Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Nvidia graphics card lineup just got an entire lot more confusing at CES 2021

Nvidia's graphics card lineup just got an entire lot more confusing at CES 2021

Nvidia's graphics card lineup just got an entire lot more confusing at CES 2021

Don't worry, we will help

At CES 2021, Nvidia launched a good range of graphics cards, both for laptops and even a replacement Ampere desktop graphics card: the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060. one among the large things I noticed, however, is that a few of the SKUs now have an inflated VRAM spec, and it quite makes the whole Nvidia RTX 3000 lineup a touch confusing. 

At the top-end of the new mobile stack you've got the RTX 3080 with 16GB, but the RTX 3080 for desktop has 10GB. Similarly, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 has 12GB of VRAM, while the RTX 3060 Ti – a graphics card that ought to be more powerful and is 20% costlier – has less VRAM at 8GB. 

This ultimately comes right down to the restrictions of the 192-bit memory bus that the RTX 3060 is meant around, instead of the 256-bit bus of the RTX 3060 Ti. But it does make this graphics card a touch confusing to the typical consumer.

Let's talk memory

When Nvidia announced the RTX 3060, it highlighted the 12GB of video memory and therefore the 13 shader TFLOPs, but overlooked most of the core specs. Well, luckily, Nvidia has now posted those on its website. 

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 has 3,584 CUDA cores, with a lift clock of 1.78GHz. For comparison's sake, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti has 4,864 CUDA cores, with a lift clock of 1.67GHz. 

However, the foremost eye-catching difference here comes right down to memory. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 is made around a 192-bit bus, down from the 256-bit bus on the RTX 3060 Ti. meaning Nvidia basically had to settle on between 6GB and 12GB of VRAM on the RTX 3060. which comes right down to how VRAM works. 

Each chip of GDDR6 memory features a total data path of 32 bits, which suggests that a GPU with a 192-bit bus has got to use six GDDR6 chips. These chips are available either in 1GB or 2GB variations, which is why the limitation of 6GB or 12GB exists in the first place. 

This also helps explain why the mobile version of the RTX 3080 has 16GB of VRAM, while the desktop version remains limited to 10GB. Nvidia hasn't released the complete specs of the RTX 3080, but we reached bent Nvidia for clarification. We were told:

"The RTX 3080 laptop GPU is that the flagship model within the laptop lineup. As a flagship, we make it as feature-rich as possible, including the supply of 16GB for those that want the very best possible specs a laptop could support"

Nvidia also clarified that the RTX 3080 on mobile does have a 256-bit memory bus, which suggests by an equivalent logic that it might be limited to either 8GB of VRAM or 16GB. 

To Nvidia's credit, it's like when it visited design both of those GPUs, it opted to use the restrictions of the memory interface to a minimum of attempt to give more value to consumers, instead of limiting the mobile RTX 3080 to 8GB or the RTX 3060 to 6GB, albeit doing that might avoid some confusion. 

Nvidia CES 2021

While Nvidia's decisions about these upcoming GPUs make tons of sense, we will not help but believe someone that's on the marketplace for a graphics card who won't be versed within the world of computing hardware. You see two graphics cards on the shelf, one is that the RTX 3060 Ti and therefore the other is that the RTX 3060. The names on the cards are so similar – the RTX 3060 has more memory and it's cheaper, so it isn't hard to imagine that somebody will pick it up thinking they're getting the higher value. 

But because Nvidia seems to be targeting an equivalent general audience because the GTX 1060 – namely, 1080p gamers – it is vital to notice that a graphics card with 12GB of VRAM probably won't make plenty of difference over an 8GB card at that resolution. There's something to be said about future-proofing a card, and that we get that, but 8GB of VRAM is probably going getting to be quite enough for 1080p gaming for years to return.

Because the RTX 3060 Ti has 35% more CUDA cores than the RTX 3060, alongside that wider memory bus, it's likely getting to be significantly faster in most games. However, please confine in mind that we've not tested the RTX 3060 yet, so we do not really know what the performance will appear as if within the world.

However, it's getting to be fun to ascertain exactly where this card stacks up within the marketplace, and what the simplest graphics card will ultimately be for people trying to find strong 1080p performance. One thing is obvious, though: aftermarket graphics card manufacturers are getting to need to find how to form the differences between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 more clear to consumers.