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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 vs. RTX 3060 Ti: Which GPU should you buy?

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 TiImage: Brad Chacos/IDG

Let the battle of the Nvidia GPU siblings commence! The GeForce RTX 3060 versus the RTX 3060 Ti. First, we’ll cover the pricing and availability of these popular options with current market conditions. More importantly, we will clear up the confusion as to which of the two GPUs is the best graphics card for you. Is it the 12GB of VRAM RTX 3060? Or perhaps the 3060 Ti will edge out a win, even with its 8GB of VRAM? We’ll crown the victor after the dust settles!

GeForce RTX 3060 vs. RTX 3060 Ti: Price and availability

Let’s get the fabled MSRP pricing out of the way; you’ll be unlikely to pay either the $329 asking price for the RTX 3060, nor will you have any luck with the $399 RTX 3060 Ti. The reason for this is continued GPU shortages coupled with insane demand from gamers and crypto miners.

GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

GeForce RTX 3060 TiRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$400Best Prices Today:$349.99 at Walmart | $355 at Newegg

How much should you expect to pay on the secondhand market, such as on eBay? You’ll likely be in the low $700s range for the 3060. The 3060 Ti will up your spend to nearly the mid $800s. Certainly not ideal, and very far from reasonable in today’s current market. If you can wait for better prices, that’s the ace move. Keep in mind, these prices can change drastically from week-to-week.

Thiago Trevisan/IDG

How has crypto mining affected availability? Nvidia has placed hash-rate limitations on both GPUs (read more on LHR) in order to make them less useful to miners and free up inventory for gamers. This has only been slightly effective; crypto miners quickly find workarounds, or mine with less efficiency during recent peak profitability. Coupled with their lower entry price for gamers, you’ll be more likely to find an RTX 3090 in stock before you find either of these.   

GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming

GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black GamingRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$330Best Prices Today:$284.99 at Walmart | $289.99 at Amazon | $289.99 at B&H

RTX 3060 vs. RTX 3060 Ti: Performance

Let’s clear up some confusion: What’s up with the cheaper RTX 3060 having 12GB of VRAM versus the paltry 8GB on the RTX 3060 Ti? It’s likely a potential Nvidia marketing move to better compete with AMD’s higher VRAM offerings. In terms of brute gaming performance, the 3060 Ti is generally the superior GPU even with less VRAM.

Brad Chacos/IDG

The use cases where the 12GB of VRAM on the RTX 3060 would be better are rare. The RTX 3060 Ti’s 8GB of VRAM is sufficient for the target audience—1440p gamers. Ironically, 4K and above is where 12GB of VRAM would be useful, but not with the hardware that’s in the RTX 3060. (You better step up to a RTX 3080 for better 4K performance)

Read Brad Chaco’s excellent review of the RTX 3060 to get a more in depth analysis of the performance of these two GPUs. In a game such as Horizon Zero Dawn, you’ll find the RTX 3060 Ti is often closer to the RTX 3070 in performance, rather than the RTX 3060. This puts it in a higher class of GPU, regardless of VRAM size. Remember, the RTX 3070 only has 8GB of VRAM too, and it does just fine in most gaming scenarios.

Brad Chacos/IDG

In Metro Exodus, with effects such ray tracing and hairworks on, the RTX 3060 Ti maintains a lead in performance versus its little brother, the RTX 3060.

RTX 3060 vs. RTX 3060 Ti: Power and other things to know

The 200W TDP RTX 3060 Ti will typically draw more power versus the 170W TDP RTX 3060, as its higher performance would indicate. You can generally expect around 15 percent in many cases on average, but thermals are often similar.

The RTX 3060 was also Nvidia’s first attempt to limit the hash rate on the RTX 3000 GPUs, but there quickly were workarounds that unlocked it. The 3060 Ti will be among the LHR, or Lite Hash Rate, GPUs that are harder to fully unlock. (The Founders Edition RTX 3060 Ti is unaffected by LHR, however.)

And the champion is…

Brad Chacos/IDG

The RTX 3060 Ti is the winner and superior GPU. The VRAM advantage of the RTX 3060 is inconsequential at the resolution these GPUs are aimed at, 1080p and 1440p. It’s obvious that the more potent hardware on the RTX 3060 Ti makes it superior in gaming, and much closer to the RTX 3070.

Should you buy them at inflated prices? That’s complicated and will depend on your needs right now. They continue to be among the most popular GPUs due to their performance and lower barrier of entry, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. If you can find one at MSRP, they’re a great value; especially the RTX 3060 Ti. We would advise not paying the outrageous prices these can often go for, however. If prices eventually come down in the future, you’ll be able to get a higher-class GPU for similar coin.

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