RTX 3050 vs Radeon RX 6500 XT: which budget GPU is right for you?

The Nvidia RTX 3050 vs Radeon RX 6500 XT matchup is going to be hot stuff in 2022.

And this was highlighted and confirmed recently when CES 2022 became a battleground for entry-level video cards looking to fight their way for market dominance on both sides. AMD announced the RX 6500 XT on January 4 and Nvidia wasn’t far behind with its unveiling of the RTX 3050 later that morning. 

Both the RTX 3050 and Radeon RX 6500 XT have the same goal in mind: to replace the perennially popular GTX 1650 and RX 570 models (among other video cards) that many PC gamers are still using in 2022. These GPUs are targeting 1080p (Full HD) at high settings in the latest releases, such as Resident Evil Village, Back 4 Blood, and Call of Duty: Vanguard as well as esports competitive titles (CS: GO, Valorent, etc.) at higher FPS. 

There are many factors to consider when deciding where to sit in the RTX 3050 vs Radeon RX 6500 XT match, and it comes down to more than numbers. We’re comparing more than just the launch prices and raw performance power, indeed, with both companies hot on A.I. supersampling to get the heavy lifting done, future-proofing your machine becomes an even bigger priority in the new year. 

While the RTX 3050 and RX 6500 XT are unlikely to go down as either companies best graphics card for gaming on a raw power level, they present an incredible potential for those PC gamers on a strict budget. If you’ve been wanting to build one of the best gaming PCs at a wallet-friendly price, then these 1080p targeting GPUs are an effective way to keep those costs from climbing. 

RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT: when do the GPUs release? 

You won’t have to wait long for either the RTX 3050 or the RX 6500 XT, as both graphics cards are released later this month. AMD’s latest budget video card gets a head start over Team Green, as the RX 6500 XT will launch on January 19

The RTX 3050 isn’t a million miles away, however, as it’s hitting shelves physically and virtually on January 27. If you’re interested in availability on the latest RTX 30 series GPU, then we recommend brushing up on everything you need to know regarding RTX 3050 pre-orders

RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT: price differences 

The AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT is the cheaper out of the new models, with an asking price starting at $199. With over 18 Radeon RX 6000 models on the horizon for 2022, it remains to be seen if that aggressive price point can be kept down when it comes to the partner cards. 

Nvidia’s RTX 3050 carries a slightly higher starting MSRP of $250. It’ll again come down to the aftermarket GPUs by the likes of Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and more whether that asking price stays consistent. However, that is $80 cheaper than the previous entry-level current generation RTX 30-series graphics card, the RTX 3060, by $80. 

In the RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT bout, if the price is the most important factor, then AMD’s budget GPU certainly holds its end of the bargain at just shy of $200. Considering what it is offering for the money, it’s far from a poor value proposition when evaluating the state of the current GPU market right now. 

RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT: which is more powerful? 

If we break down the technical specifications of both GPUs, then the RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT bout has a clear winner, at least on paper. We’ll start with Nvidia’s latest graphics card, with its 8GB GDDR6 VRAM and 128-bit memory interface width. Making use of 8GB memory in the latest titles is going to be more than enough for 1080p gaming, generally speaking. 

The RX 6500 XT can’t quite compare in this regard when put side by side. It’s running a 64-bit memory interface with just 4GB GDDR6 memory to work with. By 2022 standards, 4GB is the absolute minimum that games need to run at high fidelity. 

That’s without taking the clock speeds into account. RX 6500 XT is running at 2.61 GHz (with a boost clock of 2.81 GHz). This is in stark contrast to the RTX 3050’s base clock speed of 1.55 GHz (with a boost clock of 1.78 GHz). Just how this vast clock speed advantage will work out in the RX 6500 XT’s favor remains to be seen, but it’s looking like those wanting to overclock will be better suited to AMD’s offering.

RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT: performance capabilities  

RX 6500 XT

(Image credit: AMD)

From AMD’s CES 2022 conference, we can see that the RX 6500 XT is able to run games such as Call of Duty: Vanguard, Deathloop, and Far Cry 6 natively at 60 FPS in 1080p at high settings. However, things become more interesting when factoring in AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution into the mix. 

This technology sees a significant frame rate boost when used in ‘Ultra Quality’. Call of Duty: Vanguard skyrockets all the way to an average of 89 FPS when FSR is switched on. Results are equally solid with Deathloop and Far Cry 6, at 80 FPS and 84 FPS averages respectively when on high settings at 1080p. 

Considering that AMD is marketing the RX 6500 XT as the new minimum for the latest games, these numbers show that the GPU is very much capable of achieving this goal. The real tests, though, will be when the benchmarks begin to come out as PC gamers start stress-testing the GPU to see what it’s really made of, which we’re anticipating won’t take long.

RTX 3050 performance

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia’s published RTX 3050 performance numbers are less clear-cut. The new GPU has been stacked up against the GTX 1050 and GTX 1650 in Control, Minecraft (with RTX shaders enabled), and Borderlands 3. The results are certainly respectable. Control averages just shy of 80 FPS in High settings at 1080p with ray tracing and DLSS set to Quality Mode. The same can be said of Borderlands 3, with Minecraft (with RTX shaders) pushing just above 60 FPS.

Factoring in the goal of the RTX 3050 is to deliver RTX capabilities in Full HD at 60 FPS, everything that we’ve seen from Nvidia so far accurately hits the mark. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War do indeed run at 60 FPS with settings set to High in 1080p. Doom Eternal, unsurprisingly, pushes up into the 100 FPS mark due to that game’s fantastic optimization. The caveat here is that we only have the DLSS-enabled numbers to go off of instead of native performance.

Nvidia DLSS is an A.I. supersampling which is essentially upscaling technology that takes advantage of the RTX Tensor Cores to generate a sharp picture while increasing frame rates. While we’ve certainly made use of DLSS in several of our setups to great effect, it may have been better for Nvidia to publish native performance alongside DLSS-boosted figures for a more accurate comparison. 

It’s also worth reiterating that older GPUs, such as the GTX 1050 and GTX 1650 are not capable of RTX functionality, such as ray tracing and DLSS. Because of this fact, it’s tough to actually compare the raw numbers with these graphics cards as far as native performance goes. 

RTX 3050 vs RX 6500 XT: which should you buy? 

In an ideal world, our answer to which out of the RTX 3050 and RX 6500 XT deserves your money would be the GPU that best suits your needs. If you have decided that more VRAM is an absolute necessity and you’re wanting to check out ray tracing for the first time then the RTX 3050 is absolutely the way to go. With that said, if the native and boosted performance of the RX 6500 XT does what you need it to do, despite running 4GB VRAM, then that’s likely the card for you. 

There’s also the fact that the RX 6500 XT will launch at $50 cheaper than the RTX 3050. We wouldn’t rely on the price comparisons of the two GPUs too much though, as they are both likely to disappear on release day shortly after launch and then be listed at massively inflated prices soon after…

Our personal recommendation for which of the two to buy though is on the RTX 3050. We’ve had nothing but good things to say about the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti since using them in our systems throughout the past year, and it’s looking like the RTX 3050 may follow in a similar vein.

Find more Nvidia and AMD graphics cards inside some of the best gaming laptops on the market right now. You can also find more affordable GPUs with the best cheap gaming PC deals.

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