How We Choose And Test Our GPUs
When it comes to finding the best GPUs, there are a lot of different variables to take into account.
Whether it’s vanilla cards straight from the manufacturers, we look into every single option when it comes to choosing the best release of any given GPU. Not only that, but we make sure you have a range of options from the highest-performing, highest-cost cards all the way down to the budget cards designed to be a little less taxing on the wallet.
We thoroughly test every card we recommend. Not only do we put these cards through rigorous benchmarking, but we also use the cards in our work machines and stress-test them to their limit. You can be sure that every card in this guide will not only perform for you but will last you a lifetime too.
Our Top 3060 Ti Picks
ASUS likes to release various different forms of each of their aftermarket cards, but the ROG Strix 3060 Ti is our top pick of the range. As you can probably expect from ASUS ROG, it has great build quality, high performance, and isn’t bad value either, although you can expect to pay towards the upper end of the spectrum thanks to those premium features we mentioned.
This GPU comes with an 1890 MHz boost clock, easily the highest clock speed on this list. Not bad for an out-of-the-box speed upgrade. If you’re looking for a very high-tier 1080p gaming experience then this card will do you wonders. It should also be able to handle 1440p depending on your game settings and which game you’re playing overall.
ASUS has used its Axial-tech fan design on the card, the same tech that also features on the regular 3060 version of this card. Not only have the fans been redesigned to allow more airflow and better cooling, but they’ve also been specced to reduce noise with some use of stop-start technology and reversing fan directions.
Overall ASUS has put together an insanely good 3060 Ti in terms of everything from performance and cooling to keeping quiet under pressure. The only downside at all is that this card does sit at the higher end of the price scale, but you’ll still find that it’s worth every single penny that you spend on it.
If you’re into great GPU design and like your components to be a little less Fortress of Solitude and a little more minimalistic, then you should already be familiar with EVGA. The company’s take on the RTX 3060 Ti is as impressive as pretty much all of their cards over the last few years have been, blending excellent and elegant cooling design with a simplified approach to aesthetic that can be quite pleasing to the eye for the right sort of person.
As with many other iterations of EVGA’s cards, this 3060 Ti features special fan blades with added texture to help cut down on turbulence once those fans start spinning up under the high strain. There’s also an improved heatsink that’s very similar to the regular EVGA 3060 model and features great heat dissipation.
While the 1810 MHz boost on this card isn’t as high as the ASUS card featured above, it’s still more than respectable considering the 1670 MHz the vanilla card comes with as standard. Plus the iCX3 interactive cooling system included means you won’t get high temperatures even after a long time using it at its highest output.
Once again, EVGA has gone for a very understated design with the card, mainly simple flat lines and a smooth surface. While the aesthetic of the card may not be to everyone’s taste, if you’re fed up with the whole “carved from solid rock” thing that cards have been doing a lot of lately, then you’ll find this one a breath of fresh air. There’s also some pretty minimal RGB featured on the card, namely in the form of the EVGA logo along the top edge of the card.
If there’s something that MSI does well it’s a mixture of high-performance and high-durability when it comes to their GPUs. Not only does the Ventus 3X feature both of those qualities, but it’s also an aesthetic style that’s probably going to be a fair bit familiar to anyone who’s even looked at an MSI product over the past few years.
As with almost every other card on this list, the Ventus features a triple fan setup, using MSI’s Torx 3.0 fan technology. While this tech has since been superseded by the 4.0 version, Torx 3.0 is still an excellent system when it comes to directing heat away from your card. As such, you can expect this card to keep running cool no matter what you intend to put it through.
Because it’s MSI, the card also features an insanely tough backplate that runs the entire length of the card. Not only does the backplate mean the GPU could probably survive a bomb test at close range, but it also looks pretty stylish thanks to the brushed finish and angular design that matches the top of the card.
Overall, MSI has turned out a really good take on the 3060 Ti. It’s still a bit on the expensive side, but with all of those added features, the price isn’t too much of a shock. While the clock speed upgrade was minimal, only hitting 1695 MHz out of the box, there’s probably enough power in the cooling system to allow you to squeeze more from this card if you need it.
