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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Review - The New Gaming King?

Joseph Bradford Updated: Posted:
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Hardware Reviews 0

Nvidia is back with a new flagship GPU, the RTX 3080 Ti. The Ti variants of each generation have always been the “top tier” gaming GPU, offering the promise of top of the line performance over its intra-generational siblings, as well as a marked increase over the previous generation’s Ti. With the 3080 Ti entering the ring, how does this stack up, and is it the new gaming king?

Specifications:

  • Price: $1199 MSRP
  • GPU Clusters: 80
  • CUDA Cores: 10240
  • Tensor Cores: 320 (3rd gen)
  • RT Cores: 80 (2nd Gen)
  • Texture Units: 320
  • ROPs: 112
  • Boost Clock: 1665 MHz
  • Memory Clock: 9500 MHz
  • Video Memory: 12 GB GDDR6X
  • Memory Interface: 384-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 912 GB/s
  • Maximum Digital Resolution: 7680x4320
  • Standard Display Connectors: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4
  • Card Dimensions: 11.2” (285 mm) L x 4.4” (112 mm) W (2 Slots required)
  • TGP: 350 Watts
  • Recommended PSU: 750W

First glance and thoughts

At first glance, the RTX 3080 Ti looks like all the other Ampere cards that have come before. The elegant curves of the Ampere chassis are something I’ve come to appreciate the more I’ve handled the Ampere line in person. I typically prefer the edgy, “gamified” design of many cards for some reason, but the Ampere look is growing on me.

RTX 3080 Ti

If you’re looking at the specifications and noticed it’s about the same size as the Founder’s Edition RTX 3080, you’re not wrong. The GPU is slimmer than I was actually expecting when I first lifted it from its box, especially when you consider how close in spec it is to its higher priced brother, the RTX 3090. While the 3080 Ti doesn’t have as much memory as the 3090 (literally half from 24GB to 12GB), when I first saw the rest of the specs and noticed how close they were to the 3090, I was expecting a three slot behemoth to adorn the inside of my spacious Lian Li O11 case. However, I was surprised (and actually happy) to see it was more along the lines of the 3080 in its overall size profile.

The dual fan design is back, with one fan on each side of the card offering the same airflow previous Ampere cards have enjoyed since it was first unveiled last year. The way the GPU wraps around the heatsink has a simple elegance. Because of how close the 3090 and 3080 Ti are on paper, I do wonder how well the size of the heat sink here will perform in terms of keeping the GPU cool.

The 3080 Ti uses Nvidia’s 12-pin connector as well (though the GPU comes with an adapter for those of us with 8-pin cables still), requiring some juice to power this thing. Potential owners will want to make sure that their power supplies are up to snuff, as Nvidia recommendsa 750 watt power supply as a minimum to run the 3080 Ti.

RTX 3080 Ti

I also really appreciate Nvidia’s packaging. It’s sleek, avoiding the gaudy gaming packaging you can typically see with other GPUs and gaming products. While I don’t mind harsh edges and those “gaming” flairs on my products, the packaging can sometimes be a bit over the top. I appreciate the understated packaging to go with the GPU.

Gamers using Nvidia's RTX 3080 Ti can enjoy features such as Deep Learning Super Sampling, which transforms performance in heavily taxing ray tracing applications. Additionally, competitive gamers take utilize technologies like Nvidia Reflex, which reduces latency in supported games such as Overwatch and Valorant. Streamers also get some love thanks to the Ampere architecture, with OBS supporting the NVENC codec as well as robust support of Nvidia Broadcast on RTX 3080 Ti.

For the Ti variant of each of Nvidia’s past generations (from the 780 Ti through the 2080 Ti), the promise has been increased performance over the standard 80-line of GPUs. From a gen on gen standpoint, the question I have is just truly how much performance you gain going from the Turing’s 2080 Ti over the Ampere’s 3080 Ti, especially if you’ve been hanging onto the former card anticipating this release. Let’s hop into the testing.

