NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Will Be The Cheapest Ampere Card Yet, What To Expect

hero rtx 3060
We're finally seeing some more chatter about the long-rumored desktop version of the GeForce RTX 3050. The last time we heard anything about this mini Ampere variant on the desktop was on New Year's Eve, when a document from Lenovo seemed to confirm the existence of the low-power GeForce. It seems like NVIDIA may have shelved the desktop version of the RTX 3050 in the face of the ongoing chip shortage, however, choosing to sacrifice that market segment on the desktop in favor of having power-sipping mobile GPUs to ship. (That could also explain the much-talked-about RTX 2060 12GB.)

However, it is now being reported that the RTX 3050 is in fact on its way, and it might be a little beefier than previously indicated. We covered a report from frequent GeForce leaker Kopite7kimi late last year who explicitly stated that the RTX 3050 would be based on GA107. He would be correct if we were talking about the mobile version of that GPU, which is indeed based on the very small GA107.

Unsurprisingly (considering the age of that leak), Videocardz' latest information from an unnamed source seems to contradict that info. Instead, that site is saying that the RTX 3050 desktop model will match the previously-rumored specs of the RTX 3050 Ti. If true, that means it would be based on the larger GA106 GPU. Still, they admit that it couldn't cross-confirm this story with any other sources, so take it with however many grains of salt that you wish.

The site goes on to say that the card could come with 8GB of memory, but we find that less likely if the RTX 3050 is to come with a GA106 GPU. In every other implementation of GA106, it has a 192-bit memory bus hooked up to 6 or 12 GB of memory. It's possible that it could be a cut-down version of the chip that only uses four of its six 32-bit memory channels (giving it a 128-bit bus), but even in that case, we'd expect to see 4 GB of memory, not 8 GB. With that said, the RTX 3060 launched with 12GB of memory, so it would be quite a jump down from 12 GB to 4 GB.

geforce rtx 3060 gen to gen
RTX 3050 will probably slot into the middle of this image from our RTX 3060 review.

Videocardz claims that its source promises the GeForce RTX 3050's performance to be in-between the GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER and the RTX 2060 12GB. Even if we assume the RTX 2060 12GB model gets a clock bump over its original release, that's still not a particularly-wide performance gap for it to slot into. So saying—and assuming the source is accurate—we can likely expect solid 1080p game performance, which is probably the intended purpose for such a card.

There's still no new word on when this mini Ampere card might find its way to market, but we'd expect it to roll up just in time to squab with AMD's Radeon RX 6500 XT. That would put it early next year, and possibly in competition with a theoretical Intel ARC low-end card, too. Early 2022 looks like exciting times for folks starving for GPUs.