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In a Nutshell
The new ASUS ROG Strix RTX 3060 is able to deliver outstanding gaming performance, great looks, and impressive acoustics for a reasonable price. Of course, only if you are actually able to buy one.
Getting our hands on the latest NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards seems like an impossible task these days. One of these cards is the new GeForce RTX 3060, which NVIDIA officially released couple of days ago. The card went out of stock within seconds at most online retail stores, which means chances of getting this card are now next to zero due to incredibly high demand and cryptocurrency mining craze. Lucky for us, we’ve managed to obtain one model of the new RTX 3060 from Amazon.com, particularly the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 12 OC Edition. This AIB variant of the RTX 3060 can boast with factory pre-overclocked core clocks, as well as with impressive design and variety of additional features. Here is our review.
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 12 OC Edition Specifications
|Graphics Engine||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060|
|Interface||PCI Express 4.0|
|Video Memory||12 GB GDDR6|
|Core Clock||1.882 MHz|
|Memory Clock||1.875 MHz|
|Connectors||2 x HDMi 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a|
|Power Connectors||1 x 8-pin|
|Recommended PSU||750 W|
NVIDIA announced the GeForce RTX 3060 at CES 2021 as the weakest, but also the cheapest graphics card based on its Ampere architecture. The MSRP for this card was supposed to be only $329, however, many retailers decided to ignore this figure and go with their own prices. In the US, most custom GeForce RTX 3060 cards can be found retailing at $450-$550, while in Europe, these figures go up to €600-€700. This situation caused us some trouble while writing this review, as it became quite hard to put this new graphics card into a meaningful context, and recommend our readers whether should they buy it or not.
But before talking about whether this card is worth your money or not, let’s talk about its specs. Under the hood, the new GeForce RTX 3060 hides a GA106 graphics processing chip. We haven’t seen this chip so far, and it’s also worth mentioning that it differs from the one used in the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. Both RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti feature the same GA104 GPU, while RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 feature GA102 GPU. The GA106 is therefore a completely new graphics processing chip based on the Ampere architecture, and as such brings a completely different level of performance to the mid-range GPU market segment.
Compared to the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, the new RTX 3060 has around 25% fewer CUDA cores, while at the same time features a 111 MHz higher core clock (1.78 GHz vs. 1.67 GHz). The new card also comes with a narrower, 192-bit memory interface. Being a smaller GPU, the RTX 3060 also features a lower power consumption, which is now only 170 watts. Bizarrely enough, the new card comes with 12 GB of GDDR6 memory, while its more powerful siblings, such as the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and GeForce RTX 3070, have 8 GB of VRAM. According to some rumors, NVIDIA decided to go with this amount of memory very late in the development process in order to match the performance of the upcoming AMD Radeon RX 6700, which will also have 12 GB of VRAM. Despite the fact that having more VRAM is always good, it remains debatable whether having more of it makes sense if the GPU is not powerful enough to really use all of its capacity.
The Mighty STRIX
The ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 12 OC Edition we are reviewing today is one of ASUS’ three custom variants of cards based on the RTX 3060 chip. The other two belong to the TUF Gaming and Dual series. The Strix model is the most expensive one, but also the best-equipped. The Dual model is intended for users who want to achieve the best performance possible, for the least amount of money, while the TUF Gaming model is somewhere in between the Strix and Dual model.
The ROG Strix model we’ve tested came in a box with a minimal amount of additional accessories. Besides the card itself, the box only contained two VELCRO straps for cables, a simple installation manual, and an ASUS thank-you note for buying the card. There was no CD with NVIDIA GeForce display drivers, which we found to be a bit odd. It seems like ASUS is ditching the practice of shipping graphics cards with driver CDs, which is understandable given the fact nobody uses optical drives anymore.
One thing that we didn’t like about the new ROG Strix RTX 3060 is the fact that it came covered with a protective foil. Having the foil protecting the backplate is completely fine, however, peeling off the foil from the heatsink proved to be a tedious job, especially since it wasn’t made in one piece. Numerous metal elements were covered with a thin layer of foil, and in some places we had to unscrew the Torx screws to remove the foil. Overall, it took us about 10 minutes to remove all the foil from the card.
Speaking of its aesthetics, the card looks absolutely stunning. The heatsink shroud is made of black plastic and is decorated with elements made of brushed titanium gray aluminum. We also found metal decorative elements on the fan shaft, as well as on the card’s backplate. On top of the heatsink shroud the card features RGB elements, as well as on its side alongside with the ROG logo. Another illuminated element can be found on the card’s backplate. This element is in a shape of the ROG logo, and it appears to be laser-cut through the backplate itself. In addition to that we also found some white plastic elements which are great for achieving soft lightning effect when the RGB is powered on.
The aluminum backplate on the back of the card proved to feature quite a few laser cut holes whose purpose is to dissipate excessive heat from the card and improve overall airflow. The backplate also has one larger opening which ensures that one of the three 80mm fans can blow through the radiator. The heatsink is, of course, semi-passive, which means that the fans are idle until the GPU hits a temperature of 55 °C. The fans are arranged so that the center rotates to the opposite side from the side fans, which reportedly reduces turbulence.
