NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Gets A Mid-Life Kicker With A Full Fat GA107 GPU

hero geforce rtx 3050 ventus oc
Here's something most HotHardware readers probably know: the same GPU core is used for many different models of graphics card. Case in point: the GA102 processor is used for every GeForce RTX 3000-series model from the RTX 3080 on up the stack. However, what you may not know is that it can go the other way: sometimes a single GPU model can be made from multiple different processors, depending on what NVIDIA has available.

Apparently the GeForce RTX 3050 is joining the rank of those graphics cards created out of more than one GPU design. There are already two separate models of GeForce RTX 3050 card: one based on GA106 with 2560 shaders, and another, typically only found in OEM systems, that is also based on GA106 but with only 2304 shaders (two SMs disabled).

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Well, there's an MSI listing for a new "OCV1" model of GeForce RTX 3050 with once again 2560 shaders, but a lower power draw of 115W. That's down from the 130W of the original "OC" model. Thanks to the drop, it gets to step down to a six-pin power connector instead of an eight-pin plug. MSI hasn't confirmed anything, but the specifications of the card rather neatly match those of the fully-enabled GA107 die.

The previous desktop GeForce RTX 3050 cards were quite considerably cut-down from the larger GA106 die that is used, in fully-enabled form, on the mobile Geforce RTX 3060, with fully a third of its shaders and memory bus disabled. That's rather wasteful unless NVIDIA had a pile of GA106 dice that couldn't pass muster as RTX 3060s.

nvidia gpu specifications chart

Given that the GeForce RTX 3050's specifications were already a perfect match for the GA107 die, it may seem like NVIDIA planned this pairing all along. Of course, we're not likely to ever know the truth about that, but it's very likely that the insane state of the graphics card market over the last couple of years forced NVIDIA to change its plans on the fly, just as it did everyone else.

As for why the company is making this swap now, it's difficult to say. Perhaps the demand for laptops with GA107-based RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3050 GPUs has waned, or perhaps it's because demand for GeForce RTX 3060 cards has increased. Likely it's a combination of multiple factors, like the fact that a tremendous majority of Steam gamers are still using 20-, 16-, and 10-series GPUs. It's easy to think of the RTX 30 series as "last-generation", but it'll probably be a year or more before we see Ada Lovelace trickle down to the "x50" tier.

You needn't pore over the specifications for the two cards; they're identical aside from the lower power consumption spec on the new model. That could mean that the new GeForce RTX 3050s can hit higher clock rates, but that depends on whether any vendors bother to build a card with relatively robust power delivery. Certainly the big dual-fan cooler on these MSI cards is overkill for the little GA107 GPU.