Nvidia’s rumored RTX 30-series refresh isn’t what you think

A new rumor suggests Nvidia is working on three new graphics cards that will release next month. The company is reportedly preparing a 12GB RTX 3080 variant, a 16GB RTX 3070 Ti variant, and a 12GB RTX 2060 variant, all of which will allegedly arrive on shelves between December and January.

The leak comes from @hongxing2020 on Twitter. Although it’s likely that Nvidia is gearing up to launch new GPU variants, the cards in the latest rumor may not be new desktop graphics cards. They’ll probably target mobile configurations instead.

11.1 update:
1. 2060 12G —12/7 on-shelf。
2.3070Ti 16G、3080/12G —12/17 PPT發佈, 2022/1/11 正式開賣。

— hongxing2020 (@hongxing2020) November 1, 2021

Let’s start with the long-rumored RTX 2060 refresh. According to the leak, this card will be announced and launched on December 7, which is about five weeks away. Since the start of the GPU shortage, the RTX 2060 has morphed into a savior of sorts — a budget answer in a time when GPU prices are through the roof.

In February, Nvidia released additional RTX 2060 and GTX 1050 Ti stock to board partners in an attempt to pump more cards into the market. Since then, murmurs of an RTX 2060 refresh, with 12GB of RAM, have made the rounds. If we do see the RTX 2060 again, it will likely be how we saw it earlier this year — additional backstock that Nvidia releases into the market, not an entirely new GPU.

The RTX 30 series refreshes are a little more likely. Nvidia probably won’t release its RTX 40-series graphics cards until the second half of 2022, so we could see a couple of additions to the 30 range to bridge the gap. They just might not be the cards suggested by the leaker, or they may not be add-in graphics cards at all.

There have been rumors of refreshes to the RTX 3060, RTX 3070, RTX 3080, and RTX 3090 series since September, none of which have manifested yet. The latest report drops a reference to the RTX 3060 refresh — which never made sense in the first place — as well as the new RTX 3090 variant.

Purely from a marketing standpoint, a 12GB RTX 3080 and 16GB RTX 3070 Ti make no sense. For the RTX 3080, the 12GB model would essentially cripple the base model, and if an extra 1GB of video RAM is all that separates the two GPUs, it’ll be an uphill battle for Nvidia to communicate that it released a new graphics card at all.

Nvidia RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Similarly, a 16GB RTX 3070 Ti would make the $1,199 RTX 3080 Ti look less powerful on the box — even though it certainly isn’t — which is something Nvidia probably isn’t interested in doing. Plus, the RTX 3070 Ti is squarely a gaming graphics card, meaning the extra cost of 16GB of video memory is effectively wasted.

There is a simple explanation to these rumors, though: Mobile configurations. Nvidia doesn’t have any Ti or Super variants — the branding usually associated with Nvidia refreshes — of the top three cards in its mobile lineup. Beefed-up models of the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 make sense here — Nvidia offered RTX 20 series Super mobile models, after all.

There’s some evidence to back up these rumors, too. The recent HP Envy 34 all-in-one was listed with RTX 3080 Super for a brief time, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 was listed with either an RTX 3080 Super or RTX 3070 Super originally.

We’re dealing purely in rumors right now. But we would expect Nvidia to launch new mobile GPUs before making the already confusing RTX 30-series desktop lineup more convoluted.

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