As if 2020 couldn't have gotten any stranger, we're now routinely having to offer sage buying advice on PC hardware that, unless you're very, very lucky, is practically impossible to buy. The irony isn't lost on us, and while so many struggle to get their hands on the latest AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, we do feel a little guilty with review samples continuing to arrive at our door. Only a little, mind.
The latest to land is MSI's GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gaming X Trio, a £450 behemoth that is different to every other custom RTX 3060 Ti we've reviewed thus far in that it's arguably too well built for its own good.
You see, the Gaming X Trio is a flagship cooler whose design and build quality represents a fine fit for enthusiast GPUs. Earlier reviews have demonstrated the virtues of MSI's triple-fan setup on RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, and if you're in the market for premium high-end gear, there's merit in spending a little extra for robust cooling and ultra-quiet acoustics from a well-known brand.
That argument becomes less clear as you approach the mid-range segment, as Gaming X Trio continues to attract a significant premium. We have little doubt that MSI's RTX 3060 Ti is going to deliver best-in-class results, yet the £450 MSRP represents a 22 per cent price hike over the already impressive Founders Edition, and truth to be told, if your budget extends to this sort of sum, you really need to be looking at the £469 GeForce RTX 3070. Spending an extra £19 opens the door to a fundamentally superior GPU.
Still, if your heart is set on RTX 3060 Ti, and cost is of small concern, you can rest assured that MSI's huge card is unlikely to fall short. Occupying the best part of three slots and tipping the scales at a whopping 1.5kg, the Gaming X Trio behemoth measures 323mm x 140mm x 56mm and dwarfs every other RTX 3060 Ti we've tested.
Overkill for a x60 Series GPU? Absolutely, yet there are upsides. The three Torx 4.0 fans switch off at low load and make barely any noise when they do get going, and all that cooling enables a lofty factory overclock. Remember the Founders Edition arriving with a boost clock of 1,665MHz? We saw the likes of Palit and Gigabyte push it to 1,695MHz, but MSI's Gaming X Trio cranks the dial right up to 1,830MHz out of the box. There's no movement on memory, however, with the 8GB GDDR6 frame buffer operating at a default 14Gbps.
Display outputs comprise a single HDMI 2.1 and three DisplayPort 1.4a, and in terms of overall construction, the giant card has only a few minor drawbacks to consider. MSI's RGB light bar isn't as seamless as we'd like - the individual illumination points are clearly visible - and the card's heft is such that you'll want to install the supplied support bracket to prevent any unwanted sag. Those hoping to keep their build as clean as possible should also note a dual eight-pin power requirement.
RTX 3060 Tis don't come much bigger or bolder than this, but will the factory overclock deliver meaningful gains in framerate, and are real-world noise levels as impressive as they're made out to be? Only one way to find out.