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Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XTREME 11G Review

By Christopher Coke on December 04, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XTREME 11G Review

If you’re ready to step into the world of high-end 4K gaming, the RTX 2080 Ti is the only way to go. If you’re ready to make the jump, your next choice is which 2080 Ti you should choose. Today, we’re looking at a showpiece GPU if ever we’ve seen one with the Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 TI XTREME 11G. It features innovative triple-fan cooling, a speedy factory overclock, and one of the most impressive lighting solutions we’ve ever seen, but is it worth $1299? Join us as we find out.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $1299
  • Graphics Processing: GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
  • Core Clock: 1770 MHz (Reference Card: 1545 MHz)
  • RTX-OPS: 81
  • CUDA Cores: 4352
  • Memory Clock: 14140 MHz
  • Memory Size: 11 GB
  • Memory Type: GDDR6
  • Memory Bus: 352 bit
  • Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec): 616 GB/s
  • Card Bus: PCI-E 3.0 x 16
  • Digital max resolution: 7680x4320@60Hz
  • Multi-view: 4
  • Card size: L=290 W=134.31 H=59.9 mm
  • PCB Form: ATX
  • DirectX: 12
  • OpenGL: 4.6
  • Recommended PSU: 750W
  • Power Connectors: 8 Pin x 2
  • Output: DisplayPort 1.4 x 3, HDMI 2.0b x 3, USB Type-CTM(support VirtualLinkTM) x 1
  • SLI support: 2-way NVIDIA NVLINKTM
  • Accessories
    • 1. AORUS VGA holder
    • 2. AORUS metal sticker
    • 3. Quick guide
    • 4. 4-year warranty registration
    • 5. I/O guide
    • 6. Driver CD

Buying a graphics card today is more complicated than its ever been. You have a lot to consider. What resolution are you playing at, what kinds of games do you plan to play, do you want ray tracing, warranties, future-proofing, RGB, cooling, G-Sync, HDR… the list goes on. Thankfully, things become a whole lot simpler once you decide you’re ready to make the jump to 4K. At the moment, only the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti are true “4K cards” and, if we’re looking at new AAA games, the 2080 Ti becomes the only real option. The question then becomes which RTX 2080 Ti you should buy.

That’s where the AORUS XTREME comes in with a suite of features to make the case that it’s the 2080 Ti for you. Right off the bat, this model comes with a hefty factory overclock to 1770 MHz, up from the reference speed of 1545 MHz, and is one of the absolute fastest factory overclocks I’ve seen or could find. Out of the box performance is definitely enhanced on this one, assuming it’s not being thermal throttled.

To that end, Gigabyte has packed the RTX 2080 Ti XTREME 11G with a massive heatsink an innovative triple-fan cooling solution. The copper heat pipes included in the heatsink make direct contact with the GPU and MOSFETs to effectively draw heat up into the fin array. They’re also hollowed out to utilize phase transition thermodynamics for more efficient heat transfer. Up top, Gigabyte uses three 100mm fans but what makes this solution interesting is that the center fan actually spins counter to the other two to reduce air turbulence for improved cooling potential. In practice, this actually works quite well as you’ll see in our performance results. 

The card also features a great backplate to support its additional weight. At 11.4 x 5.4 x 2.4 inches (LxWxD) and 2.5 slots. It also makes direct contact with the board for modest heat dissipation abilities but even more importantly adds a lot of rigidity to the card to keep it from flexing. Gigabyte actually bundles a metal support arm with the card for additional support to ward off GPU sag. The backplate also has a bright AORUS logo, too, which we’ll get to soon.

The card packs a punch. Under the hood, the AORUS is features 4352 CUDA cores and 11GB of GDDR6 clocked to 14GB/s. On the 352-bit bus, the total memory bandwidth is 616 GB/s. Thanks to the pre-set overclock and 544 tensor cores, the RTX-Ops receive a nice bump to 81 from the 78 found on the Founders Edition. Likewise, you also get an extra 1.2 TFLOPS of performance for a total of 15.4.

What all of that really boils down to is that the AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XTREME 11G is perhaps the most capable air-cooled card on the market.

The other big element with this GPU is its lighting. Yes, yes, lighting doesn’t affect the performance of the card, I know. But still, what we have here is one of the best light shows ever seen on a GPU. The AORUS 2080 Ti XTREME it kitted out with LEDs. Each fan has a set long the fins, creating an eye-catching ring when they’re in motion (they turn off when stopped). In the center is the AORUS falcon, whose color changes depending on your preset. Pictures really don’t do it justice.

The card is clearly made to look great in a vertical mount as pictured above but also looks great traditionally mounted. A logo on the side flows in RGB rather than the single-color options used on their cheaper cards. The gloss looks great too. The falcon logo on the back is also customizable and is quite bright. When mounted vertically, it washes the area behind it in colored light.

The fan lighting is also very customizable with a lot of great-looking presets. My favorite was definitely the tri-color preset which blends three colors in a flowing gradient. This is definitely the best RGB I’ve ever seen on a GPU and definitely the best I’ve seen from Gigabyte. My only qualms are that it makes you want to disable intelligent fan stop to keep the lights on. Likewise, the falcon logo in the front is based on how fast the fans are spinning, so running them below 40% results in some noticeable flickering. Thankfully, in any situation where you’d want the fans to run for gaming, they’ll be running fast enough to keep the lighting consistent.

