I didn't have good luck with the MSI Afterburner frequency scanner this round — it kept failing after 10-15 minutes or so of testing. That put us back to manually overclocking, which in practice usually means similar results, just with a bit more fiddling. We start by looping the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark in a window at 1440p extreme, then bump up RAM clocks in 250 MHz increments until the GPU crashes or visual anomalies appear. Then we go back to the previous 'safe' level and repeat the same process for GPU clocks, except with 25 MHz increments.
We were nearly able to max out the GDDR6 overclock at 16.5-17Gbps, but the EDR feature (Error Detection and Retry) meant performance was actually slower than a lesser RAM OC. Eventually, we stuck with a 1000 MHz overclock on the RAM (the best-case maximum would be in the 1000-1250 MHz range, based on our testing), giving an effective data rate of 16Gbps. For the GPU, 150 MHz was nearly stable but crashed in two tests, so we dropped down to a 140 MHz overclock that completed the full test suite.
Besides changing the memory and GPU clocks, we also increased the power limit to the maximum 110 percent and adjusted the fan curve. That last one is critical for maintaining a stable overclock, as sticking with a default fan curve tends to lead to periodic crashes. Basically, we set the fan to a 50 percent minimum and gave it a steady ramp from 50 percent at 40C up to 100 percent at 80C. We could certainly do more tuning, but that was sufficient to keep temperatures in check and still wasn't overly loud.
Overclocked results are present in our standard benchmark charts, but not in the bonus extended tests or DirectX Raytracing (DXR) suites. We have several AIB 3060 Ti cards we'll be looking at in the future that have factory overclocks, so if you want something a bit more potent than the reference design, stay tuned.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti — Test Setup
As with the recent Radeon RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 review, we have multiple test suites we'll be running. The baseline suite consists of the same games we've been using throughout 2020: nine games, none of which were released this year, which means drivers should be good and optimized by now. We ran the stock and overclocked GPU through this suite.
Our second extended test suite includes the nine legacy games and then adds two ray tracing enabled games (Dirt 5 and Watch Dogs Legion) — that's a heavily AMD-biased game, with an Nvidia-influence game, just to keep things a bit equal. Worth noting is that the DXR support in Dirt 5 is currently in beta/preview, so take it with an extra scoop of salt. Two more games from 2020 (Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Horizon Zero Dawn) complete the suite, with both being AMD promoted games. It doesn't seem to matter much on HZD, but Valhalla very much favors AMD GPUs right now. This extended test suite is only run on the latest generation GPUs (RTX 30-series and RX 6000 series), but we also run it on a Core i9-10900K PC and a Ryzen 9 5900X PC to show CPU scaling. However, there are differences in motherboard and RAM, which appear to at least partially influence the final results.
If the extended suite seems a bit AMD slanted, we make up for that in the DXR suite. Here we've benchmarked 10 games and tests, most of which are Nvidia promoted. That's largely because prior to the RX 6800 launch last month, AMD didn't have any ray tracing capable GPUs, but there's certainly potential for the games to be more heavily optimized for Nvidia's RTX hardware. The DXR tests are run on our standard i9-9900K PC.
We've run all of the tests at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K ultra. We've also run the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti with DLSS enabled where possible (in Quality mode if it's an option) on the DXR suite, to show how that affects things. Spoiler: It helps performance a lot. Given this is a $400 graphics card, 1080p and 1440p are the primary targets, but 4K isn't out of the question, so we'll go through all three resolutions. If you want medium quality results, we'll be updating our best graphics card article shortly with the full standard suite of results at all six settings/resolution combinations.
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