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RTX 3060 vs 3060 Ti: Which GPU is Better?

RTX 3060 vs 3060 Ti

NVIDIA’s RTX 40-series graphics cards should arrive later this year, but until these cards are sitting on store shelves, 30-series GPUs are still NVIDIA’s best mainstream offerings for PC gaming.

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 and 3060 Ti are two of the most popular midrange graphics cards of its current GPU generation. Thanks to this Ampere generation’s architectural improvements, these midrange GPUs are surprisingly capable across all resolutions, even at 4K in some titles.

In other words, these cards are great at handling graphically intensive modern games. Compared to the previous 20-series cards, they offer tremendous performance improvements.

But which one should you get, an RTX 3060 or RTX 3060 Ti? There are many factors to consider and there’s no easy answer, especially given the fluctuating prices of GPUs caused by the global GPU shortage, which is still affecting prices today.

Difference Between 3060 and 3060 Ti

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards are midrange offerings from the company’s latest 30-series discrete graphics card range.

Surprisingly, the RTX 3060 Ti launched first in December 2020, while the RTX 3060 launched in February 2021. The 3060 Ti is a more powerful card than the 3060 and is priced $70 above the Ti at MSRP (MSRP prices are still, admittedly, a pot of gold in the current GPU market).

Although they share the ‘3060’ name, these two graphics cards are quite different.

One initial difference between the two was that the RTX 3060—but not the 3060 Ti—had a hash rate limiter to make bitcoin mining harder to do. But now RTX 3060s Tis have the same hash limiter, too.

The major difference between the two cards comes down to their GPUs. The RTX 3060 Ti boasts a scaled back GA104 GPU, the same GPU found in the RTX 3070. The RTX 3060, on the other hand, has a GA106 GPU, the same GPU found in the low-end RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti.

The two cards also differ when it comes to memory. The RTX 3060 offers more VRAM capacity than the 3060 Ti, which is good for future proofing, but the 3060 Ti’s VRAM is faster than the 3060’s thanks to its wider memory bandwidth.

These differences make the RTX 3060 Ti a more powerful card than the RTX 3060, but the question is whether this extra power justifies the steeper price tag.

Price

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 has an MSRP of $329, whereas there RTX 3060 Ti has an MSRP of $399, making the 3060 Ti $70 more expensive at recommended retail pricing.

However, we all know that the global chip shortage has increased graphics card prices greatly over the past couple of years. And while NVIDIA has declared the end of the GPU shortage at least as far as its own 30-series GPU stock goes, market prices still often fall above MSRP prices. Such are the knock-on effects of shortages.

RTX 3060 cards can currently be found retailing for over $400, usually for between $430 and $480, depending on the particular AIB model in question. RTX 3060 Ti cards, on the other hand, are often found retailing for over $580 and even up to $600, depending on the AIB model.

However, online deals can often have RTX 3060 Ti cards retailing for as low as $460, putting them within the same price range as 3060 cards in practice.

The market is still fluctuating, though, so make sure you keep an eye on price changes and online deals.

Specs

RTX 3060 RTX 3060 Ti
GPU GA106 GA104
CUDA Cores 3,584 4,864
Tensor Cores 112 152
RT Cores 28 38
Stream Multiprocessors 28 38
Memory 12GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6
Memory speed 15GT/s 14GT/s
Memory bandwidth 360GB/s 448GB/s
Clock speed (base/boost) 1.32GHz / 1.78GHz 1.41GHz / 1.67GHz
Power connector 1x 8-pin 1x 12-pin
TDP 170W 200W

The RTX 3060 Ti wins the spec comparison almost across the board, but this is to be expected given its higher price tag. It has a more powerful GPU that hosts more CUDA, RT, and Tensor Cores, which is what gives it the biggest edge for gaming.

The RTX 3060 Ti only loses to the 3060 on the memory capacity and memory speed front.

But these memory specs can be deceiving. Most games today use less than 8GB VRAM, even when playing at 4K—for gamers, the 3060’s extra 4GB RAM will probably only be beneficial for future proofing. And the slight increase in memory transfer speed on the 3060 is offset by its narrower memory bandwidth.

Just looking at the two cards’ specs, then, we can see why the RTX 3060 Ti is a more powerful—and therefore more expensive—card than the RTX 3060. But we can’t know just how much more powerful it is, or whether this power justifies its extra cost, without checking its real-world gaming performance.

Performance

Given the two cards’ specs, it should be no surprise that the RTX 3060 Ti outperforms the RTX 3060.

But the question is: Is the increased performance worth the extra cost? To answer this, we need to consider how the graphics cards perform at different resolutions. We can do this by comparing benchmarks results from different websites’ reviews, such as those from PCGamer, TechRadar, and TechSpot which I’ve used to inform this guide.

1080p

1080p gaming is where buying an RTX 3060 instead of an RTX 3060 Ti makes sense.

Both cards should give you at least an average of 60fps in the vast majority of modern games on ultra settings at 1080p resolution. Both cards should also get you well over 100fps at 1080p in most competitive games that aren’t so graphically intensive, such as Fortnite or CS:GO.

