As a PC gamer looking to upgrade your graphics card, choosing between the RTX 3050 and RTX 2060 can be tough. Both offer excellent 1080p and 1440p gaming performance at reasonable prices. But which one is right for you?
This comprehensive, 2000+ word guide will dive deep into every aspect of the RTX 3050 vs RTX 2060 decision to help you pick the best card for your needs and budget.
We‘ll compare everything from raw specs, real-world gaming benchmarks, ray tracing abilities, power efficiency to pricing so you can make an informed choice. Whether you‘re playing esports titles or AAA games, by the end, you‘ll know which GPU gives you the ultimate combination of performance and value.
Let‘s start with a quick overview of the two contenders.
RTX 3050 vs RTX 2060 Overview
The RTX 3050 is Nvidia‘s newest budget graphics card, launched in January 2022. It‘s based on the efficient Ampere architecture and utilizes the same GPU chip as the mobile RTX 3050. With 2560 CUDA cores and 8GB GDDR6 memory, it delivers excellent 1080p and respectable 1440p performance.
The RTX 2060 hit the market way back in January 2019. But it still packs a punch thanks to the Turing architecture and 6GB of GDDR6 memory. Its 1920 CUDA cores and high clocks allow it to outmuscle the RTX 3050 in conventional gaming workloads.
Here‘s a high-level specs comparison:
|Spec||RTX 3050||RTX 2060|
|Launch Date||Jan 2022||Jan 2019|
|Base Clock||1555 MHz||1365 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1777 MHz||1680 MHz|
|VRAM||8GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6|
Now let‘s dig into the details to understand how and why the RTX 3050 and RTX 2060 differ under the hood.
Ampere vs Turing Architecture
The RTX 3050 is part of Nvidia‘s latest Ampere generation while the 3-year old RTX 2060 uses the previous Turing architecture. Understanding the architectural changes helps explain the difference in their performance and features.
CUDA Cores – The basic processing units for graphics workloads. RTX 3050 has 2560 while RTX 2060 has 1920. More CUDA cores translate to higher FPS.
RT Cores – Dedicated ray tracing cores that handle real-time ray traced lighting, shadows and effects. 3050 has 20 2nd gen RT cores while 2060 has 30 1st gen cores.
Tensor Cores – AI processing cores for Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). 3050 uses more efficient 3rd gen cores.
Encoded/Decoders – Codec engines for video encoding/decoding. Ampere has upgraded NVDEC and NVENC blocks.
Texture Units – Handles texture mapping and filtering. 2060 has more TMUs at 120 vs 80 on 3050.
ROPs – Render output units handle final pixel output. Again 2060 edges out with 48 ROPs vs 32 on 3050.
Cache – Faster on-die cache improves performance. 3050 gets 32MB L2 cache while 2060 has just 3MB L2.
Manufacturing Process – 3050 is fabbed on a denser 8nm node versus 12nm for 2060. Allows for higher transistor density.
Memory – Both cards have 8GB GDDR6 VRAM. 2060‘s 192-bit bus offers much higher bandwidth than 3050‘s 128-bit bus.
Ray Tracing (RT) Ops – 3050 has 25 RT TFLOPs using Ampere‘s improved 2nd gen RT cores compared to 2060‘s 32 TFLOPs.
Tensor FLOPs – 143 TFLOPs on 3050 with 3rd gen Tensor cores vs. 72 TFLOPs on 2060.
Now let‘s move on to some real-world gaming benchmarks to see how this battle plays out.
Gaming Benchmarks: 1080p and 1440p
We will look at FPS benchmarks across a mix of gaming genres and titles at the popular 1080p and 1440p resolutions. This will give us an idea of real-world performance you can expect from both cards.
The test bench consists of a Core i9-12900K CPU with 32GB DDR5 memory to remove any potential bottlenecks. Game settings are optimized to highlight the GPU performance difference.
Starting with 1080p, here are benchmark figures from TechPowerUp:
At 1920 x 1080 resolution, the 2060 is about 10-15% faster than the RTX 3050 on average. Both cards are able to deliver very high frame rates well beyond 60 fps in eSports (CS:GO, Valorant) and competitive multiplayer titles (Apex Legends, Fortnite).
In more graphics intensive games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, the 2060 maintains its performance lead. Overall, the 2060 is the better choice if you‘re looking to maximize frame rates on a high refresh rate 1080p gaming monitor.
Let‘s increase the resolution to 2560 x 1440 and see how the cards compare:
At 1440p, the RTX 2060 is still clearly faster than the RTX 3050 by an average of 15% across this game selection. The gap narrows slightly but the ranking remains consistent.
Both GPUs start to struggle a bit to maintain 60 fps in demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077. You may need to lower some graphics settings to achieve a smooth experience. Overall, the 2060 is better suited for high refresh rate 1440p gaming.
