MSI Radeon RX 6950 XT Gaming X Trio in the test: performance-hungry

That AMD Radeon RX6950XT launched last month, along with the RX6750XT and RX6650XT, which offers 18 Gbps GDDR6 memory along with increased clock speeds and higher performance requirements. The Sapphire Nitro+ Pure that we tested performed reasonably well initially. Today’s MSI Gaming X trio is just a hair faster, but along the way, MSI seems to have increased power consumption significantly over the competition. The RX 6950 XT is one of them best graphics cardsand even holds the top spot for 1080p and 1440p gaming in our GPU benchmarks Hierarchy (but not with ray tracing), but MSI’s variant wouldn’t be our first choice.

Here’s a look at the specs for AMD’s reference 6950 XT alongside the MSI and Sapphire cards we had to review – AMD chose not to test media with its reference design, which helps ensure slightly higher overall performance , just like Nvidia did with the RTX 3090Ti.

GPU Specifications
graphic card RX6950XT MSI RX6950XT RX 6950 XT Sapphire RTX 3090Ti
Architecture GPS 21 GPS 21 GPS 21 GA102
process technology TSMC N7 TSMC N7 TSMC N7 Samsung 8N
Transistors (Billions) 26.8 26.8 26.8 28.3
The size (mm^2) 519 519 519 628.4
SMs/CUs 80 80 80 84
GPU cores 5120 5120 5120 10752
tensor cores N / A N / A N / A 336
Ray Tracing Cores 80 80 80 84
Boost Clock (MHz) 2454 2310 2435 1860
VRAM speed (Gbps) 18 18 18 21
VRAM (GB) 16 16 16 24
VRAM bus width 256 256 256 384
ROPs 128 128 128 112
TMU’s 320 320 320 336
TFLOPS FP32 (Boost) 25.1 23.7 24.9 40
TFLOPS FP16 (Tensor) N / A N / A N / A 160 (320)
Bandwidth (GBps) 576 576 576 1008
TBP (Watts) “340” claimed 335 ~370 450
Publication date May 2022 May 2022 May 2022 March 2022
introductory price $1,179 $1,099 $1,249 $1,999

Interestingly, MSI specifies a power consumption of only 340W for this RX 6950 XT Gaming X Trio, but that feels more like the TDP for the GPU than full card performance. We actually tested two different cards (the first died after a few days for unknown reasons) and both drew well over 340W at their default settings. In fact, the second card drew a few watts more than the original card. We’ll get to the actual power measurements later, but we saw closer to 430W out of the MSI card, and enabling Rage mode (with its 10 percent increase in power limits) bumped that up to 440W. Basically, it was right in of the same magnitude as the RTX 3090 Ti.

Core specs are mostly the same across the three RX 6950 XT cards, with GPU boost clocks and TBP being the only real differences. AMD specifies a reference clock of 2310 MHz, Sapphire pushes this to 2435 MHz and MSI adds another 19 MHz for 2454 MHz. While previous generation AMD GPUs often listed a theoretical boost clock higher than one would typically see in practice, that changed with the RDNA 2 architecture and RX 6000 series GPUs. On default settings, we saw average GPU clock speeds in excess of 2.5GHz, and in Rage mode the MSI card actually broke 2.6GHz.

The big concern right now with the RX 6950 XT is that we expect AMD to release an RX 7900 XT before the end of the year, possibly as early as October. That’s not too far away, and AMD has publicly stated that it expects it RDNA 3 for a 50% increase in performance per watt. It will also first GPU to use chiplets, and while the topology of such a design isn’t entirely clear, this could be the “biggest Navi” yet. With GPU prices falling and upcoming next-gen architectures, it’s hard to recommend buying a soon-to-be-obsolete $1,000+ GPU right now.

Speaking of which, it’s interesting that retail prices for the RX 6950 XT have come down quickly. Officially, the GPU has an MSRP of $1,099, and at launch we saw several companies offering factory overclocked models for $1,249 or more. At the moment, Newegg multiple RX 6950 XT cards (opens in new tab) Selling for MSRP, and we’ve seen some sales come and go that have brought prices down to as much as $1,030. The MSI Gaming X Trio is one of the cards selling at MSRP, which puts it $150 below the Sapphire Nitro+ Pure, but when the cards launched last month both were targeting the same price of $1,250. Dollar down – MSI happened to correct faster.