NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti review: The new king of $399 GPUs


Despite all the differences under the hood, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the RTX 3060 Ti and 3070 Founder’s Edition cards apart. They both feature NVIDIA’s revamped PCB arrangement, which places the bulk of the card towards the front ports. Two large fans keep things cool, with the rear fan blowing air right through the card toward the top of your case. It’s a unique approach — one that’s worked out well so far for NVIDIA. The 3060 Ti typically idled around 41 celsius and reached 74C under heavy loads, with a maximum fan noise that’s far quieter than the RTX 2060 Super. As for ports, the 3060 Ti features three DisplayPort 1.4a connections and a single HDMI 2.1 socket, which supports 4K beyond 60Hz and 8K displays.

1,440p benchmarks

All games tested in 1440p with the highest graphics quality settings and ray tracing (where available), on a rig powered by an Intel Core i7-8700K and 32GB of RAM.

After spending much of this fall testing out powerful new GPUs (be sure to check out our reviews of AMD’s Radeon 6800 and 6800 XT), I knew what to expect with the 3060 Ti. It’s just going to be a cheaper take on the 3070, right? But what truly surprised me was how much performance NVIDIA could deliver for $399. As I mentioned before, the 3060 Ti easily bested the RTX 2080 Super in all of our benchmarks, which proves just how much of an upgrade it is over the 2060 Super. But I was also pleased to see that it wasn’t much slower than the 3070 either.

NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

In 3DMark Time Spy Extreme, the 3060 Ti came in just 600 points lower than the 3070, whereas the gap between the 3070 and 3080 was about 1,300 points. When it came to 1440p gaming, the cheaper cards were more closely matched. The Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark reached 88fps on the 3060 Ti with maxed graphics settings and ultra RTX shadows. On the 3070, meanwhile, I saw 107fps. That’s a big difference in raw frames, but it’s not something you’d readily notice while you’re playing the game, even with a 120Hz or 144Hz monitor. Similarly, the 3060 Ti hit 85 to 110fps in Destiny 2 with the highest graphics settings in 1440p, whereas the 3070 typically clocked 100 to 120 fps.

I was able to get Cyberpunk 2077 running on the 3060 Ti around 65fps in 1440p with mid-range ray tracing settings and DLSS enabled. Turning off DLSS, which renders games at low resolutions and uses AI supersampling to approximate the look of high resolutions, brought the game to a sluggish 40fps. Pushing the 3060 Ti a bit harder, I hit 55fps on my ultrawide monitor’s native 3,440 by 1,440 resolution with DLSS. To achieve that, though, I had to switch DLSS to its highest performance setting, which at times made the game look like it was being rendered below 1080p. As you can imagine, that wasn’t playable for too long, even if things were running smoothly otherwise.

4K benchmarks

All games tested in 4K with the highest graphics quality settings and ray tracing (where available), on a rig powered by an Intel Core i7-8700K and 32GB of RAM.

The 3060 Ti’s limits are more apparent when you start stressing it with 4K gaming. Destiny 2 hovered between 45 and 60fps with the highest graphics settings, while the 3070 was more stable between 70 and 80fps. Throw in ray tracing at 4K, and the 3060 Ti starts to fall apart even more. Shadow of the Tomb Raider crawled at 32fps with ultra ray tracing shadows. I suppose that’s not too bad, though, as the 3070 could only muster 37fps with those same settings. (For what it’s worth, the 3080 also struggled a bit to reach between 55 and 65fps.)

Clearly, the 3060 Ti isn’t the card you’d want to pump out native 4K games to your TV. But at $399, that seems like a decent tradeoff for anyone who’s primarily playing on a 1080p or 1440p monitor. And of course, it’s also only $399 in an ideal world. Right now, the 3060 Ti is out of stock at every major retailer. And even when they’re available, many cards from NVIDIA’s partners will go for $450 and more. It’s always been tough to get your hands on the latest GPUs, but that problem seems even worse this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed production considerably.



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