Remember that time Nvidia “launched” a product, stating that despite being a fantastic graphics card, it wasn’t named correctly?… “Having two GPUs with the same RTX 4080 designation is confusing.” That’s right, we’re talking about the “launch” of the 12GB RTX 4080 about two months ago.
For those of you not in the know, when Nvidia announced their latest GeForce 40 series, they did so with three products: the flagship RTX 4090, the RTX 4080 16GB, and the RTX 4080 12GB. The problem was that the two RTX 4080 variants were very different, and those differences weren’t limited to memory capacity, as the naming scheme suggested.
Indeed, to reduce the memory capacity without using lower density chips, you must also reduce the width of the memory bus. Using a different silicon that would result in noticeably different performance was not a good decision, but this kind of questionable behavior was nothing new. Nvidia had already done this, for example with the DDR4 version of the GeForce GT 1030.
The big mistake was announcing the RTX 4080 12GB and this particular anti-consumer movement to the world at the biggest event Nvidia has hosted in years. Traditionally, the way they like to deal with questionable product releases is to sneak them out at a later date via a silent launch, which means far fewer people notice and even fewer seem to care.
Well, that’s exactly what they did with the 8GB variant of the GeForce RTX 3060. Ironically, they launched this product on October 27, just 12 days after they launched the 12GB 4080 to have a confusing name .
While it’s true that the 8GB and 12GB variants of the RTX 3060 are based on GA106 silicon – so they’re technically the same GPU – the changes go way beyond a memory capacity tweak. The 8GB model’s memory subsystem has been significantly reduced, the L2 cache is 50% larger for the 12GB model, as is the bus width. Overall, bandwidth is 61% higher in the original RTX 3060 model producing 360 GB/s, while the “new” 8 GB variant has been reduced to just 224 GB/s, the same bandwidth than the RTX 3050.
Ultimately, that means the 8GB RTX 3060 will be slower than the 12GB model – and spoiler alert, that’s around 15% slower on average – but in some cases we’re seeing margins of over 30%, so that’s big enough to bring to your attention.
An additional note, Nvidia has not made any official adjustments to MSRPs, so the 8GB RTX 3060 is still $330. Looking at Newegg, we can see that the 12GB RTX 3060 starts at $350, with a number of models available between $350 and $380. Meanwhile, the more affordable 8GB variant comes from Inno3D and starts at $385, although there are some Asus models out of stock at $360 and $370. The thing is, price-wise, there’s no distinction between the original 12GB models and these new gimped-up 8GB versions.
In Australia we bought a Galax model which we bought at a 10% discount from the original 12GB version, and you might think ‘well that’s fine’ but it’s not. . The GeForce RTX 3060 was released nearly 2 years ago, everyone knows its performance, and those who aren’t can quickly check out the multitude of benchmarks online. Meanwhile, this new 8GB model is nowhere to be found because there is no review program, it is up to reviewers to purchase the card and inform consumers.
In fact, you might not even know there was an 8GB version or you just assumed that the RTX 3060 only came with 8GB of VRAM just like the 3060 Ti. The catch here is that unsuspecting consumers might be tricked into paying the RTX 3060 12GB cash, or very close for a much slower product.
We asked Nvidia for an official response on why the 8GB version was released and they simply said it was to give customers more options. They also specified that the 12 GB version would remain available in parallel. And just to be clear, this is an Nvidia sanctioned product and not their partners go rogue, rather it is possible partners who are forced to produce it.
Nvidia seems to be looking to eliminate its inventory of low-end Ampere GPUs and no doubt wants to maximize its profits. It also allows them to sell defective GA106 silicon for much more than they would sell it as an RTX 3050.
Our problem is of course that we now have two products called “GeForce RTX 3060” and they don’t offer the same level of performance and in many cases it’s not even close. And we’re not talking about memory-related tests – like going past the 8GB VRAM buffer – we’re talking about performance while staying well within the 8GB buffer.
