"The Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is another powerful 4K graphics card, but the price is too high."

  • Smooth 4K gaming

  • Beautiful design

  • Improved ray tracing and DLSS performance

  • Excellent content creation performance

  • Too expensive

  • Cumbersome power supply

Nvidia faces two major challenges in 2021. First, no one who wants to play games on a GPU can buy one due to the shortage of chips. Second, with the Radeon RX 6900 XT, AMD came within striking distance of Nvidia's crown jewel, the RTX 3090. That shouldn't have happened.

The RTX 3080 Ti is Nvidia's solution to both problems. But does it solve them or just kick the can further down? The price of $ 1,200 alone is enough to make a double try. I spent some time testing the new graphics card to see if it was among the best graphics cards to buy.

design

My test device was the Founders Edition model, which means it was designed by Nvidia itself. It corresponds to the design of the previous RTX 3080 and offers a premium look that is second to none. It is a beautiful cloth.

The cooling is also better than with the 20 series, as the same "push-pull" fan system is used as with the other 30 series cards.

The system kept the card sufficiently cool in my tests and never exceeded the maximum temperatures of 83 degrees Celsius listed by Nvidia. However, it's not a quiet GPU. It spins quickly, and when it is pushed to its maximum, e.g. For example, during a video export, it sounds like a rocket taking off from your desk.

An Nvidia representative quickly told me that it should be only slightly louder than the other RTX cards in the 30 series, which were already a good deal quieter than the 20 series.

Of course, there will be plenty of third-party designs that take a more brutal approach to cooling. As always, the Founders Edition version of the RTX 3080 Ti will likely be the prettiest design, but not the most powerful.

Its size makes the RTX 3080 Ti a more manageable upgrade than the RTX 3090.

The RTX 3080 Ti is exactly the same size as the RTX 3080 at 11.2 x 1.4 inches. It's a standard two-slot card, but it's quite long. It can get tight with extra storage cages in your case or trying to stick it into a smaller, pre-made desktop. However, it fits well enough in our 30 liter case and is almost a full inch shorter. That makes it a much more manageable upgrade than the RTX 3090.

A “much handier RTX 3090” is a good description of the RTX 3080 Ti in general. It has all the power of this top-end card without any unnecessary baggage.

The port selection on the back is the same as on the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080: three DisplayPort 1.4a ports and one HDMI 2.1. That also means it still uses the proprietary 12-pin power connector, which requires a cumbersome adapter. It's included, but that doesn't make the connection in your PC any less ugly or awkward.

Specifications

Not only the design of the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090 fits together. They're pretty similar under the hood, too. A quick look at the datasheet shows how much these two cards have in common.

RTX 3080 Ti RTX 3090 RTX 3080
GPU GA102-225 GA102-300 GA102-200
interface PCIe 4.0 PCIe 4.0 PCIe 4.0
CUDA cores 10,240 10,496 8,704
Tensor cores 320 328 272
RT cores 80 82 68
Base clock 1.365MHz 1,395MHz 1.440MHz
Boost clock 1.665MHz 1.695MHz 1.710MHz
memory 12 GB GDDR6X 24GB GDDR6X 10 GB GDDR6X
Storage speed 19 Gbit / s 19.5 Gbit / s 19 Gbit / s
Bandwidth 912 GB / s 936 GB / s 760 GB / s
Memory bus 384-bit 384-bit 320-bit
TDP 320W 350W 320W

The main difference is the amount of memory. The RTX 3080 Ti only has half as much, from 24 GB to 12 GB. Games don't know what to do with 24GB of VRAM anyway, which makes the RTX 3080 Ti's 12GB a more realistic amount. The RTX 3090 is still a better part for the heaviest workloads like data science, 3D animation, and high definition video coding.

You also get eight fewer tensor cores, two less RT cores, and 247 fewer CUDA cores. That's not enough to make a PC gamer work up a sweat – especially with a $ 300 price difference between the two.

The RTX 3080 Ti is still $ 200 more than the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT.

Is it worth the extra $ 500 over the RTX 3080? At retail prices, the answer is likely no. This proposal is of course complicated with excessive secondary market prices, but more on that later. In terms of specs and performance, the RTX 3080 Ti seems a lot closer to the 3090 than the 3080. The problem? In terms of sheer gaming performance, the RTX 3090 was never a great value for gamers anyway. The 24 GB of RAM has been a big selling point in non-gaming use cases. Without them, the RTX 3080 Ti is a much harder sell.

