It’s been a little more than a month since NVIDIA released the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition (FE), giving gamers a more affordable option to the RTX 3090 and 3080 while also sating their hunger for ray-tracing. Then came the rumours that NVIDIA was already working on another mid-range RTX 30 series card for the masses: the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti FE.
Well, today I am both happy and able to tell you that the RTX 3060 Ti FE does indeed exist and that it is in our lab to be put through its paces. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Just like how the RTX 3070 FE was designed to be the successor to last generation’s RTX 2080 Ti, NVIDIA designed the RTX 3060 Ti FE as a successor to the RTX 2080 Super, or so the brand says. Like its more powerful Ampere-based brothers, the RTX 3060 Ti FE is designed to both harness and deliver ray-tracing, albeit at resolutions lower than 4K.
Underneath the cooler shroud, the card is very nearly similar to the RTX 3070 FE,
If you’ve read my review for the RTX 3070 FE, then you’re probably wondering what the differences are between that card and the RTX 3060 Ti the short answer is: besides what lies beneath that cooler shroud, there is nothing outstanding.
To be precise, the cooler shroud that you see on the RTX 3060 Ti FE is absolutely identical to the RTX 3070 FE. We’re talking the same front-facing Dual Axial Flow Through fan design, heatsink fin count, same unique 12-pin PCIe power connector, and the same smaller-than-normal PCB housing all that Ampere goodness.
Additionally, you’re also looking at the same number of DisplayPort 1.4a and HDMI 2.1 ports at the back. In fact, the only discerning feature that will enable you to tell the RTX 3060 Ti FE apart from the RTX 3070 FE is its colour: while the latter and its more powerful brother sport a sort of dirty, down-to-earth grey theme, the RTX 3060 Ti FE itself is bright silver and looks more metallic.
On another note, the card is also significantly lighter than its named counterpart, the RTX 2080 Super. Seriously, holding each card in one hand, the difference between the two cards are like the Sun and Moon.
To test the card, the testbench I am using is listed in the sheet above. This includes AMD’s new Ryzen 9 5950X CPU, which is obviously a step up from the 3900X, but as you can see from the benchmarks, the gain in performance is minimal, especially since I’m just running it out of the box.
Moving on, the usual fare of synthetic benchmarks are in play, as are my usual list of video games that include Battlefield V (BFV), Control, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, DOOM Eternal, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Some of you may have also noticed that Watch Dogs Legions isn’t among the list and there’s actually a simple explanation for that: during testing, I encountered some issues with the game – not the card – whereby it either wouldn’t run or artifacts would begin showing up.
Further, I also realised halfway through that I do not have the game’s average framerate for the RTX 2080 Super. On that note, I will add in the relevant and corresponding chart at a later time.
Let’s be clear: if you’re aiming for the RTX 3060 Ti FE, you clearly have no intention of gaming at 4K resolution on the PC. Whether on paper or practically speaking, the card is designed for gaming comfortably, either at Full HD or 1440p. And the results speak for themselves.
In the synthetic benchmarks portion of the tests, it is clear that NVIDIA has stayed true to its word, with the RTX 3060 Ti FE actually pulling slightly ahead of the RTX 2080 Super in the majority of tests, while straggling behind in other avenues. In both the Boundary and Bright Memory benchmarks, you can also see that the card catching up to the RTX 3070, even it is just by a few frames at a time.
In the case of the Bright Memory test, the RTX 3060 Ti is seen effectively leaving the RTX 2080 Super in the dust too. Again, this is evident when the card is tested at the 1440p and Full HD resolutions.
But like all graphics cards, gaming is what the RTX 3060 Ti FE does best and, as I have mentioned several times over the course of this article, does so in the two resolutions that are not 4K. Of course, there are some titles that seem to be the rare exception to the case, and BFV is one such example.
With DXR turned on, the card was still able to maintain an average framerate of 43 fps in the Butcher and Bolt war story, which is either one of the most unoptimised or heavily textured single-story missions in the game. With DXR turned off, the card was achieving nearly 71 fps at 4K, which is pretty damn amazing for a card made for the mid-range market. That, or BFV is finally beginning to show its age.
Additionally, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – a title that is not a part of this benchmark – is another game in which the RTX 3060 Ti FE is able to sustain 50 fps on average at 4K, and that’s with it running at the highest graphics preset.
Games such as Control are also an excellent title to cut the RTX 3060 Ti FE’s teeth with. It’s also the title that is brutally honest about most cards’ performance too; with DXR On and DLSS disabled, and at 4K resolution, the card was seriously struggling and could barely maintain its composure. With DLSS On however, the framerates obviously improved but was still below the 60 fps mark at 4K resolution.
Again, dropping down the resolution to either 1440p or Full HD brought the game back to a more enjoyable experience.
As for the other titles, it’s the more or less the same story across the board, with RTX 3060 Ti FE again pulling ahead of the RTX 2080 Super or matching it in most cases.
Temperature And Power Consumption
If there is one amazing aspect about NVIDIA’s FE cards and its cooler shroud, it’s how they never seem to go beyond a certain temperature. As a reminder, I use an open testbench and the temperature in my lab is usually kept at a chilly 20°C at all times (Yes, I know I’m a Polar Bear). When put to the task, the RTX 3060 Ti FE’s maximum temperature usually stayed at 69°C at most times, and that 70°C is the highest it ever went at any given point.
Even more impressive is how the card is capable of doing all that within its power envelope of 200W. By comparison, that’s a full 50W lower than what the RTX 2080 Super consumes.
When I reviewed the GeForce RTX 3070 FE, I mentioned that it didn’t instill a sense of awe as the more powerful RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 did. In the case of the RTX 3060 Ti FE, the sense of excitement stems from its ability to deliver nearly identical performance to the RTX 3070, but with considerably lower specs and even lower price.
At a starting price of US$399 (~RM1698), the RTX 3060 Ti FE is NVIDIA’s most bang-for-your-buck graphics card right now for gamers wanting to stay in the realm of Full HD or 1440p gaming and without hemorrhaging your bank account.
To be clear, you’re not going to be able to get the Founders Edition of RTX 3060 Ti – well, not officially, anyway – but the performance seen here does serve as an indication of what you can expect from NVIDIA’s own AiB partner cards. That is, yet again, provided that there is enough stock of the card to go around.