Update (12/4): This article has been updated to add additional context on my impressions of DLSS and to correct a textual error in percentages in the Performance Discussion section.
The RTX-3000 Series has been out for just over two months, and though they’re still hard to find, that hasn’t stopped companies from releasing new models to tickle your fancy. The RTX 3090 was dubbed the “ultimate” gaming card but MSI wasn’t content to let even its Gaming X Trio rule the roost. Today, we’re looking at the MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X, a prestige graphics card if ever there was one. At $1750, it has the price to match, but if you’re building a top of the line system, this is a card you won’t want to miss.
- Current Price: $1750 (MSI)
- Model Name: GeForce RTX™ 3090 SUPRIM X 24G
- Graphics Processing Unit: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3090
- Interface: PCI Express® Gen 4
- Cores: 10496 Units
- Core Clocks: Extreme Performance: 1875 MHz (Dragon Center), Boost: 1860 MHz (GAMING & SILENT Mode)
- Memory Speed: 19.5 Gbps
- Memory: 24GB GDDR6X
- Memory Bus: 384-bit
- Output: DisplayPort x 3 (v1.4a) / HDMI 2.1 x 1
- HDCP Support: Yes
- Power Consumption: 420W
- Power Connectors: 8-pin x 3
- Recommended PSU: 850 W
- Card Dimensions (mm): 336 x 140 x 61 mm
- Weight: 1895g / 3197g
- DirectX Version Support: 12 API
- Open GL Version Support: 4.6
- Maximum Displays: 4
- VR Ready: Yes
- G-Sync Support: Yes
- Adaptive Vertical Sync: Yes
- Digital Maximum Resolution: 7680 x 4320
- Also Includes:
- MSI Gaming Mouse Pad
- Branded GPU support
The MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X is a stunning card. There’s simply no other way to put it. From the box which opens like the graphics card equivalent of a jewelry box to the brushed metal surfaces of the card itself, it easily feels more high-end than any graphics card I’ve yet laid hands on. MSI has done an excellent job of making this GPU feel like something special and at this price, nothing less would be acceptable, so I’m glad it nailed it as well as it did.
The other reason though is simply that it’s huge. The RTX 3090 Founders Edition was already a monster card, but the Suprim X takes it up a notch. At 336mm long, it’s a full half inch longer. Unfortunately for me, that meant it was impossible to fit normally in my case! My Corsair Crystal 680X features glass front and side panels replete with prominent front fans, so removing them wasn’t an option. Instead, I was forced to vertically mount the Suprim X just to fit it in the case, but that presented another problem: the card is so thick, the glass literally pushes against the front shroud. My answer, until I get a new case is simply to open the door a bit while gaming so the card can breathe. Check those case dimensions carefully, folks! That said, the testing of this GPU was done in a Lian Li PC-011 Dynamic which fit it in fine, so the thermals and performance benchmarks I’ll be discussing here won’t be affected by cool air or space limitations.
Gargantuan size aside, the Suprim X looks amazing. It features a mix of brushed metals and matching plastic covers to make up its shroud. RGB accents surround the middle fan. A large RGB strip traces the outer edge (where you’ll also find the anti-bending brace), as well as a backlit logo. If RGB lighting isn’t your thing, this can be customized or turned off inside the Dragon Center software, but it’s well diffused and looks great. The backplate is gunmetal grey aluminum to match the aesthetic and features a slick locking MSI logo that also illuminates to your RGB setting.
Peeking Under the Hood...
Looks matter, but what matters more is performance. The RTX 3090 Suprim X features one of the biggest factory overclocks we’ve seen on this GPU. In its Gaming and Default modes, which are selectable with an onboard dual BIOS switch (restart required), it comes in at 1860 MHz, which is 160 MHz faster than the Founders Edition. When set to Extreme Mode inside the software, that ticks even higher to 1875 MHz. On its face, that would indicate better performance with the Suprim X than most other RTX 3090s on the market currently.
That said, GPU Boost makes it possible to leapfrog these figures almost immediately. Since GPU Boost assesses available power and thermal headroom, it’s able to intelligently upclock and throttle the card to offer the best possible performance at any given down. While gaming, my Suprim X hovered consistently between 1950 - 1975 MHz, which absolutely lent it an FPS advantage over the RTX 3090 Founders Edition.
As Nvidia’s current top-of-the-line GPU, it features the highest CUDA core and memory allotment of the stack. Compared to last generation’s RTX 2080 Ti (4352 CUDA Cores) or even the RTX 3080’s 8704 CUDA Cores, the RTX 3090 is expansive at 10496 total cores. This is more than double, don't be mistaken into thinking that this automatically means double the performance. Roughly half of the expanded core count is composed of flexible units that can alternate between FP32 (shading) or INT32 (integer math). In practice, this means that the amount of uplift will at least in part depend on how the game has been coded to utilize those cores.
