“The Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is another powerful 4K graphics card, but it's priced too high.”
- Smooth 4K gaming
- Gorgeous design
- Improved ray tracing and DLSS performance
- Excellent content creation performance
- Too expensive
- Cumbersome power adapter
Nvidia faces two primary challenges in 2021. First, thanks to the chip shortage, no one who wants to actually play games on a GPU can buy one. Second, with the Radeon RX 6900 XT, AMD came within striking distance of Nvidia’s crown jewel, the . That wasn’t supposed to happen.
My review unit was the Founders Edition model, meaning it’s designed by Nvidia itself. It matches the design of the RTX 3080 that came before, sporting a premium look that has no equal. It’s a gorgeous shroud.
The cooling is better than in the 20-series model, too, using the same “push-pull” fan system as the rest of the 30-series cards.
The system kept the card plenty cool in my testing, never breaching the 83 degree Celsius max temperatures listed by Nvidia. It’s not a quiet GPU though. It’ll spin up quickly, and in when it’s pushed to it’s max, such as in a video export, it’ll sound like a rocket taking off from your desk.
A Nvidia representative was quick to tell me that it should only be marginally louder than the other RTX 30-series cards, which was already a good deal quieter than the 20-series.
Of course, there will be plenty of third party designs that take a more brute force approach to cooling. The Founders Edition version of the, as always, will likely be the most beautiful design, but not the most powerful.
Its size makes the RTX 3080 Ti a more manageable upgrade than the RTX 3090.
The RTX 3080 Ti is the exact same size as the RTX 3080 at 11.2 by 1.4 inches. It’s a standard two-slot card, but it’s quite long. It can be a tight squeeze if you have extra storage cages in your case or are trying to plop it into a smaller prebuilt desktop. It’ll fit well enough into our 30-liter case, though, and it’s almost a full inch shorter. That makes it a much more manageable upgrade than the .
A “much more manageable” is a good description of the in general. It has all the power of that top-end card without any of the unnecessary baggage.
Port selection on back is the same as both theand the RTX 3080: Three DisplayPort 1.4a ports and one HDMI 2.1. That also mean it still uses the proprietary 12-pin power connector, which requires a clumsy adapter. It’s provided in the box, but that doesn’t make the connection any less ugly or cumbersome in your PC.
It’s not just the design of theand that match. They’re also quite similar under the hood. A quick look at the spec sheet reveals just how much these two cards have in common.
|RTX 3080 Ti||RTX 3090||RTX 3080|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0||PCIe 4.0||PCIe 4.0|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6X||24GB GDDR6X||10GB GDDR6X|
The primary difference is the memory amount. Thehas half as much, down from 24GB to 12GB. Games won’t know what to do with 24GB of VRAM anyways, making the 12GB of the a more realistic amount. The is still a better part for the heaviest of workloads, such as data science, 3D animation, and high-resolution video encoding.
You’ll also get eight fewer Tensor cores, two fewer RT cores, and 247 fewer CUDA cores. That’s not enough to make a PC gamer sweat — especially with a $300 price difference between the two.
The RTX 3080 Ti is still $200 more than the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT.
Is it worth the extra $500 over the RTX 3080 though? At retail prices, the answer is probably no. That proposition gets complicated with inflated second-market prices obviously, but more on that later. In terms of specs and performance, theappears much closer to the 3090 than the 3080. The problem? In terms of raw game performance, the was never a great value for gamers anyways. The 24GB of memory was a big selling point in use cases beyond gaming. Without it, the is a much tougher sell.
And don’t forget — the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT, which was already only marginally slower than the RTX 3090.is still $200 more expensive than the
Regardless of which of these three cards you get, Nvidia recommends at least a 750-watt power supply.
Of course, the thing that makes thean antidote for the GPU supply problem is its Lite Hash Rate. I’m no Ethereum miner — so I wasn’t able to test this myself — but the idea is that the hash rate limiter should make the cards less attractive for cryptocurrency mining.
I tested thein a system paired with the Intel Core i9-10900K and 32GB of RAM. All games were tested at 4K max settings but not with ray tracing effects turned on. I also tested the RTX 3080 in this same system. The RX 6900 XT results shown in the chart below, however, were tested in a different system with the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. That’s not ideal, but unfortunately it’s not a graphics card I had on hand to retest in the same system.
Keep that in mind — especially for more CPU-bound games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Civilization VI.
|Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti||Nvidia RTX 3080||AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT|
|3DMark Time Spy||17634||16108||17340|
|3DMark Fire Strike||30951||28460||38911|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||56||52||69|
Theis clearly more powerful than the RTX 3080 — but it’s not by a lot. The 9% difference in Time Spy scores carries through pretty evenly across games too, with the beating the RTX 3080 by a few frames per second. You can expect anywhere between 5-10% better frame rates compared to the RTX 3080. You’re unlikely to notice the variance visually, which is something keep in mind when considering the $1,200 price point of the .
The comparison to the Radeon RX 6900 XT is fascinating, however. The AMD card is $200 cheaper but wins in most head-to-head gaming matchups. Even with the processor difference in my testing, you can expect the RX 6900 XT to be up by a few fps in most games. It was already neck and neck with the, giving it a narrow but complete edge over the in this matchup. It is a more power-hungry card, though, at 300 watts.
Of course, ray tracing is the primary weakness of the Radeon RX 6900 XT. The company is just now beginning to make some headway on its answer to DLSS, known as the FidelityFX Super Resolution. Nvidia has a few years of development over AMD in both ray tracing and A.I., making the the obvious choice over the RX 6900 XT if you’ve been wanting to dip your toe into ray tracing.
I don’t have comparative data for it, but I also tested out Cyberpunk 2077. No other game relies on ray tracing so heavily to produce its incredible visuals. At Ultra settings and with ray tracing cranked up, the frame rate slowed down considerably. As has been demonstrated many times, even thecan’t always steadily handle this game at 60-plus fps — at least not without reducing image quality with the higher settings of DLSS.
Compared to AMD graphics cards, though, theis a ray tracing machine. It’s also a more effective part for content creation and 3D modeling. The RTX 3080 was already a better option than AMD’s best, and the only extends that lead. It was faster in two of the three Blender benchmarks I ran, sometimes by as much as 49%.
It was also a much more capable video editing card, providing a 29% better GPU score in the PugetBench Adobe Premiere benchmark. That means smoother playback and faster exports.
A $1,200 price tag for a graphics card is ungodly. It’s way too much money to spend on a single component in your system. And yet people continue to do it — and for cards far more meager than the. With that in mind, the proposition of buying a card as powerful as the doesn’t seem quite so crazy.
That doesn’t make Nvidia’s pricing any less dubious. It’s $500 more than the RTX 3080, but doesn’t provide anywhere near that much performance difference. At retail price, that makes the RTX 3080 the better option for most gamers.
But we all know that in practical terms, the retail price doesn’t currently matter all that much. Most gamers will be content to buy whatever is available — and judging overpriced graphics cards against each other on ebay isn’t an easy task.
Of course, someday, the GPU supply issue will lapse, and prices may normalize. But based on the timelines these companies have provided, we may have moved on to the next generation of graphics cards by then.
Until then, it’s the Wild West out there. Thedoesn’t change that grim situation by much, but having another fantastically powerful graphics card on the market can’t hurt.
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