3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
The best value Ampere to date, the RTX 3060 Ti is very closely related to the RTX 3070. Both utilize the same GA104 GPU (the RTX 3060 Ti has fewer SMs enabled), with the same 8GB of GDDR6 memory across a 256-bit bus.
While 17% less capable in core count than its pricier sibling, the RTX 3060 Ti makes up for it with some judicious GPU Boost frequencies. That partially explains why the RTX 3060 Ti can be within 17% to just single digits off the pace of the RTX 3070, despite operating at a silicon disadvantage. Not bad for a $399 card (if you can find it for that price).
If you haven’t already done the maths: At $399, the RTX 3060 Ti is 20% cheaper than the RTX 3070, so performance per dollar is on the up with the diminutive graphics card. That’s why we love it so; it’s a great GPU for the full stack of resolutions and has decent ray tracing capability to boot, courtesy of second-generation RT Cores.
The RTX 3060 Ti delivers gaming performance that’s rather stupendous when you look at generational gains over even the RTX 20-series—next to the GTX 10-series, it’s quite frightening, actually. There’s exceptional 1080p and 1440p performance in a tiny package here, the likes of which would’ve set you back something close to twice as much cash a couple of years ago. And that’s pretty great.
This card is even capable of dabbling with high-fidelity 4K gaming, although you’re going to have to massage some graphics settings in order to really crack a solid 60fps in more demanding games. And that’s often just in terms of average framerates, to keep your GPU above 60fps requires a lot of tinkering. That can sometimes take the fun out of 4K gaming in the first place. It’s a much smoother affair at 1440p, and at 1080p you can pretty much max everything out and just go.
The Nvidia extras can help here too—DLSS, Reflex, and even Nvidia Broadcast all add to the overall experience. There’s a solid base of genuinely great features behind RTX and the Nvidia package that’s only been improved upon with Ampere, none more so than the ray-tracing performance for that matter.
There’s just the small issue of availability, that which has loomed over all the other RTX 30-series launches to date. Price hikes have undermined this card’s very reason for existing, and until it returns to something like its MSRP of $399, it just isn’t as enticing a card.
Even so, if the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 are out of reach, the RTX 3060 Ti certainly makes for a decent stand-in. Perhaps the most impressive demonstration of what this card has achieved is seeing how it stacks up to the 20-series generation: It topples the RTX 2080 Super in nearly every test.
4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Perhaps the only high-end Ampere that’s anything close to reasonably affordable, the RTX 3070 is also impressive for its ability to match the top-string Turing graphics card, the RTX 2080 Ti, for less than half of its price tag.
At $499, it’s still a significant sum by any means—we’re talking next-gen console equivalent pricing here—but it’s hardly an exorbitant sum when compared to PC gaming’s top graphics silicon today. In return, you’re gifted a 4K-capable graphics card that doesn’t require too much fiddling to reach playable, if not high, framerates. And it’ll absolutely smash it at 1440p, no question about that.
It’s a little surprising to see the RTX 3070 Founders Edition still sporting the 12-pin power connector of the RTX 3080, and therefore it comes with a single 8-pin to 12-pin adapter in the packaging. Nvidia has once more delivered a super-compact PCB with this FE card, which makes the whole shroud far smaller than the RTX 3080.
Despite coming with two front-loaded fans the spinner at the tail of the card is there to amplify the airflow across the heatpipes and that does seem to aid the cooling performance of this smart little GPU.
The RTX 3070 also offers up Nvidia’s reliable driver stack, the GeForce Experience app, ShadowPlay’s recording, and the new Broadcast suite, the impressive Reflex latency-spiking setup, and the latent potential of RTX IO bringing the next-gen consoles’ most potent feature to the PC. And of course, you have ray tracing and the ever-improving DLSS enhancements.
That’s a lot to add onto the impressive raw performance that the RTX 3070 offers, and it does make a difference to a lot of people.
Nvidia’s xx70 series of cards is often the real sweet spot for PC gamers, and the RTX 3070 is ever that. This is the Ampere card which represents a genuine performance upgrade for the vast majority of us, at a price that we can almost swallow. For all those people who sat on their GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti cards throughout the RTX 20-series, now really is the time to upgrade.