The frame buffer is where things really get interesting. Compared to the RTX 3080 and 3070, the VRAM allotment on the Suprim X feels extremely generous with 24GB of GDDR6X. This memory is clocked to 19.5 GB/s resulting in a total bandwidth of 936 GB/s. Compare that to the 616 GB/s on the RTX 2080 Ti and you can see what a running leap GDDR6X makes on generational performance.
This configuration might even make you scratch your head if all you’re doing is gaming. That 24GB frame buffer is overkill for games in the foreseeable future — but that’s the rub: the RTX 3090 is more than just a gaming card. Instead, it’s designed for prosumer applications, like 3D modeling and rendering. There, that 24GB of ultra-fast GDDR6X will actually be pushed to its limit, leading to far better rendering times and the ability to increase your workflow by working in dual viewports in apps like Blender.
All of that performance would typically come at the expense of lots of heat, but between Nvidia and MSI’s engineering teams, the RTX 3090 is able to run remarkably cool. The Suprim X uses MSI’s TriFrozr 2 system that combines high velocity fans with high contact heat sinks for the GPU and memory modules. The fans follow MSI’s Torx 4.0 design which connects blades in pairs of two to increase static pressure and force more air through the heatsink. The fins on the heat sink are also waved to lower acoustics.
The system works very well. Even after hours of benchmarking, the GPU achieved a peak temperature of only 75C in Gaming Mode, 77C in Extreme Mode, and 81C in Quiet Mode. It’s not quite as cool as the shockingly low mid-sixties delivered on the 3090 FE, but it still offers great heading in Gaming and Extreme Modes. I was also happy to see that the fans automatically spun up to ~70% in Gaming Mode, as the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio seemed to cap out at roughly 50% without a custom fan curve. The noise level is also very good. I don’t have professional acoustic equipment, but without the fans spinning at all, I recorded a maximum reading of 57dB. With the fan spun up to 70%, that jumped to 61dB — audible, but still very good. Coming from the noise levels of the last two generations of GPUs, this feels quite quiet.
DLSS, Nvidia Reflex, Nvidia Broadcast
Before we get into performance results, let’s talk about a few other features of this card, beginning with DLSS. Simply put, DLSS is the killer feature of this generation. DLSS, or Deep Learning Super Sampling, intelligently upscales supported games to higher resolutions than they are actually being rendered at. This allows a card to perform like it’s running 1440p while displaying a 4K image, for example, that is often better than native 4K.
Note: Some readers have pointed out that this statement is misrepresentative of the impact of DLSS, so allow me to cut in for a moment to better qualify my meaning. DLSS is a wide-spanning technology and results will clearly vary from game to game. However, it excels at adding crispness to many textures and fine details. While the upscaling surely carries some loss of image quality at large, I and many others have found it to be virtually imperceptible in actual gameplay whereas that crispness is more perceptible when the action slows down. The overwhelming impression I have been left with in many games is that, if there's a trade-off, it's so minor as to often be meaningless in actual gameplay. My sensitivity may be different than yours though, so understand that it remains at its core a form of upscaling.
The amount of games supporting DLSS at this time is still small but growing and, thankfully, virtually all games that support ray tracing also support DLSS. As a result, you can even play some games in 8K on this GPU, should have the display to support it.
Second, for competitive gamers, we have Nvidia Reflex. This technology streamlines communication between the GPU and CPU, and soon will work with some native 360Hz displays, to dramatically reduce input lag. I enjoy shooters, but I’m not competitive, and even I noticed an immediate improvement to responsiveness in Valorant. Measured on my 4K display with a PNY 1650 Super, this dropped my latency from 31.2ms to 15.7ms with the click of a single button. It seems small but cutting your latency in half even at this fine of a level is absolutely something you can feel.
Streamers will also enjoy the Nvidia Broadcast suite. This app uses the power of AI for noise removal and virtual background removal. If you have background noise or can’t place a green screen, this is an excellent option that yields remarkably good results.
Test System: ASUS Z490 Maximus XII Extreme, Intel Core i9-10900K, Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB DDR4-3600 (64GB), NZXT Kraken X72, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Power Supply
My benchmarking results will be a little different than usual today based on this specific card. First off, I will be focusing specifically on 4K performance. Anyone considering this card is likely doing so to drive a 4K monitor, whether that’s for gaming or content creation, and as we already know from the RTX 3090 Founders Edition, the performance is such that 1440p and 1080p dominance are given.
Second, you’ll notice that each RTX card was tested with DLSS enabled wherever possible. While some people feel that this gives RTX cards an unfair advantage, I’ve decided to use those figures here for one simple reason: this is the reality for gaming today. Anyone deciding between AMD and Nvidia right now will be faced with the choice as presented here: DLSS or no DLSS. And, as I’ve established above, there is little to no reason not to use DLSS wherever it is available. While it is true that AMD has its own answer in the works, FidelityFX Super Resolution, that technology isn’t available today and doesn’t even have a window for release as of this writing. Once it does, we will be retesting each game to provide an equally apples to apples comparison.
Onto the results!
Beginning with 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra, the Suprim X offers the hands-down best results. It well outperforms the RTX 3090 Founders Edition and RX 6800 XT by 5% and leaves the RTX 2080 Ti in its wake with a 54% lead. Compared to the RTX 3080, it offers an 18% score improvement.
