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Nvidia’s bizarre ‘GTX 2080’ GPU emerges out of hiding

A surprising graphics card made its way into the hands of a Redditor: The Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080. No, that’s not a typo, and yes, such a card doesn’t really exist — and yet, here it is, pictured in its full glory.

The mysterious GPU is an engineering sample that the Reddit user was able to pick up on eBay. They then took the card for a spin and compared it to the GPU that was actually released, meaning the RTX 2080.

An Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 graphics card.

The GeForce GTX 2080 was posted to Nvidia’s subreddit by ascendance22, who talked about the card and proceeded to put it through a series of benchmarks. In all likelihood, this is an early prototype of the existing RTX 2080, but for some reason, it has been labeled as “GTX.” It’s certainly curious to see this branding on a card that, according to the user, supports ray tracing.

This early version of Nvidia’s Turing graphics card comes with the “1G180” SKU code that matches the Founders Edition of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. This GTX version is also a Founders Edition model. It all adds up, including the specifications, but it does sport a “GeForce GTX” logo as opposed to the usual branding. The user uploaded the card’s specs into the TechPowerUp database, revealing 8GB memory and a boost clock of 1,710MHz.

Ascendance22 was able to successfully run some benchmarks and test the GPU in a gaming setting by playing GTA V. All in all, the user found the GTX 2080 to be decent when overclocked.

Engineering samples are not that rare — after all, Nvidia has to test the cards in some way — but such a difference in the naming convention is certainly interesting. Could it be that Nvidia changed its mind about the branding at the last minute, or was the use of “GTX” a conscious decision for confidentiality reasons? Known leaker Kopite7kimi thinks it’s the latter, and that does seem quite likely. Before the RTX 2080 actually launched, there were rumors labeling it as GTX 1180 or GTX 2080.

Priced at $360, which doesn’t feel unreasonable for a rare prototype that actually works, the card can still be found on eBay, but it’s selling fast now that word is spreading. The GPUs may have previously been used for crypto mining, but now that it’s much less profitable due to the state of the cryptocurrency market, they’re up for sale.

I think it is only a confidentiality measure in the delivery of test cards.

— kopite7kimi (@kopite7kimi) August 12, 2022

If you’re considering buying one of these, be mindful that ascendance22 has run into some problems with the card. The user reported that it initially ran slower than intended and that at one point, the card actually stopped running.

“I’m afraid the card might’ve died, hopefully not, but I can’t tell,” said ascendance22. The GPU has, presumably, recovered since, but it’s certainly a risky investment. You’re better off buying a current-gen card for a little more money. Of course, this is a rarity that will make a nice addition to any collection, but only as long as you don’t mind the risk that it might not work well, or at all.

Could this mean that the upcoming RTX 4000-series might end up being renamed to something else entirely? We won’t have to wait much longer to find out, seeing as at least some of the cards are meant to hit the market in October.

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