Synthetic and Gaming Benchmarks

A note before we go any further: Our testing suite consisted of many RTX Founder’s Edition cards to go up against the 3080 Ti FE. However, one notable exception is our RTX 3080. Instead of a Founder’s Edition, our testing suite contains an AIB (Add-in Board) variant of the 3080, which means we’ll seea factory overclock at play with the 3080 results. As such, when comparing the 3080 Ti FE to the Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC card we currently have on hand to test, this does bridge a potential performance gap that would be there otherwise when comparing it to Nvidia’s Founder’s Edition cards.

We’ll dive into this a bit more in detail after the results, but it should be noted that if you are looking for 3080 FE vs 3080 Ti FE comparisons, please do read more than just this review to get a broader view on the performance gains.

Our test bench consists of the following:

  • CPU: Intel i7 10700K @ 3.8 GHz (Boost clock up to 5.1 GHz)
  • Cooling: Corsair 100i 240mm Liquid CPU cooler
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus Z490 Ultra Motherboard
  • Memory: Corsair Vengeance 32GB RAM @ 3200 MHz
  • Storage: Intel 760p M.2 NVMe, ADATA Falcon 1TB M.2 NVMe
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM 850X 850 Watt
  • Case: Lian Li O11 Dynamic
  • Nvidia Driver: Nvidia Game Ready Driver 466.54 (Press Driver)
  • AMD Driver: AMD Adrenalin 21.4.1

GPUs to test:

Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti Founder’s Edition

Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC Edition

Nvidia RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Founder’s Edition

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

AMD Radeon RX 6800

RTX 3080 Ti Synthetic Benchmarks

For synthetic testing, we used 3DMark’s DX12, DX11 and Ray Tracing benchmark tests. Specifically as the RTX 3080 Ti is really meant for high resolution graphics, we tested the 4K versions of the DX11 and DX12 tests to gauge how we could expect the gaming benchmarks to shake out. We tested each GPU at the default settings for each test, seeing how each card performs when pushed to its limits.

In FireStrike Ultra we see RTX 3080 Ti beat almost every other card in our testing rig, sometimes by a wide margin. AMD’s 6800 XT sees some really good numbers in this test, narrowly eking out the top spot. Though, when comparing just to the other Nvidia cards, RTX 3080 Ti comes out on top.

In Time Spy Extreme, the story is markedly different as the  RTX 3080 Ti easily beats out every other card in the testing suite. Surprisingly, the RTX 2080 Ti has a really good showing in the Time Spy graphics test, inching the closest to the RTX 3080 Ti.

We’ll break down the Port Royal test in our section dedicated to Ray Tracing benchmarks. Now on to the Rasterization benchmark tests.

RTX 3080 Ti Rasterization Gaming Benchmarks

For gaming benchmarks, we tested a range of games using a multitude of gaming DirectX APIs and game engines, from Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, Guerilla Games’ Decima, CD Projekt Red’s REDEngine, and more. Here, we’re looking at gameplay framerate averages at both 2560x1440 (1440p) and 3840x2160 (also called 4K). In these tests, the maximum settings were used in each game, with specific setting increases called out on the graphs if the max preset didn’t slide all the settings up all the way (namely in Cyberpunk 2077).

Where we could, we used the in-game benchmark tool to create as consistent a run as possible for each card. However, in games where this wasn’t possible, we replicated a circuit, attempting to create as consistent a test as we could. For Cyberpunk 2077, we walked a prescribed path out of our apartment, past the diner, into the market, and back to our apartment. We also reloaded saves to even keep the time of day consistent.

For Control, we used Digital Foundry’s notorious run through the Corridor of Doom, going so far as to run the corridor, fight a few enemies in the next room, and run back through the corridor to complete the loop.

Finally, we utilized Nvidia’s Frameview tool to capture frame data, temperature data, and various other metrics utilized throughout this review. We also used MSI Afterburner for overclocking.

