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Mainstream laptops could be gaming beasts thanks to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti

Expect Razer laptops to make use of the latest Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics
(Image credit: Future)

While it might be near-impossible to find where to buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, there's another way to get the latest RTX graphics tech — and that’s through gaming laptops with the new GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3050 GPUs. 

We first heard about these additions to Nvidia’s laptop-grade GeForce 30-series with the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey, the first gaming laptop with the entry-level graphics cards. Now Nvidia has revealed more gaming laptops from the likes of Asus, Dell, Gigabyte, MSI, Razer and others that will get the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3050.  

And that’s a very good thing for people on a budget but who want gaming power that can be easily slotted into a laptop bag. Nvidia said that laptops with the GeForce RTX 3050 will start at $799, a good bit cheaper than machines with the more powerful GeForce RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080. 

Yet these won’t be underpowered gaming machines, as they’ll target a smooth 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution — plenty for most laptop displays — in the latest games. And the GPUs will also offer the option for ray tracing support in a machine under $1,000. 

The GeForce RTX 3050 Ti offers 80 tensor cores and 20 ray tracing cores while the RTX 3060 sports 64 tensor cores and 16 RT cores; both cards have 4GB of video memory. Not surprisingly, they aren't going to deliver the performance of a laptop with a GeForce RTX 3060 or indeed an older RTX 2060. However, laptops with the former start north of $999 and aren’t easy to find at the moment, while the later machines are being phased out and don’t have access to the latest Nvidia Ampere graphics architecture. 

Furthermore, Nvidia said that the design of the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3050 will allow for slim and portable laptops, building upon the already rather svelte gaming machines that fit in the more powerful laptop-grade GeForce RTX 30-series cards. As such, it’s no surprise that these new RTX 3050 card will be found in the new Dell XPS 15 and XPS 17, which are getting the new GPUs alongside the latest 11th Gen Intel Tiger Lake H-series processors. 

While these new graphics cards will not offer the blistering fast performance of their beefier and more expensive stablemates, they should offer content creators slim and light machines that can handle some decent gaming when it’s time to clock out of work. And you can also expect to see a slew of budget-oriented gaming laptops that’ll spec the new GeForce RTX cards with affordable yet capable processors from AMD. 

Give how hard it its to find the GeForce RTX 30-series cards in stock, as well as higher-end gaming laptop, laptops with these budget GeForce GPUs could be a perfect stopgap until the semiconductor shortage eases. And when games start to outpace the capabilities of the GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3050, the laptops with these cards will still make for excellent workhorse machines. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.