Announced at CES, the entry-level Ampere RTX 3050 is tested

Nvidia introduces ray tracing features to the entry-level.

Robert Dow

The RTX 3050 in its natural habitat

Nvidia made a splash at CES this year. Nvidia’s senior vice president, Jeff Fisher proclaimed that 150 million new gamers will enter the market in 2022.” The market has grown to $300 billion in sales in 2021, up to $70 billion from just three years ago,” said Fisher, and “Nvidia is well-positioned to take advantage of this tremendous growth in the market,” he added.

At CES Nvidia announced that AT&T will offer 5G service for the GeForce Now service. Furthermore, consumers who sign up with AT&T will get a 6-month free Priority membership subscription to GeForce Now. Nvidia has upgraded its worldwide GeForce Now servers with RTX 3080 graphics, making it the first streaming service to support 120 frames per second at 1440p on PCs, up to 1600p on MacBooks, and 4K with HDR on Shield TV. The normal price is $9.99 a month, or $99.00 for an annual membership. They also made new announcements on new G-Synch display partnerships.

The highlight of Jeff Fisher’s presentation (as far as us gamers were concerned) was the introduction of new Ampere-based graphics boards. An ultra-high-end board the RTX 3090 TI, Nvidia’s new flagship AIB will run at 78 RT TFLOPS, 320 Tensor TFLOPS, 24 GB of 21 GB/s GDDR6 memory, which we believe will be released in late Q1 early Q2.

The board we are looking at today however is Ampere’s first true venture into the entry-level, the RTX 3050. At $249 the RTX 3050 is designed to bring ray tracing and top performance to more and more gamers. The new entry-level card is equipped with Nvidia’s 2nd generation ray-tracing cores along with new Tensor cores that support Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) which enables the board to produce greater frame rates at demanding resolutions. RTX 3050 has 2,560 CUDA cores—over 2X the CUDA cores in the GTX 1650. The 3050 delivers 9 FP32 shader TFLOPS, plus 18 RT-TFLOPS and 73 Tensor-TFLOPS for ray tracing and performance-boosting.

The look of the RTX 3050 matches that of the RTX 3060 and the previous-generation GTX 1600 family. It’s a nice small form factor that is easy to work with and fits in compact towers.

The specs for the RTX 3050 are available in the following table along with the GTX 1660 Super and AMD’s mid-range RX 6600 which we stacked against the 3050 in our Pmark calculations.

RTX 3050 GTX 1660 Super Radeon RX 6600
GPU GA106 TU116 Navi 23
Cores 2560 1408 1792
RT Cores 20 NA 28
Texture Units 80 88 112
Base Clock 1552 1530 1626
Boost Clock 1777 1785 2491
Memory Clock GDDR6 GDDR6 GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth 114 336 224
Fab Process (nm) 8 12 7
Transistor Count (M) 12000 6600 11060
TFLOPS 9 5 9
TGP 130 125 132
$MSRP (at launch) 249 229 329
AIB specifications 

The test suite we used included the following games. All games were set at the highest graphic preset (i.e., Uber, Epic) for testing.

3DMark Time Spy 3Dmark Mesh Shader
Neon Noir Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Wolfenstein: Youngblood WatchDogs: Legion
Assassins Creed: Valhalla Red Dead Redemption II
Crysis: Exodus GodFall
Chernobyl Lite Evil Genius 2
3DMark DX RT
Benchmark Suite

Our testbed is based on an Intel Core-i9 10900K running at 3.7 GHz, in a Gigabyte Z490 AORUS Master with 16 GB of RAM. We tested games at the highest pre-set graphic settings (Ultra/ Uber) at 1440P and 1080P.

Here at JPR, we compare boards using the Pmark. We do not just look at raw FPS but factor in an AIB’s power consumption and MSRP. The Pmark equation is:

RTX 3050 GTX 1660 Super Radeon RX 6600
Avg. FPS 63.89 47.11 95.72
Avg. Score 9950 9705 10920
TFLOPS 9 5 9
TDP (W) 130 125 132
$MSRP (at launch) 249 229 329
Pmark variables

Comparison of the three add-in boards using Pmark of FPS, FPS as well as TFLOPS.

RTX 3050 GTX 1660 Super Radeon RX 6600
Pmark FPS 197 220 164
Pmark Score .28 .21 .17
Pmark TFLOPS 27.8 20.5 17.5
Pmark comparison 

The new entry-level RTX 3050 performed extremely well when compared to the GTX 1660 Super and the Midrange Radeon RX 6600 outscoring the Turing AIB in every Pmark category while outperforming the RX 6600 in Pmark score and TFLOPS. The RTX 3050 also has the advantage of providing consumers with ray tracing features.

Frame rate performance Evil Genius 2

Frame rate performance Chernobyl Lite

The RTX 3050 provides great frame rates at 1440P even though the card is priced for the entry-level segment.

The RTX 3050 performed well in the Pmark due to its frame rate performance, low price point, and low wattage.

The RTX 3050 is the class of the low-end/entry-level AIB in performance, especially when it comes to ray tracing. The new Ampere AIB outperformed the Radeon RX 6600 in the 3Dmark DirectX Ray Tracing benchmark by 50% and the Neon Noir RT test by 48% despite the price difference and 8 less dedicated RT cores.

The RTX 3050 performed the best in the TFLOPS based Pmark calculation

AMD announced a new entry-level board at CES as well, the Radeon RX 6500 XT with an estimated price of $199. We look forward to testing these two new additions together in the near future.

What do we think?

Nvidia did not release the ray-tracing capable add-in board for the entry-level during the Turning generation, bringing these features to the wider audience is welcomed. Hopefully, more consumers can take advantage of ray tracing and see the benefits of having an RT-capable card when it comes to image quality.

However, the channel has already inflated the SRP to an average of $335, with a high of $480 and a low of $249 (Twin Eagle)

We had some issues with a late BIOS update for the RTX 3050 we are going to put the board through the paces again and focus on image scaling and other features of the card. We should have those new results available soon.

We are glad to see the low-end segment getting some attention from the board providers, Intel might be entering this end of the market very soon. The GTX 3050 is now available for $249 we hope the board can remain at that price point for a couple of weeks at least.

The Nvidia RTX3050 also got a design win with HP and is offered as an option in HP’s new G9 All-in-One desktop PC.