Hardware Review – 'Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060'

by Marcos Paulo Vilela
Hardware Review - 'Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060'

The GeForce RTX 4060 is doing something that few pieces of consumer computer hardware ever do. Instead of releasing in July like it was originally scheduled to, it moved its release date up to June 29, just in time for the Steam Summer Sale. The move could’ve been due to most of the reviews for the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti being the opposite of what the company had wanted, and the sales have also stagnated. Others would say that the release of AMD’s Radeon 7600 days after the 4060 Ti’s release spurred the company to accelerate the non-Ti version’s release. Either way, the card is now out, and we had the chance to see how it measures up.

There are a few interesting wrinkles even before any tests have been conducted. The first is that there are no cards directly from Nvidia for this one, like there were for cards like the RTX 4090 and 4060 Ti. For this review, we were sent the ASUS Dual Series card, which sports two fans and a dual bios. The card is a little thicker than a typical two-card setup, but it’s also a little shorter than the typical ATX motherboard. It’s mostly smoked plastic with little bits of thicker solid plastic, and it weighs next to nothing. It’s also very light, so despite its looks, there’s no need to worry about GPU sag.

The second interesting bit is power consumption. At the documented 115W, this is a very power-efficient card, and while it isn’t efficient enough to take one 6-pin connector instead of an 8-pin one, it does beat out most of its contemporaries that require two plugs. Using the default settings, it’s also a quiet card; the fans barely spin up to audible levels to cool it down.

The last bit is Nvidia’s focus for the card. The RTX 4060 isn’t meant for those who already own the GeForce 3060 but those who own a card from a few generations ago, namely the 1060 and 2060. The argument is compelling enough, as those cards lack some of the things that Nvidia loves to tout, including DLSS support, which continues to grow in upcoming games with FSR and Xess. Ray-tracing was on the 2060, but the first-generation ray tracing cores don’t compare to the current and last generation version of the technology. The MSRP of $299 also sits squarely in the middle of both cards, as the 4060 is $50 cheaper than the 2060’s MSRP but $50 more expensive than the 1060. Whether the card stays that way is a different story.

This is a card with 8GB of VRAM, and unlike the 4060 Ti, there will be no 16GB variant. The amount of VRAM isn’t enough to prevent you from playing games, but it does have unintended consequences for some of the latest releases. Redfall might not be well optimized, but having a low amount of VRAM means that the proper textures take longer to load when compared to other cards equipped with more VRAM. This also happens in Forspoken if you go beyond standard textures. The Last of Us: Part 1 received a number of patches to make it perform better, but the stuttering is less prevalent with cards that have more than 8GB of VRAM; this is also the case with A Plague Tale: Requiem. Keep in mind that this occurs when you try to go for the highest textures the game can provide. Some will argue that cards like the RTX 4060 aren’t meant to be used like that, but there’s disappointment in knowing that you can max out everything else except the textures. When most people buy a new video card, they expect to push everything to the max at the card’s recommended resolution.

As in the past, we’re reviewing the RTX 4060 on a system that’s not new but still considered more than mid-range. We’re using a Ryzen 7 5800X processor with an air cooler this time around, since the AIO stopped working. There’s 32GB of DDR4 RAM rated at 3600Mhz on the MSI MPG B550 motherboard with Resizable Bar enabled. The latest driver is also being used, and based on the tests for the 4060 Ti, tests were conducted using 1080p and 1440p for the resolution. We’re using the results from the 4060 Ti review for comparison, but we don’t have access to either the 3060 Ti or 3060 for a more proper comparison. All games are tested with all settings maxed out unless otherwise noted. As usual, we highly encourage you to seek out other outlets for benchmarks on other games to get a more well-rounded view of the card.

There is one difference with our tests this time, and that’s the inclusion of an AMD card. We’ve purchased the AMD Radeon 6700 XT for testing purposes and for personal use. Based on benchmarks from other outlets, the card’s performance sits somewhere between the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070. It is an older-generation Radeon card, which means the ray tracing capabilities aren’t that strong. While we should have opted for the Radeon 7600 since it directly competes with the 4060 for price, the 6700 XT’s $350 price point makes it tempting for those looking for the cheapest AMD alternative with 12GB of VRAM — at least while supplies are still available.

