Buying a new desktop video card can be murder right now. Thanks to the chip shortage and crypto price spike, you’d be lucky to find an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000-series GPU for less than a thousand dollars. You can get a whole gaming laptop for less than that, and you’ve got more options now that Nvidia has unveiled the RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti. These laptop GPUs will come in machines from multiple manufacturers, priced as low as $799.
The RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti will essentially slot in where the GTX 1650 and 1650 Ti currently reside. The new GPUs bring support for Nvidia’s ray tracing technology, which produces more realistic lighting in supported games. That’s a first for entry-level gaming laptops. The 3050s will also support Nvidia’s DLSS tech that uses AI to boost framerates. Ray tracing and DLSS often go hand-in-hand in today’s most popular games because of the performance hit from ray tracing. The RTX 3050 has 2048 CUDA cores and 4GB of video memory. The RTX 2050 Ti ups that to 2560 cores. Both have a TDP range of 35 to 80 watts, significantly lower than the 60-115W required for the RTX 3060. The clock speeds are a little slower as a result.
Previously, manufacturers could equip the latest gaming laptops with RTX 3060, 3070, and 3080 GPUs, but the addition of the 3050 to the lineup will mean more budget-friendly options. You shouldn’t expect miracles with the new budget GPUs, but Nvidia has data to show the 3050 can far outperform the GTX 1650. For example, the 3050Ti can play Control on medium settings with ray tracing at more than 60fps. Call of Duty: Warzone can get near 100fps (no ray tracing) on medium settings with the same card. However, these numbers include DLSS, which renders at a lower resolution and then upscales with AI. When done well, this can make a game run considerably better with only a minor loss of detail.
Nvidia released the 3000-series GPUs last year, and they were seen as a significant step up from the RTX 2000s. However, supplies have been extremely limited. Cards like the RTX 3080 that should only cost $699 are going for $1,200 or more on eBay and Amazon. That’s if you’re even lucky enough to find them. Nvidia says its upcoming crypto mining cards will help increase supply for gamers, but that won’t do anything to address the chip shortage.
If you’re looking to take your PC gaming mobile, Nvidia says the first 3050 laptops should be on sale as soon as today. However, don’t expect them all to be close to that $799 price point. Add a Core i7, a boatload of RAM, and some other gaming hardware, and the cost will quickly inch over a grand. The GTX 1650 will continue to exist alongside the new GPUs, so that might continue to be a good budget gaming option.