Nvidia slashes memory capacity with new entry-level GPU — cut-down RTX 3050 has 6GB of memory, down from 8GB two years ago, but cheaper

Asus RTX 3050
(Image credit: Asus)

Nvidia has quietly launched its newest entry-level GPU, the GeForce RTX 3050 6GB (h/t TechPowerUp). This out-of-step release (we are still waiting for an RTX 4050 for desktops) cripples the original RTX 3050 8GB by reducing the VRAM quota and providing a narrower memory bus. Moreover, the new RTX 3050 6GB models are based on a smaller GPU, Nvidia’s GA107, with fewer CUDA than the original 8GB model. However, two positive things come from these cuts: a cheaper MSRP and a significantly lower TBP.

Before further discussion, let's compare the two desktop GeForce RTX 3050 graphics cards as straightforward as possible via a table. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the key specs of the new RTX 3050 6GB, which is starting to become available in retail, and the model we reviewed almost exactly two years ago.

Swipe to scroll horizontally

Nvidia

GeForce RTX 3050 6GB

GeForce RTX 3050 8GB*

Launch date

Feb 2024

Feb 2022

Silicon

GA107 with 2,048 cores

GA106 with 2,560 cores

GPU boost clock

1,470 MHz

1,777 MHz

Memory

6GB of 14 Gbps GDDR6

8GB of 14 Gbps GDDR6

Bandwidth

168 GB/s (96-bit bus)

224 GB/s (128-bit bus)

TBP

70W

130W

Price

$179?

About $240

*A GeForce RTX 3050 8GB OEM model was also released based on the smaller GA107 but was far closer in specs to the original GA106 model.

Looking at the big picture, the new desktop graphics card seems to be drastically cut down from the GeForce RTX 3050 8GB that launched two years ago. We question whether this 6GB card should be named an RTX 3040 6GB instead. It has cuts to so many performance-impacting specs like memory capacity, bandwidth, GPU cores, and GPU clock speeds that it's expected to have a distinctly different character. We will find out exactly how different it is when we get one of these new models for a detailed examination and extensive real-world testing.

In addition to the drawbacks, there are some positives to the new GeForce RTX 3050 6GB model. Probably most important for Nvidia’s product planning is that the new model is supposed to be about $60 cheaper than the GeForce RTX 3050 8GB models we spied on Amazon today. The efficient GA107 with lower clocks and cut-down memory subsystem means that these new RTX 3050 6GB cards can run at spec in under 75W, meaning they can be used in systems without a spare power connector.

(Image credit: Future)

While TPU doesn't mention any new RTX 3050 6GB models being sold by retailers, tracking down some Nvidia partner models online isn't difficult. Austria's e-Tec is selling MSI's GeForce Ventus 2X 6G OC model, Shopee in Taiwan has a listing for an Asus Dual GeForce RTX 3050 V2 OC 6GB model, and Mindfactory has an MSI GeForce RTX 3050 LP 6G OC (low profile), an MSI GeForce RTX 3050 Ventus 2X 6G OC, a Palit GeForce RTX 3050 KalmX 6GB (passive, and spotted previously) and a Palit GeForce RTX 3050 StormX 6GB listed. We should be getting low-profile, fanless, and other compact models of this GPU, thanks to its low TBP.

(Image credit: Harukaze5719 / Goofish)

That isn’t the end of the early listings, another interesting thing was spotted by Twitter / X’s Harukaze5719: a Chinese listing for an RTX 3050 6GB that shows a bare PCB, with no external power connector present (see image embedded above).

Still, what you really need to know about the RTX 3050 6GB is that performance is likely to be quite poor. Remember when the RTX 2060 was derided for not having enough memory back in 2019? Now, five years later, the RTX 3050 6GB has the same amount of memory but half the bandwidth thanks to its 96-bit interface, plus fewer cores and overall worse performance.

The RTX 3050 8GB was already generally slower than the 2060, incidentally, as you can see in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, so this will be even worse. If you're still thinking the 3050 6GB can't be all bad, we suggest looking around for an RTX 2060 — those were selling for $200 last year, before inventory dried up.

Mark Tyson
News Editor

Mark Tyson is a news editor at Tom's Hardware. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • mac_angel
    I hear about a lot of people trashing these GPUs, but I think they are a good idea. It has been a long time since NVidia released a decent media GPU. Something for running Plex or the like, just something to be able to encode/decode media streams.
    I upgraded my son's computer, which was running an RTX 3050, and took the RTX 3050 and stuck it in my Plex server. Before, it was running a low profile GTX 750ti. That was definitely a big upgrade.
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the key specs of the new RTX 3050 6GB, which is starting to become available in retail, and the model we reviewed almost exactly two years ago. GA107 with 2,048 cores

    Nvidia has quietly launched its newest entry-level GPU, the GeForce RTX 3050 6GB (h/t TechPowerUp).

    It appears that TechPowerUp and the Mindfactory.de webpage link has got the CUDA core count wrong (2048). Because, the exact and correct core count appears to be 2304 as evident from official links of some custom cards.

    You should make the necessary correction if this is indeed the case. TPU hasn't provided any links whatsoever though. Anyway., these are some links, and all of them come with 2304 CUDA cores.

