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Review of Nvidia RTX 3080: 4K greatness at $ 699 – and good news for cheaper GPUs



For some people, summarizing the difference in the Nvidia RTX 3080 may revolve around a host of high-end and sometimes patented technologies. Ray tracking. In-depth study of super sampling. Crazy fast memory bandwidth. In some cases, Nvidia’s new $ 699 graphics processor is best when the software uses its specific benefits and features.

But as we all know, the line of RTX 2000 GPUs from 2018 left fans with high-priced options that did not offer enough universal amplification. At the time, I called these cards an “RTX lottery ticket,” and for nearly two years, payouts were meager.

It’s improving – especially as DirectX 12 Ultimate and a pair of next-generation consoles finally draw on most of the RTX-specific benefits of 2018. AMD will soon win these things with its own powerful RDNA 2 line of GPUs. Once Nvidia’s RTX features feel less “own”, we need to see them in more games – but that also leaves Nvidia to answer the question. So what else do you have?

This brings me to the way I prefer to summarize the RTX 3080 difference, as suggested by my Ars colleague Lee Hutchinson. I could actually hear his impatient gasps by pressing his keys in Ars chat for my GPU tests when he entered four words: “Elite dangerous in VR? “

Zero-G, 120fps

Product image of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

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At the time of the press, the computer game version of this space game was not optimized for DirectX 12 Ultimate or RTX-specific features. It’s just a damn hungry game set in an infinite universe – one in which you can float in barren space for a moment, then suddenly twist into an epic, spinning struggle to a geometrically dense formation.

Great stuff. It’s even better in VR. And this mode is even better when you can switch the 120Hz switch to high-end headphones like the Valve Index, put both hands on your favorite HOTAS platform, and put zero G, 360-degree hellfire on anyone who dares to interrupt your mission to move loads. .. all without dropping frames. (Due to the game’s focus on high-speed rotation, the normal 90Hz VR standard is not enough for the standard edition stomach. More shots in this game mean more comfort.)

To someone like Mr. Hutchinson, who has a high price cap for his gaming platform, but not endless, I can say this: with the RTX 3080 you can start Elite dangerous at your “high” VR setting, switch to 120Hz mode in the Valve Index and expect an almost locked frame rate. The same goes for Fallout 4 VR, a brutally unoptimized VR RPG conversion on Bethesda that I can finally works at 90fps locked (or hold in the 100-110fps variable range of the Valve Index). Three years after the release of this VR port, I actually want to play it this way.

Dripping from the crazy

RTX 3080 FE RTX 2080 Ti FE RTX 2080 Super RTX 2080 FE RTX 2070 Super GTX 1080 Ti
CUDA Colors 8,704 th most common 4,352 th most common 3 072 2944 2,560 th most common 3,584 th most common
Texture
Units
272 272 192 184 184
ROP 96 88 64 64 64 88
Tensioner color 272 (“3rd generation”) 544 384 368 320 n / a
RT nucleus 68 (“2nd generation”) 68 48 46 40 n / a
Basic clock 1.440MHz 1,350MHz 1.650MHz 1.515MHz 1,605MHz 1.480MHz
Boost Clock 1.710MHz 1.635MHz 1,815MHz 1 800MHz 1.770MHz 1.582MHz
Memory bus width 320 bits 352-bit 256 bits 256 bits 256 bits 352-bit
Memory speed 19GHz 14GHz 15.5GHz 14GHz 14GHz 11GHz
Memory bandwidth 760GB / s 616GB / s 496GB / s 448GB / s 448GB / s 484GB / s
Memory size 10GB GDDR6X 11GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 11GB GDDR5X
TDP 320W 260W 250W 250W 215W 250W
MSRP at startup $ 699 $ 1,199 $ 699 $ 799 $ 499 $ 699

I can say similar things about as demanding computer software as this card handles in ways I couldn’t with the dazzling $ 1199 RTX 2080 Ti for 2018. In an alternate universe – one in which Nvidia ran relentlessly in the GPU race, beating AMD’s pants for years – Nvidia could continue to charge something like $ 800 or $ 900 for this 2018 card, which was priced at much more for special core effects processing than for pure, publicly available power.

As AMD finally landed on its heels this year, Nvidia arrived with a $ 699 beast on the RTX 3080, whose “Founders Edition”, without added overclocks, consistently beats the overclocked 2080 Ti Founders edition in modern 3D games and software (and bends muscles more for RTX-specific functions). In performance tests, the margin of performance always clears the 13% threshold, sometimes much more. (In case of Elite dangerous The preset “high” VR setting, which is much harder to compare, makes an approximately 20 percent difference in frame time.)

This is not just good news for world crazy Lee Hutchinson. The impact of this card on the market will hopefully push the GPU average proposal into reasonable territory. The $ 699 GPU may not be your cup of tea, but if prices for everything below the RTX 3080 (and its brother, the RTX 3070, scheduled to launch in October at $ 499), are adjusted according to the metrics below, that means a stable A 1080p or 1440p graphics processor can finally fall within your budget range.

Image of the list by Sam Machkovech


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