was up to 382W.
During manual overclocking the heating and noise parameters changed very little, the maximum power consumption increased to 390 W.
Maximum heating was observed in the central part of PCB, mostly near the kernel. Earlier I said it was worth paying special attention to the power connectors on those boards which only had two. Here you can clearly see that it really makes sense to split the power supply into three 8-pin connectors.
The method of noise measurement implies that the room is noise-insulated and muffled, reverberation is reduced. The system unit, which examines the noise of video cards, has no fans, is not a source of mechanical noise. The background level of 18 dBA is the noise level in the room and the noise level of the noise meter itself. Measurements are made at a distance of 50 cm from the graphics card at the cooling system level.
- Idle mode in 2D: Window of Internet browser, Microsoft Word window, a number of Internet Communicators;
- 2D mode with watching movies: SmoothVideo Project (SVP) is used – hardware decoding with insertion of intermediate frames;
- 3D mode with maximum load on graphics card: FurMark test used.
The estimation of noise level gradation is as follows:
- less than 20 dBA: conditionally silent;
- 20 to 25 dBA: very quiet;
- 25 to 30 dBA: quietly;
- 30 to 35 dBA: clearly audible;
- 35 to 40 dBA: loud but tolerable;
- above 40 dBA: very loud.
In idle mode in 2D the temperature was not higher than 41 °C, fans were not working, the noise level was equal to the background – 18 dBA.
When watching a movie with hardware decoding, the fans were sometimes turned on at a maximum of 500-600 rpm, but the noise from them in this mode was not recorded, the noise level was not changed and was 18.0 dBA.
In maximum load mode in 3D, the temperature reached 74 °C. Fans were spinning up to 1450 rpm, the noise increased to 26.9 dBA: it is quiet.
Given how much this card consumes, such a quiet operation of the cooling system deserves all the praise.
Backlighting at the card is implemented in the form of horizontal stripes along the top and bottom edges of the card, also illuminated inserts between fans.
Backlight control is traditionally performed using Dragon Center. The choice of modes is very wide (and it is also traditional for MSI maps). Gaming series of graphics cards of this company is well known for its lighting effects.
Packaging and delivery kit
In addition to the traditional user manual and bonus stickers, the package includes a metal card holder.
MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio 24G (24GB) is one of the longest, yet quietest and most powerful GeForce RTX 3090 3D Accelerators available today. Dimensions must be taken into account when choosing a card / enclosure! The card itself has a very rigid design, and even in the delivery set is a bracket for its installation. The cooling system is quiet as it is, but the MSI website offers a BIOS version with even lower fan speeds (but the frequency is also reduced to a reference speed). We highlight the presence of three 8-pin power connectors, which gives less heat in their area.
It’s worth repeating (although in our first material on GeForce RTX 3090 we already wrote this), that the presence of large memory capacity and excellent performance gives GeForce RTX 3090 the right to be called the first gaming class video booster for 8K resolution. Games must support intelligent DLSS 2.0 anti-aliasing (and it is for 4K resolution and higher), then the comfort of playing games on huge 8K TVs will be provided while maintaining all graphics settings to the maximum.
Even in 8K games do not require huge amounts of 24 GB of memory. But what we’re looking at here is a hybrid Titan card with a flagship game, so that’s a huge price tag. However, all of Nvidia’s partners offer the GeForce RTX 3090 in gaming series graphics cards, so Nvidia will most likely have to lower the price of this booster. In addition, its partners (except a couple of companies) have never sold professional cards. But all this will be later, and now because of the shortage of many enthusiasts are ready to buy GeForce RTX 3090.
Remember, in general, GeForce RTX 3090 is designed for those PC gaming enthusiasts who plan to play in 4K resolution at maximum quality settings, with RTX and DLSS. In some games, rare owners of 8K TVs will be able to enjoy the picture in such ultra-high resolution, as 7680 × 4320.