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Graphics CardsReview

Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 3060 Elite 12G Review

8 Mins read
8.5

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Microsoft
Newegg

In a Nutshell

The Gigabyte AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G is an excellent mid-range graphics card that features efficient cooling solution and great acoustics, and is able to provide enjoyable gaming experience alongside support for ray tracing and NVIDIA DLSS.

GIGABYTE AORUS GeForce RTX 3060 Elite 12G (REV2.0) Graphics Card, 3X WINDFORCE Fans, 12GB 192-bit GDDR6, GV-N3060AORUS E-12GD Video Card

$500.00  in stock
2 used from $279.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of April 19, 2024 11:26 am

With the great cryptocurrency mining craze winding down, and GPUs prices slowly recovering, we’ve managed to grab ourselves one sample of the new Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 3060 Elite 12G graphics card, and fully examine it in our lab. Being a proper RTX 3060 card, the AORUS Elite 12G lacks the “Ti” suffix in its name, which means this card is considerably weaker compared to the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. With that being said, it’s worth pointing out that this card is primarily intended for gaming on ultra high settings at 1080p resolution (including RT and DLSS), and medium to high settings at 1440p resolution. Its main competitors from Team Red are AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, and Radeon VII, which means this card belong to the high-end segment.

Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 3060 Elite 12G Specifications

GPU NameNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (GA106)
InterfacePCI Express 4.0 x16
Video Memory12 GB GDDR6
Core Clock1.867 MHz
Memory Clock1.875 MHz
Connectors2 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x DisplayPort 1.4a
Power Connectors1 x 8-pin + 1 x 6-pin
Recommended PSU650 W

The AORUS GeForce RTX 3060 Elite 12G features 12GB of fast GDDR6 VRAM which is separated into six individual 2GB chips that are soldered onto its PCB. All of its memory chips are produced by Samsung, and are designed to operate at nominal frequency of 16.000 MHz (effectively). Speaking of quality of its PCB components, the RTX 3060 Elite 12G is one of the best cards in its class (which is already indicated by the AORUS brand), and compared to other models (such as the Palit RTX 3060 StormX), this card has an incredibly powerful VRM design consisting of 8 power phases for the GPU core, and 2 power phases for memory modules.

The AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G can also boast with the fact that it features the well-known Holtek controller that is responsible for handling its RGB backlighting, as well as a power converter with Alpha & Omega’s DrMOS transistors, which can deliver up to 50 A of current to the GPU’s core. The card also features a dual BIOS, so it comes with a switch which is located on its top end. Both BIOS versions are nearly identical, except the fact that the OC variant features slightly different fan curve and higher TDP compared to the Silent variant.

Compared to the NVIDIA’s reference model, the AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G features 5% higher core clock speed, while its power consumption is much lower than the Palit’s model (156 W vs. 180 W). In practice, the AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G is around 3,5 to 4,0% faster than the reference model in gaming, which means it will secure you a few extra FPS right out of the box if you decide to go for it. In Silent BIOS mode, the card consumes around 149 W, which is only 6-7 watts less than in the OC mode, so if you plan to save electricity, don’t even bother with running the card with Silent BIOS mode enabled.

Speaking of overclocking, the card’s power limit can be raised up to 15%. This also allows you to increase its core clock and memory speed, which can easily be pushed up to 2150/16500 MHz. At 4K resolution this can grant you a 10% performance boost, which is quite impressive, however, the power consumption will grow significantly (up to 170 W).

The AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G features two power connectors – one 8-pin, and one 6-pin. At its rear panel you’ll also find two HDMI 2.1 ports, as well as two DisplayPort 1.4a ports.

Cooling Performance & Noise

Starting with the GeForce RTX 30 series, NVIDIA began using a more compact PCB layout, and a new cooling system for its reference cards, which features a “flow through” design. Looking at the AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G, Gigabyte clearly took advantage of this solution, although the card’s PCB still turned out to be much longer than the Founders Edition card.

The AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G features a nickel-plated heatsink with heat pipes that are in direct contact with the GPU core. The memory chips on this card are covered with their own thermal pad which is attached to the heatsink itself, and the VRM power converters are also cooled in the same fashion. The card also features a protective backplate which enhances its rigidity and prevents it from bending while hanging from the PCIe bracket.

Above its radiator, the AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G features three 80 mm fans with specially designed blades that have grooves in the middle of the impellers to enhance the direction of the air flow. To minimize air turbulence between the fans, the middle fan rotates in the opposite direction, and all three fans are able to simulate some kind of “gear effect”. If the GPU core temperatures drop below 50°C, the fans will automatically stop spinning, which reduces the overall acoustics of the graphics card when operating in the idle state. On boot up, the fans will start spinning for a couple of seconds until the video driver loads, so don’t be surprised if you see the fans spinning.

With OC BIOS enabled, the maximum core temperature after 2-hour run under full load didn’t exceed 58°C, which is absolutely outstanding result for this type of graphics card. With Silent BIOS, the GPU core temperature reached 62°C, which overall is still quite impressive, and not very different when compared to performance with OC BIOS enabled.

We tested the noise of the graphics card in a noise-insulated room, with all reverberations reduced as much as possible. The background noise level of our room was 19 dBA. Noise was measured from a distance of 0.5 meters from the video card, and in the level of the cooling system.

In the idle mode with loaded Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Excel, the GPU core temperature was 39°C, so the fans weren’t spinning at all, and the overall noise level was equal to the background noise, which was 19 dBA. When watching a 1080p movie with hardware encoding enabled, nothing changed.

