Graphics Cards are Readily Available Again. Is it Time to Buy?
We first looked at NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3050 GPU at its launch back in January, and this remains the entry-level option from the current generation (Ampere) of graphics cards from team green. Yes, a graphics card that starts well over $300 in the current market is your entry into Ampere graphics – though lower-cost cards are still being sold from the last generation, such as the GTX 16 Series.
And now, some ranting about the lack of mainstream graphics options this generation.
It’s crazy to think that after three years we still don’t have a successor to the GTX 1650 on the mainstream side of things (1650 Super notwithstanding), or maybe NVIDIA will never revisit non-RTX variants as they did with the GTX 16 Series? (Well, allegedly we can look forward to a GTX 1630 at some point, so I guess they won’t sell a GTX 1030 forever.)
There is plenty of competition in the ‘affordable’ graphics card segment, not the least of which from AMD’s RX 6500 XT. Sure, this card – with its x4 connection and 64-bit memory interface – may have seemed like a bit of a ridiculous product at its launch, but it offers pretty compelling 1080p performance, and is currently available for around $200. The RTX 3050 is a faster option by a wide margin, but it costs a lot more.
Back to the review. Sorry.
Presented for your inspection is MSI’s GeForce RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G, a factory-overclocked option (1845 MHz vs. stock 1777 MHz Boost) with a thick, dual-fan cooler for cool and quiet operation. It currently sells for $359.99 (Newegg link). Let’s check it out.
- Model Name: GeForce RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G
- Graphics Processing Unit: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
- Interface: PCI Express Gen 4.0 x8
- CUDA Cores: 2560
- Boost Clock: 1845 MHz
- Memory Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
- Memory Speed: 14 Gbps
- Memory Bus: 128-bit
- Display Outputs:
- DisplayPort x 3 (v1.4a)
- HDMI x 1 (Supports 4K @ 120Hz as specified in HDMI 2.1)
- HDCP Support: Yes
- Maximum Displays: 4
- Digital Maximum Resolution 7680×4320
- DirectX Version Support: 12 API
- OpenGL Version Support: 4.6
- G-SYNC technology: Yes
- Adaptive Vertical Sync: Yes
- Power consumption: 130 W
- Power connectors: 8-pin x1
- Recommended PSU: 550 W
- Card Dimension (mm): 278 x 130 x 49 mm
- Weight: 939 g
$359.99 USD on Newegg
“The latest iteration of MSI’s iconic GAMING series once again brings performance, low-noise efficiency, and aesthetics that hardcore gamers have come to recognize and trust. Now you too can enjoy all your favorite games with a powerful graphics card that stays cool and silent. Just the way you like it.”
The MSI RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G
When first unboxing MSI’s GAMING X 8G you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for containing a more powerful GPU, as it is a pretty chunky card – significantly larger than the compact EVGA sample we first reviewed.
The MSI GeForce RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G measures 278 mm / 10.95 inches in length, 130 mm / 5.12 inches wide (or height, if installed vertically), and is 49 mm / 1.93 inches thick. It weighs 939 grams, or about 2 lb 1 oz. A fairly sizable card, but not a particularly heavy one.
