After almost four years since the launch of the original Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, the mid-range card continues to be a popular choice among gamers. Despite the advancements brought by the Ada Lovelace architecture, the RTX 3060 remains relevant in the market. In fact, third-party vendors are still producing new models of the RTX 3060, but this time with lower prices. The reason behind this sustained production lies in Nvidia’s commitment to shipping RTX 3060 chips until at least the first quarter of next year.
Throughout the years, the entire RTX 40-series has faced continuous criticism for being too expensive. Moreover, when compared to its predecessor, the RTX 4060 didn’t offer a significant boost in performance. However, it is important to note that the initial launch price of the RTX 3060, which was $329, was during the pandemic when PC-based products were considerably more expensive than usual. Nowadays, a simple search on Amazon can reveal RTX 3060 cards available for as low as $289. In contrast, the newer RTX 4060 starts at around $300. With a mere $11 difference between the two, one might wonder why third-party vendors are interested in creating new models using an older chip.
Speculations suggest that Nvidia is offering the old Ampere GPUs at an enticing price, which could explain why board partners are keen on developing new RTX 3060 models. Not only does this lower the MSRP of the cards, but it also serves as a response to the success of AMD’s previous-generation Radeon RX 6000 cards. The RX 6600 and RX 6700 XT, priced at approximately $190 and $310 respectively, continue to sell well. If Nvidia were to price the RTX 3060 at around $260, it would likely be well-received by consumers.
The Absence of the RTX 4050
Another reason for the extension of the RTX 3060’s lifespan is the absence of the RTX 4050. Currently, the lowest-tier Ada Lovelace desktop card available is the RTX 4060, which shares the same GPU (AD107) as the laptop RTX 4050. However, the mobile GPU variant has 512 fewer shaders, half the amount of L2 cache, one fewer memory controller, and a 96-bit memory bus with 6GB of VRAM. Releasing a desktop RTX 4050 with the same chip as the mobile version would result in a product that is barely faster than the old RTX 3050, unless significant clock speed enhancements are implemented. In this regard, the affordable RTX 3060 serves as a solution. Nvidia can allocate all its AD107 chips for the RTX 4060, laptop RTX 4050, and RTX 2000 workstation products, while board partners have access to cost-effective GA106 chips to create a new series of unique models for different markets.
The Resilient RTX 3060
Despite its age and the lack of support for DLSS with Frame Generation, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 remains a reliable graphics card. It may not be able to deliver the same performance enhancements as newer models, but it is still a great choice for 1080p gaming. Moreover, users can utilize FSR or DLSS upscaling to achieve additional frames per second or enhance the visual quality of their games. Although it is unlikely that the RTX 3060 will remain relevant for another four years, it is interesting to see how it continues to be a topic of discussion even now.