By and large, RTX 3080 Ti tops the graphs each time, with one or two notable exceptions being Square Enix and Crystal Dynamic’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Ubisoft’s Assassin's Creed Valhalla. In Valhalla, we see RX 6800 XT take top billing beating all the other cards in our testing suite. As a game optimized for Ryzen and AMD Radeon, this performance does make a bit of sense. Compared to the other Nvidia cards, however, we see 3080 Ti beat out each one, with the only exception being the 4K result being just one frame lower on average than the Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC in Valhalla. Note, this is within margin of error, so consider these performances equal. However, when compared to the 2080 Ti, we’re seeing a 35% increase at 4K by jumping to the 3080 Ti.

For those wondering whether Shadowbringers will run well as we lead up to Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming Endwalker expansion, rest assured the RTX 3080 Ti is the best place to play. The 3080 Ti towers over the likes of the RTX 3070 and 2080 Ti at both 1440p and 4K, seeing a 44% increase at 4K over the Turing card. Compared to the RTX 3080 OC from Gigabyte, we see a 7% increase at 4K with 3080 Ti.

Horizon: Zero Dawn sees RTX 3080 Ti  trounce everything at 1440p, though the 4K results are a bit more down to Earth while still besting the field. Control also sees marked improvements across the board for RTX 3080 Ti, with a 10% increase in performance over the Gigabyte 3080, and a 52% increase over the 2080 Ti at 4K on each. This is before ray tracing or DLSS is factored in.

The latest technical showcase, though, is Cyberpunk 2077. While the launch of this game by CD Projekt RED has been much maligned since December, the PC version was the least affected (though my experience might beg to differ). However, Cyberpunk 2077 played nice long enough to get some good test circuits, with RTX 3080 Ti being the best graphics card to play this game. The increase over our 3080 only amounts to a 7% increase in performance at 4K. But keep in mind, this is with Psycho Screen Space Reflections which rival ray tracing with respect to hit to performance. Tweaking some settings will see more performance across the board. If you’ve been hanging onto the 2080 Ti waiting for the Ampere variant, you’re going to see larger increases at both 1440p and 4K, with 38% and 35% increased performance, respectively.

We also opted to test out A Total War Saga: TROY, as this is a game given away for free on Epic when it first released, so many gamers will have this on hand. Additionally, Creative Assembly’s offerings, especially in the campaign map, are increasingly becoming more GPU bound. TROY gives RTX 3080 Ti players incredibly respectable numbers at both 1440p and 4K, though across the board, the numbers are very playable. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also tested, and while the raster numbers favor the RTX 3080 Ti, the ray traced performance is a different story, which we’ll explore in just a moment.

All in all, when looking at this across the board, the RTX 3080 Ti is the best card when playing games with regular rasterization, with few exceptions in Ubisoft’s titles This is especially true if you’re hanging onto the 2080 Ti, and by extension, even the 1080 Ti (Pascal cards were a beast). Even compared to the rest of the Ampere cards, the 3080 Ti is 5% better than our 3080 on average., But remember that this is an overclocked variant from Gigabyte, so it stands to reason that the Ti would be an even larger winner when testing against the Founder’s Edition 3080.

RTX 3080 Ti Ray Tracing Benchmarks

However, one of the major features of really any GPU coming out nowadays is how well it handles DirectX Ray Tracing. Nvidia started the trend of GPUs being able to leverage the DXR API by creating dedicated hardware to accelerate ray tracing  in its Turing cards. Ampere builds upon that knowledge to push out even better performance numbers over Turing. AMD’s 6000 series GPUs also leverage the ability to perform ray tracing calculations , though this is their first foray into the technology.

For synthetic testing, we used 3DMark’s Port Royal test The 3080 Ti doesn’t disappoint, beating out each other card in our lineup handily in this test. Gaming is a bit more muddled.

While ray tracing looks really pretty (and I mean, really pretty) and can be transformative to a scene, it does come with a weighty performance cost depending on which DXR techniques are being leveraged. We tested a few mainline games using RT techniques, ranging from full implementations like Cyberpunk’s emissives and global illumination, to Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s ray traced shadows.

Notably absent from our tests is the upgraded version of Metro Exodus. While this does come with its own benchmarking suite, it didn’t seem as though it was saving settings from the tool to the actual test during our initial testing. We also encountered inconsistency with saving DLSS settings when testing. As a result, we opted to remove it from our benchmarking suite in order to ensure results were consistent.

