The Bottom Line
- + Faster than the Ventus model
- + Great 1080p and decent 1440p performance
- + Incredible power efficiency
- + DLSS 3 is great, even at 1080p
- - Less memory than the GeForce RTX 3060
- - 1440p performance is a little lacking
- - Stiff competition at this price point
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Our review of the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Ventus 2X the other day put MSI's entry-level GeForce RTX 4060 to the test - an MSRP model in the popular Ventus range. Today we're looking at the more premium MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G, which brings the exceptional cooling of the company's Gaming X range to the GeForce RTX 4060. Compared to the Ventus, the significant differences come with a more robust build and more advanced cooling, plus a nice little boost to the overall clock speeds that should, on paper, slightly increase overall performance - and it does.
Being a more premium GeForce RTX 4060 also means a higher cost, with MSI confirming that the price point for the new MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G will be USD 329 - a $30 increase over the USD 299 price of the Ventus model. The Ventus 2X was minimal and all-black in its look. The Gaming X variant retains a two-slot, twin-fan compact size but adds some nice visual flourishes and RGB lighting.
Of course, outside of the overclocking, the underlying hardware remains the same - this is a GPU designed to play modern games with high visual quality settings at 1080p. And do so with improved performance and efficiency when stacked against the previous generation's GeForce RTX 3060 12GB.
As this review appears after the MSRP reviews, there's nothing left that you'd consider unknown about the GeForce RTX 4060, so let's sum up the key features that make it a great mainstream option in 2023.
The incredible efficiency of Ada Lovelace architecture sees the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G consume 30% less power than the GeForce RTX 3060 and the RTX 4060's main competition, the Radeon RX 7600. It fully supports new GeForce technologies like DLSS 3 and Frame Generation, plus hardware-based AV1 encoding for content creation and video. DLSS 3 works great on the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G in 1080p, proving that the AI-based Frame Generation scales as well as other DLSS tech.
The Ada Lovelace Generation
Below is a summary of the GeForce RTX 40 Series technology, applicable to all models.
There was a time when outright visual quality was the main driver for determining how advanced real-time rendering, especially in games, had progressed. There was also a time when pure grunt in raw hardware power determined how good a game could technically look and how fast it ran. We're now at a point where visual quality and performance go hand-in-hand, with raw power only being a part of the equation.
The GeForce RTX 40 Series, the Ada Lovelace generation, is a lineup of GPUs built on a cutting-edge process node while leveraging and evolving all of the advances in AI and hardware-based ray-tracing that NVIDIA helped become mainstream with the GeForce RTX 30 Series.
Named after mathematician Ada Lovelace, considered the world's first computer programmer, the GeForce RTX 40 Series is built on TSMC 4N process technology - a giant leap forward over the Samsung 8nm process used in the GeForce RTX 30 Series Ampere generation. From a pure numbers perspective, the full NVIDIA Ada GPU features 76.3 billion transistors, up to 18,432 CUDA Cores (70% more than the previous gen), and delivers clock speeds over 2.5 GHz while maintaining the same power requirements of the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti.
Ada also introduces the latest generation of RT and Tensor Cores, with the latter introducing brand-new hardware responsible for the next iteration of AI rendering - DLSS 3. NVIDIA's DLSS or Deep Learning Super Sampling is one of the reasons why raw power is no longer the be-all-end-all; it's an AI-based form of upscaling that can provide a sizable boost to in-game performance without sacrificing visual fidelity. In fact, in some cases, it can improve upon native rendering.
For this reason alone, DLSS and other forms of algorithm-based upscaling have become some of the most talked about bits of technology in the PC gaming space.
Free frames, enough said.
DLSS 3 combines DLSS Super Resolution (DLSS 2) with NVIDIA Reflex to reduce system latency and the brand-new hardware-accelerated Frame Generation technology. Three bits of rendering tech = DLSS 3. And it's exclusive to the GeForce RTX 40 Series.
And it's here where NVIDIA is looking to do what it has done for real-time graphics upscaling to the idea of frame-interpolation - or what they call Motion Plus in the TV world. Which, to be fair, is not a fair comparison on account of tech like Motion Plus being - well - terrible. But the fundamental idea is the same, albeit using specialized AI hardware in the GeForce RTX 40 Series graphics cards to generate and create entire frames.
So far, the results, although not without flaws, are impressive - with dramatic improvements to overall performance (in the smoothness stakes) seen in games like Cyberpunk 2077, F1 22, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered, and more.
As seen with DLSS 3, the Ada generation is much more than "smaller = more," with NVIDIA introducing back-end technology in the form of Shader Execution Reordering - which effectively ensures render tasks happen more efficiently and without running into bottlenecks. This means a leap forward in the real-time rendering of hardware-intensive ray-tracing effects.
