The last few years have been an endurance race for Nvidia's GTX graphics cards. Whilst the market took its toll on gamers, and the chip shortage caused untold mayhem worldwide, one question was front and centre of every GTX owner's mind: will my trusty GTX card live long enough until I upgrade to RTX?
Naturally, this solid GPU, designed with both gamers and creators in mind, has stood the test of time, keeping owners gaming through a global pandemic and numerous lockdowns.
The Great GTX-odus
Since December 2017, the GTX 1060 GPU has been comfortable in the top spot of Steam's hardware charts, having elbowed the GTX 750 off of the podium. The GTX 1060 sporting significant gains in framerates, rendering and overall speed, and being priced reasonably well before all hell broke loose in mid-2021, and the price rocketed to around 85 - 90% over MSRP.
Most Popular GPUs (Steam) April 2022
The top ten graphics cards used on Steam can be seen above, with a whopping 8.18% of all Steam gamers using the GTX 1060 in March. Moreover, GTX cards are used by over 70% of Steam gamers overall.
This data is extremely useful, but also revealing. If we swap views to show the percentage change from month to month, we see evidence to suggest more gamers are jumping ship to the RTX 3060 over any other graphics card:
Previous months have seen ups and downs, and the changes have been roughly the same since November 2021. March, however, shows that the RTX 3060 had the biggest leap since November into December 2021 (0.57%). It's incredible that we're seeing Christmas numbers at the end of Q1, after a tough trading period in IT retail across the board.
If you needed further evidence that the big change was taking place, you can see from the 30 day market share estimation based on 1,769,164 GPUs tested by UserBenchmark:
GPU.Userbenchmark.com - RTX 3060 Pricing
This market share is calculated as the percentage of total user benchmarks submitted on UserBenchmark.com over 30 days. We can see that the RTX 3060 has seen estimated increased in ownership overall against the GTX 1060 since the beginning of February.
Why Upgrade From GTX to RTX?
There are many titles now that support RTX and DLSS, so you're not stuck for games that will put your RTX card through its paces. Our latest article lists all RTX supported games, and you can check that out here.
It seems the popular upgrade path is trading out the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in favour of the RTX 3050 or RTX 3060. These are both selling extremely well right now, with the RTX 3050 hitting everyone's sweet spot on budget, whilst the RTX 3060 delivers the goods in high performance gaming.
The real reason you would upgrade from the GTX 1060 is down to the types of games you play, and your interest in visual presentation. The RTX 3060 delivers shiny eye candy by the bucket-load, and this should be expected considering the five year leap in tech. On paper there are vast differences in specification, but the proof is in the pudding when you compare older games like Battlefield V, where the GTX holds its own at +65 FPS, but is overshadowed by the RTX 3060 at 126 FPS. Similarly, for competitive players, Call of Duty Warzone gamers get an optimised 80 FPS average on the GTX 1060, but can enjoy framerates fit for 144Hz monitors with the RTX 3060, boasting a 153 FPS average.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 vs. RTX 3060
Besides the obvious advantage of Ray Tracing & DLSS, swapping your faithful GTX 1060 6GB for an RTX 3060 will see you getting significant gains in various departments. The most noticeable (and most common question) is framerates.
As we can see from this benchmark from our good friends at Testing Games (YouTube), Cyberpunk 2077 is the poster child of RTX graphics cards, with a massive 73 FPS vs 28 FPS (average) on the GTX card.
Cyberpunk 2077 RTX 3060 Benchmark
These numbers are based on Ray Tracing being off, but even when RT and DLSS Quality is switched on, the framerate is at a healthy 60+ FPS.
Cyberpunk 2077 Ray Tracing Benchmarks RTX 3060 Source: Jarrod's Tech (YouTube)
Next up, we can see the RTX 3060 flexes hard - more than doubling the average framerate - in Red Dead Redemption 2:
Red Dead Redemtpion 2 RTX 3060 Benchmark
Again, with ray Tracing and DLSS off, these are impressive framerates. But when switched on, the RTX 3060 manages an incredible 99 FPS average, in 1080p HIGH.
Ray Tracing Benchmarks RTX 3060 Source: Jarrod'sTech
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Options
As one might guess, stock is still in very limited supply. With the new lower pricing for graphics cards, customer demand has soared, so you will need to check stock on these recommended cards.
There are three RTX 3060 GPUs that fit the bill as an upgrade from the GTX 1060 (or any GTX card for that matter).
MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ventus 2X 12GB OC GPU
The Ventus 2X 12GB is currently available for under £400* so represents the best value of the three recommended RTX 3060s. Stock is extremely limited at this price and specification, with a maximum of one per customer.
The Boost Clock on the Ventus is 1807 MHz, slightly lower than both the RTX 3060 Gaming X and Gaming Z options below, which have 1837 MHz and 1867 MHz respectively, but there are negligible differences when it comes to performance. The Ventus has around 1 frame per second difference when compared directly with the below cards on games like Battlefield 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p and 1440p.
MSI GeForce RTX 3060 GAMING X 12GB OC GPU
Famous for nerfing GPU mining and having a reduced hashrate for crypto miners, the Gaming X became a firm favourite with gamers, but was still a victim of the chip shortage, resulting in low stock and high pricing over the twelve months. Now, however, we're seeing the RTX 3060 Gaming X reduced to sub-£500 pricing, making it perfect for the GTX to RTX jump.
The cooling is the first thing of note in the Gaming X, with Twin Frozr 8 dual fan coolers that adequately cool the monstrous 12GB overclocked version of the RTX 3060. In recent tests by PC Gamer, they saw a load temp of just 63°C after about 10 minutes of 100% load, making it an ideal candidate for smaller cases as well as ATX.
The Gaming X also includes RGB lighting that will sync with other components, giving your system an aesthetic that matches the specification.
The 12GB of VRAM and boost clock that will happily reach 1900 MHz is more than enough for today's Ray Tracing enabled games, and the DLSS 2.0 feature set, Broadcast app and Reflex technology are all available to you at the best pricing since the card launched.
MSI GeForce RTX 3060 GAMING Z TRIO 12GB OC GPU
The Gaming Z Trio boasts the same high performance, and also brings low-noise efficiency and aesthetics to the table, with a trio of Torx Fan 4.0, and updated TRI FROZR 2 cooling system. The Gaming Z also allows for on-click overclocking, so you can tweak your performance using Nvidia's world class OC technology, safely and easily pulling the maximum performance from your GPU.
The RTX 3060 GAMING Z TRIO is priced a little higher than the dual fan options, naturally, but has seen the same reductions as other mid-range cards in its class. If hardcore gaming is on the cards, then the triple fan version and optimal cooling system designed by MSI is definitely the way to go.
Upgrading from any Nvidia GTX card is now a reality once again for gamers, and all three of the options above are excellent upgrade paths if you want to experience Ray Tracing and increased performance in the framerate department.
For mid-range upgrades, and the ability to play any of the top RT games in 2022, the Ventus 2X and Gaming X cards are superb choices. If you're a hardcore gamer and expect long gaming sessions, then the Gaming Z offers the best performance in terms of cooling and consistently high clock speeds under stress.
*Prices correct as of April 21st 2022