Zotac really is the king of budget GPUs. The company has featured as the budget pick for pretty much all, or at least most, of our modern GPU guides, and it’s easy to see why. Their take on the 3060 Ti might not be as sleek and shiny as some cards, but it manages to bring all of the necessary performance you’d expect from a 3060 Ti AIB, without the extra price tag.
The Zotac is a very basic card, both in design and features, stripping away everything they can while still leaving the performance intact. The most notable absence is the extra fan, leaving this 3060 Ti with only two fans. While that may be off-putting at first, don’t let it worry you too much. The Ice Storm 2.0 cooling system Zotac uses is really good at its job, and even with two fans, you won’t find the card running hot anytime soon.
Of course, this stripping down of features also extends to the visual design of the card, as well as the build quality. The aesthetics of the card are incredibly simple, even more so than the minimalistic EVGA card above. On build quality, it’s not actually terrible, but you won’t find any heavy metal backplates keeping things together for you here. If you’re clumsy, you might want to get someone else to help you install the card.
The final note on this card is the clock speed. It’s only 1695, matching the boost from MSIs card. While this isn’t a huge boost, you shouldn’t let it worry you. This is one of the cheapest 3060 Tis on the market, and honestly, even with a minimal boost clock you probably wouldn’t notice too much of an FPS difference between this and some of the cards listed above with higher performance values.
Things To Think About
If you’re choosing a new GPU, then there are a lot of factors to take into account before you make your decision. Whether you’re building from scratch or just looking to upgrade your rig, sometimes it can be confusing to remember everything you need to worry about. We’ve put together a list of the most important factors that should impact your GPU purchase.
Whether you’re buying a high-end AIB or a vanilla manufacturer’s card, the amount of money you’re willing and able to spend is probably the biggest factor in what you can go for. If you’ve got the money spare for extra power, it’s certainly going to be worth putting that money into a graphics card, at least if you’re a gamer or someone who works in video production.
If you’re on a tighter budget, there’s still no need to go for the bottom of the barrel. Try to find the best cards you can for the money that you have available. When we show off our budget picks, we’re showing off cards that are cheap, but not so cheap that you won’t be able to get lots of use out of them.
Cooling & Performance
When buying aftermarket cards, the biggest changes come in the form of cooling systems, and performance upgrades. One of the first things most companies do when they get their hands on a new graphics card is to add their own cooling system, and then try to get some extra power out of the card in a safe way.
For cooling systems, consider what’s more important to you. Do you want your system to stay cool no matter what you’re doing with it, or is it more important that you have a completely silent system at all times. Similarly, with performance boosts, your FPS count won’t go up or down too much in the same card family, so unless you’re trying to squeeze every drop of performance out of your card, it can sometimes be worth thinking about cards with smaller upgrades that have other features you want.
A factor that plenty of people forget to take into consideration is the size of your new GPU. When it comes to great cooling and high-performance cards, they tend to be a fair bit bigger than mid-range cards. You might have your eyes set on the ASUS ROG we featured, but if you’ve got a compact Mini-ITX build, you’re going to struggle to fit it in there.
When you’re looking at a potential card to buy, make sure you’ve taken accurate measurements of the space inside your case. You should also make note of any other ports or inputs that will be covered up once your new card is installed. Then check carefully against the dimensions provided by the manufacturers to ensure you’ll be able to fit the card in when the time comes.
And There You Have It
Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, you should be completely equipped to make a decision on your next GPU purchase. Whether you’re buying for an upgrade, or starting a completely new PC build, we’ve provided you with all the necessary know-how to make an informed purchase.
Not only did we scour the internet to find the best deals we could on GPUs, but we’ve also thoroughly tested each card that we’ve talked about today. We put these cards through benchmarking, real-world gameplay testing, and of course, use them in our own day-to-day machines to make sure they’ll work for whatever it is that you need to do with them.
If you’re still not 100% sure about which GPU to buy, consider checking out our other GPU guides. We’ve covered most modern GPUs currently available on the market, so no matter what your budget is or what performance you’re looking for, you’ll find something to suit your needs and tastes. We also offer comprehensive build guides for anyone looking to start a new PC-building project from scratch.