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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti review: impressive performance for $399

Another great option for 1440p gaming

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Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti.
Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti.

Nvidia’s new RTX 3060 Ti is a surprise addition to the company’s lineup of RTX 3000-series graphics cards. Priced at $399, it goes on sale tomorrow and Nvidia promises it will deliver more performance than the previous-generation top-of-the-line RTX 2080 and 2080 Super. But the 3060 Ti is far from the top of the line — in fact, it’s the least expensive RTX card you can buy. If the RTX 3070 was the sweet spot for 1440p gaming, the RTX 3060 Ti looks like an even sweeter spot thanks to the extra $100 savings.

Just like the RTX 3070, the RTX 3060 Ti will be able to do 4K gaming if you’re willing to knock the settings down, but both cards are ideally positioned for the 1440p market instead. The 3060 Ti is another great option if you’re looking to move from a 1080p display to a 1440p one without the $699 price tag on the RTX 3080 or the extra power requirements and power draw.

I’ve spent the past week testing out the new RTX 3060 Ti at both 1440p and 4K ahead of its debut on December 2nd. Just like the RTX 3070, this card will give you plenty of headroom at 1440p or below, but it struggles to hit 60fps in a number of modern games at 4K. Still, I’ve been impressed with the RTX 3060 Ti’s performance, especially for $399.

Hardware

The RTX 3060 Ti looks almost identical to the RTX 3070. The size and shape are the same, combined with a traditional dual-fan setup. The dual-axial fans work together to keep the card cool, with the right fan pushing air all the way through the card to the opposite side, while the left directly cools the GPU cores with air that can exhaust out the rear of your chassis.

The RTX 3060 Ti is a quiet card as a result, and I rarely heard the fans spinning up as it hit temperatures of 73 degrees Celsius during most games I tested. Just like the RTX 3070, the RTX 3060 Ti has a dense and compact PCB that’s designed to improve airflow throughout the card. Nvidia is using its new 12-pin power connector here, instead of regular 6- or 8-pin power connectors.

There’s an adapter inside the box, which you have to use. You only have to adapt one 8-pin connector for the RTX 3060 Ti, so the setup isn’t as bulky as the adapter for the RTX 3080. I’d still recommend picking up a dedicated 12-pin connector from your PSU manufacturer, so you can avoid this ugly adapter altogether.

The 12-pin power connector on the RTX 3060 Ti.
The 12-pin power connector on the RTX 3060 Ti.
The dual fans on the RTX 3060 Ti.
The dual fans on the RTX 3060 Ti.

The RTX 3060 Ti also features a single HDMI 2.1 port and three DisplayPort 1.4a ports. Like the rest of the RTX 3000 series, Nvidia has dropped the USB-C VirtualLink port found on the RTX 2000 series.

Much like the RTX 3070, there’s GeForce RTX branding on the side of the card but it doesn’t light up when your PC is powered on. The main difference between the two cards, visually, is that Nvidia is using a slightly lighter silver coating on the 3060 Ti. It’s different from the darker silver found on the rest of the RTX 3000 series cards, and I personally prefer the darker variant.

Nvidia’s RTX 3000 series cards have all bumped up their power requirements, but the RTX 3060 Ti is a little more modest in that regard. Nvidia is recommending a 600W power supply for the RTX 3060 Ti, and it will draw up to 200 watts. That’s only 15 watts more than the RTX 2060 Super, and 50 watts less power draw than the RTX 2080 Super for similar performance.

1440p testing

I’ve been testing the RTX 3060 Ti on a PC using Intel’s latest Core i9-10900K inside. For 1440p tests, I hooked up the RTX 3060 Ti to a 27-inch Asus ROG Swift PG279Q monitor. This monitor supports refresh rates up to 165Hz plus G-Sync, so it’s a good 1440p option to test the limits of the 3060 Ti. I’ve also been testing 4K performance, which you can find below.

I’ve been playing a variety of games to test the RTX 3060 Ti, and I’m impressed with the results at 1440p. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is able to hold 100fps steady at max settings, and Call of Duty: Warzone manages 119fps even with ray-traced shadows enabled.

Even Control, a typically demanding title, manages to hit well above 60fps. The only exceptions are Watch Dogs: Legion and Metro Exodus. You can enable DLSS in both titles to make up for the performance dips here, or even drop some of the visual settings. I’m less concerned at Watch Dogs just barely missing the magical 60fps, especially as Control performs so well.

RTX 3060 Ti (1440P)

BenchmarkRTX 3060 TiRTX 3070RTX 2080
Microsoft Flight Simulator20fps40fps35fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider103fps111fps87fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DLSS)108fps118fps97fps
CoD: Warzone120fps130fps97fps
CoD: Warzone (RT)119fps126fps92fps
Fortnite134fps139fps102fps
Fortnite (DLSS quality)188fps173fps138fps
Fortnite (DLSS perf)219fps214fps153fps
Gears 5123fps114fps85fps
Death Stranding132fps134fps114fps
Death Stranding (DLSS quality)158fps166fps141fps
Death Stranding (DLSS perf)171fps172fps184fps
Control87fps95fps78fps
Control (DLSS quality + RT)91fps94fps76fps
Control (RT)54fps57fps46fps
Control (DLSS quality)131fps140fps114fps
Metro Exodus39fps44fps35fps
Metro Exodus (RT)24fps28fps21fps
Metro Exodus (DLSS+RT)46fps53fps42fps
Assassin's Creed Valhalla63fps69fps58fps
Watch Dogs: Legion59fps66fps52fps
Watch Dogs: Legion (RT)39fps34fps28fps

All the games I’ve tested run better on the RTX 3060 Ti than the RTX 2080, and the ray tracing and DLSS performance is noticeably better here. None of the games I’ve tested with the RTX 3060 Ti come close enough to maxing out the 165Hz refresh rate on my monitor, though. Death Stranding was the closest at 132fps, but you’d need to enable DLSS in most games to really take advantage of higher refresh rates.

