The RTX 3060 Ti, 3070, and the recently released 3060 are all aimed at the mid-range price range and offer great performance for AAA gaming at 1080p and 1440p. This "sweet spot" between $ 300 and $ 500 offers the best performance per dollar as the more expensive RTX 3080 and 3090 have declining returns.
But which one should you choose? All three are aimed at the sweet spot but are designed for very different players. If you spend more you will get better performance, but certain cards will be above their price.
Prices and availability
Although announced at the same time as the RTX 3080 and 3090, the RTX 3070 was released on October 29, 2020 a little later than Nvidia's leading cards. The RTX 3060 Ti was announced and later released and debuted on December 2, 2020.
Much like their last generation counterparts, the 3070 and 3060 Ti were released with MSRPs of $ 499 and $ 399, respectively. Another story, however, is finding one of Nvidia's Ampere cards in stock, let alone for its MSRP. If you can find one of these cards in stock, you'll have to pay at least $ 50 to $ 100 more. Some retailers even mark cards that go beyond board partner card expectations. Newegg, for example, often fills these cards as a bundle, including a power supply or a RAM stick.
The RTX 3060 was released in late February with an introductory price of $ 329. As with other RTX cards, the price and stocks are incredibly poor. Some cards sell for up to $ 500.
The second-hand market does not exist. There are listings for the RTX 3070 and 3060 Ti on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and the like, but they're almost entirely from scalpers or second-hand sellers who are willing to calculate scalper prices. Expect around double the MSRP when shopping in the used market (sometimes even more). The latest RTX 3060, for example, will be listed on eBay for between $ 800 and $ 1,200 as of March 2021.
Tech specs: What's going on with the RTX 3060's 12 GB VRAM?
Between the 3070 and the 3060 Ti, the specs gradually decrease. Both cards have 8 GB of GDDR6 memory on a 256-bit bus. However, the 3060 Ti has around 1,000 fewer CUDA cores and a slightly lower base and boost clock rate. The recently released RTX 3060 brings a wrench into the system with a surprising 12GB of GDDR6 memory.
|RTX 3060||RTX 3060 Ti||RTX 3070|
|Boost clock||1.78 GHz||1.67 GHz||1.73 GHz|
|memory||12 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6||8 GB 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 (but the 3060 uses GDDR6, not GDDR6X like the 3080). The 3060 also has a higher boost clock than the 3060 Ti and 3070, over 100 MHz faster than the 3060 Ti.
The bottleneck is the RTX 3060's 192-bit memory bus. Without getting too technical, a smaller memory interface means that less data is entering and leaving the GPU's memory per second. This means that while the 3060 has more memory than the other two cards, its total bandwidth is almost 100 GBit / s less.
There is only a slight difference in performance between the three cards: the RTX 3060 consumes only 170 W and the RTX 3070 up to 220 W. However, Nvidia recommends a different power supply for each card. You should use a 550 W, 600 W or 650 W power supply with the RTX 3060, 3060 Ti or 3070.
When it comes to performance, the more expensive RTX 3070 is unsurprisingly the leader. As we saw in our RTX 3080 review, the 3000 series cards are about two steps above the previous generation, positioning the RTX 3070 at the performance level of the $ 1,200 2080 Ti. And benchmarks prove this. The $ 500 RTX 3070 is as good or better than the 2080 Ti in most 1440p and 4K games.
This puts it above the RX 5700 XT, the RTX 2080 Super and the Radeon VII and only takes a back seat with the more expensive 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 follows the 3070 by around 10 frames per second (fps). Overclocking the 3060 Ti closes the gap between three and five frames. This puts the 3060 Ti below the RTX 2080 Ti, but above the 2080 Super. At 1080p there is less difference between the 3060 Ti and 3070, and at 4K the gap widens.
Neither card is well equipped for 4K and is below 60 fps in most titles. For 1440p, the RTX 3070 is a slightly better option. However, if you're playing at 1080p there is 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, announced by Nvidia during the keynote for CES 2021. Despite a massive 12 GB of RAM, the RTX 3060 is much weaker than the 3060 Ti and 3070. Benchmarks show that it is slightly above the RTX 2060 Super at standard speeds and is increased when overclocking to the RTX 2070 Super performance.
As mentioned earlier, most Ampere cards take two steps over the previous generation, which positions the RTX 3060 somewhere between the RTX 2070 and the 2080. However, this is not the case. The RTX 3060 sticks to the previously established generation improvement from Nvidia and is about as powerful as the previous generation (in this case the RTX 2070).
There is no clear winner for performance, but there is a clear loser. The RTX 3060 Ti offers the best value of the three cards, while the RTX 3070 is a bit more expensive for a bit more performance. On the flip side, the RTX 3060 offers decent performance and only saves $ 70 over the RTX 3060 Ti. It's hard to recommend Nvidia's cheapest amp card when the next step does so much better.
Target the sweet spot
Between $ 329 and $ 499, the 3060, 3060 Ti, and 3070 target the sweet spot between price and performance. All three cards should perform great in esports titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends, and around 60 fps in most new AAA games at 1080p or 1440p. The range is impressive across the board, so it's difficult to make a bad decision when choosing.
However, we have some recommendations. If you mainly play at 1440p, the RTX 3070 is your best option. This card will provide more than 60 fps for many years in most AAA games, so you can use high to ultra settings. The RTX 3060 Ti is still a great option at 1440p, especially if you're overclocking. However, you may have to decline some graphics settings after a few years. Now and for years to come, the 3060 Ti is still a good 1440p option.
At 1080p, the 3060 Ti rules the quarter. The 3070 is still a more powerful card, so it delivers higher frame rates at 1080p. However, the benefits aren't as noticeable or important at 1080p, making the 3060 Ti the best option overall.
We expected the 3060 to dethrone the Ti variant as the 1080p champion, but that didn't happen. Nvidia has delivered on its promise of 2070 performance at the price of 2060, but that just isn't enough when compared to the 3060 Ti and 3070. You probably won't find any of these cards for their MSRP either, so you can stick with the more powerful cards as well.