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Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB vs RTX 4080 12GB: A difficult choice

Nvidia has surprised us all by announcing two versions of the GeForce RTX 4080 instead of an RTX 4080 and an RTX 4070. Following the RTX 4090, the two 4080s will likely be some of the more popular GPUs in the brand-new RTX 40 “Ada Lovelace” lineup.

While the RTX 4070 didn’t make an appearance yet, the two versions of the RTX 4080 give us plenty to get hyped for. Let’s see how they compare to one another.

Specs

New Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU over a black and green background.
Nvidia

While the two GPUs are both called RTX 4080, they differ quite a lot in terms of their specifications. Many leaks suspected that Nvidia would be launching the RTX 4090, RTX 4080, and the RTX 4070 initially. Now, it seems that the RTX 4080 12GB may have inherited some of the specs that were initially leaked as RTX 4070.

The RTX 4080 16GB obviously sports more memory, but interestingly, it’s the RTX 4080 12GB that has slightly higher clock speeds. However, the extra memory and CUDA cores on the RTX 4080 16GB will both have an impact on performance.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 12GB
CUDA cores 9,728 7,680
Base clock 2,210MHz 2,310MHz
Maximum clock 2,510MHz 2,610MHz
Memory size 16GB GDDR6X 12GB GDDR6X
Memory bus 256-bit 192-bit
TDP 320 watts 285 watts

Expected performance

Comparison of the RTX 4080 16GB and 12GB versions.
Nvidia

Nvidia hasn’t said much about the expected performance of the RTX 4080, so it’s hard to predict how powerful the two GPUs are going to be. We can guess based on their specs, but the real knowledge will come from benchmarks. Fortunately, we’re likely to start seeing them begin to leak out soon, and once the cards are fully out, we should be able to test them ourselves.

The CUDA core volume of the RTX 4080 12GB puts it between the RTX 3070 Ti and the RTX 3080. However, it sports more memory than the RTX 3070 Ti, and also utilizes Nvidia’s latest tech such as DLSS 3 and Shader Execution Reordering (SER). Suffice it to say that we will be seeing an improvement in terms of performance from both cards, but it’s too early to gauge just how they compare to each other.

Nvidia has teased that the RTX 4080 will be two to four times faster than the RTX 3080 Ti, but these numbers may change. It did give us one thing, though — the benchmark linked above that implies the RTX 4080 16GB outperforms the RTX 4080 12GB in each of the three titles, but it’s not a massive difference. However, they both dwarf the RTX 3080 Ti.

Pricing and availability

Nvidia's Ada Lovelace chip.
Nvidia

We don’t have an exact release date for the two RTX 4080 GPUs just yet, but we do know that they will be launching in November this year, so a little later than the flagship RTX 4090.

Once they arrive, the GPUs will be priced at $899 for the RTX 4080 12GB and $1,119 for the RTX 4080 16GB. Custom models from Nvidia’s board partners, such as Gigabyte, Asus, Zotac, MSI, and others, will also be available soon enough, and those might be priced higher depending on their specifications.

It’s a close call

A comparison between the graphics quality without DLSS 3 and with it.
Nvidia

Choosing between the RTX 4080 16GB and the RTX 4080 12GB is going to be a pretty close call once these GPUs are available for sale.

On the one hand, the RTX 4080 12GB is $300 cheaper, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. On the other hand, the 16GB version will, of course, offer better performance, but it’s hard to say whether that difference will be worth $300.

Based on specifications alone, the RTX 4080 16GB will be the better choice, no contest — but if you’re looking for a mix of affordable and powerful, the 12GB option might be the better pick. The RTX 3080 and RTX 3080 Ti will also retain their good value if you’ll be focusing on the price rather than pushing for the latest technologies.

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