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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 vs. RTX 2060 SUPER: Should you upgrade?

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Top
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Top (Image credit: NVIDIA)

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 is the new RTX kid on the block. It's an entry-level peek into the world of ray tracing and currently the most affordable of the RTX 30 GPUs. While it offers some performance boost over the RTX 2060 SUPER, it's definitely not worthy of being an upgrade. The availability and pricing issues combined with the thin performance gap mean that you should just stick to your RTX 2060 SUPER. Let's take a deeper look at why.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 vs. RTX 2060 SUPER: Specs

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Tilt

Source: NVIDIA (Image credit: Source: NVIDIA)

Being from a newer generation, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 does have some improvements in comparison to the RTX 2060 SUPER. The RTX 2060 SUPER uses the same TU106 GPU as we saw in the RTX 2060, which was made with the 12nm TSMC process. In contrast, the RTX 3060 houses the Ampere GA106 GPU, which is made using Samsung's 8nm process. This gives it an edge with transistor count, with 13.25 billion transistors, against the RTX 2060 SUPER's 10.8 billion transistors. Let's look at the specifications of the two cards.

CategoryNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Shader (CUDA) Cores35842176
Core Clock1320MHz1470MHz
Boost Clock1780MHz1650MHz
Memory12GB GDDR6
192-bit bus width
8 GB GDDR6
256-bit bus width
Memory Clock15Gbps14Gbps
Memory Bandwidth360GB/s448GB/s
RT Cores2834
Tensor Cores112272
Transistors13.25 billion10.8 billion
NodeSamsung 8nmTSMC 12nm FFN
ArchitectureAmpereTuring
TDP170W175 W
Ports1 x HDMI 2.1
3 x DisplayPort 1.4a
1 x HDMI 2.0b
2 x DisplayPort 1.4
1 x DVI
1 x USB C
Power Connector1 x 8 pin1 x 8 pin

Note: Some specifications of the RTX 3060 and the RTX 2060 SUPER, like the ports, may vary as per AIB models.

Despite the transistor count difference, the RTX 2060 SUPER has a few advantages. First off, the RT core count on the RTX 2060 SUPER is higher than that on the RTX 3060. Additionally, the total memory bandwidth on the RTX 2060 SUPER is also higher. This means the RTX 3060 is not as more powerful than the RTX 2060 SUPER as it could have been. Let's look at the performance of the two cards.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 vs. RTX 2060 SUPER: Real-world performance

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060

Source: NVIDIA (Image credit: Source: NVIDIA)

The real-world performance comparisons of the two cards will vary depending on how the AIB variants are configured. The RTX 2060 SUPER is a beefed-up version of 2060, to begin with, but the overclock variants of the card will be able to shrink the performance gap even more, especially in comparison to the normal RTX 3060. Let's take a look at the performance comparison between the EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 12GB XC and GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB, courtesy of the YouTube channel Benchmark.

GameRTX 3060 (avg. FPS, 1440p)RTX 2060 SUPER (avg. FPS, 1440p)
Cyberpunk 20774339
Shadow of the Tomb Raider7669
Watch Dogs: Legion4946
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order9486
Red Dead Redemption 26659
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla5450
Horizon Zero Dawn6559

As the numbers show, the performance gap is very, very thin. The RTX 3060 is a decent purchase on its own, and it does manage to output some decent figures at 1440p, close to the 60 FPS mark. While it doesn't quite hit the 1440p 144 FPS figure, it's still a decent performer for the price, given you can find a decently-priced AIB card.

However, the RTX 2060 SUPER isn't too far behind. While the benchmark shows 1440p Ultra figures, the 1080p performance will show margins that are very similar. The RTX 3060 is only a small step up from the RTX 2060 SUPER, and it gives a single-digit FPS gain. There's very little intensive to sell your RTX 2060 SUPER and pick up an RTX 3060.

The RTX 2060 SUPER is still a solid 1080p GPU, and as far as ray tracing performance goes, it will take you nearly as far as the RTX 3060 does. The card isn't due for an upgrade yet, and an upgrade to the new base 60 series card is probably the smallest GPU upgrade you can get right now.

So should you upgrade to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 from RTX 2060 SUPER?

No. The RTX 3060 is a decent entry-level RTX card, no doubt, but it's the farthest thing from being a logical upgrade from the RTX 2060 SUPER. The RTX 3060 is also plagued by the same stock and pricing issues as any new piece of silicon right now, which means you'll have a tough time getting your hands on one anyway.

Even if you manage to find one in stock, the AIB model prices are expected to cost you way too much to justify such a small upgrade. The logical upgrade would be something like the RTX 3070, which is a great 1440p card that hits higher frame rates at that resolution, as we noted in our NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 review.

The RTX 2060 series cards are also in heavy demand right now, like all the best graphics cards. The card is a sweet spot for RTX GPUs, so much so that NVIDIA itself is bringing them back to fill out the gaps in its RTX lineup that have been widened due to the GPU shortage. If you're still pressed for an upgrade from the RTX 2060 SUPER, and can grab an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 GPU at a reasonable price, you can look at the higher tier cards in the RTX 30 series. If you're not planning a major upgrade, however, then it makes sense to keep that RTX 2060 SUPER, which is a solid graphics card to own right now.