DLSS has consistently impressed me during all of the RTX 3000 series reviews, and it’s been particularly noticeable with the $399 RTX 3060 Ti. I was surprised at how well Fortnite manages to improve frame rates with DLSS turned on. I managed to get up to a 219fps average with the DLSS performance mode enabled, which is close to what even the RTX 3080 can provide.

You can pick between quality and performance modes for DLSS in a wide range of games, and Nvidia’s image reconstruction technique will render the game at a lower resolution and then upscale the image to make it look as good if not better than the native resolution. On PC monitors at 1440p, it looks great, and I think it’s worth enabling in most games to get a bit more performance if you need or want it.

The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 side by side.
The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 side by side.

4K testing

The RTX 3060 Ti handles 1440p well, but 4K is definitely more of a struggle. Most games I tested didn’t make it to 60fps regularly enough, and I really had to lower settings to get playable frame rates in some. Watch Dogs: Legion falls below 30fps at 4K most of the time with maxed out settings, and it barely even runs with ray tracing enabled.

I wasn’t expecting a $400 card to do much at 4K, but it still manages to handle games like Fortnite well if you enable DLSS. Even Control can hit 72fps with DLSS enabled, whereas it’s unplayable at times when it dips below its average of 45fps without DLSS.

RTX 3060 Ti (4K)

BenchmarkRTX 3060 TiRTX 3070RTX 2080
Microsoft Flight Simulator19fps23fps19fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider52fps54fps45fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DLSS)65fps69fps61fps
CoD: Warzone60fps74fps62fps
CoD: Warzone (RT)59fps70fps58fps
Fortnite66fps73fps52fps
Fortnite (DLSS quality)99fps105fps79fps
Fortnite (DLSS perf)135fps139fps107fps
Gears 569fps66fps46fps
Death Stranding59fps72fps64fps
Death Stranding (DLSS quality)83fps104fps89fps
Death Stranding (DLSS perf)101fps158fps120fps
Control45fps48fps41fps
Control (DLSS quality + RT)50fps57fps49fps
Control (RT)12fps12fps13fps
Control (DLSS quality)72fps83fps60fps
Metro Exodus14fps16fps15fps
Metro Exodus (RT)8fps9fps10fps
Metro Exodus (DLSS+RT)24fps37fps29fps
Assassin's Creed Valhalla39fps57fps49fps
Watch Dogs: Legion27fps31fps30fps
Watch Dogs: Legion (RT)6fps12fps6fps

I wouldn’t pick the RTX 3060 Ti if I was building a 4K rig right now. It’s just not designed for 4K gaming, and if Assassin’s Creed Valhalla can’t even come close to 60fps at max settings, then demanding games coming in 2021 and beyond aren’t going to fare well either.

The other concern I have here with 4K gaming on the RTX 3060 Ti is that it ships with 8GB of video memory. 4K games can average between 4GB and 6GB of memory, and 8GB just doesn’t feel like enough for some reasonable headroom for 4K gaming. If you’re looking for 4K gaming, I’d recommend the RTX 3080 instead.

RTX 3060 Ti ports.
RTX 3060 Ti ports.
The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 are visually similar.
The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 are visually similar.

Once again, Nvidia continues to deliver impressive performance with its range of RTX 3000 series cards. For $399, I think the RTX 3060 Ti is a bargain given you’d have to shell out $699 or more for this level of performance only a few months ago.

If I was building a budget 1440p gaming PC right now I’d pick the RTX 3060 Ti for sure. It has some solid performance at 1440p, support for ray tracing, Nvidia’s DLSS technology, and a range of RTX features that are designed for creators. If you want even more performance at 1440p then there’s the $499 RTX 3070, or even AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 if you’re willing to shell out $579.

I’m still super curious to see when and how AMD will compete with the $399 pricing here. Especially as its RTX 3070 competitor (the Radeon RX 6800) is priced higher at $579. I’d say it might be worth waiting to see what AMD has at this price point soon, but given its cards followed Nvidia’s latest by a couple of months, I think we’ll be waiting until January or February at this point.

Either way, it’s highly likely you won’t actually be able to purchase an RTX 3060 Ti even if you want one. Availability of the RTX 3080, RTX 3070, and even AMD’s latest cards is incredibly constrained. Demand is still outstripping supply, and I’d doubt the launch of the 3060 Ti tomorrow will improve things.

Still, it’s great that there are even more choices if you’re planning to move to a 1440p monitor. The RTX 3070 made that leap more affordable, and at $399 the RTX 3060 Ti makes it even more comfortable for those looking to leave 1080p behind.

Photography by Tom Warren / The Verge