Nvidia is claiming AAA games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Watch Dogs Legion, and Cyberpunk 2077 will all achieve over 60 frames per second with Ray Tracing and DLSS on. Now, that’s just using “high” settings at 1080p, but keep in mind the target user here: most gamers are still running that resolution according to the Steam Hardware Survey. And I’m willing to bet that those looking to upgrade to 1440p will have no problem securing worthwhile performance—albeit perhaps with ray tracing off or some settings turned down. Nvidia hasn’t given us a ton of metrics to glean performance without ray tracing, but we’ll be taking a closer look at these cards once we get our hands on them. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade that aging GTX 1060, though, this could very well be your next card.
Comparing it to consoles is a little tougher, of course—all we can do is compare teraflops, which are far from a perfect measure of GPU power. But with Nvidia claiming 13 shader teraflops on the RTX 3060, we’re looking at a card that is similar or better to what the PS5 and Xbox Series X are offering (10.28 teraflops and 12 teraflops on their respective GPUs). I wouldn’t be surprised to see better ray tracing performance on the 3060 too, especially with the addition of DLSS. Oh, and it has 12GB of GDDR6 VRAM, which is going to help if you plan on running with higher resolution textures.That said, consoles always have a bit of an edge when it comes to optimization and price point, and this year’s consoles have presented a pretty killer value proposition. If you wanted to build a PC comparable to console performance, the RTX 3060 is likely in the ballpark of what you’re looking for in a graphics card. But doing so at the same cost as the new consoles—even the more generous $500 price point of the top-end models—is going to be difficult to impossible. A $329 card only gives you $180 for a motherboard, CPU, RAM, storage, power supply and case. The CPU alone will burn a lot of that—even a lower-end Ryzen 3 3100 is $100 at MSRP, and that’s decidedly less powerful than the 8-core CPUs in the PS5 and Series X. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for your other components, you’d still go over your $500 budget with all parts in tow.
But, as I’ve often argued, that’s not a fair comparison, because most PC gamers already have a PC—therefore, it’s really more about comparing the price of a PC upgrade to the price of a full console. And if you have a halfway decent desktop, $329 to upgrade your graphics card is awfully compelling compared to a $400 or $500 console, even if you have to throw in some extra RAM or a new power supply. You’ll get similar-to-better performance, not to mention all the other advantages that come with PC gaming: like free online multiplayer, tons of giveaways and sales, mods galore, and an unparalleled level of customizability.
Nvidia CES 2021 – GeForce 30-Series Laptops
Of course, all that assumes you can actually get your hands on one of these cards to begin with. The latest GPUs from Nvidia and AMD have proven even harder to purchase than the constantly-disappearing PS5 and Xbox Series X, which means all of this is moot if Newegg runs out of stock faster than you can click the Buy button. Thanks to pandemic-related supply shortages and demand surges—on top of the already-high demand of new cards when they come out—I’m guessing it’ll be just as hard, if not harder, to grab an RTX 3060 when it launches in February. (Remember, this section of the product stack is Nvidia’s most popular.)
But if nothing else, this bodes extremely well for the near future of PCs, and gamers looking at that midrange price point have something pretty exciting to look forward to (once supply can keep up with demand). In the meantime, keep an eye on @IGNDeals and we’ll try to let you know when the new cards hit the market—again, and again, and again.