Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 is a solid video card, if the price is right

February 25, 2021 0 By boss

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Lori Grunin/CNET

Nvidia wants you to replace your old GTX 1060 already for 1080p gaming. That’s no surprise, considering that graphics processor has been around since 2016. 

The company hopes its AI-driven DLSS upscaling (for faster frame rates at a given resolution) will be more attractive in the new entry-level RTX 3060 than it ever did in the meh RTX 2060 line it replaces. It’s not a bad bet; DLSS had severe performance drawbacks in the Turing generation of GPUs, but the 30-series’ Ampere silicon makes it worth it on occasion. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to buy a graphics card right now because of supply shortages. That will be especially true for the RTX 3060, which has an attractive starting price of $329 (£299, about AU$530). It begins shipping today, but good luck finding one in stock for a while. 

Shortages are pervading the graphics card market due to a boom in cryptocurrency mining. Nvidia’s attempted to combat that for the RTX 3060 by sticking a poison pill inside the driver: If it detects you’re mining using Ethereum, it throttles back the performance for mining-related operations. Nvidia says this shouldn’t affect gaming.

Even if that works (and I expect it to be circumvented quickly), the shortage of graphics cards in general has driven the prices for available cards and GDDR6 memory way up. So it’s unlikely that we’ll see any RTX 3060-based cards available for less than $350. There’s no Nvidia-branded Founders Edition card for the RTX 3060 either, and the Founders Editions are usually the only ones that sell for the starting price because Nvidia controls the pricing rather than third-party card makers. 

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We tested EVGA’s RTX 3060 XC Black, a base-level card with dual fans and no overclocking that will probably sit at the lower end of the RTX 3060 price range.


Lori Grunin/CNET

Plus, a lot still rides on how the shortage affects the price gap between this processor and its step-up sibling, the RTX 3060 Ti, which delivers significantly better performance in many cases. AMD is making an announcement on March 4, which likely will be its own entry-level GPUs in the Radeon RX 6000 series.

It’s not just the price that can make the RTX 3060 attractive. It’s smaller, and it’s rated to draw 170 watts compared to the 200 watts (or more) of its siblings. That means it’s more likely to be compatible with the smaller power supplies of older systems and fit into cases with lesser cooling capabilities. You’ll probably see it quite a bit in prebuilt small or just-above-$1,000 gaming PCs

EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black

Memory 12GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth (GBps) 360GBps
Memory clock (GHz) 15
GPU clock (GHz, base/boost) 1.3/1.8
Memory data rate/Interface 15 Gbps/192 bit
RT cores 28
CUDA Cores 3,584
Texture mapping units 112
Streaming multiprocessors 28
Tensor Cores 112
Process 8nm
TGP/min PSU 170W/450W
Max thermal (degrees C) 199F/93C
Bus PCIe 4.0×16
Size 2 slots; 7.94×4.3 in (202×110 mm)

The RTX 3060 comes with 12GB GDDR6 graphics memory, while the 3060 Ti and 3070 only have 8GB and the 3080 10GB. But it also has a smaller memory pipe than the others — 192 bit versus 256 bit or better — and my guess is it probably needs more memory because it can’t get the data in and out as fast. However, the RTX 3060 also debuts Nvidia’s support for PCIe Resizable BAR technology, which has the potential to compensate by enhancing memory transfer speeds, especially for large textures.    

The EVGA card I tested delivered excellent 1080p performance at high-plus quality settings. For many games it should also excel at 1440p, even without DLSS. It was stable even with the prerelease drivers. Since photo editing is still CPU- and memory-bound rather than GPU-bound, it also makes a good midrange choice for moderately intensive imaging work that occasionally uses GPU-accelerated filters and AI (such as Photoshop’s Neural Filters). 

Performance snapshot

Far Cry 5 (1080p)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)

MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Far Cry 5 (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance (fps)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (1080p)

SI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)

Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 with DLSS)

Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Time Spy

MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)

Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)

Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)

Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)

Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

SpecViewPerf 13 SolidWorks (4K)

MSI Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)

Maingear Turbo (late 2020)

Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)

Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Configurations

Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Ryzen 9 3900XT; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,600; 11GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti; 1TB SSD + 4TB HDD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2H20); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 12GB EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070 FE) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800 XT) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800; 1TB SSD
MSI Trident X (RTX 2070 Super) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); (oc) 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super; 1TB SSD
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); Intel Core i9-10900K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 10GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (EVGA); 1TB SSD + 500GB SSD


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