MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X Trio Review
It would have appeared that there wasn't really room in the MSI GTX 1080 Ti range for another different model. If you were wanted a good card that didn't bust the bank then there is the Twin Frozr equipped Gaming X, and if you wanted the absolute best then there is nothing else to buy but the MSI Lightning. Therefore the Gaming X Trio felt like it was filling a niche that didn't really exist, but having completed our time with it there obviously is a space for it and it has charms of its own. As well as a few niggles.
As you can see from our results the performance is very much at the level you'd expect from a GTX 1080 Ti, with some results being more impressive than others. Certainly the synthetic benchmarks of Unigine, 3D Mark and VR Mark show the Trio to be as good as anything else we've looked at, whilst the gaming performance was a little more up and down without ever being bad or astounding. It seems like that might be damning with faint praise, but such is the consistency of the nVidia Pascal GPU that on such slender margins are things decided.
What isn't beyond doubt is the cooling capabilities of the Trio cooler. The combination of the beefy heatsink with some thick heatpipes surrounded by high fin density works beautifully with the three fans to leave the Trio the coolest air cooled graphics card we've looked at. Obviously three fans produce slightly more noise than two, but it's not intolerable by any means, and if you want to ensure that you have the frostiest graphics card this side of a hybrid cooling solution this is an absolute no-brainer.
The addition of the RGB light bar is a nice touch and one that you almost expect to find on all modern hardware. What strikes us as madness though is the fact that MSI have continued to utilise the red LEDs around the fans. Why on earth would you give the owner the option of having any colour or scheme that they like, and then force them to have a red glow on the lower side of the card? Either convert those lights to RGB, which surely wont add much to the price given how cheap LEDs are, or remove them entirely so that the only light is from the RGB. It's not as if MSI were trying to save money on their tooling, because the triple fan design is a total departure from their usual Twin Frozr offerings. Hmm.
The MSI Gaming X Trio combines good GTX 1080 Ti levels of performance with incredible cooling and slightly frustrating lighting options. How much you find it desirable will largely be determined by how much you dislike the red lighting, or want the very coolest air-cooled card.