The Ada generation also levels up NVIDIA's already formidable content creation chops with the arrival of AV1 encoding for better video quality for streamers without sacrificing anything in the way of performance or more bandwidth.
Specs and Test System
Here we can see how the specs and hardware stack up for the GeForce RTX 4060 compared to the previous generation's GeForce RTX 3060 and this generation's GeForce RTX 4060 Ti.
Outside of the massive boost to clock speeds, which the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G bumps up to an impressive 2595 MHz, the GeForce RTX 4060 story - specs-wise - is about doing more with less. This is a gen-on-gen comparison where the newer GeForce RTX model features fewer CUDA Cores, fewer RT and Tensor Cores, a cut-down memory interface, and less VRAM capacity. It's a little concerning, sure, but as the results show, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is 20% faster than the GeForce RTX 3060 12Gb when it comes to 1080p gaming while consuming 30% less power.
It would have been nice to see the baseline GeForce RTX 4060 launch with the same 12GB VRAM configuration as its predecessor, especially when dealing with poorly optimized PC games. However, for 2023 8GB is still enough for 1080p and even most 1440p gaming. And at this mainstream level, you're expected to tweak and tinker with in-game settings to find the right balance of visual fidelity and performance.
Even though it might seem like NVIDIA is making cuts left, right, and center, there are significant differences between GeForce RTX 30 Series' Ampere architecture and the new Ada Lovelace architecture. RT and Tensor hardware has improved considerably; adding AI-specific hardware for DLSS 3 and Frame Generation is a testament to that. To mitigate issues with VRAM, there's a massive increase to L2 Cache, which does help improve the 1% low performance for smoother gaming.
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060
- Model: MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G
- Interface: PCI Express 4.0
- CUDA Cores: 3072
- Tensor Cores: 96 (4th Generation)
- RT Cores: 24 (3rd Generation)
- Clocks: Boost: 2595 MHz, 2610 MHz via MSI Center
- Memory: 8GB GDDR6
- Memory Speed: 17 Gbps
- Memory Interface: 128-bit
- Total Memory Bandwidth: 272 GB/s (453 GB/s effective)
- L2 Cache: 24576 K
- Display Connections: 3 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI 2.1 x 1
- Power Connectors: 1 x PCIe 8-pin cable
- Recommended PSU: 550W
- What's in the Box: MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G, Quick Start Guide
Kosta's Test System
- Motherboard: MSI MPG X670E Carbon Wi-Fi
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
- RAM: 64GB (2x32GB) Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 5200MHz
- SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 Tempered Glass Snow
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Physical Design and Cooling
The look of MSI's Gaming and Gaming X range remains consistent across the GeForce RTX 40 Series line-up, with the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G being the smallest to date with dimensions of 247 x 130 x 41 mm and a weight of 587 grams. The twin-fan, two-slot design is compact enough to fit in most cases, including mini-ITX. And really, it's refreshing not to have to deal with a 3.5-slot behemoth for once - though that's a sentiment that only other GPU reviewers might agree with.
The premium build of the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is impressive, especially when you compare it to the all-plastic (but still robust) Ventus model. You've got a sturdy metal backplate with improved airflow and MSI's premium TORX FAN 5.0 system, alongside a copper baseplate to dissipate heat, MSI's square-shaped heat pipes, a more complex fin stack, and even a custom PCB designed for performance and reliability. Connection-wise, you've got three DisplayPort 1.4 ports on the back, alongside a single HDMI 2.1 port, which is standard for the GeForce RTX 40 Series.
It's a lot, but the proof comes when you put the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G to work. Using the same stress test as what was performed on the Ventus 2X model, overall temperatures recorded on the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G were nearly 10 degrees Celsius cooler with lower fan speeds for near-silent performance-impressive stuff and worth the premium.
Benchmarks - 15 Game Averages
The Games and Tests
In 2023 PC gaming is a complicated and varied space, from indie games to major blockbuster releases and titles that push hardware and technology to their limit with the adoption of effects like real-time ray-tracing.
This is all a way of saying that the 15 in-game benchmarks we've chosen (and run at 1080p and 1440p) represent a wide range of styles, not only in terms of genres, like first-person shooters and racing games but also in the API technology (DirectX 11, 12) and cutting-edge features like ray tracing and upscaling technology.
Results include DLSS and FSR 2, where possible, as both technologies are the sorts of things, especially in 1440p and 4K, which you'd turn on. Six of the 15 game benchmarks also feature ray tracing, a great way to see the additional benefit of NVIDIA's DLSS and Frame Generation technology. Also, each title is set to ultra-equivalent quality settings to push GPU hardware and minimize CPU bottlenecks at higher resolutions.