On the top of the card we found a one 8-pin power connector, and a switch to select the BIOS. By default, the switch is in a position that selects the performance-oriented BIOS, while the second position activates the BIOS focused on lower noise. The variety of video connectors is better than on NVIDIA’s reference card, so instead of four connectors, the ROG Strix RTX 3060 comes with five, from which there are two HDMI 2.1 and three DisplayPort 1.4a connectors. It should be noted that only four connectors can be active at a time.
This time we made an additional effort – we disassembled the card. Upon further inspection, we found out that our ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 came with 12 GB of Samsung’s GDDR6 memory divided into six 2-gigabyte chips. The power module was located on the front of the card, which we found to be quite unusual. The card’s VRM is controlled by a uP9512R controller, to which eight 50-amp power stages are connected. The VRM features multifunctional SiC654A DrMOS made by Vishay Intertechnology company. The memory modules are powered by their own two separate phases with the same 50-amp elements which are covered with their own small passive heatsink. At the back of the card there are also two fan connectors which we couldn’t notice if we hadn’t disassembled the card.
Performance & Benchmarks
Since this is the most expensive RTX 3060 GPU made by ASUS, it is no surprise that it comes with factory increased GPU clock which is higher than the one on the NVIDIA’s reference model. The boost clock of this card is 1.88 GHz, instead of reference 1.78 GHz. The memory of the card runs at frequency of 1,875 MHz, which corresponds to 15 Gb/s chips, however, we know that the card actually has 16 Gb/s chips, which implies that it features excellent overclocking potential.
For purposes of this review, we’ve decided to overclock the GPU and compare its performance to its stock settings. Using the MSI Afterburner, we increased the GPU clock by 175 MHz, and memory clock by 275 MHz. Under full load, the card consumed a maximum of 170 watts. The average temperature of the chip was 57°C, while the maximum was 60°C. The fans ran very quietly with factory BIOS enabled (39 dBA), while they were completely inaudible with alternative BIOS enabled. The drop in performance with the secondary BIOS was negligible, so don’t be afraid to use it if you want to minimize the computer noise.
We decided to compare the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 12 GB OC to Gainward’s factory-overclocked RTX 3060 Ti, and Gigabyte’s GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER OC. We tested the cards at 1440p resolution, and our test PC featured AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, as well as 16GB of DDR4-3600 memory. These were the results:
|Benchmark Test @ 1440p||ASUS ROG Strix|
RTX 3060 12GB OC
RTX 3060 Ti Phoenix GS
RTX 2070 SUPER OC
|Borderlands 3 (Badass)||52||69||55|
|DIRT 5 (Ultra High)||39||48||45|
|Far Cry 5 (DX12 Ultra)||95||119||103|
|Ghost Recon: Breakpoint (Vulkan Ultimate)||72||93||66|
|Metro Exodus (DX12 Ultra)||52||70||59|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (Vulkan Max. Quality)||56||70||61|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DX12 Highest)||82||108||91|
|Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (DX12 Ultra High)||51||63||60|
As you can see, the new GeForce RTX 3060 is exactly 20% slower than the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. It is also weaker than the previous-generation RTX 2070 SUPER in most cases. Although we didn’t include the benchmark results for 1080p resolution, we will only say that the performance of RTX 3060 at Full HD is absolutely outstanding. At 1440p, however, the card struggles to maintain stable 60 FPS in most PC titles on ultra settings. By enabling DLSS technology, this problem can be easily avoided, which is great if you plan to play graphically intensive titles at QHD resolution.
Speaking of raytracing performance, well, it varies a lot from title to title, but it mostly depends on whether the game supports DLSS or not. To illustrate the card’s real-world raytracing performance, we’ve used the Cyberpunk 2077 which natively supports both raytracing and DLSS tech. We’ve only tested it at 1080p resolution, since at 1440p the card struggles a lot, and the game is practically unplayable with all raytracing and graphics settings enabled.
When it comes to mining, NVIDIA really did a great job making this card suck at hashing out Ethereum. The ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 can deliver a hashrate of only 25 MH/s, which is lower than the hashrate of the four-year old Radeon RX 580, and is far less than the 55-60 MH/s which GeForce RTX 3060 Ti can deliver. This way, despite its lower power consumption, the new RTX 3060 seems like a bad choice for building a cryptocurrency mining rig.
Given its performance, it’s no surprise that NVIDIA is trying to promote the new RTX 3060 as a great upgrade solution for owners of the ancient GTX 1060. When you compare their MSRPs of $329 and $399, respectively, it turns out that the new RTX 3060 offers 20% lower performance at an 18% lower price. When taking into consideration the recommended price, the RTX 3060 accordingly imposes itself as an equally good choice as the RTX 3060 Ti, only in the lower price range. The real challenge for this card will be the upcoming Radeon RX 6700 which will be launched in the next few weeks.
Speaking of the ASUS ROG Strix, its impressive cooler, RGB lighting and factory overclocked performance come at a price, so this is without a doubt one of the most expensive RTX 3060s out there. If you’re targeting a raw performance-to-price ratio, then the Strix isn’t for you. If you are at the other end of the spectrum and prefer premium quality, phenomenal looks and extremely low noise levels, the new ASUS card will not disappoint you.