Gigabyte today released the GeForce RTX 3050 Gaming OC, its top custom-design graphics card powered by the RTX 3050 Ampere GPU, which NVIDIA is debuting today. The RTX 3050 is an entry-mainstream product for 1080p gaming with fairly high details, or with moderate details and ray tracing enabled, with DLSS to keep frame-rates high. For most others, the appeal is in it being the most affordable RTX 30-series card, meant for 1080p e-sports gaming. Gigabyte is giving the chip an elaborate cooler and a factory-overclock.
The GeForce RTX 3050 is based on the same 8 nm GA106 silicon as the RTX 3060, although heavily cut down. While the RTX 3060 features 28 out of 30 streaming multiprocessors (SM) present on the chip, the RTX 3050 only has 20 out of 30. This results in 2,560 CUDA cores, 20 RT cores, 80 Tensor cores, 80 TMUs, and 32 ROPs. The card features 8 GB of GDDR6 memory across a 128-bit wide memory bus, compared to 12 GB across 192-bit for the RTX 3060. The memory clock is lowered, too, at 14 Gbps vs. 15 Gbps, resulting in a memory bandwidth of 224 GB/s, as opposed to 360 GB/s on the RTX 3060.
A key piece of specification that sets the RTX 3050 apart from the RTX 3060 is the PCI-Express bus width of just 8 lanes, that's PCI-Express 4.0 x8, compared to x16 on the RTX 3060 even though the GA106 is perfectly capable of x16, and all the custom-design boards we're testing today reuse PCB designs from RTX 3060 products with PCB traces for all 16 lanes in place. NVIDIA offers this explanation: "Dropping to 8 PCIe lanes improves supply. It allows us to source a wider variety of chips for the life of the product." In other words, NVIDIA is currently harvesting GA106 chips that didn't make the cut for RTX 3060, but could in the future switch to the smaller GA107 silicon, which physically has 24 SMs (3,072 CUDA cores) and a 128-bit GDDR6 memory bus, along with a PCI-Express 4.0 x8 bus. This switch would come with no difference in performance.
The Gigabyte RTX 3050 Gaming OC, which we are reviewing today, comes with a strictly 2-slot design, but one that's over 28 cm long, featuring an elaborate aluminium fin-stack heatsink with three 80 mm fans ventilating it. The PCB is only two-thirds the length of the card, so all of the airflow from the third fan vents through the heatsink and out of a large cutout in the backplate. The cooler also features some RGB illumination. On offer is a factory-overclock of 1822 MHz, compared to 1777 MHz reference, while the memory is left untouched. The card draws power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector. Display outputs include two each of DisplayPort 1.4a and HDMI 2.1 connectors, which is an interesting mix. Gigabyte is pricing this card at $379 MSRP, a fairly big premium over the $249 base-pricing fantasy for the RTX 3050.