Nvidia’s RTX 3050 graphics card has only just come out, but it seems that the company may be planning to introduce a different version of the GPU.
Specifically, the fresh flavor of this card might run with Nvidia’s GA107 chip, rather than the GA106 employed by the existing RTX 3050, a theory advanced by renown hardware leaker Igor (of Igor’s Lab fame).
If you recall, Nvidia decided to go the route of using the GA106 for the GPU powering the 3050, cutting it down to size for the lowest-end desktop RTX card. Igor reckons that a switch could be made to introduce the lesser GA107 chip, which would have the same spec, mind, as the cut-down GA106, as you might expect.
Indeed, Igor explains that Nvidia has designed the board of the RTX 3050 so it’s pin-compatible with both of these GPUs. In other words, Team Green can drop the GA107 chip into the exact same board design as currently used by the GA106 models on sale, and everything will work the same.
There’ll be no difference in spec, bar one point, Igor says – the new GA107 spin on the RTX 3050 will be slightly less power-hungry, only tapping 115W from the PSU, rather than 130W for the existing GA106-powered 3050 graphics card. (If Igor is right about all this, of course – let’s not jump to any conclusions and as ever stay skeptical around rumors). The BIOS of these cards would, of course, be slightly different too.
Analysis: Slightly faster – or not? Availability will be key, either way
The long and short of this is we could end up with two slightly different versions of the RTX 3050 on sale, if Nvidia follows the outlined route. These cards would be essentially identical, although the power consumption difference would obviously have a small impact, with the GA107 offering a better level of power-efficiency.
On the other hand, with its higher wattage, the existing GA106 model might offer just a touch better overall performance (and overclocking potential), but really, to draw any conclusions on how frame rates might pan out between these versions, the finished products would need to be compared. As we’ve already said, let’s not get carried away with drawing early conclusions here.
The hope would be that Nvidia should ensure pretty much parity of performance so that folks who have purchased either model wouldn’t suffer from buyer’s remorse – and to avoid confusion about which GPU is faster, of course, if there isn’t any meaningful difference. Then again, getting that balance just right could be easier said than done…
While off the back of this rumor, some folks have floated the idea that Nvidia might have used the GA106 model as a temporary measure to get the RTX 3050 out there, Igor underlines that the opposite is the case. He suggests that Team Green will only deploy this new flavor of RTX 3050 if it starts running short of GA106 chips, so rather than the primary plan for the budget graphics card, the GA107 is effectively a secondary option.
If correct, what’s good about that scenario is it shows Nvidia has really planned ahead in terms of getting enough stock of the RTX 3050 out there, so fingers crossed we could see more of this GPU in the near future – and therefore its price could drop to more wallet-friendly levels (which is where the price tags should be, of course; but they aren’t).
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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).