We don't blame you if you've never heard of the GeForce RTX 3060M. It's not an official graphics card Nvidia, and you won't find it in the list of best graphics cards.
The GeForce RTX 3060M materialized when Nvidia cracked down on cryptocurrency miners. The chipmaker had heavily enforced the Lite Hash Rate (LHR) Ethereum anti-mining limiter on its GeForce RTX 30-series (Ampere) graphics cards to combat miners. Chinese OEMs would repurpose Ampere silicon from laptops into desktop graphics cards as a workaround. Nvidia was hard on slipping LHR silicon into its desktop products, but the mobile counterparts didn't get the same treatment. Nvidia's blind eye lead to the eventual existence of the so-called GeForce RTX 3060M and GeForce RTX 3070M.
In terms of silicon, the GeForce RTX 3060M utilizes the same GA106 (Ampere) silicon as the GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile. Therefore, the 3,840 CUDA cores and 6GB of 14 Gbps GDDR6 remain intact. However, the GeForce RTX 3060M has a desktop cooling solution, allowing sport up to a 300 MHz higher clock speed than the GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile. It also has a lower TDP of 80W, compared to the GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 105W.
The GeForce RTX 3060M isn't far behind the desktop GeForce RTX 3060. According to Korean TechTuber 뻘짓연구소's 3DMark tests, the GeForce RTX 3060 was only faster than the GeForce RTX 3060M by 2% in Fire Strike and 4% in Time Spy, respectively. The two models have a small gap because the GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile has 256 more CUDA cores than its desktop counterpart (3,584 CUDA cores). However, synthetic benchmarks don't always tell the whole story, and the GeForce RTX 3060's more powerful memory system may give it a more significant lead in real-world gaming.
GeForce RTX 3060M Benchmarks
|Header Cell - Column 0
|GeForce RTX 3060M (80W)
|GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile (105W)
|GeForce RTX 3060
|3DMark Fire Strike
|3DMark Time Spy
|Forza Horizon 5
The YouTuber didn't share the graphics settings for his game testing. We could only see that he performed the benchmarks on a resolution of 1920x1080. While the GeForce RTX 3060M couldn't beat the GeForce RTX 3060, it was faster than the vanilla GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile (105W).
The GeForce RTX 3060M delivered 3% higher average frame rates in Forza Horizon 5 than the GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile. However, in PUBG: Battlegrounds, the former was up to 17% faster. As for Overwatch, the GeForce RTX 3060M led the GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile by a 14% performance margin.
Now that we're nearing Ethereum's merge, cryptocurrency miners have started to unload their graphics cards on the second-hand market. In addition, Chinese merchants are also getting rid of their inventory on popular e-commerce platforms, such as JD and Taobao. The GeForce RTX 3060M used to sell for between $545 to $570; now, it goes for as low as $280. The GeForce RTX 3060M may sound enticing, but its biggest problem is the lack of official driver support. The graphics card only works with a modified GeForce Game Ready 512.15 driver, so it's already a couple of versions behind. Buying one means you're stuck with the aforementioned driver and lose out on future performance, feature and security updates. It's not a good deal in the long run.
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Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.