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Review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition

by Tarinder Sandhu on 1 December 2020, 14:00

Tags: NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaepsi

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Introduction

Nvidia supercharged PC graphics by releasing RTX 30 Series GPUs over the last few months. Aiming to solidify dominance in the premium end of the market, the green team has gone for aggressive recommended pricing in light of rival AMD's RX 6800 Series. Purported cost is relatively academic as all high-end cards sell out as soon as meagre levels of stock lands.

Nevertheless, the next piece in the Ampere jigsaw is the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, aiming to entice more users to upgrade from older cards. Priced from $399 (£369), Nvidia adopts a familiar tack in developing this card. Let's take a look.

Ampere and Turing Compared

 
RTX 3090
RTX 3080
RTX 3070
RTX 3060 Ti
RTX 2080 Ti
RTX 2080 Super
RTX 2080
RTX 2070 Super
RTX 2060
Launch date
Sep 2020
Sep 2020
Oct 2020
Dec 2020
Sep 2018
July 2019
Sep 2018
July 2019
Jan 2019
Codename
GA102
GA102
GA104
GA104
TU102
TU104
TU104
TU104
TU106
Architecture
Ampere
Ampere
Ampere
Ampere
Turing
Turing
Turing
Turing
Turing
Process (nm)
8
8
8
8
12
12
12
12
12
Transistors (bn)
28.3
28.3
17.4
17.4
18.6
13.6
13.6
13.6
10.8
Die Size (mm²)
628.4
628.4
392.5
392.5
754
545
545
545
445
PCIe
4.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
Base Clock (MHz)
1,400
1,440
1,500
1,500
1,350
1,650
1,515
1,605
1,365
Boost Clock (MHz)
1,695
1,710
1,725
1,665
1,545
1,815
1,710
1,770
1,680
Founders Edition Clock (MHz)
1,695
1,710
1,725
1,665
1,635
1,815
1,800
1,770
1,680
Shaders
10,496
8,704
5,888
4,864
4,352
3,072
2,944
2,560
1,920
GFLOPS
35,581
29,768
20,314
16,197
13,448
11,151
10,068
9,062
6,221
Founders Edition GFLOPS
35,581
29,768
20,314
16,197
14,231
11,151
10,598
9,062
6,221
Tensor Cores
328
272
184
152
544
384
368
320
240
RT Cores
82
68
46
38
68
48
46
40
30
Memory Size
24GB
10GB
8GB
8GB
11GB
8GB
8GB
8GB
6GB
Memory Bus
384-bit
320-bit
256-bit
256-bit
352-bit
256-bit
256-bit
256-bit
192-bit
Memory Type
GDDR6X
GDDR6X
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
Memory Clock
19.5Gbps
19Gbps
14Gbps
14Gbps
14Gbps
15.5Gbps
14Gbps
14Gbps
14Gbps
Memory Bandwidth
936
760
448
448
616
496
448
448
336
ROPs
112
96
96
80
88
64
64
64
48
Texture Units
328
272
184
152
272
192
184
160
120
L2 cache (KB)
5,120
5,120
4,096
4,096
5,632
4,096
4,096
4,096
3,072
SLI
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Power Connector (FE)
12-pin
12-pin
12-pin
12-pin
8-pin + 8-pin
8-pin + 6-pin
8-pin + 6-pin
8-pin + 6-pin
6-pin
TDP (watts)
350
320
220
200
250
250
215
215
160
Founders Edition TDP (watts)
350
320
220
200
260
250
225
215
160
Suggested MSRP
$1,499
$699
$499
$399
$999
$699
$699
$499
$349
Founders Edition MSRP
$1,499
$699
$499
$399
$1,199
$699
$799
$499
$349

GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Analysis

Building this GPU from the guts of RTX 3070 FE makes sense. Though occupying the fourth rung of the Ampere ladder, GA104 GPU is still a beast, comprising over 17 billion transistors. Putting that into context, 2017's champion card, GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, harnesses only 12bn transistors, albeit on a larger, less efficient 16nm process. Point is, don't let RTX 3060 Ti's positioning fool you into thinking this is strictly a mid-range solution. It is not.

Cleaving away parts of the RTX 3070 design to achieve a desired price-to-performance ratio is a balancing act. Nvidia opts to lose top-end muscle whilst keeping memory bandwidth the same. Specifically, speaking of GA104 implementations, RTX 3060 Ti drops from 46 SMs to 38. That move has instant ramifications for total shaders, RT Cores and Tensor Cores, which all drop by that 17.4 per cent. Nvidia also reins in frequencies a touch, leading to around 20 per cent less shading potential. This approach is normal when slicing up a GPU for a lower-specced card.

Nvidia, however, keeps the 8GB of GDDR6 memory humming along at 14Gbps, so back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest RTX 3060 Ti will benchmark at between 85-90 per cent of RTX 3070. A fair compromise for the $100 snip. Running at lower clocks and having to keep fewer shaders and cores busy enables Team GeForce to reduce board power to 200W. It is reasonable to think RTX 3060 Ti is built from dies that don't make the requisite 3070 grade.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to compare performance between generations as GPU architects focus on boosting performance in ways that are not immediately obvious on the spec sheet. Looking back at RTX 20 Series, Nvidia alludes to this card performing along the same lines as the RTX 2080 Super, which, remember, was introduced at a $699 price point last year in Founders Edition form. In effect, Nvidia is asking $300 less for similar framerate, at less power. Ordinarily such a move would be met with glee, but things have moved on in the graphics space this year.

The introduction of this GPU puts rival AMD into a tight spot for now. Its Big Navi cards don't yet scale down to the $399 (£369) price point, so the fiscal competition is actually from last year's RX 5700 Series. AMD's not duly worried as even those older cards are selling out like hotcakes, according to our sources. The state of the world, eh?

A little brother to RTX 3070 opens up Ampere to a few more punters lucky enough to pick up a card this week. Looking like a great solution at QHD and passable at UHD, with class-leading ray tracing and framerate-boosting DLSS technology in tow, you're going to want to see benchmarks before ripping the credit card from the wallet.