It felt like a long time coming, but the RTX 3060 is finally here. Touted as a successor to the still-popular GTX 1060, it holds a lot of promise for 1080p gamers looking for an upgrade. There’s no Founders Edition this time around, so I’m taking a look at the EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black. Priced at $329 (if you can find it at that), it looks to offer big performance in a tiny package – but does this graphics card live up to the hype?
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EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black – Design and Features
The RTX 3060 is an important graphics card. Coming on the heels of the impressively fast RTX 3060 Ti, there was an open question about what kind of performance difference users could expect without the Ti branding. Beginning at $329 (at least theoretically), it is positioned to be the most accessible RTX 30-series GPU to date. Given the short supply and overwhelming demand for graphics cards this generation, it represented a new on-ramp to modern graphics tech while simultaneously landing in the sweet spot between price and performance.
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Nvidia hasn’t been shy about who it’s hoping to lure with this new card. The RTX 3060 is targeted squarely at GTX 1060 owners. That card, now two generations and five years old, went on to incredible success and is still the most popular GPU on Steam’s hardware charts today. Nvidia wasn’t able to convert enough gamers to dethrone the 1060 last generation, but as that card gets ever longer in the tooth, the potential for a new successor rises ever higher. Given how deeply the GTX 1060 penetrated the market, and that the RTX 3060 aims to do the same, it’s no exaggeration to say that this launch is one of the most exciting for mainstream gamers, so let’s take a closer look.
The EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black is small and stealthy. It lives up to its name with a completely blacked out design. There’s no RGB to speak of, so if you’re not sold on turning your gaming PC into a showpiece with a tempered glass side panel, this is a good choice to slap a side panel over and call it a day. Its minimalist appearance isn’t boring, however. I really like the contouring and texture work EVGA has applied; the card has a stealth ops aesthetic that’s actually pretty cool in isolation. Still, it’s simple and straightforward without even a backplate to complete the look, which is a missed opportunity.
The card features a two-fan, two-slot cooling solution. It measures 7.94 x 4.4 inches, which is an inch shorter than the already-compact RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition, so it should easily fit in even compact builds. EVGA doesn’t share any special technology related to its two fans, but a closer look shows that the blades are embossed with the company logo, which likely acts to disrupt airflow. The heatsink underneath uses a pair of copper heatpipes to draw heat from the contact plates and into the fin stack. For a card that’s intended for budget gamers, EVGA could have called it a day there, but I was particularly happy to see that it also includes cut-outs below the rear fan to better expel heat. In my testing, the card peaked at 69C and came in at almost the exact same 36dB of noise I measured the RTX 3080 at and blended well with my case fans.
Things get interesting when we look under the hood. All RTX 3060s feature 3584 CUDA cores, which is a dramatic 87% leap forward from the 1920 cores found in the RTX 2060. As we’ve seen in each card this generation, that doesn’t mean you’ll receive 87% more FPS, and, in fact, it’s less of a jump than we’ve seen on other 30-series cards. Impressive, nonetheless. The card I’m looking at matches the default Boost Clock of 1.78GHz, though regularly exceeded this and hovered just under 1.9GHz while gaming.
Built upon Nvidia’s latest Ampere architecture, the core improvements versus the standard RTX 2060 are noteworthy:
- 12.7 Shader TFLOPS (+95% improvement)
- 24.9 RT TFLOPS (+28% improvement)
- 37.6 Total TFLOPS for Ray Tracing (+45% improvement)
Bear in mind that TFLOP measurements are useful for comparing generational improvements but aren’t 1:1 between devices. These numbers shouldn’t be compared against a current-gen console, but do illustrate how far Ampere has come in a generation.
What’s more interesting to me is that this model features 12GB of GDDR6 memory, more than any other RTX-30 card this side of the RTX 3090. It’s puzzling on multiple levels. Why does the most entry-level 30-series to date have more memory than the flagship RTX 3080? Now, the VRAM included here isn’t the ultra-fast GDDR6X found on that card, but it arguably wouldn’t need that caliber of memory the same way a card targeted at 1080p gaming doesn’t need 12GB of video memory at all. It’s also worth noting that the memory runs on a 192-bit bus rather than the 256-bit found on the 3060 Ti and higher models.
This is a bit like looking a gift horse in the mouth. Extra memory is hardly a bad thing, but the fact is that modern games running at 1080p resolution will not use that much video memory. Given several years, that may change as graphics become more complex, however, so I still welcome the addition as a nod toward the long-term life of this card.
For I/O, the EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black supports four video outputs. Of these, it features three DisplayPort 1.4a connections and a single HDMI 2.1. For users with high-end displays or who plan on gaming on a cutting edge television, the HDMI output can support 4K at 120Hz with full HDR support. The card also supports AV1 decoding for streaming. The maximum resolution supported across all of these outputs is 8K (7680×4320).