Also, it's just fun to max out a game's visual settings and see the results. Here's the breakdown of games, graphics settings, and what's being tested.
And with 15 games, a special shoutout goes to Sabrent for providing us with the storage to ensure we can keep everything installed - and then some - with both the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB and Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB offering exceptional performance, capacity, and reliability.
We can keep all our benchmark software installed while also installing every new game release that comes our way.
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Ultra High-quality settings, with the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Borderlands 3: Ultra quality settings, with the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II: Ultra quality setting, in-game multiplayer benchmark tool used.
- Cyberpunk 2077: Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Cyberpunk 2077 (RT): Ray tracing Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- DOOM Eternal (RT): Ultra Nightmare quality setting with ray-tracing enabled, the opening of Mars Core campaign level used to benchmark.
- F1 22 (RT): Ultra High-quality setting with ray tracing, one lap of the Bahrain track benchmarked. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Forza Horizon 5 (RT): Extreme quality setting with ray tracing enabled, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Hitman (RT): Ultra-quality settings with ray-tracing, Dubai scene benchmarked. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included. A May 2023 update to the game has greatly improved performance, so comparison results are limited.
- Horizon Zero Dawn: Ultimate quality setting, in-game benchmark used.
- Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (RT): Ultra quality setting with ray tracing enabled, the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Rainbow Six Extraction: Ultra quality settings and in-game benchmark tool used.
- Red Dead Redemption 2: Maximum quality settings, with in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- The Division 2: Ultra quality settings with in-game benchmark tool used.
- Total War: Warhammer III: Ultra-quality settings with the in-game Battle Benchmark tool used.
15 Game Average FPS - 1080p Results
Capturing raw performance, so no DLSS or Frame Generation action, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G delivers impressive 1080p results living up to NVIDIA's promise of a 20% uplift over the GeForce RTX 3060 12GB. Taking the 1080p results from our 15-game benchmark suits, you're looking at a 20.9% performance uplift over the RTX 306 for the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G.
As AMD's new Radeon RX 7600 is the new GeForce RTX 4060's direct competitor, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G delivers a notable 11.8% increase in performance over the Radeon RX 7600 when it comes to 1080p gaming. The kicker is that it's also doing that while consuming 30% less power than AMD's mainstream RDNA 3 offering. There are titles, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Borderlands 3, where the Radeon card pulls ahead, but across most games tested, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is the clear winner.
Another critical thing to point out, outside of the fact that, on average, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G delivers triple-digit 1080p performance, is that the 1% low numbers indicate that a bump in L2 Cache is doing its thing. The MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G delivers consistently better 1% low performance over the GeForce RTX 3060 and even the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti in many cases.
Compared to the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is roughly 17.5% slower for 1080p gaming. Compared to the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, it's approximately 2.8% slower.
15 Game Average FPS - 1440p Results
NVIDIA has made it clear that from its perspective, the GeForce RTX 4060 and RTX 4060 Ti are both for 1080p gaming, but even so, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is a solid 1440p performer. The drop-off from 1080p to 1440p might be on the big side at 31.7%, but you're still looking at an overall average of 71 fps with a 1% low figure of 49 fps -within the G-SYNC range for smooth performance.
The performance uplift over the GeForce RTX 3060 drops to 16.4%, while the lead over the Radeon RX 7600 increases slightly to 12.7%. And this is all without factoring in DLSS 2 Super Resolution, which is available in most modern titles and the sort of feature you'd always enable for some free frames. With DLSS Super Resolution, Call of Duty's 1440p performance using the Ultra quality settings jumps up to 100 fps from 67 fps - which is worth noting when looking at pairing the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G with a 1440p display.
Of course, at 1440p, you'll need to do more tweaking of in-game settings on the RTX 4060. The good news is that NVIDIA's Optimal Playable Settings in GeForce Experience is available for the new GPU to help make that process seamless and automated.
Benchmarks - 3DMark FireStrike
3DMark FireStrike is a DirectX 11 test that has been around for many years and covers quite a large portion of games released over the past decade - at least in terms of the API and graphics technologies used. The three tests cover the resolutions - 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. Using the baseline 1080p test, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G delivers a 25.8% improvement over the GeForce RTX 3060. However, it falls behind the Radeon RX 7600 by around 4.1%, not reflected by the actual in-game benchmarks.
Benchmarks - 3DMark TimeSpy and Port Royal
With 3DMark TimeSpy being DirectX 12-based, it's a more relevant synthetic benchmark for modern games. Here we see the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G deliver a score 18.2% higher than the GeForce RTX 3060. It's about an identical score compared to AMD's mainstream Radeon RX 7600. Although 4K TimeSpy Extreme results are included above, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is not a 4K gaming card.
