MSI Gaming X Trio vs. NVIDIA Founders Edition: Which RTX 3080 graphics card should you buy?

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (Image credit: NVIDIA)

MSI Gaming X Trio RTX 3080 vs. Founders Edition RTX 3080

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Header Cell - Column 0 MSI Gaming X TrioNVIDIA Founders Edition
GPUGeForce RTX 3080GeForce RTX 3080
CUDA Cores8,7048,704
Base clock1.44GHz1.44GHz
Boost clock1.82GHz1.71GHz
Memory bus320-bit320-bit
VRAM10GB GDDR6X10GB GDDR6X
Power340W320W
ConnectorTriple 8-pin12-pin

The start of a graphics card's (GPU) life cycle generally sees a huge buying rush. People advertise unrealistic prices for second-hand — usually unopened — hardware. It can be a frustrating buying experience, especially if you're not sure where to buy NVIDIA RTX 30-series graphics cards to begin with. Luckily it's not just NVIDIA selling the new GPUs; third-party manufacturers also have options available.

NVIDIA builds its Founders Edition GPUs based on specifications that it expects all third-party manufacturers to follow. These Founders Edition cards are generally well-built and will deliver the expected performance, but aftermarket cards — like the MSI Gaming X Trio RTX 3080 — often improve on the design. You'll often find better cooling, higher clock speeds, and more attractive designs, especially for anyone who likes an aggressive gaming PC with lots of RGB.

This holds true so far, at least when comparing the MSI Gaming X Trio RTX 3080 with the Founders Edition RTX 3080. MSI's option has been one of the top-rated third-party GPUs for the last couple of generations thanks to strong triple-fan cooling, boosted clock speeds, and aggressive design with customizable RGB lighting. It's definitely an excellent choice for anyone who wants their PC to drip in style. It's also using a triple 8-pin power connector setup rather than the 12-pin connector NVIDIA has opted for.

Source: MSI (Image credit: Source: MSI)

On the other hand, the NVIDIA Founders Edition RTX 3080 is far more understated, with dual cooling fans, a silver and black exterior, and simple (and expected) green logo lighting on the side. Its boost clock speed isn't quite as high, but it also has a slightly lower TDP at 320W. Note that the Founders Edition measures 11.2 inches (285mm), while the MSI Gaming X Trio measures a hefty 12.7 inches (323mm). If you're pressed for space inside your case, this could factor into your decision.

Ultimately, availability and price are going to play a massive role in your buying decision. If you want better performance and more style than the Founders Edition has to offer, MSI's Gaming X Trio RTX 3080 is a fantastic choice at a higher cost. But if it's sold out and you can still get your hands on a Founders Edition RTX 3080, it might be too tempting to hold off on the new hardware, especially if it comes at a lower price. If neither of these GPUs is really what you're looking for, check out our other picks for best graphics card.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.