As usual, we start off the set of tests with the synthetic set of benchmarks in 3DMark. In Fire Strike at all resolutions, the 4060 produces the lowest overall scores with 24856 at 1080p, 12086 at 1440p, and 5879 at 4K. Meanwhile, the 4060 Ti leads over the 6700 XT with 29473 vs. 27654, respectively, at 1080p. The leads are reversed at 1440p and 4K, with the 6700 XT taking an 800-point lead over the 4060 Ti. Time Spy at both resolutions sees the 4060 Ti back on top with the 6700 XT trailing by almost 1,100 points at 1440p and 400 points in 4K. The gaps between that card and the 4060 are much bigger, though, as the 4060 sits roughly 1,300 points behind in 1440p and 600 points behind in 4K. The ray tracing for both Port Royale and the relatively new Speed Way have traditionally held the same score, but things are different now. The 6700 XT holds a lead over the 4060 by about 200 points in Port Royale while the 4060 beats the 6700 XT by 260 points in Speed Way, though the latter test sees the 4060 Ti run away by a wide margin.

With DLSS being a proprietary Nvidia tech and with the FSR test on 3DMark using a completely different scene altogether, it is only fair to omit the 6700 XT from this section. The native resolution tests for the 4060 show that it is meant to strictly be a 1080p card, and while DLSS makes it performant at 1080p, 1440p with DLSS shows that it’s decent in a pinch. 4K is out of the question unless you go for DLSS3, as DLSS2 makes it go below the baseline 30fps and native resolution hits an average of just 2fps.

The first game on the list is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a game that got some ray tracing and DirectX 12 support that puts it a little below Cyberpunk 2077 in terms of stressing out video cards. At 1080p, the 4060 hits 64fps without ray tracing, which places it below the 6700 XT at 71, which itself trails the 4060 Ti at 79fps. Turning on ray tracing puts the 4060 ahead of the 6700 XT by 4fps, making it cinematic at best compared to the 43fps achieved by the 4060 Ti. The story is the same when turning on FSR or DLSS for their respective cards, as all three cards break the 80fps barrier without ray tracing, while the 4060 overtakes the 6700 XT again by 5fps with ray tracing on. DLSS3 helps the 4060 greatly, as it goes to 66fps with ray tracing on and almost double that with ray tracing off.

Go to 1440p, and it becomes apparent that the 4060 can only keep up due to various forms of DLSS. At the native resolution, the 4060 is fine at 42fps but tanks to 21 when ray tracing is on. The card gets to one frame shy of 60fps with regular DLSS and hits a nice 78fps with DLSS3. Both are done without ray tracing, as DLSS makes the card hit 30fps only, while DLSS3 helps the card hit 47fps. For those wondering, the 6700 XT is ahead with FSR on and off but dead even with the 4060 when ray tracing is on. The 4060 Ti remains ahead of both cards at 1440p.

Fortnite is the next game with its use of Unreal Engine 5. Tests were done using a replay of a short match, as replicating the run live is impossible due to the game’s nature. While the 4060 Ti handily beats both cards, the 4060 has an advantage over the 6700 XT. At 1080p, both cards barely hit over 60fps with a frame margin of error, but the 4060 has a better time of maintaining that line with ray tracing on, as it hits 57fps vs. the 49fps of the 6700 XT. One advantage the 4060 has is that DLSS is built into Fortnite, while the 6700 XT needs to rely on Epic’s TSR tech since FSR isn’t natively supported. Ray tracing off with DLSS puts the 4060 ahead of the 6700 XT by 10fps — 88fps vs. 78fps — but the gap widens with ray tracing on at 79fps vs. 61fps. The story remains the same at 1440p, but with the 4060 only achieving 63fps with ray tracing off and DLSS on, it’s best to stick with 1080p unless you have at least a 4060 Ti.

As mentioned earlier, Redfall remains a problematic title that throws the whole chart for a loop. At native 1080p, all three cards average 70fps when accounting for margin of error, but the 4060 tops the pack with DLSS on at 79fps compared to the 4060 Ti’s 69fps and the 6700 XT’s 61fps. DLSS3 causes the 4060 Ti to edge out the 4060 by 4fps, but at 130fps vs. 126fps, the difference is negligible. The story remains the same at 1440p, with native resolution making the cards fairly even; the 4060 comes out ahead at 70fps with DLSS. DLSS 3 produces a bigger difference than before, with the 4060 Ti getting 110fps versus the 4060’s 95fps.