So let’s take a look at that, we’ll go over a few matches and then show you a 12 match average. To collect these results, we used new data with 12GB and 8GB RTX 3060 cards using the latest display drivers. Other GPUs are included for comparison.
Starting with Cyberpunk 2077 we’re seeing the 12GB model run 13% faster at 1080p compared to the newer 8GB model, not a huge difference, but it’s certainly noticeable.
That margin increases to 18% at 1440p and we’re now looking at two different levels of performance and a significantly better gaming experience with the original 12GB model.
Moving on to Dying Light 2, here we have a game that is clearly memory heavy and as such the 8GB model limits the performance of the RTX 3060 GPU.
The original card was 35% faster at 1080p, that’s a huge difference in performance for two products sharing the same name, and it’s the same story at 1440p. In fact, here we go from a very console-like 34fps with the 8GB version to a much smoother 46fps using the original 3060.
Halo Infinite sees the 12GB model deliver 21% better performance at 1080p, jumping from 63fps to 76fps, another big difference in performance for two products that share the same name. The margin remains similar at 1440p, where the original 12GB 3060 was 19% faster.
Horizon Zero Dawn sees a 16% performance boost for the 12GB model over the new 8GB version, although that margin has increased to 20% at 1440p.
Both results are bad because a double-digit variation in performance is unacceptable, especially since the difference in memory capacity plays no role here.
We’re also looking at 22% better performance for the 12GB variant of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as the new 8GB model drops performance to 85fps. The headroom is similar to 1440p, where the 12GB version is 20% faster, delivering an extra 12fps.
That’s enough with the individual game results, you can easily get an idea. On average, you can expect 17% better performance from the 12GB model at 1080p, but as we’ve seen, that margin can be as high as 35%…
It’s a similar story at 1440p, when working in the 8GB buffer the 12GB model was still on average 18% faster as it benefits from significantly more memory bandwidth.
What we learned
The new 8GB version of the GeForce RTX 3060 is noticeably slower than the original, and in a number of cases it was noticeably slower in our testing. In our opinion, this is an ugly anti-consumer move on Nvidia’s part, it serves little more than to line their pockets while potentially misleading and ripping off customers.
It is true that the prices could be improved, at that time it may not be bad in terms of value. After all, let’s say Nvidia drops the price over the 12GB version by 20% or even 30%, then the 8GB RTX 3060 would start to look good value-wise, at least compared to its own stack. of Nvidia products.
We’d agree with that review had it been called, say, the “GeForce RTX 3060 LE 8GB,” something that makes it clear to potential buyers that this isn’t your typical RTX 3060. In that case, we wouldn’t really have a problem with this scale model and although we would still prefer a complete name change, we could at least accept a more honest attempt to make buyers understand that this is a a different version.
To demonstrate how hard it is for the uninitiated to tell which model they’re buying, or that there’s even a different model, here’s the box for our original RTX 3060 and the new 8GB box…
Those who assume an RTX 3060 is an RTX 3060 might see an 8GB model selling for a reasonable price and think they’ve stumbled upon a good deal, that they’ve gotten it, only to realizing that their business is a bit slower than it would have been otherwise. And for those none the wiser, that just means you could have done better and maybe gone further between upgrades.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior will continue unless Nvidia experiences enough backlash from consumers and the enthusiast community. We’re always going to fight this kind of anti-consumer behavior from companies, whether it’s Nvidia, AMD, Intel, LG, Samsung, MSI, Asus, etc., many of these companies that we’ve taken to task in the past, and we will continue to do so.
Rest assured, if AMD were to pull a similar stunt, we’d be suing them just as hard, much like when we devoted several articles calling them out on plans to remove Zen 3 support for 300 and 400 series motherboards. We had none of their excuses, we didn’t accept the technical reasons why they had to end support. Simply put, they fooled consumers, we sued them, and they corrected their course, and it was made possible by a strong community response.
We don’t expect the same to happen here with Nvidia, but we’ve done our part, you’ve now been briefed on what the 8GB RTX 3060 is and you know to avoid it at current asking prices.
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