Right now, you can’t do much better for your laptop than an RTX 30 card, as we’re yet to see the release of the RTX 40 Laptop series. And, while the top-tier RTX laptop GPUs will set you back quite a bit, the lower-performing cards are much more attainable. Two of the most attainable are the 3050 Ti and the 3060, and you won’t be sacrificing too much in performance with either card.
I’ve prepared this 3050 Ti vs 3060 comparison so that you can make the best choice possible while also considering what you’re losing when comparing these GPUs to their desktop counterparts. I’ll give you a hint: the 3060 wins, lap, and desktop. Keep reading to find out why!
3050 Ti vs 3060 – Quick Comparison
|RTX 3050 Ti Laptop Edition||Specs||RTX 3060 Laptop Edition|
|PCIe 4.0 x16||Interface||PCIe 4.0 x16|
|1,035 MHz||Base Clock|
|1,695 MHz||Boost Clock|
|4 GB GDDR6||Memory||6 GB GDDR6|
(12 Gbps effective)
|Memory Speed||1,750 MHz|
(14 Gbps effective)
|192 GB/s||Bandwidth||336 GB/s|
(35 – 80 W)
(60 – 115 W)
|350 W||Required PSU|
|72℃ (161.6℉)||Max Recorded Temp|
Nvidia was the first company to produce a GPU. The people that founded the company successfully predicted the explosion of the gaming industry and have since shifted focus away from gaming toward powering AI research projects (I’m betting they’re successfully predicting something again).
RTX 3050 Ti
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU was released in May 2021. It’s an entry-level card based on the Ampere microarchitecture with only 4 GB VRAM and 2,560 CUDA Cores. Right away, I’d argue that this card isn’t a great investment. An RTX 2060 offers 15% better performance, and the RTX 3060 Laptop Edition offers better performance by up to 59%, according to users.
- Produces less heat
- Lower TDP
- Cheaper on average
- Lower performance
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU was released in February 2021. It’s labeled as a mid-range card. It features a cut in certain specs compared to its desktop counterpart. It offers the same core count (3,840) but has only a 6 GB VRAM. It also has lower clock speeds than the desktop version and a slightly slower memory clock.
- Larger VRAM
- Higher clock speeds
- Better performance
- Produces more heat
3060 vs 3050 Ti – Key Specifications
Until the recent release of Ada Lovelace (RTX 40 microarchitecture), Ampere was the fastest GPU architecture in the world. It features second-generation Ray Tracing Cores, third-generation Tensor Cores, and 4K 120Hz HDR and 8K 60Hz HDR support. It also offered Nvidia Broadcast, which is a nifty tool for creators.
Also Read: The Difference Between RTX and GTX
Clock Speeds & Overclocking
The RTX 3050 Ti doesn’t have a desktop edition to compare its clock speeds to, but the RTX 3060 does. It features slower clock speeds compared to the desktop edition to prevent generating too much heat. When GPUs hit higher clock speeds, they heat up rapidly. My personal card raises temperatures by 20℃ whenever it’s working at full load for over 5 minutes.
Clock speeds are the frequency at which a component, such as a GPU, operates. RAM, VRAM, and CPUs also have their own clock speeds. Back in the day, GPUs had static clock speeds, and you would have to manually overclock your card to achieve higher speeds. Nowadays, the dynamic boost featured in GPUs is quite enough boosting if you ask me.
The base clock speed of the 3050 Ti is 1035 MHz, and it reaches a boost clock of 1,695. Take this with a grain of salt because your card will go above this frequency whenever it needs to and whenever heat generation doesn’t throttle it back down. The base clock speed of the 3060 Laptop edition is 1,283, and it jumps to a boost clock speed of 1,703.
I wouldn’t overclock my laptop GPU because laptops don’t have the cooling potential of desktop GPUs, so you risk overheating it and losing a lot of potential performance whenever it has to lower heat. If you are adamant about overclocking yours, you can do so using Nvidia Experience or third-party software such as MSI (Afterburner).
Winner: RTX 3060
Also Read: How to Safely Undervolt your CPU and GPU
GPUs are parallel processors with thousands of cores. Nvidia calls them CUDA Cores and has a specific shading language for them. The RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU has the same number of cores as the RTX 3050 desktop edition (2,560). Similarly, the RTX 3060 Laptop edition also has the same number of cores as its desktop counterpart (3,584). There is no doubt which one wins in numbers, but is that enough?
