NVIDIA today released the GeForce RTX 3050, its most affordable "Ampere" architecture desktop graphics card, and we have with us the Palit RTX 3050 StormX OC. The RTX 3050 is being launched as an entry-mainstream product, enabling 1080p gaming with moderate-to-high details and the potential for more eye-candy when you turn on the DLSS feature. The Palit RTX 3050 StormX OC is a compact, ITX-friendly custom-design graphics card targeted at those who just want to get an RTX 3050 and get gaming.
The RTX 3050 is based on the same 8 nm GA106 silicon as the RTX 3060, but with several differences. While the RTX 3060 nearly maxes out the GA106, enabling 28 out of 30 streaming multiprocessors (SM), the RTX 3050 only has 20 out of 30 enabled. This results in a CUDA core count of 2,560 compared to the 3,584 of the RTX 3060. The other key difference is memory. While the RTX 3060 is endowed with 12 GB of it across a 192-bit wide GDDR6 memory interface, the RTX 3050 has 8 GB across a 128-bit wide interface. The memory clock is lowered to 14 Gbps, too, resulting in a memory bandwidth of 224 GB/s, compared to 360 GB/s on the RTX 3060. With a typical board power of just 130 W, the RTX 3050 can make do with just a single 6-pin PCIe power connector, although we see quite a few board partners opt for the 8-pin PCIe connector.
Perhaps the most interesting difference in specifications is the PCIe bus. NVIDIA halved the PCIe bus width to PCI-Express 4.0 x8, from x16 on the RTX 3060, even though the GA106 very much does support x16, and we've seen board partners reuse their RTX 3060 PCBs, with their x16 PCIe wiring intact. Why NVIDIA chose this route is anyone's guess, especially given the fiberglass substrate of the GPU isn't any smaller. On its part, NVIDIA stated that the move is aimed at improving supply, as NVIDIA states 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 pretty loud hint that the company may carve future RTX 3050 cards out of the even smaller "GA107" silicon that has 24 SMs (3,072 CUDA cores) and a 128-bit wide memory bus, but a PCIe 4.0 x8 bus.
The Palit RTX 3050 StormX OC uses a simple board design that's under 17 cm long and 12 cm high, and should offer maximum compatibility. It uses an aluminium fin-stack heatsink that's ventilated by a single 100 mm fan. You still get idle fan-stop. The company also packs a factory overclock of 1807 MHz boost, compared to 1777 MHz reference, while leaving the memory untouched at 14 Gbps. The card draws power from a single 8-pin power connector. Display outputs include three DisplayPort 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1 connector. Palit is pricing the RTX 3050 StormX OC at close to NVIDIA's MSRP of $249, which of course is a fantasy. We expect actual pricing to be closer to $500.