GeForce RTX 3060: 5 key things you need to know about Nvidia’s new GPU

Nvidia’s next-gen “Ampere” GPU architecture finally goes mainstream today with the launch of the $329 GeForce RTX 3060. Normally, the release of Nvidia’s 60-class graphics cards spark a lot of excitement. They tend to be the best-selling card of a GeForce generation. This time around, graphics cards are mired in a months-long shortage driven by a mixture of sky-high demand, logistics woes caused by the pandemic, a cryptocurrency boom that’s driving miners to gobble up GPUs, and some component shortages. It’s a perfect storm, and things are so bad that Nvidia brought the ancient GTX 1050 Ti out of retirement.

So today’s launch of the GeForce RTX 3060 may be the best bet for gamers hoping to get a graphics card at a sane price—if you’re able to beat the purchasing bots, that is. Here are five key things you need to know about the GeForce RTX 3060 before you buy.

1. It goes on sale at noon Eastern time

That’s 9 a.m. Pacific. If you’re hoping to snag a GeForce RTX 3060 today, be sure to have the relevant pages loaded at your favorite etailers, and get ready to slam that F5 button.

If you don’t manage to strike gold, our guide to finding hard-to-get hardware at a fair price can help you out. It’s written for AMD’s similarly scarce Ryzen 5000 CPUs, but the techniques apply for graphics cards too.

2. It will probably cost more than $329

nvidia rtx 3060 custom Nvidia

Don’t expect to pay $329 for an RTX 3060 any time soon unless you get lucky on launch day. Nvidia isn’t shipping a Founders Edition version of this GPU, leaving distribution up to custom cards from partners like EVGA, Asus, MSI, etc. If past launches from this generation are any indication, there will be light supply of a handful of RTX 3060s at MSRP, but most of the stock is likely to be of pricier, feature-laden models that go for a significant price premium.

We wouldn’t be surprised if retailers jack up prices even further on their end, either. Graphics cards are hot right now, with even used cards from several years ago selling for more than they cost at launch.

3. It can’t mine Ethereum well

But one of the factors limiting graphics card availability might not harm the GeForce RTX 3060. Part of the reason GPUs have been so hard to get is because the price of Ethereum—a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin—has skyrocketed in recent months, and you need consumer graphics cards to “mine” it. Almost every recent graphics card can be profitable mining right now, which isn’t common whatsoever. The RTX 3060 won’t be anywhere near as profitable as its RTX 30-series sibling. Nvidia tweaked the hardware, firmware, and drivers of the RTX 3060 to halve its hashing performance when the graphics card is being used specifically to mine Ethereum, and launched a dedicated “CMP” line of mining graphics cards at the same time. Good.

The RTX 3060 will still perform full-force on lesser known alternative coins, so it may still be desired by some miners. Keeping Ethereum miners away from this card could mean it becomes more easily available though.

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