It's hard to believe that it has been almost nine months since Nvidia introduced its first ampere graphics card, the GeForce RTX 3080. Though, to those of you who have tried buying one for nine months, it might have felt like an eternity.
The RTX 3080 was a really exciting product that performed 20% better than the much more expensive RTX 2080 Ti ($ 700 versus $ 1200). While many were lucky enough to get one, it was always hard to get, and once the crypto mining boom resumed it was virtually impossible to track you down at the MSRP.
Over the weeks and months that followed, we also received the fully unlocked version of the GA102 silicon called the RTX 3090 (which costs an MSRP of a cool $ 1500) – though that never made much sense to gamers – the RTX 3070, which is on an almost 40% smaller GA104 die, which means that Nvidia can get more of these dies out of one wafer. The GA104 chip is also shared by the RTX 3060 Ti, probably the hardest to find of all ampere-based graphics cards since Nvidia prioritized the RTX 3070 with a higher margin thanks to seemingly strong yields.
The last time we saw the launch of the GeForce RTX 3060, based on the 300 mm2 GA106 die. It's supposed to be $ 330, but of course it's not available for purchase, and you certainly can't get anywhere near its MSRP.
So here we are, gamers still can't, or at least not easily, buy a graphics card in mid-2021, and prices remain sky high. Ideally, we'd love to see AMD and Nvidia bring GPUs out under $ 300 – hello GTX 1650! … shrugs his shoulders – to alleviate the supply problems a bit and to give gamers a better chance to buy a graphics card at a cheaper price. Instead, Nvidia is updating GA102 with the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, a new expensive GPU that you still can't buy.
The reason for this is simple, Nvidia wants to make more money as long as this GPU boom continues. Now, if you don't believe that Nvidia sells GPUs directly to miners, which in our opinion is coincidental, then it is AIBs and / or distributors who sell to miners in bulk. It must be great selling all of these RTX 3090s, but letting go of slightly broken GA102 silicon for less than half the price is likely to hurt a lot right now.
This is exactly where the RTX 3080 Ti comes in, which allows them to maximize the gain from silicon that isn't quite good enough to be an RTX 3090. Instead of selling a good chunk of that silicon as a "$ 700" product, they can now increase profit margin by around 70%. Yes, the RTX 3080 Ti has an MSRP of $ 1200.
For the effort, Nvidia throws in an additional 2 GB of VRAM, an increase in the cores by 18% and the wider 384-bit memory bus. Essentially, you have an RTX 3090 with half as much VRAM, as we're talking about ~ 2.5% fewer cores than the 3090 flagship.
Even at 4K, the RTX 3090 was only 13% faster on average than the original RTX 3080, so you can expect the 3080 Ti to be very similar to the 3090 in terms of performance, and possibly ~ 10% faster than the 3080. That The 3080 Ti is as pointless for gamers as the 3090, at the MSRP it should cost a little more than 70% more than the 3080, for maybe 10% more performance or well beyond the point of diminishing returns.
That's probably not a good start for this review, but there is no secret to discover here. Sometimes we get an odd mix of core and memory configurations on these updates, but in this case the 3080 Ti has basically the same memory subsystem as the 3090 with a few fewer cores.
Now let's go over some benchmarks with the Founders Edition RTX 3080 Ti card. Please note that all benchmark results are based on AMD and Nvidia GPUs that run with the official specification, i.e. no factory overclocking. We tested a total of 12 games with 1080p, 1440p and 4K. We also have power, overclocking, and ray tracing data to discuss.
It's also worth noting that all of this data is fresh. After weeks of testing, we updated all of our benchmark data on the new Ryzen 9 5950X testbed, which was configured with 32GB dual-rank dual-channel DDR4-3200 CL14 memory. Let's get to the results …
First and foremost is Death Stranding at 1080p, here the 3080 Ti delivers 3090-like performance – we're talking about a margin of 1-2 fps – and that means the 3080 Ti is 4% faster than the 3080 but slower than the 6800 XT and 6900XT.
By increasing the resolution to 1440p, the 3080 Ti can keep up with the 6800 XT while again delivering a 3090-like performance. This also beats the 3080 by 9%.
At 4K the 3080 Ti corresponds exactly to the 3090 with an average of 121 fps and is therefore only 2.5% slower than the 6900 XT. It was also 13% faster than the RTX 3080.
Further to Watch Dogs Legion we find more of them: That means, the RTX 3080 Ti is an RTX 3090 with half the VRAM.
The 3080 Ti slipped behind the RTX 3090 at 1440p, although the margin was small and about 12% faster than the 3080.
At 4K, the 3080 Ti is 3% slower than the RTX 3090 and 13% faster than the 3080, making it 5% faster than the Radeon RX 6900 XT. Of course, in a normal market, if you value the value you would get either the 6800 XT or the RTX 3080.
Next up we have Assassin's Creed Valhalla, here we are looking at an average of 96 fps at 1080p with the maximum quality settings in the game. This made the 3080 Ti only 4% slower than the RTX 3090 and 3% faster than the RTX 3080.
At 1440p, it's exactly between 3080 and 3090 at 82 fps. It's worth noting that while Watch Dogs Legion is a Nvidia sponsored title, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is sponsored by AMD. The Radeon GPUs enjoy a huge performance advantage in this game, for example the 6900 XT is a massive 28% faster than the 3080 Ti.
