The new RTX 3080Ti is here, in a 12 months that has been a wash with high profile GPU releases, each seemingly buoying demand further in a growing gaming market. Building on the popular Ampere architecture, Nvidia has launched the RTX 3080Ti and RTX 3070Ti to complement their existing line-up. In this piece, we’ll be reviewing and benchmarking the 3080Ti Founders Edition, the in-house Nvidia design that has proven popular across the rest of the lineup!
To give some context the new cards slot in to the line-up a little something like this, ordered from least to most powerful (and least to most expensive at MSRP!). The lower the number the low the performance, with the ‘Ti’ cards providing a theoretical boost in performance over the vanilla versions.
A range of exciting new GPUs hasn’t come without its side effects though, in a market that is seeing external factors affect supply in ways not seen before. A huge rise in gaming, combined with a boom in GPU mining, has lead to sky high demand for powerful GPUs. This demand has gone so far that we are seeing cards resell for 3-4x original retailer prices on the likes of Ebay.
This heightened demand shouldn’t be a reason for manufacturers to become complacent though, and stop innovating when it comes to new releases that push forward architectures and feature sets. For the rest of this piece I’ll be evaluating the card solely on its gaming merits, in time for a more stable market as time progresses.
As alluded to earlier, the RTX 3080Ti builds upon the really successful Ampere architecture. Ampere originally debuted in desktop gaming cards back in September of 2020, with the release of the RTX 3080. You can read some of our existing Ampere content in our Gigabyte RTX 3060Ti Eagle OC review.
Alongside providing strong rasterization performance games, the Ampere architecture has also shown a step change in Ray Tracing & DLSS performance to date.
Ray Tracing is tech which reimagines the way that light is handled in games. It looks at the sources of light (lets use a fiery explosion as our working example), and traces the paths of light from the source. This allows for far more realistic shading and reflections, something which has visually transformed a number of titles. You can check out some On vs Off Ray Tracing comparisons below:
You can check out an RTX On /Off comparison below, using this MSI RTX 3080 Suprim X card we reviewed recently, to see the visual difference of using Ray Tracing.
Ray Tracing is not particularly new, being something that first landed on the Nvidia 2000 series with the 2060, 2070, 2080 and 2080Ti releases. Being the first generation of Ray Tracing-compatible GPUs the experience was a little rough around the edges, and has thankfully progressed a lot since then. The main change is the reduction if FPS hit witnessed while enabling Ray Tracing.
This is largely down to the updated 2nd generation RT cores that you’ll see with the new Nvidia cards. These are dedicated processing power for Ray Tracing accelerated applications and workflows. The 80 2nd Gen RT Cores on this card is 12 more than on the 3080 and 2080Ti (though the 2080Ti’s are the less powerful 1st gen).
|GPU||RTX 3060||RTX 3060Ti||RTX 3070||RTX 2080Ti||RTX 3080||RTX 3080Ti|
|Tensor Cores||112 (3rd Gen)||184 (3rd Gen)||184 (3rd Gen)||544 (2nd Gen)||272 (3rd Gen)||320 (3rd Gen)|
|RT Cores||28 (2nd Gen)||46 (2nd Gen)||46 (2nd Gen)||68 (1st Gen)||68 (2nd Gen)||80 (2nd Gen)|
|GPU Boost Clock||1777MHz||1725MHz||1725MHz||1635MHz||1710MHz||1665MHz|
|Total Video Memory||12GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR6||10GB GDDR6X||12GB GDDR6X|
|Memory Bandwidth||360GB/s||448GB/s||448 GB/s||616GB/s||760GB/s||912GB/s|
DLSS is another landmark piece of technology that you’ll find on the 3000 (and 2000) series of Nvidia GPUs. Standing for Deep Learning Super Sampling, the tech is essentially a fancy resolution scaler that uses AI to mitigate as much visual fidelity impact as possible.
DLSS truly is a resolution scaler with a difference, and a key piece of tech which leaves us recommending Nvidia cards over AMD ones in the current market.
Alongside all of this fancy Ampere-specific tech, the card also features impressive on paper specifications, with more CUDA cores than the 3080 and 2080Ti, more memory bandwidth and an extra 2GB of VRAM over the 3080. Memory is an area I feel Nvidia could go a little further, something AMD have done really well, but Nvidia are likely not looking to make the 3090 redundant, which is understandable (if a little disappointing!). 12GB is going to be enough for the biggest titles out right now, which is good, but looking forward another couple of gigabytes would have been nice.
When it comes to the design of the Founders Edition line-up, we’ve always been big fans of the unique design seen on the RTX 3080 and 3090. Placing one fan on the top and another on the bottom works really well. It’s something we’ve never really seen from an AIC, so good to see Nvidia themselves providing some nice innovations in the cooler department!
The card also screams unibody design, with machined aluminium that looks that part and feels incredibly well built. The card is also one of the only 3080Ti designs you’ll find that actually fits into a true 2 slot form factor as well – with most modern cards expanding out to 2.5 or even 3 slot form factors.
One slight oddity with this card is Nvidia’s new 12 pin power connector. I can imagine this new connector standard being useful in years to come, once PSU manufacturers and AICs adopt it, but until then it’s just a bit of a pain. Having to put a bulky adapter into an otherwise sleek (and expensive) system is a little backwards. But 2 steps forward, one back… right?
If a step change in performance is what you’re looking for, the 3080Ti isn’t it. What this card is though, is a true spiritual successor to the 2080Ti and a solid performance bump over the 3080, without the horrendous price tag of the 3090.
Simply put, this card builds upon the great Ampere architecture, and fills a void in terms of both price (at MSRP) and performance between the 3080 and 3090. Solid gains in the region of 7-13% equate to more than 20 extra FPS in some titles, making the 3080Ti an appealing prospect for enthusiast gamers.
Where to Buy
The RTX 3080Ti provides a solid bump in performance over the 3080, and gives the gaming community a true spiritual successor to the 2080Ti, but with a hefty price tag to boot. We think the 3080 is the better buy for most gamers looking at a 4K 60FPS gaming experience in 2021 and beyond, given the better price to performance ratios at MSRPs. We also appreciate that this conclusion is fairly pointless in a market where scalpers are throwing sensible pricing and availability out of the window. That isn’t to say Nvidia should stop releasing new GPUs, they shouldn’t, but gamers need more supply of cards into the market, and very soon – there is in our view no other sustainable solution to the crisis the market finds itself in.
If you’d like to see our full range of RTX 3080Ti build videos, check out the content below: