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The 8 Best Reasons To Avoid an RTX 3050

Nvidia‘s GeForce RTX 3050 hits the mainstream budget GPU segment with an attractive $249 MSRP. But despite its low cost and status as one of Nvidia‘s newest graphics cards powered by Ampere architecture, the RTX 3050 comes with some significant downsides. As a technology enthusiast and avid PC builder, through detailed testing and analysis I‘ve identified eight compelling reasons why you may want to steer clear of the RTX 3050 for your next gaming rig upgrade.

1. Provides Weak 1080p Performance in Demanding Games

The RTX 3050 promises smooth 1080p gaming, but begins to struggle to deliver on that pitch in recent graphically intensive titles. According to extensive benchmarks from Tom‘s Hardware and TechSpot, here is how the RTX 3050 actually performs in some popular demanding games:

  • Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla (1080p Ultra High Settings): 48 fps avg
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (1080p Max Settings): 62 fps avg
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (1080p Ultra Settings): 34 fps avg
  • Dying Light 2 (1080p High Settings): 56 fps avg
  • Far Cry 6 (1080p Max Settings w/ HD Textures): 49 fps avg

As you can see, the RTX 3050 fails to achieve 60 fps on maxed or near-maxed settings in any of these graphically-intensive games. You‘ll have to settle for 30-50 fps averages, or lower visual quality to try reaching the coveted 60 fps mark at Full HD resolution. This forces compromises on texture details, lighting quality, ray traced effects and more right out the gate.

Let‘s contrast this to Nvidia‘s $120 more expensive RTX 3060, which offers a giant 50-60% performance uplift in these same titles:

  • Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla: 73 fps avg
  • Call of Duty: Warzone: 102 fps avg
  • Cyberpunk 2077: 52 fps avg
  • Dying Light 2: 86 fps avg
  • Far Cry 6: 76 fps avg

For such a small difference in cost, stepping up to the 3060 pays major dividends. You can actually max all settings comfortably at over 60 fps in 1080p. The 3050? Not so much.

2. Struggles Even Harder at 1440p Resolution

Cranking up to 1440p resolution puts even more stress on the RTX 3050. When testing visually stunning games at 1440p with high settings, framerates take an even bigger hit:

  • Control (1440p High Settings): 44 fps avg
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn (1440p Ultimate Settings): 48 fps avg
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (1440p Custom High Settings): 42 fps avg

Framerates in the 40s and lower simply do not provide an acceptable level of smoothness at higher resolutions. This rules out 1440p as a viable target for maxed out gaming on the RTX 3050 in any recently released graphically intensive title. You could play older or esports games this way, but for newer releases you‘ll basically be forced to 1080p resolution to have a good experience.

3. Falls Way Behind the RTX 3060 in Value

When analyzing price-to-performance, the RTX 3050 lags far behind its closest sibling, the RTX 3060. As noted above, the RTX 3060 outperforms the 3050 by a whopping 50-60% on average, despite only costing around $70 more. Here is a head-to-head spec comparison:

Spec RTX 3060 RTX 3050
CUDA Cores 3584 2560
Boost Clock 1837 MHz 1837 MHz
Memory 12 GB GDDR6 8 GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth 360 GB/s 224 GB/s
MSRP $329 $249

For such little price difference, the RTX 3060‘s extra CUDA cores, faster memory and huge performance advantage give you much better value per dollar spent. The premium is absolutely justified over the extremely constrained RTX 3050.

4. Power Hungry for a Budget Card

The RTX 3050‘s rated total board power clocks in at 130W. That‘s quite high for a budget GPU. It requires an extra 6-pin power connector, whereas most other entry level graphic cards rely solely on power from the PCIe slot.

You may need to upgrade the power supply on an older system to accommodate this card. A higher wattage PSU often runs louder and generates more heat too. So the 3050‘s pie-in-the-sky power demands somewhat counterweigh its affordable price tag.

5. Offers Negligible Upgrade vs. Older Budget Cards

The RTX 3050 is architecturally 2 generations ahead of previous budget leaders like the GTX 1660 Super. But in real world game fps, it only performs about 3% better on average.

Here‘s a head-to-head from Tom‘s Hardware putting the cards through their paces in The Witcher 3 at 1080p max settings:

  • RTX 3050: 86 fps
  • GTX 1660 Super: 83 fps

Barely any improvement for two full generations of advancement! The margins are equally tight in other titles. This makes the 3050 rather pointless as an upgrade for GTX 1660 Super owners. Performance will feel virtually the same, so you‘re better off saving your money.

6. Often More Expensive Than MSRP in Reality

The RTX 3050 seems attractively priced with its $249 MSRP. However, good luck purchasing one at the official price. Due to supply shortages and overwhelming demand, real world pricing is regularly inflated.

At the time of writing, the average selling price on popular retailer Newegg hovers between $339 to $379 – $100 or more over MSRP! After you factor in these unavoidable markup premiums, the value proposition dims considerably.

AIB Model Price
MSI Ventus $339
Gigabyte Eagle $349
Asus Dual $379

No one likes paying these inflated costs, but it‘s the unfortunate reality facing most GPU shoppers today. When the true cost stretches up to nearly $100 more than official pricing, budget minded buyers should look elsewhere.

7. Lackluster Ray Tracing and DLSS Support

The RTX 3050 meets the minimum spec required for ray tracing and DLSS. But its paltry CUDA core count and slow memory translate to subpar implementation:

  • Ray tracing tanked Cyberpunk 2077 fps by nearly 50% on a 3050 card according to TechSpot. Performance becomes truly unplayable.
  • Tom‘s Hardware testing found DLSS rendered at less than HD resolution before upscaling to avoid clarity loss from excessive sharpening artifacts.
  • There were select games that wouldn‘t activate DLSS at all due to inadequate VRAM.

While technically supporting these features, the 3050 falls flat trying to deliver on enhanced ray traced graphics and DLSS performance. The limited specs undermine output quality to the point where keeping both disabled is preferable.

8. RX 6600 Outperforms for Slight Price Bump

On team red, AMD‘s $299 Radeon RX 6600 generally outguns the 3050 in framerates while costing only around $50 more:

  • Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla (1080p Ultra High):
    • RX 6600: 68 fps
    • RTX 3050: 48 fps
  • Call of Duty: Warzone (1080p Max):
    • RX 6600: 92 fps
    • RTX 3050: 62 fps

The 6600 gives you approximately 10% higher fps across a variety of popular games. For the small premium, these extra frames provide more overhead for future titles and higher resolution gaming. If you can flex the budget, choose this over Nvidia‘s entry level RTX card.

The RTX 3050 undeniably wins as Nvidia‘s cheapest path to Ampere and next generation features like DLSS. But in virtually all other aspects – raw performance, efficiency, value – it fails to impress in light of competing offerings.

If purchasing today I‘d skip the 3050 and grab an RTX 3060 for bigger performance gains now and into the future. Or for 1080p gaming on a budget, a used GTX 1660 Super still holds its own. Ultimately there are better ways to spend your hardearned cash than this disappointing entry-level RTX card.

The above benchmark data and expert commentary represents the firsthand testing, analysis and opinions of the author