When comparing the RTX 3080 Ti to the AMD competition, there really is no comparison. The 3080 Ti is just better across the board at leveraging ray tracing technology in games. The last gen RTX 2080 Ti is also soundly beaten on every front, seeing a 47% increase at 4K in Watch Dogs Legion without DLSS. Even when using DLSS, the same two cards see an even greater 58% gap in performance.

Cyberpunk 2077 humbles all of the cards on offer, at least until you turn on DLSS with Nvidia’s cards. From there, you’ll see the RTX 3080 Ti eke out 33% more performance at 4K over our RTX 3070 FE, while our 2080 Ti only sees a 14% increase at 4K with DLSS Performance enabled on both.

Where it gets interesting (and also sort of shows what these two cards were made for) is the numbers between our Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC and our RTX 3080 Ti. At 1440p it’s likely we are hitting a CPU bottleneck, as the numbers are fairly consistent between both cards. 4K you do see the 3080 Ti eke out wins against the 3080, such as Cyberpunk’s 4% increase for the 3080 Ti, and Control’s 7% increase at 4K, both instances with DLSS on.

Interestingly enough, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, sees the RTX 3080 Ti play second fiddle to the RTX 3080 Gaming OC. However, the differences, with the exception of 1440p DLSS On, are minor. 1440p with DLSS Performance in Watch Dogs Legion sees our 3080 beat out the 3080 Ti at 4K  without DLSS, we see 3080 Ti win overall.

Overclocking And Performance

In our testing, we were able to boost the power draw to 114% and set the thermal limit from 83 to 90 degrees Celsius. We were able to achieve +200 to the core clock and +600 to the memory clock using MSI Afterburner, though obviously your mileage will vary depending on the silicon lottery.

Through this overclock testing, we saw improvements at 4K using DLSS Performance and ray tracing in both Watch Dogs Legion and Cyberpunk 2077. We experienced higher minimum framerates and higher average framerates across the board.

In Watch Dogs Legion, we saw our minimum framerates increase from 32 to 45 with our OC, while our average framerate rose from 63 to 66fps. While the average framerate increase was only about 4%, it did increase minimum frames a whopping 40%.

Cyberpunk 2077 also saw increases in both minimum and average FPS, with its minimum rising from 11 to 13, and average framerates at 4K going from 46 to 51 frames per second.

Interestingly, when looking back at Frameview data, it was noticed that while we capped the power draw from 100 to 114, we were only seeing it draw about 12% more power at its max (392 watts versus its rated 350 watts). This implies power is the limiting factor for 3080 Ti performance.

Temperatures and Acoustics

Acoustically speaking, when gaming on the RTX 3080 Ti it’s...well...loud. However,the fan noise is fine when gaming with headphones. It wasn’t picked up by my microphone when on Discord with other people. However, the minute I took off my cans, I wondered who started a jet engine in my office. It’s loud, though if you’re not too sensitive (or your PC isn’t in your room where it could bother a significant other whilst you’re gaming late night), or wear headphones while gaming like I do, you’re not going to be too bothered by it.

Temperatures can also get on the high side if you’re one who worries about it (like I do). Living in a desert as well as having my office on the top floor of my house (and hot air rises in my house really well), I’ve got a rather large case with plenty of airflow for a reason. At its hottest, the RTX 3080 Ti reached about 86 degrees during our overclocked testing, with our non-OC temps hitting around 85 degrees Celsius. As the card is rated for a max of 93 degrees (and the card’s bios limits your max temp slider to 90), it’s likely that you’re not going to have too much trouble staying under that.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Going back to our disclaimer before our benchmarks began, we made a point to mention our 3080 was not a Founder’s Edition. On average, we’re seeing a 5% uptick across the 8 games we tested in regular raster tests over our 3080 with the 3080 Ti. Normally, you’d expect a higher uptick from the 80 to the Ti variant of the card. This is why we recommend reading more reviews to get a fuller picture of this as we don’t have an FE to test in our suite.