As such, if you plan on sticking to 1080p for either 60fps triple-A gaming or high refresh rate competitive gaming, it might be worth saving the extra money and opting for the less powerful but still very capable RTX 3060.

But, of course, if you want the highest frame rates possible—perhaps you want to try ultra-high refresh rate competitive gaming, or you want the leeway to play more graphically intensive games in future—the RTX 3060 Ti will have you better covered.

1440p

At 1440p, things begin to look more decidedly in the RTX 3060 Ti’s favour.

On average, the RTX 3060 Ti performs about 30% better than the RTX 3060 at 1440p resolution.

Perhaps more importantly, this is where average framerates might start dipping below 60fps in some games, too. While an RTX 3060 Ti might give you 70fps in a graphically intensive game on max settings at 1440p, the RTX 3060 might only give you 55fps.

60fps should be every gamer’s minimum target for graphically intensive games, because dropping below this can be very noticeable even at low refresh rates. If you want a better guarantee of 60fps at 1440p resolution on max settings, you should opt for the RTX 3060 Ti. A comfortable framerate is worth the extra cost.

The RTX 3060 Ti should also keep you comfortably above 100fps at 1440p in less graphically intensive, more competitive games like Fortnite, even while playing on max settings. The RTX 3060, on the other hand, will likely stay below 100fps in some of these games on max settings at 1440p.

If you don’t mind dropping your in-game graphics settings, the RTX 3060 is still a viable choice for both 60fps triple-A and 100+fps competitive gaming. But if you don’t want to have to worry about getting your settings just right, the RTX 3060 Ti is the card to go for and is well worth the extra cost.

4K

At 4K resolution, games are much more playable on an RTX 3060 Ti than an RTX 3060.

The RTX 3060 simply cannot hit a 60fps average threshold in many modern games at 4K resolution on max settings. In games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, for example, you can probably expect about 40fps at 4K resolution on max settings, while the RTX 3060 Ti should get you closer to 60fps.

However, the RTX 3060 Ti isn’t perfect for 4K gaming, either. The 3060 Ti will only be capable of running many graphically intensive games between 40-50fps on average at 4K resolution and max settings. If 4K gaming is your goal, then an RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 will probably be a better bet.

But if you don’t mind lowering your graphics settings a little, or if you’re not playing the most graphically intensive titles, the RTX 3060 Ti is a very capable card for 4K gaming. It can even churn out enough frames for high refresh rate 4K gaming in some less graphically intensive games.

If you’re not going for top-class 4K performance but would like the option to run some games at 4K at playable framerates, the RTX 3060 Ti is a great choice, and is well worth the extra cost above the RTX 3060.

Ray Tracing

NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 has fewer RT Cores than the previous-gen RTX 2060, but thanks to Ampere’s architectural improvements the 3060 surpasses the 2060’s ray tracing performance and performs more in line with an RTX 2070.

The RTX 3060 Ti has ten more RT Cores than the RTX 3060, and this shows in its ray tracing performance, at least in some games. The ray tracing performance delta is like the resolution performance delta: the RTX 3060 Ti traces rays significantly quicker than the RTX 3060 on average.

In fact, the RTX 3060 Ti often does ray tracing as well as the previous-gen flagship RTX 2080 Super. For a midrange card, that’s very impressive.

But while this delta between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 holds true for most games, ray tracing performance is, ultimately, very game dependent.

Furthermore, while the RTX 3060 might not keep up with the 3060 Ti when it comes to ray tracing, this doesn’t mean the 3060 is bad at it. At lower resolutions it should be able to keep you above 60fps in many games—and well above that threshold in some of them.

NVIDIA RTX 3060 vs 3060 Ti: Which GPU is Best for Gaming?

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards are best suited to those who want to game at 1080p or 1440p.

Despite them sharing the same name, the RTX 3060 Ti is significantly more powerful than the RTX 3060, thanks to its better GPU, its abundance of CUDA, Tensor, and RT Cores, and is wider memory bandwidth.

The RTX 3060 Ti, on average, performs better than the RTX 3060 at all resolutions. This difference becomes more pronounced when gaming at 4K resolution or high refresh rates.

The RTX 3060, however, costs less than the 3060 Ti. It can run graphically intensive triple-A games above 60fps on max settings at 1080p, and it can churn out more than enough frames for high refresh rate gaming in less graphically intensive games such as competitive shooters.

It can also run most games at playable framerates on max settings at 4K and can average 60fps in many of these games if settings are lowered a little.

Nevertheless, the RTX 3060 Ti gives you much more leeway at 1440p and 4K. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a much better price-performance offering than the RTX 3060 because its increase in performance far outweighs its extra cost.

Providing it remains relatively close to RTX 3060 pricing, NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 Ti is much better value and should give much better performance overall, making it the perfect midrange buy.

But if you want to save as much money as possible, and if you mainly game at 1080p at a 60Hz or 75Hz refresh rate, or if you don’t play many graphically intensive games, an RTX 3060 should give you all you need.

Jacob Fox

Jacob's been tinkering with computer hardware for over a decade, and he's written hardware articles for various PC gaming websites. Outside of the wonderful world of PC hardware, he's currently undertaking a PhD in philosophy, with a focus on topics surrounding the meaning of life.

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