Welcome to the strange world of custom RTX 4060 GPUs

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 and AMD Raden RX 7600 side by side
(Image credit: Future)

The world of custom RTX 4060 graphics cards is a strange one for sure. From adorable, single-fan Mini-ITX GPUs, to unnecessary three-fan models, there's a 4060 for everyone it seems. And with the RTX 4060 Ti 16GB having launched today to little enthusiasm, I thought it was a good time to go over just how experimental and strange some of the third-party designs for Nvidia's recently released RTX 4060 are, and why this card in particular affords such wild design variations.

Add-in boards like Lenovo's Mini-ITX GeForce RTX 4060, currently limited to the company's own prebuilt PCs, could one day hit retailers and give mini-PC enthusiasts all the benefits of a 40-series card in a small form factor. We're also seeing somewhat unnecessary experimentation, such as that of Gigabyte's triple fan model. If nothing else, it can at least make your entry-level GPU look more impressive than it actually is. More importantly, its one of the first low-profile RTX 4060 cards we've seen.

Then we have Palit and its RTX 4060 with a physical x8 PCIe connector… because why the heck not? While most recent cards have used the standard PCIe x16 to hook up to the motherboard, that hasn't been necessary for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 and RTX 4060 Ti. A card like this will function perfectly in any x8 slot, and can open up some flexibility options when it comes to component configuration.

So why are we seeing so much more variation in RTX 4060 AIB designs than other, higher-powered graphics cards?

Built around TSMC's 4nm process, the AD107 GPU at the heart of the RTX 4060 is the fifth chip in the Ada lineup. It's an 8GB card with just 24 streaming multiprocessors, and 3072 CUDA cores—a spec that sees it somewhat lacking in the face of its predecessor, the 3584 core, 12GB RTX 3060. We made it clear in our review that the 4060's spec sits closer to what we expected from an RTX 4050, which makes the $299 price tag look a little on the steep side.

But where the spec falls short, Nvidia has left an opening for experimentation.

Thanks to this GPU's low power operation, manufacturers have a little more leeway to play around when it comes to aftermarket designs. We're talking a 115W TGP compared to the last-gen RTX 3060's 170W, and performance-per-watt that dwarfs that of Nvidia's last-gen cards. 

The RTX 4060's thermals top out at 70°C, too, at least that's the case with the Ventus Black 2X we tested recently. A sweet spot that allows noise levels to stay low, while maintaining those 2,460MHz boost clocks.

Two GTX 1050 Ti graphics cards, Palit on the left, and MSI on the right.

Palit's GTX 1050 Ti on the left, and the MSI GTX 1050 Ti on the right. (Image credit: Linus Tech Tips)
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What better way to take advantage of all that headroom than to faff with the configuration in the name of science?

Experimentation like this isn't limited to the RTX 4060, though. There were a bunch of weird and wonderful GTX 1050 Tis back in the day. The Palit GTX 1050 Ti KalmX with its freaky lookin' passive cooler, for example, or the low-profile MSI GTX 1050 Ti are both prime examples of AIB tomfoolery.

Modders have been riding the experimentation train for AMD cards too, such as someone who created a neat passive cooler for the RX 6400. I have a lot of respect for the pro-active energy of "If the manufacturers wont, then I bloody-well will."

I for one am glad to see the experimentation isn't dead. Not only does it keep up a valuable tradition, but it breathes life into an otherwise kinda drab entry to the RTX 40-series. In other words, keep up the strangeness, GPU manufacturers.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.