Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition review: Spectacular 1440p gaming

This is the 1440p graphics card for most people. Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is faster than last-generation's RTX 2080 Super for half the price.

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Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2020 benchmark at 4K for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter, which measures the power consumption of our entire test system. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

This isn’t a worst-case test; we removed the Core i7 8700K’s overclock and specifically chose a GPU-bound game running at a GPU-bound resolution to gauge performance when the graphics card is sweating hard. If you’re playing a game that also hammers the CPU, you could see higher overall system power draws. Consider yourself warned.

power Brad Chacos/IDG

The results prove that the Ampere GPU architecture in the RTX 30-series is more power-efficient than the Turing GPUs in last-generation’s RTX 20-series cards, but that the graphics cards themselves draw more power in the same class. The RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition draws a significant 47 watts less under load than the RTX 2080 Super it topples in performance—a sterling result—but also draws over 40W more than the RTX 2060 Founders Edition. The new card smokes the older 60-class option in raw performance, though.

We test thermals by leaving GPU-Z open during the F1 2020 power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temps Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia’s radical new cooler continues to impress as it moves down the Founders Edition product stack. Maxing out at a mere 72 degrees under load is a fantastic result for a reference(ish) graphics card, and significantly cooler than the RTX 2080 Super achieved with similar performance levels. Yet it still leaves room for custom variants by partners like Asus, MSI, and EVGA to improve things—especially noise levels.

This is the same cooler design found on the RTX 3070 FE, meaning it not only delivers identical temperature performance, but also acoustic results. While the beefed-up version of the cooler on Nvidia’s more expensive $700 RTX 3080 FE was very quiet, the much smaller RTX 3060 Ti and 3070 Founders Edition models sounds like standard graphics cards--moderately loud.

Next page: Should you buy the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti?

At a Glance
  • Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is faster than last-generation's RTX 2080 Super for half the price, delivering spectacular 1440p gaming performance for $400. Ray tracing and Nvidia's software features are top-notch, but minor quibbles persist in Nvidia's Founders Edition design

    Pros

    • Spectacular 1440p gaming
    • Faster than RTX 2080 Super for 50% less
    • 8GB of memory is good for 1440p
    • Great ray tracing performance with DLSS
    • Cool, reasonably quiet custom cooling
    • Nvidia software: Reflex, G-Sync, Shadowplay, Broadcast, RTX IO, DLSS

    Cons

    • Not as quiet as other RTX 30 Founders Edition GPUs, some custom cards
    • 12-pin power adapter is ugly
    • 8GB of GDDR6 memory limits future 4K gaming potential
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