Nvidia RTX 3060 release date, specs, price, and performance
The Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card comes in at the lower end of the Nvidia 30-series GPU line-up, as the next, rather affordable piece of the puzzle for 1080p gamers. But, in all honesty, it should even perform darned well at 1440p too.
The $329 RTX 3060, unveiled virtually at CES 2021, will form part of a solid performance baseline for the new generation of GeForce graphics cards. Built around the same Ampere architecture as the rest of the 30-series line-up, we’re looking at 2nd generation RT and 3rd gen Tensor cores.
We’re expecting it to be able to give the RTX 2060 a proper spanking—given the gen-on-gen performance uplift of the rest of the Ampere GPUs—though we have a few concerns about the released spec, which means the next-step-up, the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti, might well be worth that extra $70. Still, as the most affordable new mainstream GPU, the RTX 3060 is likely to be the most prevalent of the lot. As our Jeremy notes, it’ll be the “RTX 3060 moving up that Steam hardware survey table, not the $1,500 Nvidia RTX 3090.”
These are also reportedly the first RTX 30-series cards Nvidia has decided not to roll out a Founders Edition for. To that effect, when Feb 25 comes around, the release will be comprised entirely of third-party AIB cards. So we’ll get a smattering of reference spec cards as well as a host of higher-priced overclocked SKUs muddying the benchmark waters.
Something cryptocurrency miners should consider if they’re thinking about turning to the RTX 3060, Nvidia is taking steps to keep these cards reserved for gamers. The cards will include software drivers that nerf the hash rate by half, should Ethereum mining algorithms be detected. In a perfect world, this would make the precious few cards we actually see less desirable for the mining community, so mere mortals like us might actually have a chance to grab one.
Nvidia has made it clear to us that “end users cannot remove the hash limiter from the driver. There is a secure handshake between the driver, the RTX 3060 silicon, and the BIOS (firmware) that prevents removal of the hash rate limiter.” Sounds like a challenge to me.
At a glance…
Nvidia RTX 3060 release date
Announced just last week at virtual CES, it looks like we’re going to be seeing these cards hitting the market Feb 25, 9 AM PT / 12 PM ET
Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU specs
A fair step down on CUDA cores from the RTX 3060 Ti, the RTX 3060 has just 3,584 cores, and though the 1.32GHz base clock is a bit lower than the Ti’s 1.41GHz, it can reach a little higher on Boost clock numbers—it tops out at around 1.78GHz, which is 112MHz up on the Ti. It also comes with 12GB GDDR6, though on a 192-bit memory bus which will constrict bandwidth a touch.
We expect other memory configurations to come along too, including one with 6GB memory capacity, and potentially an 8GB version.
Nvidia RTX 3060 performance
A more mild step up from the RTX 2060 of the previous gen than we’ve seen from other RTX 30-series cards, the RTX 3060 should still be able to achieve over 60 FPS in a bunch of top titles at 1080p, and that’s with RTX turned on. We’re yet to see how it’ll perform at 1440p, but its likely the RTX option will be reserved for lower resolution gaming.
Nvidia RTX 3060 pricing
Nvidia has set the MSRP for the RTX 3060 at $329 (£299) though with rumours pointing to this being an AIB launch, with no Founders Edition reference card, it’s potentially going to be a challenge tracking down a third-party version with the straight $329 price tag.
Nvidia RTX 3060 release date
The final Nvidia RTX 3060 release date has been set for Feb 25, 9 AM PT or 12 PM ET.
Originally the green team only divulged that it’ll be arriving some time toward the end of February. In fact, someone managed to get hold of one even before valentines day. We’ll certainly be seeing these cards before the likes of an Nvidia RTX 3050 or RTX 3050 Ti.
Nvidia RTX 3060 specs
The RTX 3060 spec is going to be built around an GA106 SKU chip. The very same GPU that the RTX 3050 Ti is expected to utilise, and a step down from the GA104 that you’ll find in the Nvidia RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti.
Those with an inclination toward GPU tweaking will be happy to hear that, despite its humble 1.32GHz base clock, there is likely potential for overclocking. The RTX 3060 can boost to around 1.78GHz, and with Nvidia’s GPU Boost technology it may be able to pump out better numbers than you might think. Boost clocks are ever a moveable feast at the best of times, so fingers crossed we’ll see some solid 2GHz+ overclocks.
That’ll also be bolstered by the RTX 3060’s 12GB GDDR6 memory capacity, which was originally expected at around 6GB. This could be an indicator that there’ll be a couple of different configs floating around eventually. Nvidia does love to shift specs around on its xx60-level GPUs after all.
The decision to up the VRAM comes perhaps in response to AMD’s consistently hefty RX 6000-series memory specs. It even exceeds the flagship RTX 3080 GPU’s 10GB of VRAM, though these top-end cards do come with faster GDDR6X memory and superb memory bandwidth thanks to a wider aggregated memory bus.
This enhanced memory buffer might give the card a bit of an edge when it comes to gaming benchmarks, but running 12GB over the somewhat slim 192-bit memory bus seems counter-intuitive to me—even the next half-step up RTX 3060 Ti comes with a 256-bit bus. Still, at those speeds you shouldn’t notice a difference for general 1080p gaming.
GPU temps are noted on the Nvidia specs page as a maximum of 199.4°F (93°C), but we cant say much for cooling solutions just yet. No Founders Edition card means you won’t be seeing Nvidia’s snazzy own-brand heat sink and cooler, only (probably super edgy looking) third-party ones, with enough RGB lighting to direct air traffic.
Looks like there may be other memory configurations coming, too. With Palit being the first to have registered a 6GB version, and Gainward potentially bringing in an 8GB one, to boot. Though the rest of these recently registered cards config is nebulous.
Nvidia RTX 3060 performance
The RTX 3060 performance is potentially looking a little weedy in terms of its generational performance gap. At CES, Nvidia revealed its own benchmark chart comparing the card’s performance at 1080p to that of previous generations, namely the RTX 2060 and GTX 1060. Conveniently, the GTX 1060 numbers are almost invisible, I cant say I noticed them at all until a colleague pointed it out to me.
Compared to the previous gen, there’s not a huge gulf between the RTX 2060 and RTX 3060’s benchmarks, especially when it comes to rasterised rendering—or as the cool kids are calling it nowadays: RTX off.
Though it’s fair to say that we expect it will be the best entry point for anyone hoping to hit the ray traced trail in gaming terms.
Still, despite its relatively meagre trajectory against the last generation of RTX, it’s still one heck of an upgrade for those harbouring a 10-series card, which is likely to be where the majority of upgrades are swinging from.
Nvidia RTX 3060 pricing
The RTX 3060 pricing is actually going to be cheaper than the RTX 2060 was at launch. It’s coming in at $329 whereas the RTX 2060 had an MSRP of $349. And it’s a darn sight cheaper than the RTX 3060 Ti’s $399.
The tough news is that rumours have it that there won’t be any reference cards from Nvidia direct, so we’re potentially at the mercy of the graphics card partners and their own RTX 3060 designs. There will be reference-clocked versions coming around the $329 MSRP, but it’s probably going to be a mission to find them.
Unfortunately, the price of GPUs anyway is a little hazy at the moment thanks to a number of factors. The launch price is very likely to be different to the price you’ll find it for in the real world.
That said, it should still end up being worth the money in terms of price-performance ratio, although again once we get the cards going head-to-head in our test bench, spending a little more on a Ti might turn out to be the tactical move.