On paper, the AORUS RTX 2080 Ti XTREME 11G has the specs to be a showstopper. Let’s take a look and see how it pans out in real life.

Benchmark Results

Test System: Gigabyte X570 AORUS Master Motherboard, AMD Ryzen R9 3900X CPU, NZXT Kraken X72 AIO Cooler, G.Skill TridentZ Royal DDR4-3600MHz 16GB DRAM Kit, Gigabyte AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB, Corsair HX-1050 1050 Watt Power Supply.

For all of our benchmark testing, we strive to provide real-world results akin to what you would see in your own PC. To that end, we stress test our cards through a series of modern games and compare them against one another. We also record peak temperatures within these games on stock fan settings. Be aware that the thermal results we report can usually be improved upon by creating a custom fan curve in programs like MSI Afterburner.

In today’s review, we’ve chosen to focus on 1440p and 4K gameplay. The reason for this is that the 2080 Ti is clearly not intended for 1080p and we wouldn’t recommend anyone purchase this caliber of card for FHD gameplay. Any card at this price is going to be for enthusiasts that are pushing high resolutions, frame rates or both. To that end, we don’t think it’s impossible someone might choose this card for 1440p in an effort to push a 144Hz monitor to its limit for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to settings, we turn everything up with the exception of MSAA and FXAA and instead opt for the lowest level of TAA possible. In cases where that’s not possible, we enable the existing anti-aliasing option at its lowest setting. Ray tracing is also disabled for this testing as so few games currently support it.

Let’s see how it did.

Running the game through our suite of test titles shows the value of that factory overclock in real terms. Without doing any overclocking of your own, you’re getting top of the line performance that routinely outpaces the 2080 Ti Founders Edition (which had its own factory overclock) by 5-7 frames.

At 1440p, the card will still struggle to push these games at 144 FPS without turning down some settings but it was consistently able to top the other cards we compared against. Rightfully so at this price point and the internal specs. Still, it was able to achieve triple-digit frame rates consistently with the exception of Metro: Exodus (and reducing a couple of key settings would accomplish this with minimal graphical degradation).

At 4K, the results are similar with the AORUS RTX 2080 Ti XTREME 11G leading the pack. Here, the card card was able to hold 4K60 with a bit of headroom to spare. Not much, however, and it’s important to note that this is still not the case for the latest titles out there. Soon, we’ll be refreshing our suite of test games to include these, but The Division 2, for example, pushed the card into the mid-50s for FPS fairly regularly.

What’s not reflected in those average FPS numbers is how consistent those frame rates were after multiple hours of gaming once warm air permeated the case. As you can tell in the chart above, thermal throttling was never an issue. At peak the card topped out at 76C and never progressed higher. The ambient temperature for this testing was 23C. This definitely reinforces that the triple-fan, alternate spinning solution Gigabyte used here is effective in combination with their heat pipes and that massive sink.

This is especially impressive because the card was mounted vertically with choked off airflow thanks to the side glass panel. Now, usually I would mount the card horizontally but since the XTREME was so clearly intended for a vertical mount, I changed my approach. With a traditional mount, temperatures dropped another 2-3C on average.

Overclocking

I am no master overclocker but a card of this caliber screams to be pushed. I started off simply by using Gigabyte’s AORUS Engine Software. Turing cards are able to utilize Nvidia’s auto-overclocking scanner to find the maximum safe overclock. After allowing AORUS Engine to scan, I came out with 87 MHz boost to the core clock. This is modest and the resulting impact on frame rates was minimal.

Instead, I retreated back to MSI Afterburner, my go-to overclocking program, and was able to push the card to a +115 MHz boost after raising the power limit. As is often the case with modern GPU overclocking, the gains were small but noticeable on paper with an average gain of 1-3 FPS.

Is it worth it? If you’re the kind of gamer looking to push his hardware to the limit (and, come on, if you buy a $1299 graphics card, that probably describes you), then yes. For the average gamer, taking the time to play and eek out those last few MHz isn’t going to net you a FPS boost you can feel, but with AORUS Engine (and other tools) Auto Scan functionality, overclocking your card is easier than ever. With one button press and ten minutes, the card will push itself to a modest to decent overclock. With that kind of system, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Final Thoughts

At $1299, the Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XTREME isn’t going to be for everybody but, quite frankly, no 2080 Ti is for everybody. If you’re looking to make the jump to 4K, 60 FPS gameplay while also running cool and looking great, this is simply the best way to do it. The Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XTREME is an absolute, unequivocal BEAST of a card.

Pros

  • Outstanding performance - top of its class
  • One of, if not the best, factory overclock
  • Great thermal performance, even with low airflow
  • Runs fairly quiet at 80% and lower fan speeds
  • Looks outstanding - hands-down, the best looking 2080 Ti

Cons

  • 2.5 slots - it’s a big boy (but comes with its own support)
  • Logo can flicker at low fan speeds
  • Expensive

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

Christopher Coke / Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight