NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Review: EVGA XC BLACK Tested
The Anti-Mining Card For Gamers (Who Probably Still Can’t Buy It)
NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 (the new one without the “Ti”) is here, and there is a theme to this new GPU’s release that is summed up with the slogan “built for gamers“ on EVGA’s RTX 3060 page. It may as well read “not built for miners”, but we get the point.
Today we’ll take our first look at performance with the EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 12GB XC BLACK card, a compact option which “is designed for no-frills gaming and high-performance without anything getting in the way”.
The Mining Problem
Right off the bat, this review is about gaming performance. I won’t spend much time on the subject of mining, but that has become a really big part of the story with this card in recent days. Intentionally reducing mining performance with the RTX 3060 – and apparently in a way that can’t be circumvented – is an unprecedented move on NVIDIA’s part.
This decision serves to foster some goodwill with gamers who would otherwise stand no realistic chance of buying a new gaming GPU in the current California gold rush-like mining climate, while simultaneously forcing those seeking ETH hashrate to a new line of professional mining cards.
Well played, NVIDIA. That is, until people start complaining about not being able to use the hardware they purchased how they like. But we can’t have it both ways, even if that 50% reduction in profitability just might start to irk people – particularly when the cards end up in the eBay scalping market either way.
It’s just not a good year for hardware. Cynically, I said that 2021 wouldn’t be any different than 2020 for PC hardware. Well, so far it has actually been worse. Crypto has exploded to record levels, and it has become an exercise in frustration to even think about upgrading right now. Something drastic had to happen, and this is that thing.
Here’s an updated look at the Ampere GPU family from 3060 to 3080 (the RTX 3090 feels out of place in a 3060 review, so I’ve omitted it):
|RTX 3060||RTX 3060 Ti||RTX 3070||RTX 3080|
|Tensor Cores||112 (2nd Gen)||152 (2nd Gen)||184 (2nd Gen)||272 (2nd Gen)|
|RT Cores||28 (2nd Gen)||38 (2nd Gen)||46 (2nd Gen)||68 (2nd Gen)|
|Base Clock||1320 MHz||1410 MHz||1500 MHz||1440 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1777 MHz||1665 MHz||1725 MHz||1710 MHz|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||10GB GDDR6X|
|Memory Data Rate||15 Gbps||14 Gbps||14 Gbps||19 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||360 GB/s||448 GB/s||448 GB/s||760 GB/s|
|Die Size||276 mm^2||392 mm^2||392 mm^2||628 mm^2|
|Process Tech||8nm Samsung||8nm Samsung||8nm Samsung||8nm Samsung|
The RTX 3060 is powered by new silicon, with the GA106 GPU making its debut. The 28 SMs result in a total of 3584 CUDA Cores, which are rated for frequencies of 1320 MHz Base/1777 MHz Boost. But the VRAM steals the show.
There’s no getting around the fact that 12GB of GDDR6 – higher even than the RTX 3080 – is odd, even if we know exactly why this was necessary (it was either 12GB or 6GB). The memory, on a 192-bit bus this time, gets some bandwidth help from a higher memory clock compared to the RTX 3060 Ti, with 15 Gbps effective vs. 14 Gbps with the Ti. (Sticking with 14 Gbps GDDR6 would have resulted in 336 GB/s bandwidth, rather than 360 GB/s.)
The EVGA XC BLACK Card
The EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 12GB XC BLACK card is designed for no-frills gaming and high-performance without anything getting in the way. Excelling in games and productivity with 12GB of GDDR6 memory, this card offers a suite of options for creators and players. Yet, the GeForce RTX 3060 12GB XC BLACK stays cool by utilizing two large fans without the need for a bulky, oversized cooler to ensure smooth performance.
A very compact card (along the lines of the DUAL RTX 2070 O8G MINI from ASUS), this EVGA RTX 3060 XC BLACK should fit in virtually any system. Measurements include a height of 4.33 in / 110 mm, a length of 7.94 in / 201.8 mm, and a conventional dual-slot width.