And don't forget – the RTX 3080 Ti is still $ 200 more expensive than the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT, which was already only slightly slower than the RTX 3090.

Regardless of which of these three cards you get, Nvidia recommends at least a 750 watt power supply.

Of course, what makes the RTX 3080 Ti an antidote to the GPU supply problem is its lite hash rate. I'm not an Ethereum miner – so I couldn't test this myself – but the idea is that the hash rate limiter should make the cards less attractive for cryptocurrency mining.

performance

I tested the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti in a system paired with the Intel Core i9-10900K and 32 GB of RAM. All games were tested with maximum 4K settings, but not with ray tracing effects enabled. I also tested the RTX 3080 in this system. However, the RX 6900 XT results shown in the table below were tested in a different system with the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. This is not ideal, but unfortunately not a graphics card that I had on hand to test again in the same system.

Keep that in mind – especially for more CPU-bound games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Civilization VI.

Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti Nvidia RTX 3080 AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT
3DMark time spy 17634 16108 17340
3DMark fire strike 30951 28460 38911
Assassin's Creed Valhalla 56 52 69
Battlefield V 104 100 106
Fourteen days 95 93 99
Civilization VI 177 158 184

The RTX 3080 Ti is significantly more powerful than the RTX 3080 – but by no means. The 9% difference in Time Spy results is pretty evenly noticeable in games as well, with the RTX 3080 Ti beating the RTX 3080 by a few frames per second. You can expect between 5-10% better frame rates compared to the RTX 3080. You probably won't notice the variance visually, which is something to keep in mind given the $ 1,200 price of the RTX 3080 Ti.

However, the comparison to the Radeon RX 6900 XT is fascinating. The AMD card is $ 200 cheaper but wins most head-to-head games. Despite the processor difference in my tests, you can expect the RX 6900 XT to be a few fps higher in most games. It was already head to head with the RTX 3090, which gave it a narrow but complete lead over the RTX 3080 Ti in this matchup. With 300 watts, however, it is a more power-hungry card.

Ray tracing is of course the main weakness of the Radeon RX 6900 XT. The company is just beginning to make progress on its response to DLSS, known as FidelityFX Super Resolution. Nvidia has a few years of development over AMD in both ray tracing and AI, making the RTX 3080 Ti the obvious choice over the RX 6900 XT if you wanted to dip your toe in ray tracing.

I don't have any comparison data for this, but I also tested Cyberpunk 2077. No other game relies so heavily on ray tracing to produce its incredible graphics. With ultra settings and turned up ray tracing, the frame rate slows down considerably. As has already been shown several times, even the RTX 3090 cannot always handle this game consistently with 60-plus fps – at least not without reducing the image quality with the higher DLSS settings.

However, compared to AMD graphics cards, the RTX 3080 Ti is a ray tracing machine. It's also a more effective part for content creation and 3D modeling. The RTX 3080 was already a better option than AMD's best, and the RTX 3080 Ti only extends that lead. It was faster in two of the three Blender benchmarks I ran, sometimes up to 49%.

It was also a much more powerful video editing card that delivered a 29% better GPU score in the PugetBench Adobe Premiere benchmark. That means smoother playback and faster exports.

Should you buy one?

The $ 1,200 price tag for a graphics card is godless. It's way too much money to spend on a single component in your system. And yet people continue to do it – and for cards far leaner than the RTX 3080 Ti. With this in mind, the suggestion to buy a card as powerful as the RTX 3080 Ti doesn't seem quite as crazy.

That doesn't make Nvidia's pricing any less questionable. It's $ 500 more than the RTX 3080, but doesn't offer nearly as much difference in performance. That makes the RTX 3080 at retail price a better option for most gamers.

But we all know that selling price is practically not that important right now. Most gamers will be content to buy whatever is available – and judging overpriced graphics cards on ebay is no easy task.

Of course, one day the GPU supply problem will go away and prices can normalize. But based on the schedules these companies have provided, we may have moved on to the next generation of graphics cards by then.

Until then, it's the Wild West out there. The RTX 3080 Ti doesn't do much to change this dire situation, but having another fantastically powerful graphics card on the market can't hurt.

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