RTX 2070 vs. GTX 1080

The RTX 2070 is here, but is it that much better than the GTX 1080?

rtx 2070 vs 1080 rtx2070 11

There’s no denying that the top Nvidia RTX graphics cards are the most powerful consumer cards in the world right now, but it’s not quite so clear-cut further down the range. In many ways, the newly-launched RTX 2070 competes directly with the GTX 1080 from the last-generation Pascal line of GPUs. So, which is best?

To find out, we pitted the RTX 2070 vs. 1080 in a head to head on features, performance, and most importantly, price.

Performance

We’ve yet to get our hands on an RTX 2070 to do our own hands-on testing, but a look around at results elsewhere and a comparison of specifications gives us a good idea of what to expect. In short, the cards are pretty comparable, but the 2070 tends to perform slightly better in most scenarios.

RTX 2070 GTX 1080
Architecture Turing Pascal
CUDA cores 2,304 2,560
Texture units 144 160
Render output units 64 64
RT cores 36 0
Tensor cores 288 0
Base speed 1,410MHz 1,607MHz
Boost speed 1,620MHz 1,733MHx
Boost speed (FE model) 1,710MHz 1,800MHz
Memory 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR5X
Memory speed 14Gbps 10Gbps
Bandwidth 448GBps 320GBps
Transistors 10.8 billion 7.2 billion

By the numbers, both cards have a slight leg up over the other in certain specifications and the Founders Editions don’t do anything to close those gaps. The 1080 has 2,560 CUDA cores, while the 2070 has 2,304. The 1080 also has slightly higher clock speeds and a few more texture units. However, the 2070 sports GDDR6 memory giving it a near 50-percent greater memory bandwidth. It also has a larger die-size with 3.6 billion extra transistors.

This equates to a few frames per second advantage for the RTX 2070 in most games, with a more obvious disparity between the two at higher resolutions and detail levels. In some cases that difference extends to 10 percent, but it’s typically lower — and in some cases, within a margin of error.

Ray tracing and DLSS

nvidia ramps up gpu production gtx 1080

Alongside a brand new Turing core architecture and a new generation of memory, Nvidia’s RTX-series graphics cards also sport some intriguing additional chips under their impressive coolers. The RT and Tensor cores enable features which other cards can’t really compete with. Ray tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS). Of these two cards, those features are only available on the 2070 at this time and there’s no indication that the 1080 will ever be able to perform such feats at comfortable frame rates, if at all.

Although Nvidia’s solution is somewhat of a workaround than true ray tracing, the effect is still rather impressive. Lighting looks more realistic than traditional rasterization, and it can react in real time to changes in a scene, enabling far more reflections and light scattering for an overall more believable looking digital environment.

There are some drawbacks though. The most notable at the moment is that there aren’t any supporting games yet available. Some games have yet to launch and others have yet to implement the feature, but you can’t really take advantage of it just yet. Worse still, there are concerns that ray tracing can dramatically reduce performance even on high-end solutions like the 2080 Ti.

DLSS is in a similar situation in that it isn’t available in any currently available games just yet. However, it does appear to have a very different effect on performance — it improves it when compared with more traditional anti-aliasing solutions. In early demos like Final Fantasy XV, it appears to make them look better too, but we don’t have much evidence to go on just yet.

In the case of both new RTX features, it’s not clear yet whether either is worth buying a 2070 over a 1080 for them alone. They do promise some benefits in the future, however.

The 2070 is the new 1080

The biggest difference between the 2070 and 1080 when the former first launched was price. There was more than $100 between them in some cases. At the time of writing, however, that’s quite different. If you ignore Nvidia’s more expensive Founders Edition of both cards, they are both available for around the $500 price point. And dollar for dollar, the 2070 offers more, even if it isn’t much more.

We would expect Nvidia to allow the 1080 stock to dissipate over the next few months, leaving the 2070 as the defacto replacement for the long-running Pascal GPU. The RTX 2070 isn’t a mind-blowing card in the way the 2080 Ti is, and we’re going to need to wait to see whether ray tracing and DLSS make upgrading from a 10-series card to the new-generation worth it. But even now, the RTX 2070 is a better buy than the GTX 1080.

Computing

OLED's return and a phalanx of Nvidia-powered notebooks defined laptops at CES

CES 2019 offered a lot of surprises and news from some of the biggest names in laptop makers. Here are the major themes in laptops from this year's show.
Computing

Nvidia’s next midrange card might be a GTX 1660 Ti, rumors suggest

Nvidia may be working on a non-RTX Turing graphics card called the 1660 Ti. Rumors suggest it will have around 20 percent fewer CUDA cores than the RTX 2060 and will lack ray tracing support.
Computing

Prices of some components on the Alienware Area-51m will melt your wallet

Some of the most top-end components for the Alienware Area-51m laptop are expensive, pushing up the final costs for gamers looking to purchase the latest parts and experience the best performance.
Computing

Every gaming laptop that was announced at CES 2019, ranked

Looking for a new gaming laptop? You're in luck, as we compiled and ranked all the gaming notebooks that were announced at CES this year. Be sure to take a look at the latest models with AMD or Nvidia chips before you buy.
Computing

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes that differentiate the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.
Computing

Chip off the auction block – Intel’s i9-9990XE may be sold to the highest bidder

Intel's alleged Core i9-9990XE may only be sold at auction to OEMs, meaning that only a few of the 14-core, 28-thread, 5GHz CPUs will ever see the light of day in specific devices and systems.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Android

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…
Computing

Google is giving its G Suite web apps new touches of visual improvements

Your G Suite applications will soon have a different look. Several of the web apps are getting updated with subtle visual improvements inspired by Google's Material Design guidelines. 
Computing

Hackers are scoring with ransomware that attacks its previous victims

Computer viruses are always evolving. In a new one, dubbed "Ryuk," hackers are targeting PCs with ransomware that scours an infected network in order to pinpoint and attack and enterprises with big money.
Computing

An update to Microsoft To-Do will help you keep up with your resolutions

If you're looking to stay productive in 2019, you might want to check out the freshly updated Microsoft To-Do app, now with additional integration with the Windows 10 Start Menu and more.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

Could the next Microsoft HoloLens be announced at MWC 2019?

After not having a presence at Mobile World Congress for three years, Microsoft is now sending out media invites for a press conference on February 24 during the annual event in Barcelona. Could a next-generation HoloLens be on the way?
Computing

Microsoft to separate Cortana from search with the next version of Windows 10

Changes are on the way for two key features in Windows 10. A separation of Windows 10 search and Cortana will allow Microsoft to more often innovate on each of the features independently.