Anecdotally, we can look at another review, such as the one Overclock3D did on the Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC and see how their numbers stack up when jumping from the FE to the AIB variant. In their tests, Control sees a mark up of 7% in regular raster at 4K (51fps to 55fps), with RT DLSS at 4K seeing a 5% increase for the gaming OC. Horizon is similar with the Gaming OC having a 4% increase over the FE 3080. So while this is by no means a 1:1 comparison as test benches and methodology vary across the spectrum of testers out there, it does help paint a clearer picture of why the Gaming OC 3080 we have on hand is a bit closer to the 3080 Ti than you’d expect.

For many gamers out there, especially 2080 Ti owners, the 3080 Ti means a chance to grab a leap in performance over the card they currently own. When looking across our eight game suite, the 3080 Ti is a 41% increase in performance on average over the 2080 Ti at 4K. This performance gap widens when you factor in 4K ray tracing performance (even before DLSS) with a 50% increase.

With the RTX 3080 Ti, it’s a generational leap over Turing, with those still using Pascal cards likely to see an even larger gulf in performance as well at the Ti level. However, that comes at a premium.

The $1,199 price tag definitely lets you know this is a Ti variant as it’s priced like the 2080 Ti before it. However, it really depends on the type of consumer whether or not this price tag is worth it. For many Ti buyers, price, especially at this level, doesn’t matter. For the best gaming performance, even if it’s 5-10% better than the existing 80 series (which the MSRP is listed $500 cheaper), the price doesn’t matter. And for many 2080 Ti owners, seeing an average of 40-50% better performance over their 2080 Ti will make trying to get their hands on a 3080 Ti on June 3rd a no-brainer.

However, if price is a factor, the RTX 3080 is a respectable card to buy, especially with its 4K performance (and especially if you’re lucky enough to find an AIB listed at a decent price).

The other elephant in the room here is whether or not gamers are going to be able to both find a card and then get it at MSRP (or reasonably close). While Nvidia does say they will have stock on their website at MSRP, the fact that so many gamers have had to hold onto aging cards due to shortages across the board this generation, the chances of finding a card on launch day could be slim. Maybe we’ll see the first robust launch since Ampere hit shelves last year. With the launch of Nvidia’s dedicated mining GPUs (and the fact that 3080 Ti crypto performance will be limited as well), miners might decide to try to find Nvidia’s CMP instead. However, there is so much uncertainty about availability that it leaves me doubtful gamers will be able to score these in any real numbers to alleviate many of those itching for an upgrade.

Another aspect to consider is that the more powerful RTX 3090 is just a few hundred dollars more MSRP. For those consumers where price doesn’t matter as much here, is it worth grabbing the 3080 Ti for a little less (and presumably less performance) or holding out hope a 3090 pops up somewhere?

At the end of the day, the RTX 3080 Ti is a great card if you’re looking for 4K performance, especially ray tracing. Nvidia’s DLSS makes ray tracing transformative without the performance hit, and the beauty of PC gaming lets you tweak that performance further with settings to lock in exactly where you want it. If you were already someone willing to pay for the Ti models before, the price of the 3080 Ti likely won’t scare you away. It’s a product positioned at the top of the gaming stack, even if it isn’t the most powerful on paper compared to the 3090. And while in our testing, the 3080 and 3080 Ti  came out a little closer, for many it’s worth the performance gains to spend a little more.

As such, it stands to reason that for most gamers the 3080 is likely going to be the best choice for them, assuming one can be found near its retail price. This is an enthusiast card made for those enthusaists who aren't swayed by cost for the best performance. And for those gamers that absolutely want the best, the RTX 3080 Ti is that, and a worthy successor to the Ti title.

8.5Great
Pros
  • Great gaming performance
  • Sleek, elegant chassis
  • Overclocks easy and adds even more performance on the table
  • Provides a sizeable gen-on-gen uplift in performance
  • Dominates Ray Tracing performance versus competition
Cons
  • Can be pricey for those just looking for a card
  • Might not do enough to dissuade some gamers from the 3080


lotrlore

Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore