- The RTX 3050 is a budget card that delivers 1080p performance and supports ray tracing and DLSS.
- The RTX 3050 is around 20% slower than the RTX 3060 and competes with the RX 6600.
- The RTX 3050 has 8GB of VRAM, which is sufficient for 1080p gaming.
- The RTX 3050 is compatible with PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 motherboards and is a good choice for smaller builds.
- The RTX 3050 has a power draw of around 140W and features an efficient dual-fan cooler for temperature control.
With the 4000-series hogging the spotlight recently, it’s easy to forget about the RTX 3050. After all, this GPU was never intended to be a high performer by any means. Instead, it is the underdog of the 3000-series, and the specs and price tag reflect that.
NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 graphics card came out and helped address stock issues related to the graphics card shortage in the Winter of 2022. At the time of writing, graphics card prices are currently a bit higher than their MSRP, but stock issues have largely ended (for now).
However, there is a fair amount of debate online asking the question: is the RTX 3050 worth buying in 2023? If you’ve been looking for an answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place! We’re going to dive into this GPU and reveal all of its secrets. Let’s get to it!
RTX 3050: Overview
Release Date and Price
NVIDIA launched the RTX 3050 on January 27th, 2022, and set it at an MSRP of $249. At the time of writing, the majority of RTX 3050s on the market sell within a range of $230 to $275.
While NVIDIA has produced an RTX 3050 Ti, it’s only for laptops. Third-party manufacturers, on the other hand, have gone all-out on making variations of the RTX 3050.
There are double-fan to triple-fan setups of the card and editions of the card that will light up your case in a rainbow glow. Plus, there are even a few single-card editions of the card that are designed for small form-factor builders.
There isn’t a significant difference, performance-wise, between different manufacturers of this card. Whether you select an RTX 3050 from Zotac, MSI, or Asus, you will get the same card—just with a different thermal design and dimensions.
The biggest feature of the RTX series, in general, has been the improvements made to ray tracing between the 2000 and 3000 series of graphics cards from NVIDIA. Ray tracing is a graphical technique that simulates real-world lighting conditions and reactions with 3D objects and surfaces.
In short, this translates to better sun rays in games, better reflections on and off the water, through windows, and other settings that produce a more immersive experience. While ray-tracing is possible with the RTX 3050, it does come at a big tradeoff in terms of resolution and overall visual fidelity.
This means that if you want to enable ray-tracing in games, especially in ray-tracing capable triple-A titles, you will need to play at 1080p and sometimes even 720p to get a smooth experience.
In addition to ray tracing, the RTX 3050 also features NVIDIA’s DLSS technology, or Deep Learning Super Sampling — NVIDIA’s tech solution that is designed to upscale resolution. While DLSS is impressive in graphics technology, it’s not a perfect system.
In this case, if you were playing a game at 720p for ray-tracing and used DLSS to upscale the image to 1080p, you will notice a high degree of strange visual artifacts and a blurry image due to how the pixels are stretched out in the upscaling process.
|Ray Tracing Cores||20|
|Base Clock Speed||1552 MHz|
|Boost Clock Speed||1777 MHz|
|Memory||8GB of GDDR6|
|Slots Required||Dual Slot|
|Display Outputs||1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a|
RTX 3050: Review
Securing a good deal on a graphics card feels harder and harder each year, and the RTX 3050 sits in an awkward spot as a budget card that delivers 1080p performance but also comes with some of the nicer bells and whistles of the RTX series of graphics cards such as support for both ray-tracing and DLSS.
We also can’t forget what year it is… are we still talking about a 1080p card in 2023? At an MSRP of $250, it’s not the worst value for a 1080p graphics card. But there are cheaper cards that also deliver a solid 1080p experience for (around) the same price.
- 2X the FP32 throughput and improved power efficiency
- 2nd Generation RT Cores: 2X the throughput of 1st gen RT Cores
- A whole new level of ray-tracing performance
- Axial-tech fan design, 2-slot design for cooling efficiency
- PCIe 4.0, 8GB GDDR6 Memory
- HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4a, 2-Slot
The RTX 3050 sits in between the RX 6600/RX 6650 and RTX 3060, with the RX 6600 usually going for $50 cheaper and the RTX 3060 going for $50 more.
In terms of raw performance, the RTX 3050 is essentially an RTX 3060 with slightly lower performance and only 8GB of VRAM, landing it at the top end of 1080p resolution gaming.
To illustrate this point, we’ve collected a sample of benchmark tests between the RTX 3050 and the RTX 3060 to show you where the RTX 3050 falls. These tests have been conducted in the same build and are using ‘Ultra’ settings in a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
RTX 3050 Gaming Benchmarks
|Game||RTX 3050||RTX 3060|
|Resident Evil 4||66 FPS||89 FPS|
|Elden Ring||50 FPS||67 FPS|
|Forza Horizon 5||48 FPS||62 FPS|
|God of War||47 FPS||62 FPS|
|Dying Light 2||51 FPS||69 FPS|
As these tests indicate, the degree of contrast between the RTX 3050 and the RTX 3060 is a difference of 10-20 FPS. But frame rates aren’t the only performance indicator between graphics cards.
While they give a solid idea of what to expect, the RTX 3060 will feature a higher degree of ray tracing performance thanks to having additional RT cores at 1080p and even at 1440p resolutions that the RTX 3050 cannot handle.
Breaking it down into percentages, the RTX 3050 is around 20% slower than the RTX 3060. The same goes for the cards that competed directly with RTX 3060, such as the RX 6600 from AMD, which also is around 20% faster than the RTX 3050.
