The initial launch period for graphics cards is always exciting, as new architectures bring with them new features and the flagship halo products which offer bleeding-edge experiences to gamers… assuming they have the budget to afford those products.
The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti then is, in my opinion, Nvidia’s best Ampere graphics card to date, and might actually be the best graphics card Nvidia has launched since the days of Pascal, with the performance which frequently nips at the heels of an RTX 2080 Ti, and sits within spitting distance of the previous Ampere ‘value’ champion, the GeForce RTX 3070.
As usual, we’ll start out briefly with the aesthetics and specs of the card before delving into performance and then conclusions.
The card is basically the same exact design as the Geforce RTX 3070, albeit with the shroud’s grey lightening up some. Speaking of lighting up, the worst part of the design is that the GeForce logo doesn’t actually light up, a real shame, it hardly breaks the performance of the card, but come on, Nvidia. A basic white or green set of LEDs for future cards as a minimum, if not fully customizable RGB. Naturally, this is to keep costs down, though it’s still a bit of a shame.
The card features identical fan designs as the RTX 3070, with the cooler being what Nvidia calls a “flow-through” design. The fan on the right pushes air through the cards fin stack and up through the case, over RAM and other components, and the left-most fan pulls air up into the GPUs and then expels it out of the rear of the system.
For the rear, well, 3 display port 1.4 and a single HDMI 2.1, so you can enjoy that Variable Refresh Rate goodness on a correctly equipped TV if you so wish. The outputs are pretty much standard affair for an RTX 30 series, with the biggest change from the RTX 20 series being a goodbye to the USB at the rear and a hello to the HDMI 2.1 specification, giving tons more bandwidth to your TV and allowing 4K 120HZ gaming.
There’s also the new-fangled Founders Edition power connector, with up to 12 pins, but like the GeForce RTX 3070 only 6 of the 12 are populated for the RTX 3060 Ti, so there’s only a single cable which converts 8-pin PCIe to the new Nvidia connector, compared to the RTX 3080 which uses a Y splitter for two 8-pin PCIe connectors.
This is more than enough to feed the 200W TDP that the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti boasts, and it usually hovers in the 180 to 200W mark at stock, depending on whether you’re using RT and Tensor Cores.
Specs-wise, the similarities to the GeForce RTX 3070 doesn’t end, with the memory system of the two cards being identical (8GB of 256-bit GDDR6 running at 14gbps giving 448GB/s bandwidth, with the major difference lies in the number of SM. We see 1024 CUDA cores shaved off for the RTX 3060 Ti, bringing the total number of SM down to just 38 from 46. This has a proportional impact on the number of Tensor and RT cores too.
There’s also 60MHz snipped off the GPU boost frequency too, though frankly, using default fan profiles and no overclocking at all, to say these figures are conservative isn’t to do them justice. We would almost always be at the high 1900MHz for our boost figures, and I would see it usually hover at 1995MHz, depending on the title.
For those who want MORE POWER you can of course also overclock, and we managed to sneak 110MHz extra on the core, a ridiculous 1200MHz on RAM and that’s achieved with default fan profiles and cranking the power limit to the maximum. I used MSI afterburner for this, and overclocking was pretty simple. Anything more than 110MHz though would cause the card to crash, unfortunately.
I’m sure for those who really put their mind to it (read custom BIOSes and shunts) you could definitely get more out of the card. Here’s an image from Death Stranding, this is about the max peak we saw. In heavier loads, the clocks would dip to about 2025 – 2040 MHz (like Control with Hardware based Ray Tracing).
RTX 3060 Ti Benchmarks and Performance
Right, we’ve talked about the card enough, you’re reading a review to see the performance, so by goodness, we have those performance numbers! We’re testing on an Intel I9-10900K at 5GHZ and 32GB RAM, with all games on their own SSDs. We don’t have any RX 6000 series cards yet, we’re trying to get samples from either AMD or an AIB, but the shortages are making this more difficult.
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti – Should You Buy it Over the RTX 3070?
Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti is going to retail for $399.99 USD for the Founders Edition card, 100 bucks cheaper than the RTX 3070, which is quite a bit of cash for what is at worst case scenario 15-ish percent slower, but often only trailing the GeForce RTX 3070 card by around 10 percent. Of course, whether AIB’s stick with the MSRP or not is another question, and but again, I can only go by the pricing of the FE cards.
In heavy Ray Tracing and DLSS, the gap does widen, but is the extra cash outlay for the RTX 3070 worth it over the RTX 3060 Ti? Well, I think the answer is probably no for most people, but of course, this is something only you can decide. What’s evident here is that both the pricing decision of this card along with its performance are Nvidia making every effort it can to remain in a dominant position in the GPU market.
As of the time I’m recording this video, AMD doesn’t have the lower end RDNA 2 SKUs on the market, which means at this price point, for the new generation of products anyway, Nvidia has the market uncontested. We’ll see how the Radeon RX 6700 series competes early next year when we see them on store shelves, but to come full circle to the start of this review: The RTX 3060 Ti is, in my opinion, the best RTX 30 series product Nvidia has yet launched. Sure, the RTX 3080 is faster for example, but this card is nipping at the heels of the last generation flagship products and it’s fast.
The only bitter pill to swallow is that it doesn’t make the mid-range products any cheaper. The RTX 3060 Ti is fast as hell, but 399 is still a pretty hefty chunk of change, only $100 USD less than an Xbox Series X or PS5, despite the hardware inside this card being more capable in raw graphics power than either of the next-generation consoles, it’s hard to argue the value of what Sony or Microsoft is offering.
I do hope that we see the GeForce RTX 3060 vanilla offer modest cuts too, as if Nvidia nails the price of $299, it could be an excellent option for those aiming for high refresh rate 1080P, or entry level ray tracing at 1440P (particularly with DLSS).
But, ignoring the pricing we have come to expect from 60-series products of the past, and doing what the only thing we can do, and evaluating the card based on the performance it offers right this moment, it’s hard to deny that the RTX 3060 Ti is a great product.