    PALIT:

    https://www.palit.com/palit/vgapro.php?id=5147&lang=en&pn=NE63050018JE-1070H&tab=sp
    MSI:
    MSI RTX 3050 6 GB Gaming X - $179.99 USMSI RTX 3050 6 GB Ventus 2X - $169.99 USMSI RTX 3050 6 GB LP OC - $179.99 USEven Videocardz confirmed that the core count is indeed 2304, and not 2048.

    https://videocardz.com/newz/palit-reveals-fanless-geforce-rtx-3050-6gb-kalmx-gpu-with-dvi-port
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    BTW, Gigabyte has also updated their website with 2 new 6GB models. Again, the core count is 2304, which seems to be confirmed and accurate at this point.

    https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-N3050OC-6GL/sp#sp
    https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-N3050EAGLE-OC-6GD/sp#sp
    EDIT:

    One review. 20% slower. But much more power efficient ? 46% reduced power consumption seems to make up though.

    https://www.computerbase.de/2024-02/erster-test-gaming-benchmarks-zur-geforce-rtx-3050-6-gb-mit-70-watt/
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    As a refresher, the 3050 8GB pulls 85FPS at 1920x1080 vs the RX 6500XT's 65 fps. If the cut down version loses 20% performance (based on core count reduction) it'd still score higher than the 6500XT, which currently retails on Newegg for $150 (and even one XFX model for $200), and for $30 more you gain DLSS and other nVidia specific features as well as 2GB more VRAM.

    I don't particularly like what nVidia is doing, but AMD bringing a 4GB card to market in that price bracket is even worse.

    Reply
  • jlake3
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    As a refresher, the 3050 8GB pulls 85FPS at 1920x1080 vs the RX 6500XT's 65 fps. If the cut down version loses 20% performance (based on core count reduction) it'd still score higher than the 6500XT, which currently retails on Newegg for $150 (and even one XFX model for $200), and for $30 more you gain DLSS and other nVidia specific features as well as 2GB more VRAM.

    I don't particularly like what nVidia is doing, but AMD bringing a 4GB card to market in that price bracket is even worse.

    AMD did bring that card to market OVER TWO YEARS AGO DURING ONGOING SHORTAGES.

    Not that the 6500XT is a good card by any means, but if the cut down 3050 loses 20% performance that means it would average 68FPS, or a 5% FPS improvement over the 6500XT for 20% more money. Without DLSS this might be a worse FPS/$ than even the hated 6500XT, despite launching two years after it.

    And my local brick & mortar computer store seems to have dropped most SKUs of the 6500XT and has little inventory of the ones they still carry, like they might be letting it quietly go away. What they have more of are RX 6600s, which go as low as $190. That makes it 64% better than the estimated 3050 6gb for 5% more money, and you also get 2gb more VRAM.

    If you need low-profile, Gigabyte makes a 4060 SFF that is more powerful and a newer architecture, but that does need an 8-pin power cable. That leaves this as the best option that's entirely PCIe slot powered... but otherwise uncompetitive.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    And with the lack of competition means nVidia is free to rip people off all they want.
    Reply
  • thestryker
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    As a refresher, the 3050 8GB pulls 85FPS at 1920x1080 vs the RX 6500XT's 65 fps. If the cut down version loses 20% performance (based on core count reduction) it'd still score higher than the 6500XT, which currently retails on Newegg for $150 (and even one XFX model for $200), and for $30 more you gain DLSS and other nVidia specific features as well as 2GB more VRAM.
    I'd be surprised if it's that fast as you have to keep in mind it's also going from 130W TDP to 70W which will have a huge impact on boost capability.
    mac_angel said:
    I upgraded my son's computer, which was running an RTX 3050, and took the RTX 3050 and stuck it in my Plex server. Before, it was running a low profile GTX 750ti. That was definitely a big upgrade.
    Curious what hardware you're using for your Plex server. When I upgraded my old server from SNB to ADL I just opted for the onboard as I didn't want to waste the PCIe slot on a GPU nor have the added power consumption.
    mac_angel said:
    I hear about a lot of people trashing these GPUs, but I think they are a good idea.
    I think it'd be a good idea if the price actually made sense, but it really doesn't.
    mac_angel said:
    It has been a long time since NVidia released a decent media GPU. Something for running Plex or the like, just something to be able to encode/decode media streams.
    This is one place where Intel just stands above AMD and nvidia currently depending on availability as you can get a low profile A310 for ~$100 and it has better media support than any competition anywhere near it in price.
    Reply
  • MrN1ce9uy
    I wish Nvidia would stop finding new ways to provide the consumer market with sub-par GPUs.
    Reply
  • Metal Messiah.
    One review. 20% slower. But much more power efficient ? 46% reduced power consumption seems to make up though.

    https://www.computerbase.de/2024-02/erster-test-gaming-benchmarks-zur-geforce-rtx-3050-6-gb-mit-70-watt/
    Reply
  • Third-Eye
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    As a refresher, the 3050 8GB pulls 85FPS at 1920x1080 vs the RX 6500XT's 65 fps. If the cut down version loses 20% performance (based on core count reduction) it'd still score higher than the 6500XT, which currently retails on Newegg for $150 (and even one XFX model for $200), and for $30 more you gain DLSS and other nVidia specific features as well as 2GB more VRAM.

    I don't particularly like what nVidia is doing, but AMD bringing a 4GB card to market in that price bracket is even worse.

    I expect the 3050 6GB will be as fast as a GTX 1650 Super or maybe a bit faster.
    Reply