The RTX 3060 also marks the first Nvidia GPU to receive support for Resizable Bar. This technology is similar to AMD’s Smart Access Memory and allows the CPU to access the entire memory pool of the RTX 3060. This can result in performance boosts, though the degree to which will vary by game. This technology is only supported on very recent motherboard and CPU combinations (Ryzen 5000, Intel 10th and 11th Gen). Since our test system runs an Intel i9-9900K, I was unable to test this feature for myself. Thankfully, the good people at Wccftech were able to run some performance tests using this very card and found performance improvements that ranged from 3-10 FPS.
Since this is an Nvidia GPU, it also supports the company’s other key technologies. As ever, DLSS is game-changing and opens the door to gaming with ray tracing enabled. Likewise, it supports AI-enhanced features like Nvidia Broadcast for streaming and Nvidia Reflex for reduced latency competitive gaming. I have tested each of these features extensively this generation and can easily say that they’re excellent value-adds any RTX 30-series owner should be investigating.
With that out of the way, let’s see how it performed!
EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black – Performance
I test graphics cards using a suite of synthetic and real-world gaming tests. I begin with synthetic tests to gauge rasterization and ray tracing performance in comparison to other relevant cards. These are typically measured in score. I then run each card through a selection of different games across multiple genres and graphical styles, collecting the average FPS for each. Games are set to Ultra settings unless otherwise noted.
|Graphics Card||3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra||Uniengine Heaven 4.0 (1440p)|
|Nvidia RTX 3070 Founders Edition||8,547||2785|
|Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition||7,306||2258|
|EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black||5,191||1556|
|Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC 8G||6,153||2083|
|Gigabyte RTX 2060 Super Gaming OC 8G||5,601||1842|
|AMD Radeon RX 6800||10,265||3041|
|AMD RX 5700XT||6,480||1683|
|AMD RX 5700||5,778||1506|
Beginning with the synthetic rasterization tests, I was surprised to see the RTX 3060 fall short of last generation’s RTX 2060 Super. Note that this is an upgraded version of the original RTX 2060, however, so an apples to apples generational comparison would likely see these figures land closer. Still, an interesting way to begin testing. Compared to the RTX 3060 Ti, you can really see the impact of the added CUDA cores as it maintains a substantial lead.
|Graphics Card||3D Mark Port Royal||3DMark Ray Tracing Test|
|Nvidia RTX 3070 Founders Edition||8131||31.9|
|Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition||6941||25.6|
|EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black||5068||19.4|
|Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC 8G||6,134||18.7|
|Gigabyte RTX 2060 Super Gaming OC 8G||5,282||15.8|
|AMD Radeon RX 6800||7396||21.5|
Turning to ray tracing, the list condenses somewhat as the RX 5700 and 5700XT are dropped. Still, we can clearly see that the RTX 3060 lags behind its peers. Synthetics, it seems, are not generous to this card. At least in comparison to those I tested against.
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Moving onto the game tests, I started with our usual rotation of five core games. It’s clear right away that the sweet spot for this GPU is 1080p. At 4K, it barely maintains 30 FPS in most titles. At 1440p, it becomes a bit more reasonable and at 1080p, we really see the card come into its own. Compared to the 2060 Super, it runs 1% fast at FHD, 3% faster at QHD, and 11% faster at UHD. At the same time, the 3060 Ti offers a substantial leap ahead, averaging 21% faster at 1080p, 29% faster at 1440p, and 32% faster at 4K.
The most interesting comparison is against the RTX 2070 Super. I didn’t have an original RTX 2070 to compare against and these tests left me wishing I did. Against the Super, the RTX 3060 performed an average of 12% slower at 1080p and 4K and 9% slower at 1440p but not so fast. Since the Super generally performs 15-20% faster than the original RTX 2070, it’s exceedingly likely that the RTX 3060 will go blow for blow if not beat the RTX 2070 in average performance. This is reading between the lines, but certainly helps to crystalize the level of performance this card offers compared to our last-gen expectations.
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Expanding scope, I tested the RTX 3060 against a wider variety of games and the same holds true here. Unfortunately, due to testing time, I was not able to include the RTX 2070 in this extended testing. Compared to the RTX 2060 Super, it offered an average FPS boost of 3%. At 1080p, the increase was just under 1% on average. Compared against the RTX 3060 Ti, it was 22% and 17% slower respectively.
For real world gaming, what this boils down to is this. The RTX 3060 is a 1080p graphics card for the modern generation. It’s really only at that resolution that I found the frame rates to be reliably high, though it’s possible to dabble in some 1440p gaming if you’re willing to turn your settings down. Compared to the RTX 2060 Super, the gains are very modest but present. If you’re running the original RTX 2060 or are part of that target GTX 1060 group, you’ll find this to be a substantial upgrade.
At $329, this is a well-priced graphics card. The problem will be finding it at that price since it sold out almost immediately. Given the performance margins I’ve seen, I would highly recommend not to pay above MSRP. If you’re considering spending more, the wiser course of action would simply be to wait for the RTX 3060 Ti or RTX 3070.
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