With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti on its roster, the Nvidia Ampere is more accessible than ever for the low-end and mid-range markets. Not everyone needs a GPU that pushes the other limits of graphics cards. For many people, both the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and the RTX 3090 are too much, both in terms of price and power. And that’s where the RTX 3060 Ti comes in.
Paired with the RTX 3060, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti hits that segment of the market where the sweet spot is between affordability and performance. What’s more impressive, however, is that it offers performance that matches, and sometimes even surpasses, the previous champion, the RTX 2080 Super. And, with it under the hood, budget-minded gamers can finally crank the settings to Ultra and turn on ray tracing at 1440p without putting a GPU hole in their bank account.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti has made 1440p gaming much more accessible to many people. It’s probably the best way for most gamers to enjoy great 1080p and 1440p gaming.
Price and availability
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is available from December 2, 2020 and you can pick it up starting at $399 (around £299, AU$540). This largely matches what we’d expect a graphics card in this segment to cost, especially considering the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super started at the same $399 (roughly £315, AU$580) and the RTX 2060 was $349 ( approx £260, AUD475).
The RTX 3060 Ti is around the same price as the RTX 2060 Super, while just as powerful as the RTX 2080 Super, a card that retailed for $699 (around £560, AU$990). That card was an Ultra 1440p machine, so it follows that the 3060 Ti will be too, and it’s much cheaper now.
Features and chipset
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is based on the same Ampere architecture as the RTX 3080, giving us an idea of what the Ampere lineup will look like in the budget and mid-range segment of the GPU market. This won’t exactly be the graphics card that will power Watch Dogs Legion with 4K ray tracing, but it can definitely do it at 1080p.
With this graphics card, you get 8GB of the same GDDR6 memory found in the RTX 3070, combined with 38 Ampere Streaming Multiprocessors (SM). However, due to the changes Nvidia has made to their SM since Turing, each of these now has 128 CUDA cores, double the 64 for each Turing SM. That means there are now 4,864 CUDA cores in the RTX 3060 Ti, up from 2,176 found in the RTX 2060 Super.
Power consumption is increased over the RTX 2060 Super, but not as pronounced as other cards in the Nvidia Ampere line. Total Graphics Power (TGP) is 200W for the RTX 3060 Ti, compared to 175W for the RTX 2060 Super. It’s more, but it shouldn’t be much more so you’ll have to worry about upgrading your power supply to suit, assuming you have a competent one in the first place, that is.
In Turing, each SM had two data paths: one dedicated to floating point workloads (FP32) and the other dedicated to Integer. With Ampere, and thus the RTX 3060 Ti, Nvidia was able to design the SM to have one of the data paths essentially capable of doing double duty, so the number of CUDA cores has effectively doubled per SM with Ampere.
Outside of the CUDA cores, each SM also has Tensor cores for AI workloads like Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and dedicated ray tracing cores. Each SM has one RT core and four tensor cores. The more dedicated may have noticed that it’s half the number of Tensor Cores in each SM than Turing, but there’s a good reason for that: they’re more than twice as fast this time.
The RT core is responsible for the ray tracing that everyone talks about. The goal is to offload the huge computational load that comes with any kind of ray tracing, in order to produce playable frame rates.
Basically, when a beam of light is thrown into a game engine, the SM will send that information to the RT core, where it will calculate where that beam bounces off and report it back to the SM so it can render the image. However, this does not make ray tracing computationally free, as you will see from the huge performance hit of having RT in Metro Exodus.
However, without these dedicated RT cores, the performance hit would turn the game into a slideshow.
Fortunately, the other type of dedicated core, the Tensor Core, is the other part of the equation that makes it somewhat sensible to enable ray tracing when playing top PC games. Through Tensor Core, developers can integrate DLSS into games, which is essentially an AI-enabled scaling technology. This helps improve performance by having the SM render a scene at a lower resolution, then having Tensor Core use data from Nvidia’s supercomputers to intelligently scale that scene to full resolution.
With DLSS, you can make up for much of the performance difference that ray tracing brings to the table, so you can have the incredible image quality benefits of ray tracing, without sacrificing too much performance. In fact, without DLSS, ray tracing just wouldn’t be worth it.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti also brings a host of features to the table. Esports gamers will love Nvidia Reflex which aims to reduce system latency, RTX IO works in conjunction with Microsoft DirectStorage to upload data directly from your system storage to your VRAM, and Nvidia Broadcast allows you to filter noise from background and images during streaming or video. chat, regardless of the software you are using.