Forspoken is much like Redfall in that it upends expectations. At 1080p, the 6700 XT beats both the 4060 Ti and 4060. AMD’s card scores 96fps versus 88fps from the 4060 Ti and 69fps from the 4060 with ray tracing off; turning on ray tracing brings the 6700 XT to 77fps, the 4060 Ti to 71fps, and the 4060 to 57fps. Turn on the upscaling technologies and things normalize, as the 4060 Ti takes back the lead with the 6700 XT falling behind by 14fps with ray tracing on and off, while the 4060 hits 85fps with ray tracing off and 72fps with it on. 1440p doesn’t produce that upset lead anymore, but it means that all of the cards can produce over 60fps unless you’re playing with ray tracing on and DLSS or FSR off.

The Callisto Protocol is next on the list, and it’s an interesting choice since it only has support for FSR 2.1. 1080p shows the 4060 get to 76fps, 3fps ahead of the 6700 XT but 12fps behind the 4060 Ti. Turn ray tracing on, and there’s only a 1fps difference between the 4060 and 6700 XT at 53fps and 52fps, respectively. Turn FSR 2.1 on, and both cards are nearly tied with ray tracing off at 85fps versus 83fps, but the 6700 XT takes the lead once ray tracing is on, hitting 62fps as opposed to the 54fps achieved by the 4060. Go to 1440p, and the 4060 barely edges out the 6700 XT by 2fps in three out of the four scenarios, but they’re all below 60fps. That barrier is only broken with FSR 2.1 and no ray tracing activated, and this is where the 4060 takes on a bigger lead of 72fps versus the 6700 XT at 66fps.

Just like Forspoken and Redfall, Forza Horizon 5 produces some interesting and unexpected results. At 1080p with ray tracing off and on, the 4060 isn’t that far behind the 4060 Ti, as the 3fps difference can equate to margin of error. The gap widens a bit more with DLSS, but it really takes off with DLSS3 as the 4060 drops a little over 40fps behind the 4060 Ti. 1440p sees that DLSS3 advantage shrink, and while the game still performs very well for all three cards at this resolution (they maintain 60fps and above except for the 6700 XT with ray tracing on), the wide gap at 1080p might signal some limitations of DLSS3 going forward on low-end cards.

The last game on the list is Returnal, which pushes the narrative of the 6700 XT being a good card for rasterization but falls behind once ray tracing comes into play. At 1080p, the 4060 does well with ray tracing off at 78fps and 65fps with it on. It’s behind the other cards with ray tracing off but beats the 6700 XT, which comes in 11fps below at 54fps. DLSS and FSR boosts the frame rates for all cards to more than playable levels, but DLSS3 really pushes the 4060 to 117fps with ray tracing on and 126fps with it off. One interesting thing to note is that the 6700 XT and 4060 Ti match their frame rates at 102fps when DLSS and FSR are on and ray tracing is off. At 1440p, the 4060 hits shy of the 60fps mark at 56fps, while ray tracing drags it down to 40fps. Turn on FSR and DLSS, and the 6700 XT and 4060 Ti match again at 102fps, while the 4060 gets to playable levels with 73fps with ray tracing off and 61fps with it on. DLSS3 boosts the 4060 to 90fps with ray tracing off and 80fps with ray tracing on. Considering the fast bullet hell nature of Returnal, those trying to push the game to 1440p with the 4060 will want DLSS on at all times.

The GeForce RTX 4060 sits in an interesting spot for Nvidia video cards. The performance is only good for 1080p, as 1440p pushes it too far to be enjoyable. According to a Steam hardware survey from May 2023, 77% of gamers play at a resolution of 1080p or less, so this video card is squarely aimed at that audience. The presence of DLSS3 helps ensure that ray tracing is more than viable in most titles at 60fps or more. When combined with the low power consumption, the RTX 4060 looks compelling for those who still have the 1060 and 2060 cards. At the same time, the 8GB of VRAM is a disappointment for those looking to max out everything in future titles and a few current ones. The 8GB of VRAM makes the 3060 a more compelling purchase now that Nvidia has unofficially dropped the price for the 3060 with 12GB of VRAM. The 4060 is still a good choice for those who don’t want to spend a ton on a video card — but only after the 12GB variant of the 3060 runs out.

Score: 7.0/10

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