Before it pivoted to talking about self-driving cars, something I can’t even put into a PCIe slot, Nvidia’s CES 2022 showcase went both high and low with its graphics card reveals. The high: the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti, as new top-of-the-line CPU with 24GB of upgraded, 21Gbit/s GDDR6X VRAM. The low: the GeForce RTX 3050, Nvidia’s first XX50 GPU in a donkey’s age.
Meaningful details on the RTX 3090 Ti were kept scarce – you can see it above, barely fitting in the hand of GeForce senior VP Jeff Fisher – though despite a burst of some deeply techy specs it won’t be until later in the month that we might learn pricing and availability. Though given the RTX 3090 starts at £1399 when it’s not being scalped, maybe the RTX 3090 Ti’s cost is something one needs to mentally prepare for.
At the opposite end of the glowing green scale is the RTX 3050, which will launch on January 27th at $249 (about £188 in a straight conversion, though UK pricing is TBC). Even with the global graphics card market being an awful, occasionally hateful mess, this is a card I suspect many of us have been waiting for: a cheap entry point into Nvidia’s Ampere lineup, complete with 2nd Gen RT cores for ray tracing and 3rd Gen Tensor cores for DLSS. And DLAA, presumably.
While it’s not quite as budget-friendly as the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT, which was revealed about an hour beforehand during AMD’s own CES 2022 show, the RTX 3050 can claim double the VRAM at 8GB of GDDR6. A variety of single-fan partner models will also be available, finally giving builders of microATX and mini-ITX PCs a good RTX 3000 series option for their teensy rigs.
Of course, that’s all assuming that the RTX 3050 will be readily available to ordinary PC owners on the 27th, and recent history suggests that it won’t be. At least not past the first few seconds, before retail bots snap them all up for more nefarious and/or planet-destroying purposes.
Hopefully the same won’t be said of laptops containing Nvidia’s other new GPUs: mobile versions of the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti. Both designed with 1440p displays in mind, these will power laptops starting at $2499 and $1499 respectively from February 1st. Interestingly, the mobile 3080 Ti has 16GB of VRAM, which is 4GB more than the desktop version – though it’s also of the slower GDDR6 variety, not GDDR6X.