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Nvidia RTX 3060 review roundup: What you’ll get with some variants of this GPU

Unlike Nvidia’s early premium and flagship desktop graphics cards in the GeForce RTX 3000 series, the company’s latest budget-friendly RTX 3060 doesn’t come in a Founders Edition. Instead, Nvidia is relying on partners — like Asus, MSI, EVGA, Gigabyte, and Zotac — to release more than 50 different variants of this card. While a lot of the base specifications are similar, there will be differences in design, build quality, and cooling, with some of these things affecting a GPU’s overall performance and noise level — and it will be up to gamers and GPU shoppers to pick a design with features that are most important to them.

While Digital Trends already posted our review of the EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black graphics card, we want to still round up some of the early reviews for cards from other manufacturers to give potential shoppers an idea of what to expect across the RTX 3060 spectrum.

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Most of these cards start at $329 — that’s $70 cheaper than the slightly more premium RTX 3060 Ti model — so they’ll be among the most affordable ray-tracing-capable GPUs in Nvidia’s RTX 3000 series. However, with so many custom designs, we expect to see a wide variation in pricing, especially if you choose more premium designs or OC-branded cards. Whatever you decide on, all the RTX 3060 cards rely on the company’s Ampere architecture with second-generation RT cores to deliver the performance that’s important to gamers.

Zotac Twin Edge

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Zotac’s Twin Edge card boasts a form factor and design that’s quite similar to our EVGA RTX 3060 Black review unit. It features dual fans — instead of a triple-fan design found on some competing models — and is cloaked in a black housing with a more angular look. According to Digital Foundry, which reviewed the Twin Edge, this card uses a stock design that operates at Nvidia’s baseline specifications. A plus for this card is that it uses a metal backplate with an improved heat pipe layout, which should help with heat dissipation and is something that was lacking on the EVGA model. Like the EVGA model, the shroud is entirely made of plastic, but fan noise was fortunately low according to Digital Foundry’s review.

The RTX 3060 seems to have more memory than other cards in Nvidia’s range, but its performance trails that of the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti in a number of gaming benchmarks performed by EuroGamer. Still, the RTX 3060 delivered impressive performance at resolutions lower than 4K, and even when stressed, EuroGamer noted that this card still delivers a terrific balance between power, performance, and price. In the publication’s analysis with Borderlands 3, the RTX 3060 achieved 75% of the performance of the more expensive RTX 3060 Ti and 66% of the frame rates of the RTX 3070 at a more compelling $329 price point for 1080p gamers. Support for the Resizable BAR also helps improve game performance — up to 17% in Battlefield 5 at 1080p, though other titles only experienced more modest 5% gains.

Asus ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 3060 Gaming OC

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Asus’ overclocked ROG Strix RTX 3060 OC graphics card has a lot of design tweaks that give gamers more performance out of the box than a standard RTX 3060 GPU, including a faster 1882 MHz boost clock speed even though the base 1320 MHz speed remains the same across all models. In its review, Guru3D noted that the card comes with a triple-fan design and a dual-BIOS design, along with silent mode, leading to very quiet operations that won’t overpower the audio from your game or distract you when you’re working on projects. Pricing for this card is still not known, but given the more premium design with black-and-silver accents, gamers should expect to pay more than the would for more entry-level cards in this series — it’s speculated that this card could be priced at $100 more than the $329 starting price.

The publication noted that Asus did a great job with its custom tweaks, but you can push performance even higher if you’re a more adventurous gamer.  Overclocked, this ROG Strix version of the RTX 3060 performs quite well, delivering 3% to 4% better performance at 1440p resolution, which means you’ll get a few extra game frames on a title that plays at 100 frames per second (fps). Compared to rival Radeon RX 6000 series cards from AMD, Nvidia’s implementation of DLSS gives this card an affordable performance boost, delivering better-resolution images in a lot of instances. However, unless you’re using DLSS 2.0, image corruption can become very apparent, according to the review. In general, Guru3D dubbed this card the sweet spot for 1440p (QHD) gaming.

MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Gaming X Trio

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Another premium RTX 3060 card is MSI’s Gaming X Trio, which delivers a similar triple-fan design to the Asus in a compact 2.5-slot form factor. Like its ROG Strix competitor, this card ups the maximum boost speeds to 1852 MHz from the standard clock speed of 1777 MHz, which drives a bit of extra performance. The card’s sharp edges and angularity give it an aggressive feel, and the solid metal backplate is something that our EVGA card lacks. Overall, it’s an attractive design that befits the card’s premium designation.

MSI is using elevated components on the Gaming X Trio, which should help the card’s performance when under stress, according to Wccftech‘s review. Overclocking potential makes this card an attractive option to more serious gamers, but at this point its unclear how much value can be derived from choosing a more premium RTX 3060 card versus going with a higher-end RTX 3060 Ti or RTX 3070, as MSI hasn’t released pricing details.

With the MSI card, you’re getting the company’s Tri Frozr 2 thermal design with custom fans that directly focus the air pressure, along with crafted heat pipes and a full-length heat sink with better airflow deflectors. In general, fans won’t spin if the card is operating under a specific temperature, and MSI also gives gamers control over cooling settings through software. Gamers looking for a bit of extra oomph will appreciate that this card comes with RGB Mystic Light on the shroud and side.

Galax RTX 3060 EX

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The Galax variant comes with a custom design — including nonstandard PCB — and higher-quality components than standard variants of the RTX 3060, according to Wccftech. With this card, you’re getting the same base speeds as other variants, and an elevated boost speed of 1807 MHz that can be pushed to 1822 MHz with the Xtreme Tuner software. Like the EVGA design, the Galax uses two fans to cool, and it comes in a two-slot design, making it less tall than the MSI version. You’re getting an attractive card with more aggressive aesthetics than a standard RTX 3060, along with RGB backlighting, but the publication noted that this is an uplift rather than a more premium design compared to the MSI. Compared to standard cards, you do get a backplate here for better heat dissipation and a quiet fan design that turns off when temperatures drop below a certain threshold.

The Galax’s standard height makes it more versatile in smaller or cramped towers than the larger MSI Gaming X Trio, and performance and power consumption between both cards appear very similar in Wccftech’s review, which noted that the differences in frame rates were not noticeable at 1080p, 1440p, and 2160p gaming resolutions in a number of titles. The publication alos observed that both the MSI and Galax cards are better performers than the prior-generation RTX 2060 that they replace.

If you’re interested in any of the RTX 3060 cards, be sure to order early and frequently check in with your favorite retailers to be learn when new inventory arrives. With the GPU shortage, this card’s affordable price-to-performance ratio makes it a great buy, and it’s expected to be hard to find. In fact, prior to the release of the card, the RTX 3060’s prices were already climbing at some major retailers.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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