The GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and GeForce RTX 3050 will almost certainly come to desktops and finish filling out the bottom end of our list of the best graphics cards, but the new GPUs are slated to be mobile solutions first. That can be good or bad news, depending on whether you're interested in buying a budget gaming laptop. Considering how difficult it is to find a reasonably priced desktop graphics card these days, we would have welcomed some new lower spec options. However, Nvidia likely sees more of a market for the RTX 3050 series in laptops, so that's where they'll start.
Nvidia says that the RTX 3050 GPUs will bring the entry price for RTX gaming laptops down to just $799. We don't have full specs on what sort of laptops you'll be able to buy — there are sure to be a variety of options — and we'll have to wait for our own performance testing, but the new GPUs cover a range of options.
Here's a quick rundown of the specs for the various RTX 30-series mobile parts, with the newcomers on the left.
|GPU||RTX 3050||RTX 3050 Ti||RTX 3060||RTX 3070||RTX 3080|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||1500||1485||1283-1703||1290-1620||1245-1710|
|GPU Power (W)||35-80||35-80||60-115||80-125||80-150+|
|GDDR6 Memory||4GB||4GB||6GB||8GB||8GB or 16GB|
|Tensor TFLOPS (FP16)||49||61||79-105||106-133||122-168|
There are plenty of questions regarding performance, and we're curious to see how RTX hardware stacks up. The power range will also be a key factor, as a 35W TGP solution will likely perform quite a bit worse than an 80W TGP laptop. It might not be half as fast, but that big of a power difference will likely drop performance at least 30%.
Obviously, the RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti aren't intended to be high-end solutions powering 4K displays, but even then, you'll need to pay attention to the settings used in some of the latest games so that you don't exceed the 4GB VRAM. Whether ray tracing effects are even viable or meaningful this far down the product stack is also something we look forward to testing.
The potential ace in the hole for Nvidia is that these new GPUs will also support DLSS. That can prove useful even without ray tracing effects, and upscaling from 720p to 1080p on these budget-friendly GPUs might be a great alternative — for the games that support DLSS, obviously. Nvidia provided the following performance preview:
Spoonfuls of salt as usual, and the "would not run" score of 0 on all the RT-enabled games is a bit misleading at best. It's true you need RT hardware to run those games with RT enabled, but you don't actually need to play with ray tracing. In fact, that's normally what we'd advise on any modest laptop. Still, the combination of RT cores and DLSS means gaming at more than 60 fps, and 1080p is within reach of the RTX 3050 Ti. Strangely, Nvidia didn't provide performance figures for the vanilla RTX 3050, though, which will presumably be about 20% slower. The idea is probably to run with low to medium settings but still enable ray tracing to get to 60 fps in that case, right?
Forgetting the RT aspect of the above comparisons, there's still a good jump in performance relative to the entry-level GTX 1650 Ti. With DLSS enabled, some games will even run about twice as fast. More pragmatically, for the large number of games that currently don't support DLSS, the RTX 3050 Ti still looks to provide about a 50–60 percent boost to frame rates.
There's more good news as well. You know how cryptocurrency mining has caused a massive shortage of basically everything listed in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy? The 4GB VRAM actually plays in favor of gamers since it effectively precludes Ethereum mining (which now requires more than 4GB). At the very least, it means laptops using the RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti won't be attractive to miners.
We're working on getting some review samples for testing, at which point we can provide a larger selection of benchmarks. On paper, RTX 3050 and RTX 3050 Ti will likely perform worse than the previous generation RTX 2060, but they should also cost less. Nvidia also looks ready to abandon non-RTX solutions going forward, or perhaps just continue to produce GTX 16-series parts for that market. Given the other benefits of RTX hardware (DLSS and Nvidia Broadcast are two excellent examples of why Tensor cores and AI are important), we can't complain about the end of the GTX era.
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Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.