In this case, it is because cores are utilized using shaders. Shaders are generic languages, known as shading languages, that leverage GPU cores to create the 3D worlds and their many aspects that we enjoy while gaming. Since both cards are from the same generation and developer, they feature the same shading languages, and the RTX 3060 wins here because of sheer numbers.
A good example of a shading language is DirectX Raytracing. Ray tracing has become a GPU buzzword since Nvidia released the first real-time ray tracing GPU architecture, Turing (RTX 20 series). They are now on their second generation of RT Cores. Ray tracing used to be exclusive to CGI movies but is now making its way into gaming more and more.
Interestingly enough, the RTX 3060 Laptop edition has 30 RT Cores while its desktop counterpart has 28. The RTX 3050 Ti has the same number as the 3050 desktop edition (20). So, you might get better ray tracing performance on a 3060 laptop than on a desktop version, but that’s just in theory. In practice, there is a lot more to it, including heat, which will dial down on performance every chance it gets.
Texture Mapping Units play another critical role here because every surface in a 3D world has to be covered with some type of texture. So, the more TMUs you have, the better your overall performance will be. Nvidia used 80 TMUs in the RTX 3050 Ti, the same number featured in the 3050 desktop edition. Again, they chose to up the number in the RTX 3060 laptop edition from 112 (desktop) to 120 TMUs.
Nvidia designed Tensor Cores with AI development in mind, but they also play an important role in gaming. They offer a massive boost in performance due to Nvidia DLSS and speed up 3D image projection to your 2D screen.
Winner: RTX 3060
VRAM & Memory Specs
The entire RTX 30 series is paired with GDDR6 VRAM. The laptop editions feature a cut in memory size compared to their desktop counterparts. So, while you get 8 GB in the 3050 desktop edition, you only get 4 GB in the 3050 Ti laptop edition. The same goes for the 3060. The 3060 desktop edition features 12 GB, while the RTX 3060 laptop edition only has 6 GB.
The RTX 3050 Ti’s 4 GB is paired with a 128-bit memory BUS, delivering an effective speed of 12 Gbps (clocked at 1,500 MHz) and a bandwidth of 192 GB/s. The RTX 3060 laptop edition’s 6 GB is paired with a 192-bit BUS, delivering an effective speed of 14 Gbps (clocked at 1,750 MHz) and a bandwidth of 336 GB/s. Quite a difference if you ask me.
Winner: RTX 3060
Also Read: Key Differences between VRAM and RAM
As expected, the RTX 3060 wins in performance across all resolutions. The 3060 laptop edition isn’t that far behind the desktop edition’s performance. Nevertheless, the performance will also depend on the other components of your laptop.
User tests show that the RTX 3060 laptop edition is up to 59% better than the RTX 3050 Ti.
Benchmark tests show the RTX 3060 performing 36% better on average at 1080p. 1080p is the most common laptop resolution of the three I listed here. The 3060 desktop GPU performs a bit better on average.
Benchmark tests show a bump in performance at 1440p, raising the difference to 38%.
At 4K, the RTX 3060 continues to dominate by 38%. Of course, you can’t actually play at 4K unless your laptop screen supports it or you hook up an external 4K screen. The main problem with these performance averages is that they’re not timed.
A laptop GPU will heat up quicker under load than its desktop counterparts and then throttle performance to lower temperatures. This can result in a bad gaming experience in the long run.
Winner: RTX 3060
A laptop’s connection options boil down to what the manufacturer has included in its design. We know that these cards support HDMI 2.1a and 1.4a DisplayPort connections. That means you can support 4K 120Hz HDR and 8K 60Hz HDR, depending on what port is built into your laptop.
