Cooling Noise and Power
For my last few tests, rather than focusing on in game performance, I like to check out other aspects of performance. These are also the most important ways to differentiate the performance between cards that have the same GPU. To start things off I took a look at power usage. For this, I use our Kill-A-Watt hooked up to the test bench to record the total wattage of the system. I ran two tests with the first using 3DMark Fire Strike to put the system under a load similar to normal in game performance. Here our test system with the RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio and our testbench pulled 344 watts. This was right with one of the overclocked RTX 2060 SUPERs and 11 watts more than the stock clocked XC Black. With AIDA64 providing the workload it was just the GPU working and the Trio pulled 274 which was 8 watts more than the XC Black is up close to the stock Founders Edition of the RTX 2080.
My next round of tests were looking at noise levels. These are especially important to me because I can’t stand to listen to my PC whirling. Especially when I’m not in game and other applications are using the GPU. For my testing, though I first tested with the fan cranked up to 100% to get an idea of how loud it can get, then again at 50% to get an idea of its range. The Gaming X Trio with its three fans ran at 57.8 dB when I had them cranked up to 100% fan speed. This was 2 Db higher than the XC Black load but still near the middle of the pack of the cards tested and then with the fans at 50% it was 37.9 dB which is 2.6 dB higher than the XC Black which just has two fans. I was especially excited to see if the monster cooler on the RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio would be able to run extremely quiet when under. The Trio when under load for a half hour ended up running at 34.7 dB which is a lot lower than the card even at 50% fan speed and it puts it right down near the bottom of the chart against smaller dual-fan cards.
To finish up my testing I of course had to check out the cooling performance. To do this I ran two different tests. I used AIDA64’s Stress Test run for a half-hour each to warm things up. Then I documented what temperature the GPU leveled out at with the stock fan profile and then again with the fans cranked up to 100%. With the stock profile, the RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio came in at 53 degrees which ran cooler than even the lower end cards on our chart. This was 5 degrees lower than the RTX 3060 XC Black which was already low as well. Cranking the fans up on the Trio took things to another level with it running at just 39 degrees. This is 4 degrees lower than the next best cooler which was liquid cooled! It was also 10 degrees less than the XC Black. Overall the delta between the two was 14 degrees.
While running the stock fan profile testing I also took the time to get a few thermal images so we could see what is going on. The Gaming X Trio’s backplate area surprised me by not having as much warm air coming through the vents in the back as I would have expected. But overall you can see that the graphene backplate is transferring the heat, the center of the GPU area which didn’t have a backplate covering it is nearly the same temperature as the VRM area closer to the PCI bracket. Up on the top edge, you can also see the temperature difference from the left side of the card and the right. The same can be seen on the fan side with the VRM area being the “hottest”, the center which is near the GPU, being in the middle, and the far right running extremely cool.