MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT Gaming X Trio Review 48

MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT Gaming X Trio Review

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Introduction

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Today, we bring you our first review of a custom design Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card in the MSI RX 6900 XT Gaming X Trio. When AMD originally announced the RX 6000 series "Big Navi," with the RX 6900 XT release set for its own exclusive date, the company hadn't made up its mind on whether to enable custom-design RX 6900 XT boards, which explains why it took some time for board partners to come up with custom designs. The MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT is the company's flagship graphics card from the red team, designed to square off against NVIDIA's fastest, such as the GeForce RTX 3080 or even RTX 3090. It supercharges the fully-unlocked "Big Navi" silicon with a custom-design PCB bolstered by a stronger VRM design, triple power inputs, and the company's latest Tri-Frozr cooling solution.



The Radeon RX 6900 XT by AMD is the company's fastest GPU from this generation, and the flagship product based on the new RDNA2 graphics architecture that debuted on next-gen consoles, before making it to the PC. This common architecture enables easy optimization of games to the PC platform, as they're already optimized for the console hardware. RDNA2 is AMD's first graphics architecture with full DirectX 12 Ultimate readiness, including real-time raytracing through Ray Accelerators, fixed-function hardware. The RX 6900 XT is based on the same 7 nm "Navi 21" silicon as the RX 6800 series, but maxes it out, with all its 5,120 stream processors enabled, as well as 80 Ray Accelerators, 320 TMUs, and 128 ROPs.

Real-time raytracing is the holy grail of consumer 3D graphics, and today's GPU vendors have figured out how to combine conventional raster 3D with certain real-time raytraced elements, such as lighting, shadows, reflections, etc., to significantly increase realism. Even this much raytracing demands enormous amounts of compute power. AMD's approach has been to deploy fixed-function hardware for the most compute-intensive part of the raytracing pipeline, while relying on a mighty SIMD setup for other raytracing-related tasks, such as denoising. A by-product of this approach is vastly improved raster 3D performance. Not only are the stream processors doubled over the previous generation RDNA, but they also run at significantly higher engine clocks.

AMD has also doubled the amount of memory to 16 GB and uses the fastest JEDEC-standard 16 Gbps GDDR6 memory, although the bus width is still 256-bit, yielding 512 GB/s memory bandwidth. AMD has worked around the bandwidth problem by deploying a fast on-die level 3 cache directly on the GPU, which it calls Infinity Cache. This 128 MB scratchpad for the GPU, when combined with the GDDR6 memory, belts out an effective bandwidth of 2 TB/s. AMD has also taken the opportunity to update the multimedia acceleration and display I/O capabilities of their GPUs.

MSI takes things a step ahead of AMD by giving the RX 6900 XT a powerful VRM solution that pulls power from three 8-pin PCIe power connectors, and using its premium Tri-Frozr cooling solution deployed across all Gaming X Trio graphics cards from both the RX 6000 and NVIDIA RTX 30 series. This cooler features a chunky aluminium fin-stack heatsink, the company's latest generation TorX fans, a blinding amount of RGB bling, and other innovative features, such as a mechanism that counteracts PCB bending. MSI's MSRP for the RX 6900 XT isn't known, but we doubt it's anywhere close to AMD's original MSRP. We're expecting this card to sell for $1800 or higher—that's the price point of other premium-design RX 6900 XT cards on the market right now.

Radeon RX 6900 XT Review Market Segment Analysis
 PriceShader
Units
ROPsCore
Clock
Boost
Clock
Memory
Clock
GPUTransistorsMemory
RX Vega 64$400 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti$6503584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$3702560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070$3402304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super$4502560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$6803840641802 MHzN/A1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080$6002944641515 MHz1710 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super$6903072641650 MHz1815 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3060 Ti$8004864801410 MHz1665 MHz1750 MHzGA10417400M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$10004352881350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
RTX 3070$8505888961500 MHz1725 MHz1750 MHzGA10417400M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800$9503840961815 MHz2105 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800 XT$120046081282015 MHz2250 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3080$11008704961440 MHz1710 MHz1188 MHzGA10228000M10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit
RX 6900 XT$155051201282015 MHz2250 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
MSI RX 6900 XT
Gaming X Trio
$180051201282105 MHz2340 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3090$2000104961121395 MHz1695 MHz1219 MHzGA10228000M24 GB, GDDR6X, 384-bit
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