Review: Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is a powerhouse—but good luck finding it at $1,199 MSRP

Practically 9 months in the past, the RTX 3000 sequence of Nvidia graphics playing cards launched in a beleaguered world as a seeming ray of hope. The sequence’ first two GPUs, the RTX 3080 and 3070, had been practically all issues to all graphics hounds. Nvidia constructed these playing cards upon the proprietary successes of the RTX 2000 series and added sheer, every-API-imaginable rasterization energy on prime.

An “RTX”-optimized recreation ran nice on the road’s opening salvo of the RTX 3080, positive, however even with out streamlined ray tracing or the spectacular upsampling of DLSS, it tera’ed a lot of FLOPs. Speak about a enjoyable potential buy for nerds trapped in the home.

Even higher, that energy got here together with extra modest MSRPs in comparison with what we noticed within the RTX 2000 sequence. As I wrote in September 2020:

RTX 3080’s affect available on the market will hopefully push the typical GPU worth proposition into affordable territory. Its $699 value is probably not your cup of tea, but when costs for the whole lot beneath the RTX 3080 (and its sibling, the RTX 3070, slated to launch in October at $499) alter based on the under benchmarks, meaning a rock-solid 1080p or 1440p GPU could lastly land inside your budgetary attain.

…so, yeah. About that…

On the time, I used to be too busy working benchmarks to ask my crystal ball about an imminent way forward for exploding crypto values and diminishing chip and silicon supplies. The graphics card market went kablooie, and that left me holding the bag of a ridiculous declare about future GPU costs. Anybody who’s been paying consideration has witnessed many prompt GPU sell-outs and staggering eBay listings.

But by some means, though the sequence’ current playing cards are already tough to trace down, Nvidia’s RTX 3000 sequence continues to increase—as seen within the current announcement of two new fashions, the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti, which begin at MSRPs of $1,199 and $599, respectively. (When followers requested you to make extra graphics playing cards, Nvidia, I am undecided that is what they meant.)

If you happen to’re stunned by that information, you are not alone. Final week, I discovered in regards to the new fashions by way of an unannounced knock on the door and an 11-pound field, full of one in every of every new GPU as offered by Nvidia. That is the primary time I can recall getting a graphics card pattern from a provider with out an e-mail letting me know that I ought to prep my entrance porch’s netting to catch keen cryptomining bundle thieves.

An asteroid-sized asterisk, as common

At present, the embargo has lifted on opinions of the 3080 Ti. And as has turn into more and more widespread at Ars, this assessment comes with an asterisk the dimensions of an asteroid that can doubtless smash your hopes of shopping for this card within the close to future. Nvidia did not supply any briefings about firm efforts to stabilize provide, nor did the corporate attempt to assure that precise people will be capable of purchase the RTX 3080 Ti starting tomorrow, June 3, “beginning at” $1,199. It stays anybody’s guess if, when, or how a mild-mannered tech fanatic like your self will get a good shake within the present market.

Ought to a real alternative to purchase this card floor, I can say that the RTX 3080 Ti finishes what the RTX 3080 began, a minimum of for this GPU era. Its beneficial properties over the 3080 are fascinating: They’re substantial, but they are not essentially value one other $400 in MSRP. However on a pure gaming foundation, this week’s new card renders the RTX 3090, and its $1,499 MSRP, completely moot.

Specs for the RTX 3080 Ti land nearer to the 3090 than the 3080, with the most important distinction being a gulf in VRAM. This card has 2GB greater than the 3080, but a whopping 12GB lower than the 3090. That is a giant VRAM differential, but between the spec desk above and the efficiency outcomes under, the 3080 Ti is clearly a better option than the 3090 if high-res gaming is your GPU precedence.

That is sensible, because the 3090 was a showcase VRAM card, excellent as both an entry-level choice for high-end video enhancing or one thing to connect to an 8K show. If you happen to do not fall into both of these camps, relaxation assured that the 3080 Ti is a greater choice for GPU overspending, particularly when your system is tuned to rev video games at 4K resolutions and stable body charges with only a few compromises. In the meantime, if “solely 12GB of GDDR6X VRAM” is a sentence that you just would possibly say out loud with a tear falling out of your video-processing tear duct, the RTX 3080 Ti doubtless will not allure you.

Similar construct, with one notable distinction

Enlarge / 3DMark’s testing suite, together with the RT-intensive Port Royal benchmark, is an effective place to begin to make comparisons, though AMD’s newest playing cards get larger wins in sure use circumstances than these would possibly indicate. On the very least, they present the slender hole between the 3080 Ti and the 3090.

Final yr’s RTX 3080 actually is not chopped liver. If you happen to discover anyfactor between the 3080 and 3090 priced close to MSRP and are desperate to fill your favourite 4K show with as many pixels as doable, purchase first and ask model-number questions later. Relying in your best use case, you could need to add AMD’s RX 6800XT to that record of best high-end GPUs, because it nonetheless has vital victories in our battery of checks. However the newer 3080 Ti does face off remarkably nicely in opposition to each high-end choice listed on this paragraph (particularly if value for you is a completely arbitrary idea; on this market, that is sadly doubtless).

I obtained the Nvidia-produced “Founders Version” of the 3080 Ti, and its bodily case and fan construct look similar to the 3080 proper right down to its twin-fan construct and “blow-through” cooling course of. However one factor is unquestionably totally different this time round—the noise.

I’ve examined each RTX 3000-series Founders Version up till this level, and most have performed an incredible job balancing warmth, airflow, and fan pace to carry out effectively and quietly. This stuff not often rev their followers to extremes. However the 3080 Ti’s bodily construction accommodates a extra densely packed board of chips, with default energy draw leaping from 320 W to 350 W. Meaning push has come to decibel shove when it comes to retaining this GPU performant and funky.

To make clear, the 3080 Ti’s decibel degree doesn’t exceed its non-Ti sibling. Somewhat, the 3080 Ti’s beneficial properties come at the price of the elevated chance that its followers will rev up at default tunings, triggered by what seems to be an 81°C-ish threshold.

Common beneficial properties over 3080: 10-12%

For this assessment, my benchmarking checks evaluate the 3080 Ti in opposition to two of its nearest neighbors: the 3080 and AMD’s RX 6800XT (MSRP: $649). I enlisted Ars’ Senior Know-how Editor Lee Hutchinson to chip in just a few GPU-specific checks of the RTX 3090 FE, however these had been on a special rig. As such, these RTX 3090 FE outcomes solely seem in selective checks.

Any weaker playing cards in my tables had been examined on the identical rig, which has an Intel i7-8700K CPU overclocked to 4.6 GHz, 32 GB of DDR4-3000 RAM, an 850 W energy provide, and SSD storage. These checks had been performed in older opinions on older drivers, so their counts include a gentle margin-of-error warning.

The simple a part of the assessment is confirming that the 3080 Ti outperforms the 3080 throughout the board. In uncommon circumstances, the achieve over the 3080 is delicate, with Gears 5 4K efficiency wanting practically similar between the 2 playing cards and decrease beneficial properties when resolutions drop from 4K to 1440p (as is to be anticipated in much less CPU-limited situations). However often, the beneficial properties method 10-12 %.

Moreover, the 3080 Ti’s beefy stats do not come at the price of body charge volatility. I’ve tracked most benchmarks with MSI Afterburner’s “one % lowest” body charge depend, and this time-intensive double-check solutions an important query: whether or not the reported body charge common comes with hidden body time spikes. Because the above stats present, this card holds up. (My testing rig’s CPU is getting a bit lengthy within the tooth, so your one % stats utilizing any of those GPUs could look even higher than mine.)

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