Here we are, once again talking about unicorns of the modern age. Since the number of the available 30series cards is so very limited, we want to check if there is much of a difference between different brands or maybe you should just buy the first that you can get your hands on.
In this particular example we will be checking midrange tier so stick around as there are a few interesting things that we found along the way.
We have two RTX 3060 cards from two different manufacturers, one is Zotac Gaming RTX 3060 AMP White Edition and the other one - Asus ROG Strix RTX 3060 012G Gaming. They are going to be battling it out in a heads to heads comparison to see if paying a premium for a larger heatsink, factory overclocking or more fans actually makes that much of a difference. We also threw in Zotac Gaming RTX 3060 Ti Twin Edge and AMD Radeon RX 6700XT just to see how they will stack up.
As you can see here in the RTX 3060 lineup, ASUS card has a slightly higher boost clock due to the factory OC mode, but the rest is pretty much the same.
The tests were carried out on our Ryzen 9 testbench and we covered gaming and productivity workloads, as well as delved deeper into acoustics and temperatures.
Let’s first jump into gaming results, starting with CS:GO at 1080p and to our surprise - there is no difference between any of the NVIDIA cards as there seems to be a bottleneck elsewhere on the system. To be completely honest, it is rather disappointing to see the AMD card perform so poorly on the 1 percentiles, especially at this price point.
When bumping up the resolution, we find the AMD card holding its own at the top with RTX 3060 Ti, but the difference between the cards in question is a few frames which is too close to call a clear winner.
In 4K we see much of the same, with one exception - RX 6700 XT is performing really well here.
Next we have Doom Eternal - this is another title where you don’t need much graphical power to run, but nevertheless when we compare the two 3060s we find the Zotac card leading by about 1% while at 1080p and 4k, but let's be real here - 1% is not even worth talking about.
Total War Three Kingdoms is the opposite when it comes to GPU workload, this game immediately makes each one of these cards sweat, but alas - we still have a similar story. There is about 1 percent difference between the two.
Just for sanity check, we also ran the same test on Horizon Zero Dawn and yet again got the same result. This ultimately shows that at least in rasterized games - there is basically no difference in performance while running any of these these cards.
Then I checked Quake 2 RTX to see if there is any difference in this workload and long and behold we are back with 1 or 2 % difference.
At this point we were already starting to predict the results from the next tests expecting 1-2% difference and guess what - we get exactly that. In Blender we see 1 second difference in the shorter BMW test and 2 second difference in the longer Classroom test.
With all of this in mind, you would assume that there is no difference between the cards and we can close the case, but that is not the full truth. All this shows us that the cards have been optimised to hit a particular performance target. Having different types of cooling and overall changes in design does make a difference as well as factory overclocking.
To best illustrate this we ran Furmark at 4k resolution to push the cards to the max and while both 3060s seem to consume the same amount of power, the performance is actually different. You can clearly see that the ZOTAC card was able to maintain a higher clock speed through the whole test, about 50 to 70 MHz higher.
With higher frequency normally comes higher temperature and in this example ASUS card is about 5-7 degrees cooler than Zotac.
The last and probably the most obvious parameter outside of pure performance is noise levels. When a card is performing well, if it also sounds like an airplane taking off, this would not be a fair comparison. While running Furmark we measured the sound levels at 30cm distance from all of these cards and found that Zotac RTX 3060 Ti is the loudest of them all which makes sense as it is the smallest out of the bunch, followed by Zotac RTX 3060 and then ASUS RTX3060 and AMD RX 6700XT share the crown.
So what does all of this mean? At the end of the day - the main GPU chips used in these cards are give or take the same, providing you don’t win or lose in the silicone lottery. The only major factor in performance is cooling. With the beefier cooler and extra fan we find the ASUS card is running cooler, and is also a little bit quieter. Another advantage here is the ability to overclock the card further as there is clearly some headroom.
Given the choice - if you are a gamer who is looking for a great bang for the buck card, then go with the cheaper unit but expect it to be louder. On the other hand if you have the money and also want some more capacity for overclocking then choosing the best cooled card may be more suitable. Just ensure not to overpay as compared to a next tier card - in some scenarios it may be cheaper to go with RTX 3060 Ti rather than high end RTX 3060.
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CPU Ryzen 9 5950X
Motherboard ASUS TUF Gaming B550M Plus Wi-Fi
RAM Corsair VENGEANCE LPX 3000MHz C15 16GB x2
Cooler Fractal Design 240mm Celsius+
NVME drive Sabrent 1TB Rocket Q4
Power Supply Fractal Design ION 650W
Open Benchtable Streacom BC1