If one thing is clear, is that it’s been an exciting year for fans of PC hardware. Both Nvidia and its rival AMD have put out next-generation graphics cards, pushing the boundaries for PC graphics and making PC gamers dig into their wallets again in order to get hold of the latest, greatest tech.
That is, assuming they’ve been able to find stock of Nvidia’s or AMD’s latest graphics cards. This is because the likes of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 have been very difficult to buy online, with minimal stock available at major retailers, something which has frustrated PC gamers trying to get hold of the card.
Actually, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang admitted Nvidia’s new high-end graphics cards such as the GeForce RTX 3080 would be in short supply for some time, blaming unprecedented demand for the hardware, amongst other things, for the shortage.
Lack of availability of its latest, greatest graphics hardware is perhaps not the only thing worrying Nvidia though. This is because AMD recently released its new line of graphics cards, the new Radeon RX 6000 series. And the likes of AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT pose a serious threat for Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080. AMD’s card can beat it in some benchmarks such as 3D Mark Fire Strike, but is still behind when it comes to ray tracing.
AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT also has the advantage of being a lower-priced card, coming in at $649 US dollars vs the RTX 3080 recommended retail price of $699 US dollars.
There’s something else, though, that might bug Nvidia, and that’s the fact that AMD’s high-end cards all ship with 16 GB of memory, while the GeForce RTX 3080 only comes with 10 GB. There’s also the GeForce RTX 3090, of course, which comes with a whopping 24 GB, but that card has a price tag of $1500 US dollars, meaning it’s for serious enthusiasts only.
But it’s clear the relatively low amount of onboard memory on the RTX 3080 could make it look bad when compared to the likes of the Radeon RX 6800 XT, and Nvidia is doing something about it – recent rumors and leaked information suggest that it is planning to release either a variant of the RTX 3080 with 20 GB of memory or a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti card, also boasting the same amount of memory, as was reported on Tom’s Hardware.
The GeForce RTX 3080 Ti will retail for $999.99 US dollars according to the leak, and will feature the same GDDR6X memory found on the RTX 3080 and its bigger brother the RTX 3090. Its memory bus will be 320 bit like that of the RTX 3080, and not 384 bit like the RTX 3090’s as per this rumor. With performance somewhere in between the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090, this card would definitely be competitive with AMD’s high-end Radeon RX 6900 XT, which will soon hit the market at a $1,000 US dollar price.
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti will seemingly be hitting the market soon too – in January 2021, if the leaks and rumors are proven correct.
But while the RTX 3080 Ti will make Nvidia more competitive with AMD at the high-end of the market, Jensen Huang’s company is also hitting hard in the mid-range segment of the graphics card market, and recently released its GeForce RTX 3060 Ti card.
This card seems to answer the prayers of those looking to play at 1080p or 1440p resolutions with ray tracing effects and without breaking the bank. The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti has a more wallet-friendly price than its more expensive sibling the RTX 3070, coming in at $400 US dollars, meaning it could be the ray tracing card for the masses.
And recent reviews such as TechRadar’s have pointed out this is indeed a very good mid-range graphics card, even if it can’t do 4K with ray tracing at 60 frames per second, something you’ll need a high-end card for.
This is a bit of a problem, though, as the RTX 3060 Ti costs almost as much as a PS5 or Xbox Series X. As game requirements become more demanding due to the launch of new consoles, those gaming with a RTX 3060 Ti will have to drop resolution to 1080p in order to play with ray tracing enabled sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Microsoft and Sony are targeting 4K resolution with some form of ray tracing enabled for their new consoles, with games even running at 60 frames per second in some cases (more often in the case of the Xbox Series X, due to its greater horsepower).
Those gaming on PC with a mid-range card such as the RTX 3060 Ti will be struggling to get their games running and looking as nice as on the PS5 or Xbox Series X most of the time. It seems that until PC mid-range cards can handle 4K with ray tracing comfortably, most gamers would be better off with one of the new-gen consoles, it seems.
However, with both Nvidia and AMD (which incidentally provides the graphics chips found within Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles) locked in a fierce war and looking to outdo each other, it won’t be long before PC mid-range cards surpass the new consoles. And AMD will soon reveal its new, budget-friendly Radeon RX 6700 and Radeon RX 6700 XT too according to recent leaks.
These cards will outdo the previous generation when it comes to power efficiency and speed. Plus they will also feature more memory than Nvidia’s GeForce 3060 Ti, meaning it might be worth waiting a while longer to see what AMD can come up with. It seems Lisa Su’s company is on a roll right now, giving both Intel (with its new Ryzen processors) and Nvidia a hard time. When it comes to graphics cards, it appears AMD could be going back to the glory days of the Radeon 9800 Pro, back when Radeon cards were made by ATI and gave Nvidia’s offerings a run for their money.
But regardless of what might be in store in the future, here’s hoping that those looking to buy a graphics card find what they are looking for, getting one that suits their needs so that they can enjoy some great PC gaming this year.
GeForce series 30 graphics cards (Nvidia Corporation)
Jensen Huang at Computex Taipei (link) [Creative Commons (link)]