3DMark Port Royal is a synthetic ray-tracing benchmark, an area where NVIDIA's new Ada Lovelace architecture excels. Here we see the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G deliver a score 16.8% higher than the GeForce RTX 3060 and 14.8% higher than AMD's mainstream Radeon RX 7600. This is a lower result for the GeForce RTX 4060 hardware than expected, indicating that the gen-on-gen RT performance uplift is lower than non-RT rendering.
Actual in-game benchmarks paint a different picture than the 3DMark results, but the RT performance for the GeForce RTX 4060 isn't quite where it should be. However, DLSS Super Resolution and Frame Generation let you play Cyberpunk 2077 on the demanding RT Ultra setting with near 100 fps performance, so there's that.
Benchmarks - 1080p Gaming
Benchmarks - 1440p Gaming
Benchmarks Summary, Ray-Tracing Performance, and DLSS 3
As a premium GeForce RTX 4060, the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G outperforms the MSRP models in all areas, from in-game performance to cooling. It's not a drastic improvement, but seeing slight increases in 1% low and average frame-rate performance in most of the 15 games in our benchmark suit was fantastic. And with the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G, you are getting a spot-on 20% increase in performance over the GeForce RTX 3060 at 1080p - and a notable bump at 1440p too.
Raw performance isn't everything; technologies like DLSS Super Resolution and Frame Generation are remarkable to draw on at the mainstream level. DLSS has established itself as the go-to form of upscaling for GeForce RTX owners, to the point where it's redefined the idea of image upscaling thanks to its use of AI and ability to maintain and even improve visual fidelity. Frame Generation is the new kid on the block, but the adoption rate has been impressive, and it's now available in several titles. It also uses AI, with the magic here being that specialized hardware in the GeForce RTX 40 Series generates new frames to boost performance.
With the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G, Frame Generation works excellent at 1080p and on NVIDIA's mainstream Ada Lovelace card. For Cybeprunk 2077, using the RT Ultra setting, the triple-digit frame-rate result with DLSS 3 represents a 2.8X increase over native 1080p rendering. In Forza Horizon 5, with RT enabled using the game's Extreme visual quality setting, you're looking at a more modest 1.2X increase. For F1 22 and Hitman 3, two titles with great ray-tracing implementations, it's an impressive 2X increase over native 1080p rendering.
Diablo IV, one of the biggest PC releases so far this year, supports DLSS 3, and as I'm currently obsessed with the game, I've also been playing using GeForce RTX 4060 hardware with Frame Generation enabled, and the experience has been smooth.
Temperature and Power Efficiency
The GeForce RTX 4060 is the latest power-efficient Ada card from NVIDIA, and its 115W rating is the lowest for an X60 card in many years. 115W is substantially less than the previous generation's GeForce RTX 3060 and lower than its direct competitor's - the Radeon RX 7600, which features a power rating of 165W.
Across all 15 games benchmarked, the average power usage for the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G at 1080p was 110W, and at 1440p, it was 112W. We've gotten used to the impressive power efficiency and how that ties into performance for all GPUs in the GeForce RTX 40 Series line-up, but this is worth celebrating - a GPU that doesn't need its 8-pin power connector. 20% better performance than the GeForce RTX 3060 with 30% less power being consumed, and 10% better performance than the Radeon RX 7600 with 30% less energy consumed.
And the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G offers up next-level cooling, with temperatures at 52.9 degrees Celsius under load with a hot spot of 59.3 degrees. The funny thing is that the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G takes a little while before ramping up the fan speeds to around 1100 RPM or 30% of the total, so the temperature dropped over time to settle at about 50-55 degrees.
Even though the sizable out-of-the-box increase to Boost Clock speeds for the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G doesn't in any way affect the card's cooling potential, this can be pushed even higher via MSI Center or MSI Afterburner. With the latter, we got a few more frames of performance, which, when coupled with the premium build quality, make it a great choice if you're in the market for a GeForce RTX 4060. Sure, the price is higher than the MSRP of USD 299, but not drastically.
In the end, the GeForce RTX 4060 story is straightforward. You've got a notable gen-on-gen performance uplift over the GeForce RTX 3060 12GB, with the bonus of DLSS 3 and Frame Generation support in several titles. And it's a technology that works well at 1080p, it looks good, and there's no noticeable lag or latency in games like Diablo IV and the titles we benchmarked.
But there are some shortcomings, namely in the VRAM department - where currently 8GB is enough, but will it be going forward? Plus, there's the fact that previous-generation cards are presently being sold with sizable discounts, so the price might not be suitable for some, even with DLSS 3 support. However, that stock is limited and not exactly plentiful in all regions. With the GeForce RTX 4060 launch MSRP lower than its predecessor's, it becomes an easy recommendation. And the premium build quality of the MSI GeForce RTX 4060 Gaming X 8G is worth it.