Card Layout and Photos
So here is the new look of the MSI Gaming X. Past Gaming X cards have had sharp edges and a lot of angular designs in them. This new shroud design is the complete opposite of that really. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the PowerColor card I took a look at for the 5500 XT launch. It is boxy with a flat front and it wraps around the top, end, and the bottom about ¾ of an inch. MSI designed a cleaner, simpler design which in my opinion is a lot better looking than the old look. They then added styling using materials and to a lesser extent with colors as well. It has two black sections, both of those have a more traditional plastic finish then the grey areas are all finished with a brushed finish similar to brushed aluminum. Then there are three sections with small amounts of red trim around the fans. I’m not 100% sold on the red trim, I know it is one of MSI’s Gaming colors, but I still prefer the color neutral look. But other than that I really like the new look. Now this card is tall, you can see it is almost an inch taller than the top of the PCI bracket and for length, it is 247mm long which isn’t huge, but that is longer than the PCB.
As for the fans, the Gaming X has two axial fans that blow down through the cooler. They are MSIs Torx 3.0 fans which are thin and have a high blade count with blades that have a twist to them. Every other blad also has small raised bits as well. Then in the center, it has the MSI logo with a tiny red line, just like the red trim around the fans on the shroud. Looking down through the fans we can learn two things about the Twin Frozr 7 cooler that MSI used on the Gaming X. It has a traditional sheet metal heatsink design which is good. The fin layout is horizontal which I haven’t been a big fan of with cards like this with axial fans. Vertical normally works better because the air has a shorter distance to go but I will have to see about that later.
Looking around on the edges helps us learn even more about the cooler. Like that it uses four heat pipes that go from over the GPU down across the bottom of the card then back up, with three of those being on the far right side to help pull the heat out to that end. There is a gap under the heatsink in some areas, but mostly on the far end of the card. This is especially true at the end where the PCB ends and the heatsink extends over. So it looks like a lot of the airflow is expected to go out the two ends of the card, not the top and bottom like with most coolers. This does mean less hot air going down on the motherboard or on your M.2 slots, but in my experience, this layout is a little worse at cooling.
Up on the top edge of the card, you have the power connection all the way at the end of the PCB which puts it an inch and a half away from the end of the card. MSI stuck with the 8-pin which is the same as the PowerColor. PowerColor also went out past the PCB as well. Farther from the end of the PCB than MSI did, but MSI’s PCB is custom and longer and the PowerColor 5500 XT is actually shorter overall. Also on the top edge is the branding that will face out when the card is installed. While MSI changed a lot, they kept the white section here like they did on past designs and it has the MSI logo along with their Gaming dragon. I’ve said it in the past, but this white just stands out and I’m not a fan. It is backlit with RGB though. I’m also not a big fan of backlit branding in general, it is starting to feel like every brand just wants your PC to have their name all over it when I like a little styling over branding.
In addition to the new look out front, the back of the card is completely changed as well. The backplate is actually metal, not plastic like a lot of the mid-range cards are starting to get. It has a few cutouts in the back as well with a few wide gaps right over the back of the GPU to help with improved cooling. The backplate’s best feature is the use of two different finishes. You can see three sections which all have a brushed finish where in the center it is more of a normal texture. At first glance, I thought they used different pieces to do this but looking at it they actually bent the card up in the brushed areas then added the brushed finish. Given that the backplate is the largest portion of the card visible in most cases, I like that they spent time on it. It does have the MSI logo and a small MSI Gaming dragon logo which still looks like a sad pepe to me when upside down, sorry MSI I can’t unsee it! Up in the top left corner, it does drop down to leave room to access the power plug and it also gives you a peek at the heatsink as well.
For display connection options on the PCI bracket end of the 5500 XT Gaming X, you get basically exactly what most cards are coming with these days. That gets you three DisplayPort connections and then one HDMI. I like that the HDMI is down at the bottom, not mixed in the middle of the DisplayPorts like most cards do. But I do have to wonder if having a DVI would be good, like PowerColor did, simply because of the price range and the expected performance. I feel like cards focused on 1080p are still potential buys for people upgrading cards, but sticking with their older monitors where higher-end cards are for systems running 1440p or 4k or any of the ultra-wide resolutions as well as those with new 1080p monitors with high refresh rates. Not having a DVI does open the card up at the end and MSI did keep the ventilation good, but not being a blower card not nearly as much hot air goes this way. But with the horizontal heatsink fins that could be different on this card.
I have a picture of the card's lighting as well, which for this card is just the white pad up on top with the MSI Gaming logo and the dragon. I don’t like the look of that section much with the lights on, but in the dark with the RGB on it does look good. It would be cooler if it showed the model name rather than branding IMO, but yeah the RGB on the Gaming X is simple and not over the top at all.