Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 vs RTX 3060 review: higher frame-rates, less VRAM Play4ever

Regularly topping the Steam hardware survey as the most popular graphics cards, Nvidia’s 60-class products are often the ‘go to’ product for the mainstream gamer, with the green team usually dominating, even when rival products can be just as good or even better. With 60-class, the power of the GeForce brand comes into its own and to be fair, Nvidia has delivered some excellent GPUs. The GTX 1060 is still supremely popular, while last-gen’s RTX 3060 is currently the cheapest GPU you can buy with 12GB of VRAM – an increasingly important spec point. You can think of the RTX 4060 as broadly on par with the old RTX 2070 Super – a $499 product back in 2019 – so it’s generally faster than the 3060, but it does ship with just 8GB of RAM.

That’s clearly a challenge for the new card, even though its suggested retail price is actually lower than its predecessor, the issue being that discounting means RTX 3060 can be a lot cheaper – and capable of superior price vs performance ratios in some scenarios while stocks last. The fact is that VRAM is becoming increasingly more important and Nvidia cutting it by a third gen-on-gen is problematic. That’s a shame because the inherent advantages of the Ada Lovelace architecture are all present and correct on the RTX 4060 and, in the case of DLSS 3 in particular, we’re seeing gaming feats on this £289/$299 product that nothing else can get close to.

So, to illustrate, in the video below, you’ll see that Cyberpunk 2077’s RT Overdrive mode is fully playable at 1080p on the RTX 4060 at 1080p resolution with frame-rates in the 50-70fps range with a 58fps average. Take a minor hit to quality with the RT Overdrive optimisation mode and that increases frame-rate by 36 percent, keeping you north of 60fps at all times. If this is the future of graphics – as Nvidia hopes it is – the RTX 4060 democratises that experience.

The RTX 4060 doesn’t have to just deliver better performance than the competition – it needs to deliver console-level performance too. Here’s the video review.
  RTX 4080 16GB RTX 4070 Ti 12GB RTX 4070 12GB RTX 4060 Ti 8GB RTX 4060 8GB
Processor AD103 AD104 AD104 AD106 AD107
Transistors 45.9B 35.8B 35.8B 22.9B 18.9B
Die Size 379mm² 295mm² 295mm² 190mm² 146mm²
CUDA Cores 9728 7680 5888 4352 3072
Boost Clock 2.51GHz 2.61GHz 2.48GHz 2.54GHz 2.46GHz
Memory Interface 256-bit 192-bit 192-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 717GB/s 504GB/s 504GB/s 288GB/s 272GB/s
TGP 320W 285W 200W 160W 115W
PSU Recommendation 750W 700W 650W 550W 550W
PSU Cables 3x 8-pin 2x 8-pin 2x 8-pin 2x 8-pin 1x 8-pin
Base Price $1199/£1199 $799/£799 $599/£589 $399/£389 $299/£289
Release date November 16th, 2022 January 5th, 2023 April 13th, 2023 May 23rd, 2023 June 29th, 2023

Elsewhere, the fact that you’re getting performance broadly in line – or better than, in many cases – the RTX 2070 Super isn’t likely to be a fact picked up by many other outlets, but it’s important to Digital Foundry because that’s our current reference point for a console-equivalent GPU in the PC graphics space. Factor out the maxed settings benchmarks, bring in optimised settings and DLSS and what Nvidia reckons is a class-leading 1080p GPU actually transforms into a console-like ‘4K’ performer.

That’s surprisingly impressive bearing in mind the cut-back specification here. The 3584 CUDA cores of the RTX 3060 gives way to just 3072 in its successor, while the 192-bit memory interface drops back to a 128-bit bus, limiting the amount of addressable VRAM the new card could ship with. The 12GB of the RTX 3060 seemed outlandishingly high at launch, but it was the right call at the time when 6GB was the only viable alternative. The choices on a 128-bit interface are 8GB and 16GB – and the need to bring the RTX 4060 in at a reasonable price-point means that 8GB is the only real option. Either way, we’re looking spec reductions vs the last-gen product – and that’s never a good thing, especially right now when so many key triple-A PC launches are looking appreciably worse on 8GB cards.