Moving up to 4K, the RTX 3080 Ti averages 59 fps, which allows it to keep up with the RTX 3090 and 6800 XT, even though it was still 11% slower than the 6900 XT. In addition, we only expect a performance increase of 7% compared to the RTX 3080.
In Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p, we see comparable performance between the 3080 Ti, 3090, and 6900 XT. The 3080 Ti is 10% faster than the original 3080.
Then the new 3080 Ti is 8% faster than the Vanilla 3080 and 5% slower than the 3090 at 1440p, we're also looking at comparable performance with the 6900 XT.
After all, at 4K the 3080 Ti was only 4% slower than the 3090 and 11% faster than the 3080 and 6% faster than the 6900 XT. So similar margins to the previous 3 titles, so let's look at the average of 12 games.
In the 12 games we tested at 1080p, the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti … wait, it's basically an RTX 3090 with half VRAM. We're talking an average of 2% slower and only 6% faster than the RTX 3080. For those looking for maximum performance for competitive low-resolution gaming, the 6900 XT is slightly faster and offers 7% more performance on average.
At 1440p the margins grow a bit, here the 3080 Ti is 4% slower than the 3090. However, it is now only 5% slower than the 6900 XT, but overall the Radeon GPU was a bit faster sample in our dozen games and offers at the same time more VRAM.
At 4K, the 3080 Ti can beat the 6900 XT by just under 3%. It's 4% slower than the RTX 3090 and 9% faster than the RTX 3080.
To test power consumption, we will focus on overall system results and put the Nvidia PCAT tests on hold as we want to further investigate some task scheduling claims.
Here's a look at power usage in Doom and as you can see the 3080 Ti is very similar to the 3080 and 3090 and is in between the two. In this example, the 3080 Ti was 6% faster on average than the 6900 XT, but overall system usage has been increased by 9%, making RDNA2 a bit more efficient, although it will make little difference overall for gamers.
AIB cards: Asus and MSI
We have a couple of AIB cards on hand so we're going to take a look at these and overclock quickly. The Nvidia Founders Edition model appears to have borrowed the cooler from the RTX 3080 as they appear physically identical. While the 3080 had a total board power of 320 watts, the 3080 Ti jumps to 350 watts, which corresponds to an increase of 9%.
The Asus RTX 3080 Ti TUF Gaming is a copy of the original 3080 TUF Gaming, and that's a good thing because this model was excellent. The new 3080 Ti version works remarkably well and achieved a peak value of only 64 ° C and an average core clock of 1830 MHz in our stress test with a fan speed of 2000 rpm.
Asus also sent their new ROG Strix LC RTX 3080 Ti OC which is another impressive graphics card. Last year we tested the ROG Strix LC version of the 6800 XT, which worked very well, and the only real criticism was the tangled cables running from the cooler to the graphics card. Thankfully, Asus took note of this and has now wrapped all of those cables with the liquid cooling tubes for a much neater package.
Out of the box, this model reached a peak value of 49 ° C with a fan speed of only 1500 rpm, which allowed an average clock speed of 1920 MHz or an increase of 5% over TUF Gaming, while it was 15 ° C cooler and quieter ran. Of course, this premium model will be significantly more expensive, but that goes without saying when it comes to liquid-cooled graphics cards.
Then there is the MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X, a gigantic air-cooled graphics card. To give you an idea of how big and heavy this thing is, the Founders Edition model weighs 1365 grams and the TUF Gaming 1400 grams. The Suprim X comes in a 1930 grams with a length of 332 mm, a height of 140 grams mm and a width of 60 mm, it is a beast.
Despite the massive dimensions, the results were less impressive as the card peaked at 78 ° C, or a whopping 14 ° C hotter than the TUF Gaming. It was a bit quieter, however, as the fans were spinning at only 1600 RPM. The cores also clock at 1875 MHz, which corresponds to an increase of only 2.5% compared to TUF Gaming. Overall, not a bad result, but not particularly impressive considering the weight and dimensions.
Here's a look at how the cards performed in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1440p, both on standard and overclocked. We could only get 4% more out of the Founders Edition card and hit 1885 MHz with a memory of 21 Gbps. The TUF gaming was 1% faster, and I was able to get another 3% out of it, averaging 178 fps at a core frequency of 1900 MHz.
The liquid-cooled Asus ROG Strix LC was the most impressive, it managed 178 fps out of the box and with the overclocking of 1980 MHz it rose to 192 fps. Not exactly amazing stuff, but that's GPU overclocking these days.
The Suprim X also immediately caught up with the ROG Strix LC, although it was insufficient when overclocking, but this will be due to the silicon quality, so don't read too much into the overclocking results.
Not for gamers
The "new" GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is essentially an RTX 3090 with half VRAM. Ordinarily, this could be considered good news as it is cheaper at $ 1,200, but actual street prices remain to be seen.
A lot has not changed … the RTX 3080 Ti is impressively fast, technically an excellent product and the additional 2 GB of VRAM are welcome. But at $ 1,200 and with the current stock issues, it's a poorly timed release that honestly makes no sense, at least from a gamer's perspective, it doesn't change anything.
Such a start can also be expected for a refresher. But the reason we don't warmly welcome it is because Nvidia has not yet finished releasing Ampere and there are no affordable models on offer. After all, they talk about helping gamers with hardware limiters for mining, then they turn around and release the RTX 3080 Ti, it's honestly numb, but it's what the market is dictating about the demand and how they can keep going to maximize returns.