Well, that kind of snuck up didn't it. Nvidia has quietly launched the RTX 3050 6GB. At a glance it's an unexciting and slower version of a graphics card with a GPU that's been on the market for nearly three years.
According to benchmarks from a retail card purchased by Computer Base, it loses just over 20% to the RTX 3050 8G in the handful of benchmarks it ran. That would put it around the GTX 1650 Super and Radeon RX 6500 XT in performance. Hardly a compelling upgrade unless you're moving up from something low end from a few years further back.
Spec wise, it includes the GA107 GPU, with 2,304 CUDA cores, a 1492MHz boost clock and 8GB of 14Gbps GDDR6 with a 96-bit bus. Its launch price is $169, at least for the MSI RTX 3050 6GB Ventus 2X that was tested. It's not very exciting stuff is it?
But it's not all bad. There are subsets of users that will find some of its characteristics appealing. In particular, its 70W TDP means it doesn't require external power. That means all of those older OEM PCs or repurposed office machines can simply plug it in. It also means low profile and passive models are available, with Palit launching a KalmX version. I can definitely see the appeal in that.
Still, at $169, it's too expensive. A card like the Intel Arc A580 is faster with a better feature set for around $10 more, while jumping up a tier to $200 would get you a much faster RX 6600—a card that spanks even the RTX 3050 8GB.
Nvidia will say that you get RTX features (though not the DLSS 3 and Frame generation good stuff) and ray tracing support. Not that that means much at this level.
Your next upgrade
Best CPU for gaming: The top chips from Intel and AMD.
Best gaming motherboard: The right boards.
Best graphics card: Your perfect pixel-pusher awaits.
Best SSD for gaming: Get into the game ahead of the rest.
At $169, the RTX 3050 6G won't go down as one of 2024's best graphics card deals. But for those seeking a card that doesn't require external power, decent performance per watt, low profile or fanless options, or a card to reinvigorate an old clunker with a garbage power supply, it looks like a good option.
If those characteristics appeal to you, and you cannot or will not spend more on a card that boasts far superior gaming performance, then the RTX 3050 6G is perhaps worth considering.
Still, I find it very hard to get all excited over a slower version of an entry-mid level graphics card from 3 years ago.
If it was called the RTX 3040 and priced at $149 then maybe I'd understand it a bit better. I see its niche appeal, but if you're looking for a gaming card first and foremost, pass on this one.