Nvidia has finally taken the covers off its new GeForce RTX 3000-series graphics cards, promising a big performance boost over the GeForce RTX 2000-series GPUs.
While the monstrously powerful GeForce RTX 3090 is the top graphics card in the range, its $1,499 price is very steep. And the more affordable GeForce RTX 3070 offers a lot of performance for $499, but some might want a little more power. That’s where the $699 GeForce RTX 3080 comes in.
- Nvidia RTX 3080: Everything you need to know
- Need something cheaper? Check out the Nvidia RTX 3070
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If you have a PC with a modern processor, plenty of RAM and a modern motherboard, then an upgrade from, say, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, makes a lot of sense. That's because with the RTX 3080, you’re not just getting a big performance boost but also access to Nvida's second-generation ray-tracing tech.
But if you have a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, the top GPU in the RTX 2000-series, you might be chewing over upgrading. Here’s what you need to know.
Nvidia RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080 Ti: Specs
|Header Cell - Column 0||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080||Nvidia GeForce 2080 Ti|
|Nvidia CUDA Cores||8,704||4,352|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||1.710||1,545|
|Standard Memory Config||10 GB GDDR6X||11 GB GDDR6|
|Memory Interface Width||320-bit||352-bit|
|Memory Speed||19 Gbps||14 Gbps|
|Memory Bandwidth||760.0 GB/s||616 GB/s|
|Ports||HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4a (3x)||DisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type-C|
Nvidia RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080 Ti: Performance
Given the specs of the GeForce RTX 3080, it’s no surprise that it beats the RTX 2080 Ti. A performance jump from generation to generation is expected, after all.
But what's surprising is that the GeForce RTX 3080 has been touted to be up to two times as fast as the RTX 2080 - the card it effectively replaces - and significantly faster than the RTX 2080 Ti. We had been expecting around a 20% boost in performance, but the increase looks a lot higher than that.
The RTX 2080 Ti comes with more memory and a slightly larger memory interface width, but it’s using GDDR6 video memory, whereas the RTX 3080 has faster GDDR6X VRAM. And that means it has a better memory speed and bandwidth. It also has a faster boost clock speed and double the CUDA cores, all of which help explain its hike in performance.
In a demo of Doom Eternal, the two cards were pitted against each other, and the RTX 3080 was around 50 percent faster than the RTX 2080 Ti. At 4K resolution and all settings maxed out, it ran the game at more than 100 frames per second most of the time, which is massively fast for a title where there’s a lot of stuff happening on screen.
And that performance looks to continue in games like Cyberpunk 2077 when ray-tracing is enabled, though we’ve seen no head-to-head comparison. Speaking of ray-tracing, the whole GeForce RTX 3000-series has Nvidia's second-generation RTX hardware, which promises a twofold boost in ray-tracing performance.
With the PS5 and Xbox Series X both coming with ray-tracing hardware, we can expect there to be more games with the real-time light rendering technique enabled. That means more games to put the ray-tracing power of the RTX 3080 to the test.
The GeForce RTX 3080 also comes with Nvidia’s second-gen deep-learning supersampling (DLSS 2.0), which promises a hike in performance thanks to third-generation Tensor cores (AI algorithm-powering hardware) delivering a twofold jump in throughput. This all translates to DLSS being better at smartly rendering crisp high-resolution graphics without causing a reduction in frame rates.
Basically the GeForce RTX 3080 is significantly more powerful than the RTX 2080 Ti. The only caveat is that there aren't many games that can really push the RTX 2080 Ti, unless it’s running the latest games at max settings, 4K resolution and with ray-tracing enabled. Even then, the RTX 2080 Ti will deliver playable frame rates, but a steady 60 frames per second might not be achievable.
The RTX 3080 will deliver 4K 60 fps performance, so if you have the display to take advantage of that, then it’s a compelling card. And it’s also somewhat future-proof for when more ray-traced games arrive.
Winner: GeForce RTX 3080
Nvidia RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080 Ti: Price and value
At launch, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti started at $999. The RTX 3080 will start at $699, so it has the older card beat. But there’s a little more nuance here.
With the GeForce RTX 3080 launching September 24, we’ve heard stories of retailers slashing the prices of the RTX 2080 Ti to shift stock before the RTX 3080 comes along to render it redundant. As such, it could actually be a good time to buy an RTX 2080 Ti if you can get it for, say, $400.
The RTX 2080 Ti, once a high-end GPU, could become a strong mid-tier graphics card. After all, it should still have the power to deliver strong gaming performance for a good few years yet.
And if you have a PC that’s getting a little long in the tooth, it might be sensible to upgrade to the RTX 2080 Ti in the short-term. Older processors can effectively bottleneck a new GPU with the latest graphics tech.
So putting an RTX 3080 into a machine with, say, a first-generation Ryzen CPU might hold it back, whereas the RTX 2080 Ti could be utilized to its fullest. The same can be said if you don’t have a 4K or high-refresh rate display, as the full power of the RTX 3080 could go to waste.
Ultimately, the GeForce RTX 3080 has a competitive price for a high-end graphics card and huge amounts of performance, which makes it a winning card. But savvy PC fans should still consider the RTX 2080 Ti if they can find it at a bargain price.
Winner: GeForce RTX 3080
Nvidia RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080 Ti: Verdict
We have yet to try out a PC with the GeForce RTX 3080 in it, so our conclusions are based on benchmarks from within Nvidia. But it looks like the RTX 3080 is set to be a new high-end graphics card champion.
If you are gaming at 1440p and managing to run games at above 60fps, then upgrading from a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti to the RTX 3080 might not yield immediate benefits. But over time, with the release of more games with ray-tracing, it might be a clever investment.
And if you’re getting a new high-end gaming PC, then getting one with an RTX 3080 seems like the sensible move, as that card is set to deliver impressive gaming performance for years to come. We expect to find it in a lot of future picks for our best gaming PCs as 2020 comes to a close and 2021 kicks off.