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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Review

By Christopher Coke on July 23, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Review

It’s been the month of SUPER for hardware enthusiasts as NVIDIA has released their refresh of the RTX 20-series line-up. Thus far, we’ve seen the 2060 SUPER and 2070 SUPER but today marks the release of the top dog in their new, enhanced series, the 2080 SUPER. Replacing the RTX 2080 entirely and coming in $100 cheaper at launch, is it worth buying in for your next gaming PC? Join us as we find out.


Specifications

  • Current Price: $699.99
  • CUDA Cores: 3072
  • RTX-OPS: 63T
  • Giga Rays/s: 8
  • Boost Clock: 1815 MHz
  • Core Clock: 1650 MHz
  • Memory Speed: 15.5 Gbps
  • Memory Configuration: 8 GB GDDR6
  • Memory Interface Bandwidth: 256-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 496 GB/s
  • Maximum Digital Resolution: 7680x4320
  • Standard Display Connectors: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-DL
  • Multi-Monitor: 4
  • HDCP: 2.2
  • Maximum GPU Temperature: 89C
  • Graphics Card Power: 250W
  • Recommended System Power: 650W
  • Supplementary Power Connectors: 6-pin + 8-pin
  • Technology Support:
    • Ray Tracing Cores, Tensor Cores, NVIDIA DLSS, NVIDIA Adaptive Shading, NVIDIA GeForce Experience, NVIDIA Ansel, NVIDIA Highlights, NVIDIA G-Sync Compatible, NVIDIA GPU Boost: 4,NVIDIA NVLink (SLI-Ready): Yes, with NVIDIA RTX NVLink Bridge, Microsoft DirectX 12 Ray Tracing, Vulkan RT API, OpenGL 4.5, DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, HDCP 2.2, VR Ready, NVIDIA Encoder (NVENC)
  • Dimensions: 4.556” (H) x 10.5” (L), 2-slot

It’s been an exciting month for PC builders. With the launch of NVIDIA’s SUPER series, the RTX line is getting a much-needed refresh, adding performance and saving a significant amount of money compared to the original Founders Editions. Both the RTX 2080 and 2070 SUPER are releasing at a $100 discount compared to their original counterparts and, for a limited time, you can also receive two free games, Control and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, adding another $120 in savings if you planned on buying those games. Like the 2070 SUPER, the 2080 SUPER is a replacement for the RTX 2080. As such, every new buyer will very shortly only find themselves able to buy the newer, cheaper, better version.

So, it’s a compelling offering, but with the recent release of AMD’s Radeon 5700 series, the question is whether it’s worth choosing Team Green over Team Red.  In that light, the new pricing makes a lot of sense and the free game offer becomes all the more important. Make no mistake, though: if you want sheer performance, NVIDIA is the way to go, hands down. As of this writing, the 2080 SUPER and RTX 2080 Ti are the only way to experience smooth gameplay at 4K without the kind of software trickery AMD is leveraging to upscale 1440p.

The RTX 2080 SUPER is in a unique position in the SUPER series in that it’s the top of that stack but not the top of GeForce RTX. The RTX 2080 Ti remains the company flagship, which does limit the amount of performance uplift they’re able to provide without encroaching on the 2080 Ti (and their most dedicated fans who purchased it at launch). As such, they’re quoting up to 10% performance gains. It’s not major and slightly less than what we saw with the 2060 and 2070 SUPER but, considering that it’s replacing the original 2080 this generation and not existing alongside it, this should work out to be an all-around better value graphics card.

When it comes to specs, the RTX 2080 SUPER is a completely unlocked version of TU104 GPU die, the same which powered the original RTX 2080. It offers 3072 CUDA cores, up from 2944, and improved clock speeds of 1650MHz/1815MHz base/boost. This is a modest improvement with only 4% more CUDA cores overall a 6% boost to GPU Boost Clock. The larger improvement comes in memory. While it still offers 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM on a 256-bit bus, it’s been enhanced with a memory bandwidth of 496 GB/s, providing a total data rate of 15.5 Gbps, which is currently the fastest on the market (faster even than the 2080 Ti).

The RTX 2080 SUPER also brings with it all the capabilities of NVIDIA’s Turing architecture. That means Ray Tracing support and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), as well as NVIDIA’s new Hybrid Rendering engine. These new technologies are still rolling out but their impact on visual fidelity is inarguable. I would also highly recommend reading up on Hybrid Rendering, if you haven’t yet. While it’s not something most gamers will consider as they enjoy their games, it represents a new approach to how graphics are processed and is fascinating if you’re at all into how graphics cards do the job that they do.

When it comes to the physical design, NVIDIA has a looker on their hands. They’ve continued their dual axial fan design, complete with a meaty heatsink for thermal dissipation. I love the mirror finish they’ve applied, though I wish the “SUPER” were silver. Around the back, we have one HDMI 2.0b port, as well as three DisplayPorts and a VirtualLink connection for easy hook-up to your VR headset. The RTX 2080 SUPER will support four displays with a maximum resolution of 7680x4320.

Since the original RTX 2080 was a strong contender for smooth 4K gaming, even modest improvements seem poised to push it further into 4K-territory. Let’s dive into the benchmarks and see how it performed.

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 purely twofold. First, and most basically, the RTX 2080 SUPER is not a 1080p card. It’s overkill for that resolution and will handily deliver triple digit frame rates for the vast majority of games you’d be likely to play. Because of this, we would never recommend you buy a card of this caliber for a 1080p display when there are more fitting and more affordable options out there. Second, it’s likely that you’ll experience CPU bottlenecks on all but the most recent, most powerful processors.

Results Discussion and Final Thoughts

As NVIDIA promised, the improvements on display here are present but modest. Compared to the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, it typically offers ~5 FPS improvement. What I did notice is that the framerate seemed more stable, which lead to a smoother overall experience. Compared to the 2080 Ti, it’s clear that there is still a healthy performance delta between the two, leaving NVIDIA’s flagship in its top spot.

Though I did not have one on-hand for testing, what I found interesting in my research is that the 2080 SUPER typically only leads the 2070 SUPER by around 10-15 FPS. While that makes a big difference when playing at 4K, it leaves the RTX 2070 SUPER as an incredible option for 1440p gaming.

When it cam to temperatures, I was very impressed. After an initial scare where a software corruption incorrectly reported very hot temperatures, the actual correct results came as a relief and a surprise. My office is fairly warm, usually hovering around 26-27C once the PC has begun churning hot air. Even still, the 2080 SUPER manager to run cooler than the original RTX 2080 and only 1C warmer than the 2070 under load. That’s impressive.

Back to the original question: is it worth buying into the upper end of RTX? I think so, if you’re interested in playing at 4K. Frankly, the RTX 2080 SUPER and RTX 2080 Ti are the only cards that can really do it at 60+ FPS without sacrificing heavily in visuals. If you’re playing at 1440P, things get a little more complicated with the 2070 SUPER and 5700XT both delivering exceptional results for less money.

If the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER were a standalone product, I would question its reason to exist but as a replacement for the original 2080, it’s hard to argue it’s anything but a good thing. Put simply, you’re getting more card for less money, plus a pair of free games (while the offer lasts). The 2080 Ti still reigns supreme 4K gameplay just became more accessible than ever.

Pros

  • Exceptional performance
  • More power, less money
  • Good thermal results
  • Fan doesn’t need to be driven as hard, resulting in quieter operation
  • NVLink Ready – could challenge the 2080 Ti?

Cons

  • Very modest improvement over RTX 2080

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.


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