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Nvidia RTX 3060 review: ray-tracing performance

Control, Metro Exodus, Battlefield 5.

We have the results of testing in three ray tracing enabled titles to share with you today: Control, Metro Exodus and Battlefield 5. Note that while all three games feature DLSS, this has been left disabled to give an apples-to-apples comparison with cards that don't include the feature. That means in Control, Metro and Battlefield 5, you can expect significantly faster frame-rates - at the potential expense of image quality - if you choose to use DLSS on the 3060. Note as well that we're testing each game at 1440p, as this normally offers the best combination between image quality and high frame-rates for mainstream GPUs.

Control

Control is the perfect showcase for ray tracing features on PC, so we suggest you take a look at Alex Battaglia's video deep dive to see how much RT can make a difference when it's done right. The game includes individual settings for ray traced global illumination, reflections and shadows - pretty much all of the RT features available - and each has a significant cost. Of course, we've ticked all the boxes here for a truly challenging workload; let's look at the results.

The RTX 3060 acquits itself decently here, with an average frame-rate of 29fps, around three-quarters of what the 3060 Ti was able to achieve in the same scenario. The game doesn't feel great to play at this frame-rate, but as we mentioned earlier the option of DLSS should push the 3060 much closer to 60fps if you're willing to accept a slight downgrade to visual fidelity. Interestingly, this is still better than the RTX 2070 manages, to the tune of around six per cent, and identical to the performance of the RTX 2070 Super. Compared to AMD cards, which are notoriously poor at Control (even with RT disabled), the 3060 is the first Ampere card to perform worse than the RX 6800, with the $550 RRP Radeon card delivering a 13 per cent higher average frame-rate. The 3060 also manages to be a worse value in this RT-heavy title than the 3060 Ti, with only 74 per cent of the performance at 82.5 per cent of the price (assuming both cards are purchased at their RRP).

Control: DX12, High, High RT, TAA

  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3060
  • RTX 3060 Ti
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT

Metro Exodus

We return to the fire and flames to the Metro Exodus standalone benchmark, but this time we've got the game's RTX global illumination and emissives enabled. With fewer RT features in use, we'd expect a smaller advantage for the 3060 over last-gen hardware - and indeed, the advantage the 3060 holds over the 2070 goes from six per cent in Control to three per cent here. The AMD cards also perform better, with the RX 6800 clinching a healthy 33 per cent frame-rate advantage over the course of the benchmark. Looking again at that 3060 versus 3060 Ti value comparison, the 3060 delivers only 72 per cent of the performance at 83 per cent of the price.

Metro Exodus: DX12, Ultra, Ultra RT, TAA

  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3060
  • RTX 3060 Ti
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT

Battlefield 5

Our final RT test is Battlefield 5's rather excellent Tirailleur single-player campaign which uses only RT reflections; the rest of the scene is rendered using traditional rasterised methods. The 3060 holds a slim two per cent lead over the RTX 2070, while the RTX 2070 Super in turn holds a four per cent lead over the newcomer. The RX 6800 again holds a 15 per cent lead over the RTX 3060 here. Compared to the RTX 3060 Ti, the 3060 manages around 75 per cent of the 3060 Ti's performance - less than we'd hope given it costs 83 per cent of the cost, assuming both cards are available at their recommended retail price.

Battlefield 5: DX12, Ultra, Ultra RT, TAA

  • RTX 2070
  • RTX 2070 Super
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3060
  • RTX 3060 Ti
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT

So as expected, the 3060's second-gen RT cores allow it to perform better than its closest competitor, the 2070, in games where ray tracing effects are used. However, it doesn't deliver the value advantage we hoped to find when comparing the 3060 against its bigger brother, the RTX 3060 Ti, with the vanilla 3060 only managing about 70 to 75 per cent of the 3060 Ti's performance despite costing 83 per cent of the Ti's asking price. Now, let's wrap things up.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Analysis

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About the author

Will Judd

Will Judd

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry  |  wsjudd

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DealsFoundry.

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