Gaming

EVGA shows just what Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3050 GPU can do

The company's low-end model of its Nvidia 30-series budget gaming cards, the RTX 3050 XC Black, delivers a lot for its (theoretical) price class.

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Lori Grunin/CNET

If there weren't a GPU shortage driving prices up because of hard-to-get components, EVGA's $250 GeForce RTX 3050 XC Black would be an eyebrow-raising value, especially when compared with the stripped-down, lower-performing $260 AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT-based Gigabyte Eagle 4G I tested recently. 

But there is a GPU shortage, which means that even these "budget" cards will be snapped up, driving up what would otherwise be reasonable prices for the remaining stock. Or the prices will be raised, or simply sticky-downward, because the market will bear it. The question is how high. We'll find out tomorrow when it ships. (Though the plummeting value of major cryptocurrencies, which use GPUs for mining, means prices have actually come down a bit.)

RTX 3060-based cards are running significantly over $700 on Amazon, though Nvidia targeted them at about $329. If the same holds true of the mid-quality 1080p-focused RTX 3050, I'd guess we'll see it for around $525. At that price, it's actually in the same territory as AMD's RX 6600-based cards, which are, for the most part, significantly faster. And in stock. (Well, that changes minute by minute, so it was during the minute I looked.) 

EVGA GeForce RTX 3050 XC Black

Like

  • Small with low power requirements but doesn't skimp on the VRAM
  • Performs well for the entry class
  • full set of connections

Don't Like

  • Can get loud

It's really a game of shopping whack-a-mole. The best I can do is recommend, for the moment, that if you find it in stock for under $450 and want something for playing games at 1080p, high quality and in the 80-100 frames per second range, it's a good choice and definitely a worthy replacement for a GTX 1650-class card or lower. It delivers good PCIe 3.0 performance (a consideration since it's likely going into an older system), and a size and power requirements that make it suitable for smaller systems or old systems with common 500-watt power supplies. 

It's also a good option for a basic or compact prebuilt PC, though I suspect it won't make it into any (or many) sub-$1,000 models and will likely be for step-up configurations in the $1,100 to $1,300 range. And with its 8GB VRAM and set of three DisplayPort and one HDMI connector, it's a lot more futureproof than the 4GB models trying to woo you. 

EVGA GeForce RTX 3050 XC Black

Memory 8GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth (GBps) 224GBps
Memory clock (GHz) 7
GPU clock (GHz, base/boost) 1.55/1.78
Memory data rate/Interface 14 Gbps/128 bit
RT cores 20
CUDA Cores 2,560
Texture mapping units 80
Streaming multiprocessors 20
Tensor Cores 80
Process 8nm
TGP/min PSU 130W/550W
Max thermal (degrees C) 199F/93C
Bus PCIe 4.0x16
Size 2 slots; 7.94x4.3 in (202x110 mm)
Price $250
Ship date January 25, 2022

If you use Nvidia's DLSS scaling technology on the balanced setting, you can even get 1440p at the same frame rates as 1080p on AAA games like Guardians of the Galaxy; with 8GB VRAM, running at higher resolutions or at higher qualities becomes feasible.

I do think EVGA manages to get good performance out of the Nvidia GPUs, so it's possible that other RTX 3050-based cards won't live up to the XC Black. EVGA is also offering a higher-clock-speed non-Black version with a backplate for better heat dissipation, though the price hasn't been disclosed yet. There may be some that do even better. 

evga-xc-black-rtx-3050-dsc00279

A full complement of ports.

Lori Grunin/CNET

But this is a solid implementation that leaves me with a warmer, fuzzier feeling toward these entry- to mid-level cards than my previous experiences have. It's OK for lightweight video editing and solid for single-screen photo editing (it lags a bit with second-screen view in Lightroom).

You can overclock the XC Black a bit. I got it up to about a 1.92GHz clock without approaching the maximum thermal limit (though I didn't do a stress test or play at that level for a long time). But it doesn't really seem worth it, at least based on the initial tests I ran, where it barely moved the needle, if at all.

Because of the volatility of supply and pricing, I still hold that it's a bad time to try to buy a graphics card unless you're desperate. But if you opt for the EVGA RTX 3050 XC Black now and manage your expectations, you likely won't regret it in a year.

Performance snapshot

Far Cry 5 (1080p)

MSI Aegis RS (RX 6500 XT)
89
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3050)
105
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6600)
121
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
128

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (1080p)

MSI Aegis RS (RX 6500 XT)
49
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3050)
86
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6600)
106
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
115

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Time Spy

MSI Aegis RS (RX 6500 XT)
5359
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3050)
6563
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6600)
8482
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
8669

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3050)
3534
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6500 XT)
3542
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
5187
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6600)
5440

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

SpecViewPerf 2020 3DS Max (1080p)

MS Aegis RS (RX 6500 XT)
39.81
Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit (RX 6500 XT, PCIe 4.0)
45.81
MS Aegis RS (RTX 3050)
62.16
MS Aegis RS (RX 6600)
68.95
MS Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
97.55
Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit (RTX 3060, PCIe 4.0)
98.87

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Configurations

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (21H1), Intel Core i9-11900KB; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 12GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (Asus Dual); 500GB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (20H2); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 12GB EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6500 XT) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (21H1); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 4GB Gigabyte Eagle 4G Radeon RX 6500 XT; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6600) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (21H1); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 8GB Sapphire Pulse RX 6600; 1TB SSD
Intel NUC 11 Extreme Kit Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (21H1), Intel Core i9-11900KB; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 4GB Gigabyte Eagle 4 RX 6500 XT; 500GB SSD