For some folks, summarizing the Nvidia RTX 3080 distinction might revolve round a slew of high-end—and generally proprietary—applied sciences. Ray tracing. Deep-learning tremendous sampling. Loopy-fast reminiscence bandwidth. In some instances, Nvidia’s new $699 GPU is at its finest when software program leverages its very particular perks and options.

However as everyone knows, 2018’s line of RTX 2000 GPUs left followers with high-priced choices that did not provide sufficient universally drool-worthy boosts. On the time, I known as these playing cards “a ticket to the RTX lottery,” and for almost two years, the payoff was scant.

It is getting higher—particularly as DirectX 12 Final and a pair of next-gen consoles lastly lean into most of 2018’s RTX-specific perks. AMD will quickly money in on these items with its personal highly effective RDNA 2 line of GPUs. As soon as Nvidia’s RTX options really feel much less “proprietary,” we should always see them in additional video games—however that additionally leaves Nvidia to reply a query. Properly, what else ya obtained?

This brings me to the way in which I choose to summarize the RTX 3080 distinction, as prompted by my Ars colleague Lee Hutchinson. I may virtually hear the keen gasps by way of his keystrokes in an Ars chat session about my GPU exams when he typed 4 phrases: “Elite Harmful in VR?”

Zero-G, 120fps

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 product image

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

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As of press time, this space-exploration recreation’s PC model is just not optimized for DirectX 12 Final or RTX-specific options. It is only a damned hungry recreation set in an infinite universe—one the place you possibly can float by way of barren house one second, then abruptly warp into an epic, spinning-all-around dogfight subsequent to a geometrically dense formation.

It is superior stuff. It is even higher in VR. And that mode is even higher when you possibly can flip the 120Hz swap on a high-end headset just like the Valve Index, put each palms in your favourite HOTAS rig, and lay zero-G, 360-degree hellfire upon anybody who would possibly dare interrupt your cargo-shuffling mission… all with out dropping frames. (Due to the sport’s emphasis on high-speed rotation, the conventional 90Hz VR commonplace is not sufficient for standard-issue stomachs. Extra frames in that recreation imply extra consolation.)

To somebody like Mr. Hutchinson, who has a excessive value ceiling for his gaming rig however not an infinite one, I can say this: with the RTX 3080, you possibly can run Elite Harmful at its “excessive” preset in VR, flip to 120Hz mode in Valve Index, and anticipate a virtually locked framerate. The identical goes for Fallout 4 VR, a brutally unoptimized VR conversion of Bethesda’s RPG, which I can lastly run at a locked 90fps (or hover in variable 100-110fps territory on Valve Index). Three years after that VR port’s launch, I really need to play it that method.

Trickling down from the crazies

RTX 3080 FE RTX 2080 Ti FE RTX 2080 Tremendous RTX 2080 FE RTX 2070 Tremendous GTX 1080 Ti
CUDA Cores 8.704 4,352 3,072 2,944 2,560 3,584
272 272 192 184 184
ROPs 96 88 64 64 64 88
Tensor cores 272 (“Third-gen”) 544 384 368 320 n/a
RT cores 68 (“2nd-gen”) 68 48 46 40 n/a
Core Clock 1,440MHz 1,350MHz 1,650MHz 1,515MHz 1,605MHz 1,480MHz
Increase Clock 1,710MHz 1,635MHz 1,815MHz 1,800MHz 1,770MHz 1,582MHz
Reminiscence Bus Width 320-bit 352-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 352-bit
Reminiscence Pace 19GHz 14GHz 15.5GHz 14GHz 14GHz 11GHz
Reminiscence Bandwidth 760GB/s 616GB/s 496GB/s 448GB/s 448GB/s 484GB/s
Reminiscence Dimension 10GB GDDR6X 11GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 11GB GDDR5X
TDP 320W 260W 250W 250W 215W 250W
MSRP at launch $699 $1,199 $699 $799 $499 $699

I can say comparable issues for a lot demanding PC software program as dealt with by this card in ways in which I could not with 2018’s eye-watering $1,199 RTX 2080 Ti. In an alternate universe—the one the place Nvidia ran unopposed within the GPU race, beating the pants off AMD for years—Nvidia may have continued charging one thing like $800 or $900 for that 2018 card, whose price ticket was rather more about devoted effects-processing cores than about sheer, across-the-board energy.

With AMD lastly nipping on its heels this yr, Nvidia has arrived with a $699 beast of an RTX 3080 whose “Founders Version,” with none overclocks added, persistently beats an overclocked 2080 Ti Founders Version in trendy 3D video games and software program (and flexes stronger muscle groups on RTX-specific options). In efficiency exams, the margin of gained efficiency all the time clears the 13-percent threshold, generally rather more. (Within the case of Elite Harmful VR’s “excessive” preset, which is far harder to benchmark, it makes a roughly 20 p.c distinction in body instances throughout the board.)

This is not simply excellent news for the loopy Lee Hutchinsons of the world. This card’s impression in the marketplace will hopefully push the typical GPU worth proposition into affordable territory. A $699 GPU might not be your cup of tea, but when costs for the whole lot beneath the RTX 3080 (and its sibling, the RTX 3070, slated to launch in October at $499) regulate in accordance with the beneath benchmarks, meaning a rock-solid 1080p or 1440p GPU might lastly land inside your budgetary attain.

Itemizing picture by Sam Machkovech


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