The RTX 3060 Ti, 3070, and recently announced 3060 all target the upper-midrange price bracket, delivering excellent performance for AAA games at 1080p and 1440p. This “sweet spot” between $300 and $500 delivers the best performance per dollar, as the more expensive RTX 3080 and 3090 show diminishing returns.
But which one should you pick? Nearly $200 separates the most expensive card from the cheapest one, while the specs, for the most part, remain close. There are differences between the RTX 3060, 3060 Ti, and 3070, however, with each of them targeting a different type of gamer.
Pricing and availability
Although announced at the same time as the RTX 3080 and 3090, the RTX 3070 released slightly later than Nvidia’s leading cards, on October 29, 2020. The RTX 3060 Ti was announced and released later, debuting on December 2, 2020.
Keeping in line with the last gen’s counterparts, the 3070 and 3060 Ti released with an MSRP of $499 and $399, respectively. Finding any of Nvidia’s Ampere cards in stock, much less for their MSRP, is a different story, however. If you can find one of these cards in stock, expect to pay $50 to $100 more, at least. Some retailers are even marking up cards beyond what’s expected of board partner cards. Newegg, for example, will frequently restock these cards as bundles, including something like a power supply or a stick of RAM.
The RTX 3060 isn’t out yet, but it will release for $329 in late February. We expect the card to sell out immediately like the other Ampere GPUs, and that prices will shoot $50 to $100 above its MSRP. Given the launch issues of the RTX 3080, it’s possible that Nvidia has prepared the 3060 launch better. We’re not holding our breath.
The secondhand market is nonexistent. There are listings for the RTX 3070 and 3060 Ti on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and the like, but they’re almost exclusively from scalpers or secondhand sellers willing to charge scalper prices. Expect to pay around twice the MSRP if you’re shopping on the secondhand market (sometimes even more).
Specs: What’s up with the RTX 3060’s 12GB of VRAM?
Between the 3070 and 3060 Ti, there’s a gradual drop in specs. Both cards feature 8GB of GDDR6 memory on a 256-bit bus. The 3060 Ti has around 1,000 fewer CUDA cores, however, as well as a slightly lower base and boost clock speed. The recently announced RTX 3060 throws a wrench in the system with a surprising 12GB of GDDR6 memory.
|RTX 3060||RTX 3060 Ti||RTX 3070|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6|
That’s 50% more memory than the 3060 Ti and 3070. In fact, the RTX 3060 has 2GB more than the flagship RTX 3080 (though, the 3060 uses GDDR6, not GDDR6X like the 3080). The 3060 also has a higher boost clock than the 3060 Ti and 3070, over 100Mhz faster than the 3060 Ti.
The bottleneck is the 192-bit memory bus on the RTX 3060. Without getting too technical, a smaller memory interface means less data going to and coming from the GPU’s memory each second. That means that even though the 3060 has more memory than the other two cards, its overall bandwidth is almost 100GBps less.
Between the three cards, there’s little in power difference, with the RTX 3060 drawing only 170w and the RTX 3070 drawing up to 220w. Nvidia recommends a different power supply for each card, however. You should use a 550w, 600w, or 650w PSU for the RTX 3060, 3060 Ti, or 3070, respectively.
When it comes to performance, the more expensive RTX 3070, unsurprisingly, leads the pack. As we saw in our RTX 3080 review, the 3000-series cards perform about two steps above the previous generation, positioning the RTX 3070 on the performance level of the $1,200 2080 Ti. And benchmarks back that up. The $500 RTX 3070 performs as well or better than the 2080 Ti in most games at 1440p and 4K.
That puts it above the RX 5700 XT, RTX 2080 Super, and Radeon VII, taking a backseat only to the pricier RTX 3080 and 3090.
For $100 less, the RTX 3060 Ti is remarkably close. In games like Borderlands 3 and Far Cry 5 at 1440p, the 3060 Ti trails the 3070 by around 10 frames per second (fps). The gap closes to between three and five frames when overclocking the 3060 Ti. That places the 3060 Ti below the RTX 2080 Ti, though above the 2080 Super. At 1080p, there’s less of a difference between the 3060 Ti and 3070, and at 4K, the gap widens.
Neither card is well equipped for 4K, sitting below 60 fps in most titles. For 1440p, the RTX 3070 is a slightly better option. If you’re gaming at 1080p, however, there’s a negligible difference between the 3060 Ti and 3070 in most games, so it’s best to save yourself the $100.
The RTX 3060 is the newest card in the range, and it’ll be a couple of months before we get any benchmarks. During the CES 2021 announcement, Nvidia provided performance information relative to the RTX 2060 and GTX 1060. Although these numbers are far from real-world performance, they at least provide a glimpse at how the $329 card may perform.
In Cyberpunk 2077, Nvidia claims the RTX 3060 can reach around 60 fps at 1080p. By comparison, Nvidia’s numbers place the 2060 at around 48 fps and the 1060 around 5 fps, with DLSS and ray tracing enabled. Given that information, we can infer that the 3060 will perform slightly below last gen’s RTX 2080, sitting above the 2070 — though Nvidia claims in other games it could be as capable as a 2080 Super.
As usual, we recommend waiting until third-party benchmarks start making the rounds before drawing any firm conclusions. That’s especially important with the RTX 3060, however. The curious 12GB of GDDR6 memory makes the 3060 an oddball out of the lineup, making it difficult to compare to the 3060 Ti and 3070 based on specs alone. Although we expect performance slightly below the 2080, it’s possible that the large memory configuration could place the 3060 above last gen’s flagship in some games.
Targeting the sweet spot
Between $329 and $499, the 3060, 3060 Ti, and 3070 are all targeting the sweet spot between price and performance. All three cards should deliver excellent performance in e-sports titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends, and around 60 fps for most new AAA games at 1080p or 1440p. The range is impressive across the board, so it’s hard to make a bad decision when choosing one.
We have some recommendations, though. If you’re gaming at 1440p primarily, the RTX 3070 is the best option. That card will deliver above 60 fps in most AAA games for many years to come, allowing you to use high to ultra settings. The RTX 3060 Ti is still a good option at 1440p, especially if you’re overclocking. However, you may have to turn down some graphical settings after several years. Now, and for the next few years, the 3060 Ti is still a good 1440p option.
At 1080p, the 3060 Ti rules the roost. The 3070 is still a more powerful card, so it’ll deliver higher frame rates at 1080p. The benefits aren’t as noticeable or important at 1080p, however, making the 3060 Ti the best option overall. The 3060 should change that, but we’ll have to wait for third-party benchmarks to draw any conclusions.