After a couple of months of rumors, Nvidia has fully confirmed the existence of the RTX 2060 12GB in the patch notes for its new Game Ready Driver 497.09 that launches today, with 497.09 being the first Nvidia driver to support the new graphics card. Will it be one of the best graphics cards? Probably not, but it's potentially a slightly cheaper alternative than the current RTX 3060 cards.
For now, all we have is an official confirmation of the card, with no word yet from Nvidia on the actual specifications. Obviously, it will feature double the memory of the original RTX 2060 that launched several years ago and remains as the lowest tier of the RTX series (unless you count the mobile RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti). We're hoping to get a card for testing, to see what the added memory (and potentially other changed specs) do for its standing in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy.
Despite its age, the move to make a new RTX 2060 with double the memory capacity of the original makes a lot of sense in today’s market. The TSMC 12nm process that the TU106 (possibly TU104) GPU in the RTX 2060 is relatively unused, making it a great untapped resource for Nvidia as the silicon shortage continues. At the same time, the RTX 2060 occupies a reasonable middle ground between the GTX 1660 Super and the RTX 3060. (Note that the above image is of the original RTX 2060 Founders Edition; we suspect Nvidia won't be making a new 12GB FE, however.)
In that sense, we believe the RTX 2060 12GB will be Nvidia’s newest entry-level graphics card for the mainstream gaming market. We might see RTX 3050 or RTX 3050 Ti cards in the future, but the mobile variants are hamstrung by a 128-bit memory interface with only 4GB VRAM. The performance of the RTX 2060 is perfectly adequate to serve as a mainstream gaming GPU, and doubling the memory should help it stay relevant for a while longer.
What we don’t know is the final specifications on CUDA core count and power draw. Recent rumors have indicated that the RTX 2060 12GB could actually be using the same die and CUDA core configuration as the 2060’s bigger brother, the RTX 2060 Super. However, the 192-bit bus width would remain the same, potentially making the RTX 2060 Super still faster than the 2060 12GB, despite having the same core counts. But these are highly speculative rumors, so take them with the usual spoonful of salt.
Even if the RTX 2060 12GB only receives a bump in memory capacity and no more, the performance benefits could be very good. We’ve already seen the current 6GB model struggle in games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and especially Battlefield 2042, where enabling any ray tracing features and increasing textures to their maximum settings will more than max out the 6GB frame buffer of the original 2060 and tank framerates as a result.
Interestingly, we've seen a modified RTX 2060 that was upgraded to 12GB from Russian modder VIK-on. In a recent video, YouTuber Pro Hi-Tech took VIK-on’s RTX 2060 12GB and ran it through a couple of gaming and productivity tests to see if the upgraded memory capacity made any difference. He found that in productivity tasks and in Watch Dogs: Legion, the performance of the RTX 2060 12GB was definitely better than that of the 6GB model, especially in the department of 0.1% and 1% lows.
Why Release a 2060 12GB Now?
Nvidia has yet to announce an official date or MSRP of the new 2060 GPU, but some are claiming the cards will show up as early as December 7. That seems a reasonable expectation, given the card's presence in the latest driver release notes. But there are other factors in Nvidia releasing a warmed over version of the RTX 2060 nearly three years after the original card launched.
Earlier this year, during the height of the cryptocurrency mining boom, Nvidia announced it's CMP cards, sporting a new "Cryptocurrency Mining Processor" brand. Except, these were just old Turing GPUs minus the video outputs, often sold at premium pricing. After selling $266 million worth of CMP cards in Q2, the sales from CMP dropped 60% in Q3 to $105 million. With decreased profitability, miners had apparently decided it was better to just keep using consumer GPUs.
That leaves Nvidia potentially with some excess Turing GPUs still, so in an ironic twist of fate, it's not gamers getting the mining leftovers. Double the memory as a token offering of improvements and we end up with the "new" RTX 2060.
We expect the graphics card to feature an official MSRP somewhere south of the RTX 3060's $329 asking price, but probably higher than the GTX 1660 Super's nominal $229 price point. Realistically, given GPU prices on those two GPUs on eBay currently sit at close to $700 and $525, respectively, we don't anticipate many RTX 2060 12GB cards will hit the market for less than $500. The times we live in...
Nvidia 497.09 GeForce Driver Details
Along with confirmation of the upcoming RTX 2060 12GB, the 497.09 drivers are Game Ready for Icarus, which comes with DLSS and ray tracing support in the form of RTXGI. Game Ready support for both Chorus and Halo Infinite has also been added to this driver release.
Six new G-Sync compatible monitors have also been added to Nvidia’s support list, including models from Dell, LG, MSI and Asus. Several major bug fixes have also been addressed including extreme gamma/contrast issues with YouTube and bugs relating to Nvidia’s new Image Scaler update.
For more details, check out the full patch notes here.