The ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3050 OC is the company's most premium custom-design graphics card based on the RTX 3050 NVIDIA is debuting today. The card is designed to look several segments more premium than it is when installed in your case and aims to be all you ever need if you're gaming at 1080p with a focus on e-sports titles. The GeForce RTX 3050 is being debuted as an entry-mainstream product, and it is the most affordable GeForce "Ampere" GPU in the desktop segment.
The RTX 3050 is based on the same GA106 silicon as the RTX 3060 positioned a segment higher. While the RTX 3060 is carved out of this chip by enabling 28 out of 30 streaming multiprocessors (SM) physically present, nearly maxing it out, the RTX 3050 is cut down from it by enabling only two-thirds of the SMs (20 out of 30). This results in 2,560 CUDA cores, 20 RT cores, 80 Tensor Cores, 80 TMUs, and 32 ROPs. There are two major changes beyond the GPU that set the RTX 3050 apart from the RTX 3060. First, the RTX 3050 gets 8 GB of memory across a 128-bit GDDR6 interface running at 14 Gbps, while the RTX 3060 has 12 GB of it, over 192-bit, and running at a slightly higher data-rate of 15 Gbps. There's hence a stark difference in bandwidth (360 GB/s vs. 224 GB/s).
The second key difference between the RTX 3050 and RTX 3060 is the PCI-Express bus. The RTX 3050 comes with just a PCI-Express 4.0 x8 host interface, while the RTX 3060 has PCI-Express 4.0 x16, even though the GA106 fiberglass substrate isn't any smaller on the RTX 3050 and most custom-design boards, including this ROG Strix, use RTX 3060 PCBs, wiring out all 16 PCIe lanes to the host interface. NVIDIA's statement on the matter is that "dropping to 8 PCIe lanes improves supply. It allows us to source a wider variety of chips for the life of the product." We see this as a hint that future batches of the RTX 3050 could be carved out of the even smaller GA107 silicon, which physically has 24 SMs and a 128-bit wide GDDR6 memory bus, and an x8 PCIe interface. Right now, NVIDIA could be harvesting GA106 chips to eventually switch to GA107 without any changes in specifications or performance.
The ASUS ROG Strix RTX 3050 OC is easily the most premium RTX 3050 card we've come across. A huge triple-slot DirectCU III cooling solution takes on this tiny GPU with a typical power under 150 W. This 30 cm long cooler features an elaborate aluminium fin-stack heatsink that's ventilated by a trio of Axial Tech fans. The cooler also features an elaborate RGB illumination not just along the front and top of the card, but also the metal backplate. The cooler is longer than the PCB, so most of the airflow from the third fan is vented through the backplate. You also get certain ROG-exclusive features, such as 4-pin case-fan and 3-pin ARGB headers that let you synchronize your cooling to that of your graphics card. ASUS is pricing the RTX Strix RTX 3050 OC at an MSRP of $489, a steep premium over the $249 fantasy baseline.