Nvidia recently launched the RTX 3050, offering 1080p gaming, laser trace support and DLSS at a budget price. But, how does it compare to the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti?
The company unveiled the RTX 3050 at CES this year, touting it as the most affordable choice in its Ampere lineup with frame rates up to 80fps and more efficient ray tracing compared to the 20-series.
But, how does it compare to the GTX 1660 Ti, a graphics card from Trusted Reviews, computer and gaming editor Ryan Jones called the “budget king” in his review?
We’ve put the two graphics cards head-to-head to help you figure out which cheap graphics card is right for you.
Price and availability
The RTX 3050 is priced at £239 / $249 / €279 and will be available for purchase worldwide from January 27. We reviewed Gigabyte’s RTX 3050 Eagle 8GB version in our GPU review.
While that price might sound great, the number has already skyrocketed in some listings around the world, meaning you might find yourself having to pay a bit more if you want to get your hands on the GPU right away.
The Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti launched in early 2019, three years older than the 3050.
The 1660 Ti is priced very similarly at £259.99, but how much you spend depends on which third-party edition you’re using. We tested the PNY version, which was priced just £20 more than the RTX 3050.
Specifications and features
The Nvidia RTX 3050 is a graphics card based on Nvidia’s latest Ampère 30-series architecture with its 2nd Gen RT Cores and 3rd Gen Tensor Cores.
These additions make the 3050 more efficient than Nvidia’s previous generation of GPUs when it comes to DLSS and ray-tracing performance. In fact, the RTX 3050 is one of the cheapest graphics cards with ray-tracing support, which the GTX 1660 Ti lacks.
Ray tracing helps create more realistic environments and improves visuals in games that support it, making it a great advantage to go with the 3050.
Meanwhile, the 3050’s DLSS support means the graphics card will use AI to boost the frame rate, delivering smoother performance despite the 3050’s limited power.
The GTX 1660 Ti, on the other hand, is a 16-series GPU built on Nvidia’s Turing architecture, offering features like Turing shaders for increased performance and 1.4x power efficiency over previous generations for faster and quieter games.
However, there’s no ray-tracing or DLSS support here, with the focus largely on keeping the 1660 Ti cheap and efficient rather than compressing more features.
The GTX 1660 Ti comes with less memory at 6GB of GDDR6 compared to the 8GB of the 3050, and the 3050 pretty much takes the edge when it comes to clock speed. However, the 1660 Ti has a higher memory interface width at 192 bits than the 3050 at 128 bits.
The 1660 Ti also requires less power at 120W compared to the already impressive 130W of the 3050, although it also has fewer CUDA cores at 1536 compared to the 2560 of the 3050.
The Nvidia RTX 3050 and GTX 1660 Ti offer very similar 1080p performance.
As we noted in our test, without ray tracing or DLSS, the RTX 3050 isn’t much more powerful than the GTX 1660 Ti. This makes the latter a good choice if you don’t care about those features or if you don’t plan or play select games that support ray tracing.
For example, a 1080p playback of Borderlands 3 showed nearly identical performance from both graphics cards, with the 3050 scoring 53 fps and the 1660 Ti getting 51 fps. Meanwhile, Dirt Rally saw the 1660 Ti fare better at 100fps versus the 3050’s 85fps at 1080p.
We also ran 3DMark’s Time Spy Extreme synthetic benchmark to look at raw graphics card performance, and found the RTX 3050 scored 2991, while the 1660 Ti scored 3017, giving the 1660 Ti a slight edge.
If your biggest concern is performance and not features, these GPUs prove to be just as capable.
That said, it’s important to remember how important DLSS can be for improving performance. When playing Control at 4K with the RTX 3050, we were able to increase the frame rate from an unplayable 16fps to a smoother 30fps performance. Of course, DLSS only works with certain games, so you’ll want to check your favorite titles for compatibility before diving in.
Ultimately, the new Nvidia RTX 3050 delivers 1080p performance on par with the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti at an equally tempting price. The 3050 also takes advantage of additional features like ray tracing and DLSS, which can improve visuals and deliver smoother performance.
The addition of DLSS and ray tracing means we recommend the RTX 3050 over the GTX 1660 Ti, especially since they are very similarly priced.
However, the GPU you choose to buy could ultimately come down to availability, as many graphics cards continue to suffer from inflated prices due to shortages. It’s going to be difficult to find either GPU at their original RRP, which makes the decision even more complicated.