Under full 3D graphics load, the core temperature reached 58°C. At the same time, the fans spun up to 1950 RPM, and the noise grew up to 33 dBA. This was clearly audible, however, it wasn’t loud. With Silent BIOS, the GPU reached 62°C under full load, and the noise grew only up to 25 dBA, which was extremely quiet. Overall, the cooling performance and noise levels of this graphics card were excellent, but we recommend using a case with good airflow if you’ll be running this GPU with the Silent BIOS all of the time.

Extra features

The AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G comes with backlighting which is installed on its top side where you can also find an illuminated AORUS logo. Along the rims of each fan you’ll also find some backlighting elements, which look very attractive once the fans start spinning.

The RGB lighting can be adjusted via Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion software which is relatively simple and easy to use. The number of lighting scenarios isn’t so great, but some of them are very nice and additionally customizable.

One thing worth pointing out is that AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G doesn’t come with any traditional user manual inside its packaging, which is a bit disappointing. Of course, you can download the full manual from the manufacturer’s site, but lack of any kind of official documentation seems a bit unprofessional. Inside the packaging, you also get a card for 4-year warranty, as well as a branded sticker.

Performance & Benchmarks

Since GeForce RTX 3060 isn’t designed to be used as a 4K gaming graphics card, we’ve decide to test it only at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. We’ve also decided to compare it with other cards from the same performance tier, such as the GeForce RTX 2080, Radeon RX 6700 XT, and Radeon RX 5700 XT. Our testing rig featured the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, as well as 16GB of DDR4 RAM running at speed of 3.600 MHz, and two 1GB NVMe SSD drives. These were the results.

As you can see, the AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G is about 3-5% faster on average than the reference RTX 3060, which is quite good for a factory pre-overclocked graphics card. In reality, this translates to 2-5 extra frames per second, which is fairly good, especially if you are going to play graphically intensive titles such as the Cyberpunk 2077, or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Despite its last-gen microarchitecture, the Turing-based RTX 2080 is still faster than the RTX 3060 in most games, which shows just how this graphics card was powerful way back in 2018. The RTX 3060 easily beats the Radeon RX 5700 XT, however, in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla the first-gen Navi GPU performs much better. The Radeon RX 6700 XT, however, blows the RTX 3060 out of the water, and as such is clearly in the league with a more powerful RTX 3060 Ti.

At 1440p we see similar performance results. In pre-2020 titles the new GeForce RTX 3060 can easily deliver more than 60 FPS on average at QHD resolution on ultra settings, however, in newer titles this isn’t the case. If you are striving to achieve enjoyable 60 FPS gaming experience at 1440p in games such as Cyberpunk 2077, or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, you will want to tone down graphics settings a little bit.

For purposes of this review, we’ve also tested the ray tracing performance of the AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G. To examine the card’s ray tracing performance, we’ve used the Cyberpunk 2077, because this game natively supports both ray tracing and DLSS technology. These were the results.

As you can see, the RTX 3060 can deliver fairly good RT performance, however, only at 1080p, and with DLSS enabled. Given the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 still has a lot of performance issues, the card’s ray tracing performance may be much better in other titles which we haven’t tested. In competitive titles, such as the Battlefield V, the RTX 3060 can surely deliver good ray tracing performance, but keep in mind that these titles still don’t have proper ray tracing support.

Generally, the GeForce RTX 3060 is a significantly inferior graphics card in terms of performance compared to the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. As such, this card can be considered as a direct rival to the GeForce RTX 2070, as well as the Radeon RX 5700 XT. The AORUS Elite 12G was able to deliver slightly better performance compared to the reference model thanks to its elevated core clocks, however, the difference is much more palpable if you overclock the card manually. Unfortunately, even after being pushed to its limits, this card wasn’t able to reach GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER performance levels.

Conclusion

In terms of build quality and cooling, the Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 3060 Elite 12G is an excellent mid-range graphics card designed for gaming at 1080p resolution on ultra high settings. This card can also boast with fantastic cooler, which in silent mode works completely fine, and is able to provide adequate cooling performance. Despite being quite chunky (it features a triple-slot design), this card has the usual length, and it comes with two HDMI 2.1 port, which is a nice addition.

Given its specifications, it is clear that this card is powerful enough of delivering stable 60 FPS in some games at QHD resolution. This is particularly evident form the fact that it features 12GB of GDDR6 VRAM, which helps it fully utilize the power of DLSS to deliver stable frame rate at virtually no expense on image quality.

Performance-wise, this card is a direct competitor to the Radeon RX 5700 XT, GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER, and GeForce RTX 2070. The card’s ray tracing performance is also quite satisfactory, but it delivers favorable results only in a combination with DLSS enabled. Featuring two HDMI 2.1 ports, this card also allows you to output 4K image at 120 Hz on two separate screens, or an 8K image using a single cable. Overall, this is a very fine graphics card, which is well worth the purchase, but only if you happen to find it at the MSRP price.

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Microsoft
Newegg

Gigabyte AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G

8.5
The Gigabyte AORUS RTX 3060 Elite 12G is an excellent mid-range graphics card that features efficient cooling solution and great acoustics, and is able to provide enjoyable gaming experience alongside support for ray tracing and NVIDIA DLSS.
9.0

Performance

10.0

Build Quality

8.0

Power Consumption

7.0

Price and Availability

Pros

  • +Very good performance at 1080p and 1440p
  • +12GB of GDDR6 VRAM
  • +Excellent build quality
  • +Outstanding acoustics
  • +Efficient cooling solution

Cons

  • -Triple-slot design
  • -Much weaker than the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
  • -Comes with crypto mining limiter
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About author
Frank is the Editor-in-Chief at ViCadia. He is an avid PC gamer, as well as a tech enthusiast. Besides being a tireless writer, he is also ViCadia’s web developer.
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