MSI Radeon RX 6900 XT Gaming X Trio Review


Introduction

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
  Price Shader
Units
ROPs Core
Clock
Boost
Clock
Memory
Clock
GPU Transistors Memory
RX Vega 64 $400 4096 64 1247 MHz 1546 MHz 953 MHz Vega 10 12500M 8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti $650 3584 88 1481 MHz 1582 MHz 1376 MHz GP102 12000M 11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT $370 2560 64 1605 MHz 1755 MHz 1750 MHz Navi 10 10300M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 $340 2304 64 1410 MHz 1620 MHz 1750 MHz TU106 10800M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super $450 2560 64 1605 MHz 1770 MHz 1750 MHz TU104 13600M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII $680 3840 64 1802 MHz N/A 1000 MHz Vega 20 13230M 16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080 $600 2944 64 1515 MHz 1710 MHz 1750 MHz TU104 13600M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super $690 3072 64 1650 MHz 1815 MHz 1940 MHz TU104 13600M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3060 Ti $800 4864 80 1410 MHz 1665 MHz 1750 MHz GA104 17400M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti $1000 4352 88 1350 MHz 1545 MHz 1750 MHz TU102 18600M 11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
RTX 3070 $850 5888 96 1500 MHz 1725 MHz 1750 MHz GA104 17400M 8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800 $950 3840 96 1815 MHz 2105 MHz 2000 MHz Navi 21 26800M 16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800 XT $1200 4608 128 2015 MHz 2250 MHz 2000 MHz Navi 21 26800M 16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3080 $1100 8704 96 1440 MHz 1710 MHz 1188 MHz GA102 28000M 10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit
RX 6900 XT $1550 5120 128 2015 MHz 2250 MHz 2000 MHz Navi 21 26800M 16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
MSI RX 6900 XT
Gaming X Trio
$1800 5120 128 2105 MHz 2340 MHz 2000 MHz Navi 21 26800M 16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3090 $2000 10496 112 1395 MHz 1695 MHz 1219 MHz GA102 28000M 24 GB, GDDR6X, 384-bit



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