MSI RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G features (via MSI):
TWIN FROZR 8 – TWIN FROZR 8 offers the perfect balance between cool temperatures and quiet fans during endless gaming sessions
TORX FAN 4.0 – A masterpiece of teamwork, fan blades work in pairs to create unprecedented levels of focused air pressure
Core Pipe – Precision-machined heat pipes ensure max contact and spread heat along the full length of the heatsink
Aluminum Backplate – Thermal pads beneath the sturdy metal backplate provide additional cooling
Airflow Control – Don’t sweat it, Airflow Control guides the air to exactly where it needs to be for maximum cooling
Zero Frozr – Zero Frozr is the calm before the storm, keeping fans still and maintaining silence until cooling is needed
MSI Center – The exclusive MSI Center software lets you monitor, tweak and optimize MSI products in real-time
Mystic Light – Mystic Light gives you complete control of the RGB lighting for MSI devices and compatible RGB products
The card’s RGB effects are minimal, and as listed above you have control over lighting with MSI’s Mystic Light software, should you desire to do so.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 5800X (1800MHz FCLK)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO (Wi-Fi)
AGESA V2 PI 18.104.22.168 Patch C
|Memory||32GB (16GBx2) G.Skill Trident Z NEO DDR4-3600 CL14|
|Storage||Samsung 980 PRO 2TB NVMe SSD
Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (21H1, 19043.928)|
|Drivers||GeForce Game Ready Driver 512.95
GeForce GRD 472.12 – 511.32 (legacy tests)
Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.10.2 – 22.5.1
I’ll cut to the chase here: if you saw the results from our initial test of the RTX 3050 (EVGA XC Gaming), you have pretty much seen these performance numbers already. MSI’s GAMING X 8G card has a healthy factory OC, but our EVGA sample was loaded with an overclocked firmware as well, and the performance between the two is essentially identical. I present only the MSI card on the few charts to follow for the sake of clarity.
In the strictly theoretical world of the industry-standard synthetic benchmark, the RTX 3050 is a bit faster than a GTX 1660 Super, and well behind the RTX 3060. Towering above the rest of the group is the Radeon RX 6600 XT, with our identical-looking MSI GAMING X 8G sample of this particular AMD GPU offering compelling performance.
I was going to add Assassin’s Creed Valhalla results as well, but the game had a forced update and performance didn’t match previous results with the built-in benchmark so I omitted it. Still, you get the picture. The RTX 3050, even this factory-overclocked example from MSI, is going to fall short of the competition in the $300-$400 price range right now, as evidenced by the position of the RTX 3060 and (especially) RX 6600 XT on the charts.
Temps under load were very good with the RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G, with a max core temp of just 63 C, with a hot spot max of 75.3 C, in a 22.4 C ambient room. As to power draw, here’s a look at a number of recently tested cards in this system:
Looking at total power draw from our test system, the RTX 3050, even in a factory-overclocked state, is not a particularly power-hungry card.
As mentioned earlier, the results from the MSI GAMING X 8G in this review essentially match those of the EVGA XC Gaming sample we first tested, and both of these RTX 3050 cards offer a factory OC, with the edge to MSI on cooler design. But, even from the few paltry charts above, it is glaringly obvious that the RTX 3050 – even this excellent MSI GAMING X 8G version – will pale in comparison to slightly more expensive RTX 3060 cards.
Right now this MSI GeForce RTX 3050 GAMING X 8G card sells for $359.99. An RTX 3060 starts at $379.99, and is a much faster card. But that isn’t even the biggest issue when considering an RTX 3050. Just look at this:
Yes, that is a current listing (Best Buy link) for an XFX Radeon RX 6600 XT for the same $359.99 as this MSI RTX 3050. It does more than just complicate things when you consider that, depending on the vendor and card version, an AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT can be found for close to the same price of the RTX 3050 these days. Ouch! I assume that prices will eventually become more balanced, but as of this writing an RTX 3050 starts at $329, with the reviewed MSI card at $359, and an RX 6600 XT starting at $359.
I know that this is ostensibly a review of an RTX 3050, and the 6600 XT is in a different league, so it seems insane to compare them directly – but the $300 – $400 graphics card market is in serious need of a price correction right now, so I can’t recommend any RTX 3050 until prices come down a bit more. Sure, that Best Buy sale on the RX 6600 XT won’t last forever, but here’s a snapshot of a few cards in stock right now on Newegg to compare value:
I don’t think any more needs to be said. MSI made a nice card, and currently it’s being sold for a price that doesn’t make sense now that much faster cards are available in the same price range. After looking at the results it only makes sense to spend the additional $20 – $30 to realize such significant gains based on current Newegg pricing, and it makes even more sense to snag that RX 6600 XT while it’s on sale for $359 (or wait for the prices to drop even further).
I’m sure the graphics card pricing picture will continue to change in the near future as mining becomes a painful memory (I hope).
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from MSI for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of MSI but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
MSI had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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