Thermal Design Power refers to how much power a subsystem is allowed to draw from your PSU. TDP depends on the load and clock speed. Laptops often include lower-performing components because they can’t include higher-powered PSUs. So, while the desktop RTX 3060 has a TDP of 170 W and requires a 450 W PSU, the laptop edition only uses up to 60-115 W.
|RTX 3060 Wattage||Approximate Clock speeds|
|80 W||900 – 1,425 MHz|
|85 W||1,035 – 1,485 MHz|
|90 W||1,163 – 1,530 MHz|
|95 W||1,215 – 1,567 MHz|
|100 W||1,267 – 1,605 MHz|
|105 W||1,305 – 1,642 MHz|
|110 W||1,342 – 1,680 MHz|
|115 W||1,387 – 1,702 MHz|
The RTX 3050 Ti uses even less, as it has a TDP of 35-60 W.
|RTX 3050 Ti Wattage||Approximate Clock speeds|
|35 W||735 – 1,035 MHz|
|40 W||915 – 1,185 MHz|
|45 W||1,043 – 1,290 MHz|
|50 W||1,140 – 1,410 MHz|
|60 W||1,222 – 1,485 MHz|
|70 W||1,350 – 1,598 MHz|
|80 W||1,462 – 1,695 MHz|
TDP also refers to Thermal Design Point, or how much heat a subsystem is allowed to produce. Laptop GPUs don’t have all the cooling benefits of a desktop GPU, such as triple-slot cooling configurations and three fans, water cooling, or whatever else is out there. It’s simply much easier to overheat a laptop than a desktop.
Nevertheless, the desktop edition of the RTX 3060 hits the same 77℃ (170.6°F) as the laptop edition. The difference is the timeframe in which it does so and the fact that cooling off to regain some of that lost performance takes longer. The RTX 3050 Ti laptop GPU hits 72℃ (161.6°F), 4℃ hotter than the RTX 3050 desktop edition.
Winner: RTX 3050 Ti
Pricing & Availability
You can’t walk into a store and buy a laptop GPU, go home, and place it in your laptop. That’s not how it works. The RTX 3050 Ti and the RTX 3060 laptop editions are both available only in brand laptops. There are no Founders Editions, only third-party versions in their respective builds.
RTX 3050 Ti Laptops
I found three deals on Amazon for RTX 3050 Ti laptops worth mentioning (that I would consider for myself). The best and most expensive would be a 17.3″ Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop that has a 144Hz FHD screen and an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU with 16 GB of RAM. The screen size alone almost had me grabbing my credit card. This build also has some well-thought-out cooling features.
I cooled my head and didn’t go for my credit card. Instead, I went back to looking for potential deals for you. My next-best choice would be this HP Victus which has a standard-sized 144Hz 1080p 15.6″ screen and an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU. It takes the cake with RAM, with a 32 GB configuration.
If that’s a bit out of your price range, you can go for a Lenovo IdeaPad 3i with a 15.6″ 120Hz FHD screen. It’s also paired with an Intel Core i7 12700H CPU but only has 8 GB of RAM. Whatever it lacks, it makes up for in some cooling improvements and a low price (currently on sale).
RTX 3060 Laptops
When it comes to RTX 3060 laptops, the number of offers is staggering (almost five times that of the 3050 Ti). I like this one the most: the Acer Predator Helios Gaming Laptop. It’s also the most expensive. It’s marketed as having improved cooling for its Intel Core i7 12700H CPU. It features 16 GB of RAM but can be upgraded to have up to 32 GB. It has a 17.3″ FHD 1080p screen.
I’m also liking this MSI Creator M16 Content Creation Laptop. It’s not for gaming per se, and it has a 16″ 60Hz screen. It also has 32 GB of RAM and an i7 12650H CPU, so not bad at all. The price is a bit steep, but these are expensive components, generally speaking.
Last but not least, I’d recommend another Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop (currently on sale). It has 16 GB of RAM (easy open-slot upgrade), an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, and a 15.6″ FHD 144Hz IPS screen.
On-sale status may not apply at the time of reading.
I was never a fan of laptops, tablets, or mobile phones when it comes to work or play. They just can’t compete with a full-sized desktop PC in any way, in my opinion. That said, I find these laptop GPUs to be an “if I had to” choice. But that’s just a personal opinion. If I were to put that aside, any of these laptops above are great builds and worth their price.
This 3050 Ti vs 3060 comparison proves that the RTX 3060 Laptop edition is the better of the two laptop GPUs, but both fall short of the desktop 3060. The cooling alone means that the desktop edition can run high-performance sessions much longer than the laptop versions, as it can cool down temperatures much faster.
Also, laptop graphics cards feature lower-performing parts so that they can cope with their encased environments. That means less VRAM, slower clock speeds, and lower performance. Again, not my preferred choice.