The RTX 3060 was recently launched. It is an improvement compared to the previous-gen RTX 2060, while (as expected) falling behind its faster RTX 3060 Ti brother. With seemingly promising benchmarks and an MSRP of 330 USD, it seems like a great card.
But the RTX 3060 is not available for its MSRP of 330 USD. In fact, right now it goes for around 1000 USD—if you can find it in-stock, of course. The demand is incredibly high, which results in prices of about three times the MSRP (or, again, the card simply being out-of-stock).
Nonetheless, we are undeterred! We will try and see if you can build a decent rig with it, despite the overpriced and rare status of this new GPU.
Before we dive into the build though, let’s take a look at the specifications of the card, to see if anything pops out.
Base Clock: 1.320 GHz
Boost Clock: 1.777 GHz
Memory: 12 GB GDDR6
Bandwidth: 360 GB/s
TDP: 170 W
GPU chip: Ga-106
The first thing I noticed when looking at this card, was that Nvidia uses a different chip for the RTX 3060, compared to the RTX 3060 Ti. The 3060 Ti uses the same chip as the 3070, but the RTX 3060 does not, which is notable. As a result, you could state with relative accuracy that the RTX 3060 is not a small brother of the RTX 3060 Ti, but rather a different GPU entirely.
The naming scheme of Nvidia’s cards being slightly misleading in this way is nothing new, though. There was a similar situation about four years ago, when Nvidia released the GTX 1060 3GB and GTX 1060 6GB. The names implied that these cards differed only in VRAM capacity, but the 1060 6GB actually had more processing cores than the 1060 3GB, making for a noticeably more powerful graphics card. Mildly weird naming strategies are part of Nvidia’s DNA, I guess.
Speaking of VRAM, the other thing that pops out for the 3060 here is the amount of VRAM: Although the card is cheaper than the RTX 3060 Ti, it has 4 GB more VRAM! This is because the ’60 series always have a bus of 192 bits. (The RTX 2060 did not, and was an exception.)
Because the bus is 192-bit, Nvidia was limited to either 3 GB, 6 GB, or 12 GB. Putting “just” 6 GB on a card like this would not have been reasonable, given the fact it’s probably made for 1440p (or even 4K) gaming. AMD’s 6700 XT, the card that Nvidia’s 3060 will be competing with, is also launching with 12 GB of VRAM. Thus, it is also possible the 3060 was originally going to have 6 GB, but that when Nvidia heard this, they pumped it up to 12!
Whatever the reason, the RTX 3060 has more VRAM than an RTX 3080—which could ultimately make it a promising option for certain budget-conscious workstation users, if the price ever returns to earth. That said, we’re targeting gaming with our build today. So, let’s get to it!
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
This processor is beefy and will be a good pairing for the RTX 3060 (even when planning to play at 1080p, and aiming for around 240 FPS). The Ryzen 5 5600X is an amazing CPU in terms of calculation power. Unfortunately, this CPU does cost quite a bit, since the previous-generation Ryzen 5 was 50 USD cheaper. Despite its high price, it is a future-proof monster and ready for both high FPS and high-resolution gaming. You do have to do some diligent searching on the internet, though, to find it for both a good price and in-stock.
Motherboard: ASRock B550M-HDV
This is a budget micro-ATX motherboard. Although we are going for 1440p gaming, we are still using a rather ‘cheap’ motherboard. This is because we are probably not planning to overclock, use a lot of case fans, nor use more than 2 RAM sticks. However, if you are planning to do any of that, I would recommend the ASUS Prime X570-P instead; it has better VRMs for overclocking and supports 4 RAM sticks. It still natively supports just three case fans, but that could be remedied via a fan controller, and it is a clear step up if you need it.
RAM: 2x8GB 3600MHz C16
Almost any brand (G.Skill/Corsair/Crucial for instance) will do, as long as they have the right specifications. 16 GB of dual-channel RAM with good speeds and timings will be just fine, even when playing at 4K.
This comes down to personal preference: I went with a 2TB drive to have more than enough room for personal media or other files. If you don’t have that many files, or just don’t feel the need to have so much storage, you can leave this out or downgrade to a smaller HDD.
This is a fast SSD with enough room for a big collection of games, but this also comes down to personal preference. You can get a smaller or bigger one, depending on what you want. Just try to make sure to get a fast drive, since this will probably serve as your main drive.
PSU: Corsair CXM 650W
This is a semi-modular unit, so you can build with ease. 650 Watts should be more than enough for this build; actually, it is technically a little overkill, but having some spare room for upgrades is always nice. If tight on budget, you could consider downgrading to something like Corsair’s VS500. These power supplies are bronze-rated, and not as expensive as fully modular units.
Case: Fractal Design Meshify C
This is a classy-looking case with great airflow, more than enough room for your cables, and good looks! It is a popular case, and for a good reason: nice tempered glass, and a mesh front for great airflow. It does not break the bank, and yet is a good case for the price.
Go Forth and Build!
Before you spend all of your money on the PC, consider these purchases too:
Thanks to the RTX 3060 being sold for way above MSRP at the moment, the build turned out expensive: ~1750 USD. This shows how far we have sunk with the GPU market. Let’s hope that this madness soon ends. If you’re reading this from a far-flung future in which the 3060 can be obtained for its normal purchase price, greetings! We in the past envy you, and presumably you are going to build and enjoy the build above with no hassle.
Nevertheless, returning to the present, this build will do great at 4K or lower. It’s usable for playing at high frame rates at 1080p, can be tasked with streaming and rendering, or could be perfect for enjoying beautiful ray-traced graphics at 4K with smooth performance (given a mix of other settings options).