The RTX 3050 comes with 8GB of VRAM. This is a step down from the RTX 3060, which comes in either 8GB or 12GB variations. Ultimately, though, 8GB of VRAM is more than sufficient for 1080p gaming.
Even on ultra settings, as our benchmark samples indicate, you can still play with a steady framerate in the range of 40 to 70 FPS with the RTX 3050.
There is undoubtedly a boost in visual fidelity when graphics cards have 12GB or more of VRAM, but for 1080p resolution, there isn’t too much of a difference between 8GB and 12GB of VRAM.
When it comes to motherboard compatibility, the RTX 3050 is designed to work on both PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 motherboards. Moreover, thanks to its smaller form factor and lower power draw, and the existence of single-slot variations of the RTX 3050, it is an excellent choice for those with limited space on their motherboard.
The RTX 3050 is a relatively “compact” GPU, measuring at 9.5-inches in length and 4.5 inches in width. This size allows it to fit easily into most PC cases, even those that are more restrictive space-wise.
However, as with any graphics card purchase, we strongly recommend you double-check the clearance of your PC case before making a purchase. Since different makers (Asus, MSI, etc) alter the physical design of the card, some may be smaller or larger than others.
Unlike the power-hungry cards at the top end of the RTX 3000 series, the RTX 3050 takes a more efficient approach when it comes to power requirements. The RTX 3050 features great power efficiency, largely thanks to NVIDIA’s refined architecture this late in the 3000 generation and newer manufacturing methods.
With a total power draw of around 140W, the RTX 3050 is an energy-efficient option that’s ideal for anyone who wants to upgrade their GPUs without having to drop cash on a higher-capacity power supply.
We recommend using a power supply with a minimum wattage rating of 450W for the RTX 3050. This ensures that the graphics card is receiving sufficient power to operate at its highest potential without putting too much pressure on your power supply.
Even when pairing the RTX 3050 with a powerful processor, you shouldn’t need a power supply that’s over 600W.
In order to tackle the thermal challenge, the RTX 3050 features an efficient dual-fan cooler that’s designed to keep temperatures in check while maintaining a quiet operation. The cooling solution in the base version of the card manufactured by NVIDIA is optimized to strike a balance between noise and performance.
When the card is idling or running under a low load, the fans will automatically turn off, ensuring a quiet experience when the card is not in use. The temperature performance of the RTX 3050 is well-controlled in gaming scenarios.
We’ve seen users report that the GPU stays within a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees Celsius, which is pretty cool when you compare it to comparable graphics cards like the RX 6600, which runs at an average of 75 degrees Celsius.
NVIDIA RTX 3050: Pros and Cons
- Runs great at 1080p resolution
- HDR support, ray tracing support, and DLSS support
- 1440p resolution cards are typically only $50 more expensive
- Slower than previous-generation Nvidia and AMD GPUs
RTX 3050: Is It a Buy?
Buy it if…
You plan to play games exclusively at 1080p resolution. The RTX 3050 is not bad, especially for gamers looking for a reliable and power-efficient graphics card for Full-HD gaming.
However, it’s always worth looking into some older GPUs that are similar to the RTX 3050. One example that fits the bill is the GTX 1660 Super, which you can often find for a comparable price.
You’re building an HTPC or small-form-factor build. It might not be the smallest GPU in the world, but it is compact by modern GPU standards. Since it sips energy compared to higher-end NVIDIA models, it is a wise choice for smaller builds.
Ray tracing isn’t a big deal to you. While the RTX 3050 is capable of ray tracing, it doesn’t come with that many ray tracing cores. In other words, if you’re playing less demanding games on an older monitor, then you probably won’t care much about ray tracing. In that case, this card is perfect.
Don’t Buy it if…
You have a 1440p or 4K gaming monitor. This card is not powerful enough to support a 4K resolution and will struggle at 1440p. So, if you have a high-end 4K monitor, it will go to waste on this GPU.
If you’re looking for the best possible value or price to performance, this card might disappoint. If you’re able to find an RTX 3060 on sale for cheaper than the 3050 or even an RX 6650 XT, depending on your needs (1080p vs. 1440p), it might be worth going with those cards instead of the 3050.
You already have an RTX 2060 from the last generation. The RTX 2060 is about 20% faster than the 3050 and offers an overall better experience when it comes to visual fidelity.
|RTX 3050 Aspects||Details|
|Release Date and Price||Launched on January 27th, 2022, with an MSRP of $249. Current market price ranges from $230 to $275.|
|Different Models||Various models by third-party manufacturers like Zotac, MSI, and Asus. Includes double-fan to triple-fan setups and single-card editions for small form-factor builders.|
|Features||Supports ray tracing and DLSS technology. However, enabling ray-tracing may require playing at lower resolutions for a smooth experience.|
|Specifications||Graphics Architecture: Ampere, CUDA Cores: 2,560, Tensor Cores: 80, Ray Tracing Cores: 20, Power Draw: 130W, Base Clock Speed: 1552 MHz, Boost Clock Speed: 1777 MHz, Memory: 8GB of GDDR6, Slots Required: Dual Slot, Display Outputs: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a|
|Review||Delivers 1080p performance with support for ray-tracing and DLSS. However, there are cheaper cards that also deliver a solid 1080p experience.|
|Memory||Comes with 8GB of VRAM, sufficient for 1080p gaming.|
|Compatibility||Works on both PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 motherboards. Suitable for those with limited space on their motherboard due to its smaller form factor and lower power draw.|
|Power||Energy-efficient with a total power draw of around 140W. Recommended power supply with a minimum wattage rating of 450W.|
|Cooling||Features an efficient dual-fan cooler designed to maintain temperatures and quiet operation.|
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Gabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock.com.