There are three DisplayPort outputs along with HDMI 2.1, and a single 8-pin connector is all you’ll need for this graphics card, which is rated for 170 W. As to specs, this is the entry-level offering and offers stock performance.
We ran some benchmarks on a gaming platform featuring an AMD Ryzen 3900X processor, and you’ll probably notice a pattern immediately with the results.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO WIFI|
|Memory||HyperX Predator DDR4-3600 CL16 32GB (16GBx2)|
|Storage||Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (1909)|
|Drivers||GeForce GRD 452.06 – 456.96 (Legacy Tests)
GeForce GRD 461.64 (Press Driver, RTX 3060)
Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.8.3
Note: The RTX 2060 Super on the charts is pulling double-duty; our Founders Edition sample has performance essentially equal to our stock RTX 2070 (as we noted in our review of this card). Similarly, the absence of an RTX 2070 Super is mitigated by the fact that it is so close to the performance of the original RTX 2080. All other shortcomings are inexcusable.
The short version? The new RTX 3060 will generally provide slightly higher performance than an RTX 2070 or 2060 Super, with a further advantage over those previous cards in the RTX department. A quick example of real-time ray tracing performance is next, and even though some GPUs are missing from this chart we can at least compare the RTX 2060 to this RTX 3060:
The RTX 3060 offers a 41.4% increase over the RTX 2060 in this tough RTX feature test, taking it from 21.89 FPS to a much smoother 30.96 FPS. This is a much bigger improvement gen-over-gen than we saw with the raster-based tests, and further illustrates NVIDIA’s focus on real-time ray tracing performance this generation.
Oh, and as I add this chart I notice that for some reason I didn’t run BMI on the 3060 Ti, or lost the result if I did. Regardless, a 5 FPS gap between the RTX 3060 and RTX 2080 here isn’t bad.
During a test run of Metro Exodus at 2160/high we observed frequencies spiking as high as 1905 MHz, with board power topping out at 172.4 W – hitting the rated 170 W TDP almost exactly. For reference, load temps in a ~24 C room with our EVGA XC BLACK sample were 68.1 C (80.5 C hot spot) with fans spinning at 73% (~2030 RPM) in an open case.
Any way you look at it, this is another graphics card launch during the absolute worst time in history to buy a graphics card. Argument over price/performance has become irrelevant. The best card is simply the one you can find in stock, at something close to MSRP.
The appeal of the RTX 3060 for gamers is likely enhanced by the decision to reduce Ethereum mining performance, and thus keep the card away from that market, but ultimately the scalping market is a similar threat to availability.
Let’s pretend that we are living In a world where both the RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti are available at their starting list prices (isn’t it glorious?). In that world I would strongly recommend the RTX 3060 Ti at $399 – $70 above the $329 price level of the RTX 3060 but with performance closer to the RTX 2080 Super.
An outstanding overall card, the RTX 3060 Ti is just a significantly faster option in spite of the lower 8GB VRAM total – but the 3060 Ti suffers (depending on your point of view) from being the #1 ranked mining card at present, so that won’t be available to gamers in any reasonable volume (or price) for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of shortages/scalping I still predict that this card will be easier to buy than an RTX 3060 Ti for a long time, however, thanks to that decision to reduce ETH performance. And, looking on the bright side, having xx70 level performance in the xx60 card a couple of years later is not a bad thing. It’s just that nothing is as exciting as it could have been without the current shortages in the industry.
This disclosure statement covers the way the product being reviewed was obtained and the relationship between the product's manufacturer and PC Perspective.
How Product Was Obtained
The graphics card is on loan from EVGA for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The graphics card remains the property of EVGA but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.
NVIDIA / EVGA provided the product sample and technical brief to PC Perspective but had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation
Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by NVIDIA or EVGA for this review.
NVIDIA and EVGA have not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
If this article contains affiliate links to online retailers, PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases made through those links.