Nvidia could be about to release a cheaper RTX 3050 – and more budget goodness with an RTX 4050 GPU

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
(Image credit: Future)

Nvidia might be preparing to replace the RTX 3050 graphics card with a new version – a cheaper one, with less VRAM – and there’s a hint that this move may be about making room for another model at the budget end of the spectrum, perhaps an RTX 4050.

The latter bit is an airier piece of speculation, mind – and indeed we should take all this with a healthy spoonful of salt (or maybe not so healthy) – but we have already heard from the rumor mill that a new RTX 3050 variant could be inbound.

The previously rumored theory, now backed up by Chinese tech site Benchlife (hat tip to VideoCardz), is that Nvidia is scrapping the RTX 3050 as it stands, which is equipped with 8GB of VRAM, and bringing in a refreshed version with a cut-down 6GB (and a trimmed down memory bus, too).

This would mean the RTX 3050 6GB could be pitched at a cheaper $179 to $189, or thereabouts, in the US (and in line with that pricing elsewhere – so about 10% to 15% less than the RTX 3050 8GB currently sells for, roughly).

Previous buzz from the grapevine has suggested that the RTX 3050 6GB could be cut down for CUDA cores as well – shedding up to 20% of its core count, perhaps – and it’d also have a much lower power usage in theory.

Nvidia will supposedly deploy this new RTX 3050 6GB in January 2024, we’re told.

Benchlife adds that there is speculation that Nvidia may be planning a “new GeForce RTX 40 series graphics card to meet consumers in different price ranges,” referring to something to fill the gap between the cheaper RTX 3050 6GB and the RTX 4060. And that must surely be an RTX 4050 – if it exists.

Analysis: Stiff budget competition

The rumor about the RTX 4050 is couched in very vague terms, and as we already mentioned, we should be especially skeptical here as a result. It is something that gamers on a budget have been hoping for, and an RTX 4050 does exist in laptop form already – so who knows, we may just see it.

Or the idea of bringing out a new RTX 3050 6GB that can be sold at a cheaper price point could simply be Nvidia trying to make itself a bit more compelling at the budget end of the market, though the rumored cut-backs for the graphics card make it seem not so tempting.

If the CUDA cores are indeed dropped down substantially (from the existing 2,560 cores) as some rumors have suggested, that’s going to make this an unappealing option – and surely it’d be more cheaply priced, if that was the case?

What’s more likely is that the VRAM and memory bus will be dropped, but not the core count – if the purported price is correct, that’d make much more sense. It’d also align with the refreshed RTX 3050 laptop GPU (which emerged at the start of the year and has 2,560 cores).

Whatever Nvidia does, it will surely have to pitch this rumored new RTX 3050 to compete with AMD’s RX 6600, a rival last-gen option that represents pretty stiff budget competition currently in the best cheap GPU department, with its price having dropped pretty low these days.

On a more general note, it’s good to see a trend of repurposing older generations of silicon into wallet-friendly contemporary products – not just from Nvidia, but also AMD with its rumored moves on the CPU front, bringing in new 3D V-Cache processors from Zen 3 (supposedly the Ryzen 5700X3D and 5500X3D, which could be seriously popular options at the low-end).

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).