Looking at Port Royal, the MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X also dominates. This test adds ray tracing and you can see the type of advantage it offers over the RTX 2080 Ti and RX 6800 XT. Here, the Suprim X maintains its 5% lead over the FE, but extends its advantage over the RX 6800 XT and RTX 2080 Ti to 47% each. Things are tighter when compared against the RTX 3080, which earned an impressive score in its own right. In Port Royal, it ran 20% faster.
Next, I put the each card through a series of synthetic benchmarks explicitly testing ray tracing. In 3DMark’s Ray Tracing tests, which renders a non-animated 3D scene, we can see that the Suprim X has a 1% advantage over the Founders Edition, but an 18% lead over the RTX 3080. Against the RTX 2080 Ti, it was a whopping 90% faster and more than doubled the RX 6800 XT.
In Boundary, which is much more like a game, the card was again 5% faster than the Founders Edition, 19% faster than the RTX 3080, and 72% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti. Since the RX 6800 XT does not support DLSS, the Suprim X more than triples the performance of the RX 6800 XT.
Game-like or not, a synthetic doesn’t necessarily represent real life, so let’s take a look at some 4K gaming benchmarks.
All games tested below were testing at their highest preset settings and only at 4K resolution. Ray tracing and DLSS were enabled wherever possible. The only exception is Metro: Exodus where ray tracing was left on high inadvertently for some tests, so all games were tested at this setting for consistency.
Looking at the gaming benchmarks, we can see that the RTX 3090 Suprim X is a real performer. It is, on average across these titles, 5% faster than the RTX 3090 Founders Edition and 20% faster than the RTX 3080 Founders Edition. This also makes it a whopping 61% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti, though the best last-gen comparison would a Titan RTX, which we don’t have on hand.
Looking at our rendering benchmark suite, we can see that the results are slightly improved from the RTX 3090 Founders Edition in most cases. Like that card, though, the story is really in how dramatic of an improvement the Suprim X offers over the RTX 3080 and RTX 2080 Ti. Looking at Octane Renderer in particular, the Suprim X took only 5% as long as the RTX 2080 Ti and 12% as long as even the RTX 3080. That plentiful allotment of GDDR6X VRAM really does make all the difference when it comes to rendering capability.
Likewise, in Blender, it allowed me to continue to work with objects in the main viewport while Classroom continued to render in the background, as if nothing system intensive were occurring at all. I do not use these programs regularly but the improvements to speed and fluidity seem like major improvements even in my limited time testing for this review.
Since the MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X is so highly clocked out of the box, I was concerned about the headroom that might remain for custom overclocks. Using the OC Scanner in EVGA's Precision X-1 software, I was able to lock in a stable OC of +89 to the GPU and +200 memory, bringing my clock speed up to 1949 MHz.
As you can tell, the Suprim X is an impressive card. It consistently topped the charts in all of my gaming and rendering benchmarks, outperforming the RTX 3090 Founders Edition by 5%. Compared to the RTX 3080 Founders Edition, it maintained an average lead of 61% and against the RTX 2080 Ti, 20%. These figures aren’t surprising after what we saw with the RTX 3090 Founders Edition but are enthusing nonetheless.
For pure gaming, the Suprim X’s lead over the RTX 3080 Founders Edition is more meaningful than the 3090 FE, but still isn’t the kind of extension most gamers would hope for with a card that’s nearly $1100 more expensive. Is it the ultimate gaming card? It’s certainly one of the best money can buy right now, that’s for sure, and the “prestige gaming card” vibes its letting off are well earned. Still, if all you’re doing is gaming at 4K, you’re probably better off with the RTX 3080 — of which there’s also a Suprim model, retailing for $900.
Instead, like the FE, this is a card best suited for creators and upper-crust gamers powering 8K displays. It really is a Titan-lite. Taken in that context, with the factory overclock and additional features, the pricing on the Suprim X isn’t that bad. Quadro cards retail in the thousands and even the Titan RTX launched for $2499. Now, it’s been a while since the RTX 3090 first launched and since then the community has discovered several processing limitations with the 3090 versus the Titan lines, but as a middle-ground between both worlds, it’s really not bad at all.
The bigger question is whether or not that is what the PC gaming community understands the RTX 3090 GPU to be — and not just the Suprim X. By positioning it as “the ultimate gaming card” while also building hype around massive generational leaps, Nvidia confused expectations. That’s where articles like this one come in. If all you’re looking for is gaming performance, your ROI is vanishingly thin on this card. If you’re doing more, it could easily transform into a great value.
The MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X is an absolutely outstanding video card. Taken on its own merits, MSI has done a fantastic job of crafting a GPU that runs quiet while still offering great thermal headroom. Its performance is top-notch, easily outperforming the RTX 3090 Founders Edition. At $1750, this prestige GPU carries a prestige price, but if you demand only the best or are also completing 3D modeling or rendering work, it’s absolutely worth a look.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.