The Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti is the GPU we all want – but it’s the RTX 3050 we need

Nvidia had a pretty good CES 2022, all things considered. While its Jan. 4 main presentation was a bit hit and miss (we could have done it with fewer game trailers and more detailed looks at Nvidia’s hardware), the products featured by Team Green were warmly received.

As soon as Nvidia announced its RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti laptop graphics cards, many new powerful gaming laptops were announced by all the big names. If Nvidia can deliver on its promises, it looks like 2022 will be a great year for gaming on a laptop.

For many of us, however, the highlight of Nvidia’s show was the reveal of two desktop graphics cards: the affordable RTX 3050 and the ultra-high-end RTX 3090 Ti. But, while most of the excitement was around the (very) brief glimpse we got of the RTX 3090 Ti, I firmly believe that the RTX 3050 will turn out to be the most important release.

Nvidia CES 2022

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Fill a gap

From what little is known about the RTX 3090 Ti, it will undoubtedly be a very powerful GPU. The current RTX 3090 is the king of gaming GPUs, delivering a level of performance that allows it to handle any modern game with all graphics settings pushed to the max, even in 4K.

The even more powerful RTX 3090 Ti will therefore only be of interest to people who want the most cutting-edge technology or push the ultra-high resolutions of 8K. With most PC gamers playing at 1080p or 1440p, this kind of power just isn’t needed.

Do not mistake yourself ; I love that Nvidia always pushes the boundaries in this regard and I can’t wait to plug an RTX 3090 Ti into my 8K monitor. However, Nvidia’s high-end GPU lineup now looks quite crowded, with not only the RTX 3090 Ti and RTX 3090, but the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3080 as well.

Meanwhile, gamers who don’t need or can’t afford a high-end GPU may feel a bit overlooked by Nvidia. So the RTX 3050 is welcome.

A slide showing the performance of the Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics card

(Image credit: Nvidia)

A wider audience

Like Nvidia itself highlights in its RTX 3050 ad, three of the top five GPUs used by PC gamers on Steam are GTX 50 models: the GTX 1050, GTX 1050 Ti, and GTX 1650. Clearly more affordable GPUs that also offer some of the features and technologies found in More expensive graphics cards are much more popular than the ultra-powerful and ultra-expensive high-end cards, which remain decidedly niche.

There are a lot of people who have looked at Nvidia’s latest RTX 3000 series GPUs and the advancements they bring, including improved ray tracing and DLSS support, but were put off by the high prices. (And that’s before we even get into the nightmare that is today’s GPU market with out-of-stock and inflated prices.)

The RTX 3050 should give budget-conscious gamers a chance to get these RTX 3000 series features, for a much more affordable price of $ 249 / £ 239 (around AU $ 350). It comes with 8GB GDDR6 memory, 2nd gen RT cores for ray tracing, and 3rd gen Tensor cores for DLSS and AI. Nvidia claims that you will be able to play games with ray tracing at 60 fps. You can also use Nvidia Reflex features to reduce latency.

Suddenly, these new features will open up to many more people. PC gaming should be as accessible as possible, and this is where the RTX 3050 could play a big part.

Graphic card

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

DLSS FTW

Among the new gaming features of the RTX 3050 packs, Nvidia’s DLSS technology will be the real star. I have already mentioned DLSS, which stands for Deep Learning Super Sampling. It allows compatible GPUs to intelligently enhance the graphics of the game, resulting in a remarkably noticeable improvement in performance.

In the past, I have used DLSS to have the RTX 3090 play graphically intensive games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs: Legion at massive 8K resolutions and almost 60fps. It would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

While this is impressive, the real magic of DLSS is that it is used with low-power GPUs to allow them to achieve higher resolutions and frame rates, while also including graphics effects than the GPU wouldn’t normally be able to do.

The Nvidia RTX 3050 will support DLSS 2.0 and it is the perfect candidate for it. Thanks to DLSS, this $ 250 GPU should be able to hit 1080p resolutions with a decent level of graphics effects, including ray tracing in some titles.

If it does, the Nvidia RTX 3050 will literally be a game-changer for a lot of people. Hopefully we’ll get our hands on it soon to really test it out.

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