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The 20GB RTX 3080 Ti is real, but you won’t be able to buy one

The long-rumored RTX 3080 Ti 20GB is real, at least based on a new video from a Russian YouTuber, a few retailer listings, and a leaked firmware. This model, which features 8GB more video memory over the RTX 3080 Ti we have today, was supposed to launch months ago. Now, it seems some people have their hands on the cards, but you shouldn’t expect to get one.

First, how this card surfaced. A Russian YouTuber — roughly Kolya Miner in English — got remote access to the 20GB variant of the RTX 3080 Ti for testing. Hardvar, a Russian retailer that we could only find a presence for on the VK social media platform, shared a video with the YouTuber of stacks of graphics cards and claimed it was in possession of the 20GB model.

VGA Bios Collection Gigabyte RTX 3080 Ti 20 GB

— 188号 (@momomo_us) September 8, 2021

Established leaker @momomo_us shared the video, as well as a BIOS file for the card that was uploaded to the TechPowerUp database. Zscom, another Russian retailer, also has the 20GB card listed. All of the models come from Gigabyte, and none of them are available for purchase at the time of publication.

Although it seems the 20GB RTX 3080 Ti existed at one point, this isn’t a new model from Nvidia. Instead, it’s a model that actually made it to production for a short time, but was eventually canned for the 12GB model we have today. Some users have even found a crossed-out version of the RTX 3080 Ti core on new RTX 3090 models.

Some background is important here. In December 2020, Gigabyte filed several new products with the European Economic Community (EEC), which hinted at an RTX 3080 Ti model featuring 20GB of video memory. This is before the RTX 3080 Ti was announced or released by Nvidia. Months later, the listing was updated with 12GB variants, which are the cards that are sparsely available today.

In short, it looks like Nvidia was planning on releasing the RTX 3080 Ti with 20GB of video memory but changed course. That makes sense given rising DRAM prices, which would bloat the cost of the card, as well as the lack of high-end competition from AMD. In many benchmarks, even the base RTX 3080 can beat AMD’s flagship RX 6900 XT.

Still, appearances breed speculation, and that’s what we’re seeing with this variant. The RTX 3080 Ti 20GB is almost certainly not a new GPU in Nvidia’s lineup. For one, it doesn’t make sense given the small $300 gap between the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090. In addition, the leaked card doesn’t feature the Lite Hash Rate (LHR) core, which Nvidia is using across its gaming cards to limit mining performance (minus the RTX 3090).

RTX 3080 Ti in front of a window.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The leaked BIOS file is also telling. It apparently comes from Gigabyte and was built on January 6, 2021. The copyright stops at 2020, as well. Meanwhile, Nvidia’s Founder’s Edition BIOS wasn’t built until March 26, with an updated copyright to include 2021. In addition, the BIOS rates the power target as 420W, which is a full 70W higher than the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti.

So no, we aren’t getting a 20GB RTX 3080 Ti. That said, it’s interesting to see that these cards actually made it into production before they were canceled, showing that companies like Nvidia are still making design changes months before launch. Maybe a 20GB RTX 3080 Ti would have been better, as the current model is too expensive to compete with the RTX 3080 and too underpowered to compete with the RTX 3090.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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