Based on these 1080p and 1440p benchmarks, the RTX 2060 is the faster card in conventional gaming workloads. Now let‘s factor in ray tracing and DLSS performance.
Ray Tracing and DLSS Performance
Ray tracing enables realistic real-time lighting, shadows and effects but comes with a performance cost. DLSS uses AI to boost frame rates. Let‘s see how the cards compare.
Here are ray tracing and DLSS benchmarks in some popular titles, with DLSS set to Performance mode:
Thanks to DLSS, the RTX 3050 is able to match and sometimes exceed the frame rates of the RTX 2060 with ray tracing enabled. The dedicated RT and tensor cores on the 3050 and its efficient Ampere architecture allow it to handle the additional ray tracing and upscaling workloads better.
DLSS is the secret weapon that allows the 3050 to close the performance gap with the 2060 in ray traced games. This gives the 3050 much better future-proofing since more upcoming titles are adding in ray tracing and DLSS support.
Based on all the gaming benchmarks, here is a quick performance summary:
- At 1080p and 1440p, the RTX 2060 is around 10-15% faster without ray tracing
- With ray tracing and DLSS, the RTX 3050 matches or beats the RTX 2060 in many games
- For high framerate competitive gaming, the RTX 2060 is the better choice
- For ray traced games, the RTX 3050 offers comparable performance with DLSS
- The RTX 3050 has more future-proofing thanks to DLSS in upcoming titles
Now let‘s examine power efficiency, thermals and content creation performance.
Power Efficiency and Thermals
The RTX 3050‘s 130W TDP is significantly lower than the RTX 2060‘s 160W power rating. Lower power consumption directly translates into less heat being generated.
What does this mean for you as a buyer?
- Lower fan noise since the GPU will run cooler and quieter
- Smaller physical card size as less cooling is required
- Lower overall system power draw, allowing smaller wattage PSUs
- More overclocking headroom when pushing past stock frequencies
Ideally you want your graphics card to run as cool and quiet as possible. Here are temperature readings under load from TechPowerUp‘s review:
|Graphics Card||Load Temperatures|
The 3050 runs a full 6°C cooler than the RTX 2060 under sustained workloads. It achieves this despite having a compact dual fan cooler and tiny PCB design. This allows more silence-focused case choices without overheating.
For small form factor PC builds, the RTX 3050‘s tiny footprint is a blessing. It can fit easily into Mini-ITX cases where the larger RTX 2060 may struggle. Overall, the 3050 is the clear winner when it comes to power efficiency and thermals.
Content Creation Benchmarks
For creative professionals, the RTX 3050 again takes the lead over the RTX 2060 thanks to the extra CUDA cores and Ampere architecture optimizations for content creation workloads.
Here are benchmarks in Puget Systems‘ DaVinci Resolve test:
The RTX 3050 is about 11% faster than the RTX 2060 in this real-world video editing workload. For 3D modeling and rendering using apps like Blender, the performance advantage goes up to 15%.
Overall, if you‘ll be using your GPU for content creation as well as gaming, the newer RTX 3050 is the obvious choice in this comparison.
Pricing and Availability
With post-crypto demand in the dumps, both the RTX 3050 and 2060 are easy to find in stock at reasonable prices from most retailers:
|GPU||MSRP||Typical Street Price|
At MSRP, the RTX 3050 provides excellent value, costing $100 less than the 2060 for 85% of its gaming performance. However, well priced RTX 2060 models around $330 narrow that value gap considerably.
I recommend keeping an eye out for RTX 2060 deals under $300 – at that price point, it becomes very appealing compared to the RTX 3050. On the used market, you can find second hand RTX 2060s around $200-250 which represents tremendous value.
RTX 3050 vs RTX 2060 – The Verdict
We‘ve covered a lot of ground comparing the RTX 3050 and RTX 2060. Let‘s summarize the key findings:
- In conventional gaming, the RTX 2060 is about 10-15% faster at 1080p and 1440p
- With ray tracing and DLSS, the 3050 matches or beats the 2060 in many titles
- The 3050 is more power efficient, running cooler and quieter
- It also delivers better content creation application performance
- Priced at MSRP, the 3050 has an advantage in value for money
- But discounted RTX 2060s become very competitive options
For high refresh rate esports gaming at 1080p, the RTX 2060 makes the most sense. Competitive players want every last FPS and the 2060 delivers that.
If you‘re gaming at 1440p or interested in ray tracing, the RTX 3050 is very capable. Its DLSS support allows it to keep up with the 2060 in ray traced titles.
For creatives, the stronger performance of the RTX 3050 in apps like Blender makes it the preferable choice.
There is no unambiguous winner here. Make sure you consider your budget, gaming resolution, game genres, and creative needs before deciding on the RTX 3050 or RTX 2060. Both continue to be excellent GPU options under $300 for smooth 1080p and 1440p gaming.
I hope this guide has given you all the facts to pick the right graphics card for your needs! Let me know if you have any other questions.