Review: Is the RTX 3060 still worth it a year later? We say absolutely yes

The RTX 3060 was released just over a year ago as the company’s then most budget-friendly GPU on the market. This card was touted as a replacement for the incumbent GTX 1060 and 1660, both of which are powerhouse GPUs that dominate the Steam user analytics page year after year. So, after being out for a year, does the RTX 3060 live up to the hype? Head below for our hands-on review with NVIDIA’s best “bang for the buck” graphics card from PNY, alongside other PC upgrades to make your desktop a solid gaming system, and see if the RTX 3060 is still worth it a year later.

Does the RTX 3060 live up to the hype a year later?

While the RTX 3060 “launched” at $329, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one offered for that price. However, it’s fairly often that we see fully-built desktops for around the $1,000 to $1,200 range or so, which is right on part with what we expect those systems to go for.

But that’s not what you’re here for. How does the RTX 3060 perform in day-to-day use, gaming, and other tasks? Pretty darn well, actually. My gaming rig underwent several GPU replacements over the past 12 months. I started out the year with a Vega 64, switched to an old GTX 970 to get NVENC, then went to a GTX 1080, and now I have the PNY XLR8 single fan RTX 3060. Yes, I went from the GTX 1080 to the RTX 3060, and I’m not looking back. Not only does the RTX 3060 use less power in my system, take up less room, and produce less heat, but it also offers more performance and features than NVIDIA’s previous-generation flagship… and all as an entry-level model.

Gaming performance is actually quite fantastic

We’ll start by talking about how the RTX 3060 handles gaming. I have a single-fan edition of the card, but I’ve never felt like thermals were holding me back from realizing its true performance. Honestly, while I was excited to install the RTX 3060 in my system, I was slightly hesitant as I wasn’t sure it would be an upgrade from my GTX 1080. The 1080 was the king of cards when it was released, and I know many who have held onto it waiting to pick up the RTX 3080. I used the RTX 3080, and it was an absolute beast of a card, so in my mind, the RTX 3060 likely wouldn’t hold a candle to it. Boy, was I wrong.

The RTX 3080 played Forza Horizon 4 at 1440p Ultra pushing 185FPS, which is pretty insane. The RTX 3060? Well, I’ve not done a direct comparison, but at 1440p UltraWide (more pixels) on Ultra settings it pushes over 60FPS in Horizon 5. Through multiple runs, I normally hit between 64FPS and 72FPS at 1440p UltraWide on Ultra settings. While that’s not 185FPS, that’s very respectable considering Horizon 5 is a newer game and it’s a higher resolution technically. Plus, Horizon 5 doesn’t need 185FPS to be enjoyed, and as long as you can push a solid 60FPS on Ultra graphics, the game is extremely smooth and beautiful.

For other gaming performance, it’s really blown me away. Honestly, I can’t think of a single title that I’ve fired up and cranked the settings on that I really had to turn things down. Often, I’ll use GeForce Experience to have it set “optimal” settings and then tweak from there if needed. But, overall, the 12GB of VRAM available to the RTX 3060 alongside being compatible with both DLSS and DLAA titles makes it a solid choice for gaming. Plus, with the NVENC encoder, I’ve been able to stream, record, and game all at the same time, which is something even my GTX 1080 had trouble handling. From this, I would absolutely say that the RTX 3060 is still worth it a year later.

But what about 3D graphics and rendering?

In my off time, I do quite a bit of woodworking. Recently, my workshop was expanded by adding a CNC to the mix. This comes with doing heavy 3D rendering and toolpath generation, which all rely on a solid graphics card. The RTX 3060 has stood up to the task quite well and hasn’t left me wanting at all in the power department. Honestly, I’m quite impressed with this entry-level graphics card, all things considered.

Other PNY XLR8 gear makes for solid PC upgrades too

The PNY XLR8 RTX 3060 was sent out as part of a PC upgrade kit from the company, and also included their 4000MHz DDR4 RAM as well as a PCIe 4.0 NVMe Solid State Drive. Adding all of these components to my desktop not only made it faster, but also made it look better at the same time. RAM clocked at 4000MHz can help process certain aspects of your operating system faster and make some games more responsive. Not only that, but the improved heat spreaders can keep things cooler for longer, and the integrated RGB lighting looks absolutely stellar.

On the storage side of things, the CS3040 NVMe SSD delivers peak performance of up to 5,300MB/s read and write speeds, blowing previous-generation models out of the water. While this isn’t the fastest NVMe drive on the market, the purposefully-engineered heatsink helps keep the SSD cool during long file transfers.

9to5Toys’ take

PNY makes some solid PC gear for the money. While it can be hard to get the specific PNY RTX 3060 that we’re reviewing here, our sentiments extend to the rest of the RTX 3060 lineup. In fact, should you score a card with more fans and a larger heatsink, it’s possible that you could eek even more performance out of the GPU. In the end, the RTX 3060 is still a very solid buy a year in and will be a GPU that could easily last for years to come, similar to the GTX 1060 and 1660 before it. I would have no problem recommending anyone upgrade to the RTX 3060, even from a higher-tier non-RTX card like the 1080, similar to the move I made myself.

Curious if the RTX 3060 is still worth it a year later? Well, if you’re looking for a good gaming PC, or just a GPU upgrade, the RTX 3060 is a great choice we’d say after going hands-on with the card in our review. While there are some drawbacks when compared to higher-tier cards like the 3070 or 3080, the RTX 3060 will deliver perfectly fine performance in even AAA titles like Battlefield 2042, Call of Duty Vanguard, No Man’s Sky, Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, or anything else. I’ve played most of the aforementioned games on the RTX 3060 and have not been disappointed once. Sure, something like Flight Simulator 2020 won’t run at 1440p UltraWide on ultra graphics, but at the same time, you don’t need that setting to have an enjoyable experience.

The RTX 3060 isn’t about being the best GPU on the market to push 4K120 games. In our review, we’ve found that the RTX 3060 is focused on providing a great experience for folks who don’t have $2,000 to spend on a graphics card alone. If you’re looking for a good experience that won’t break the bank, the RTX 3060 is still worth it a year later, and it’s a great choice that you can’t go wrong with.

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