In terms of the specific GPU we’re reviewing today, there’s no reference model for the RTX 4060. Instead, Nvidia supplied an MSI Ventus design, which is a small, basic, functional GPU with no bells and whistles – exactly the way I like it for budget GPUs. There’s no need for high-end coolers with a card that maxes at just 115W, and power is delivered via one eight-pin PCIe input. Again, no need for any exotic PSU connectors here. Cool, quiet, basic but fully functional with no real downsides. This is pure entry-level and does the job just fine. I’m told that this card operates to reference specs, but per the power consumption tables below, peak power draw is in the region of 127W based on measurements using Nvidia’s PCAT hardware interposer that sits between the PCIe slot on the motherboard and the GPU.

GeForce RTX 4060 GeForce RTX 3060 Radeon RX 7600
Control, 1080p, High RT 51fps/124W – 2.43 Joules Per Frame 46fps/150W – 3.26 Joules Per Frame 42fps/161W – 3.83 Joules Per Frame
Dying Light 2, 1080p, High RT 47fps/125W – 2.65 Joules Per Frame 39fps/162W – 4.15 Joules Per Frame 36fps/158W – 4.39 Joules Per Frame
Forza Horizon 5, 1080p, Ultra, RT Off, 4x MSAA 112fps/101W – 0.96 Joules Per Frame 76fps/113W – 1.49 Joules Per Frame 124fps/158W – 1.66 Joules Per Frame
Hitman 3, 1440p, Max, RT Off 112fps/122W – 1.10 Joules Per Frame 103fps/175W – 1.70 Joules Per Frame 124fps/161W – 1.30 Joules Per Frame

The efficiency of the RTX 4060 compared to all competitors is simply extraordinary. In our RT tests, the RTX 3060 requires 34 percent and 57 percent more power per frame to match the RTX 4060 in Control and Dying Light 2 respectively. Those numbers increase to 58 percent and 66 percent respectively with the RX 7600.

In Forza Horizon 5 and Hitman 3, we’re concentrating on rasterised performance on a title that favours the Ada Lovelace architecture (FH5), while IO Interactive’s epic always performs strongly on AMD. RTX 3060 requires 55 percent and 54 percent more power per frame than RTX 4060 in FH5 and Hitman respectively. Those figures shift to 73 percent and 17 percent respectively on RX 7600. The 17 percent score there for Hitman is perhaps more indicative of raster efficiency bearing in mind how well Forza Horizon 5 runs on RTX 40-series. Even so, whichever way you slice it, the RTX 4060 achieves phenomenal results with a meagre power budget.

With the preliminaries out of the way, it’s time to look at game performance. As usual, for benchmark purposes, we’re using a Core i9 13900K paired with 6000MT/s GSkill DDR5, run off an Asus ROG Maximus Hero Z690 motherboard. This is total overkill for a GPU like this, so on the final page – and indeed in the video above – you’ll see actual testing with optimised settings based on a Core i5 12400F system with 3200MT/s DDR4, which I found to be a good match for the capabilities of the RTX 4060 – and indeed every other budget-orientated GPU benchmarked in this piece.

Nvidia RTX 4060 Analysis

  • Introduction [This Page]
  • RT benchmarks: Dying Light 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Control
  • RT benchmarks: Hitman 3, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, F1 22
  • RT/DLSS/FSR2/DLSS3 benchmarks: Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Light 2, Forza Horizon 5
  • Game benchmarks: Control, Cyberpunk 2077, F1 22, Forza Horizon 5
  • Game benchmarks: Hitman 3, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Returnal
  • Conclusions and recommendations

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