Nvidia offered its Turing cards in 2019 with the RTX 2080 Super, a small but notable update of the late generation. It offered a slight increase in performance over the standard 2080 for the same price as its predecessor. Now, however, it's hard to find a 2080 Super at all, let alone one at a reasonable price.
However, the next generation of Nvidia GPUs is almost here. The RTX 3080 is intended to replace the 2080 and 2080 Super. The 3080 is a higher performing card on paper and costs the same as the 2080 Super. But is it worth upgrading? In this comparison between Nvidia RTX 3080 and 2080 Super, we'll find out.
Prices and availability
Riley Young / Digital Trends
The RTX 2080 Super launched in 2019 at an MSRP of $ 699, though you won't find any Founders Edition cards at that price. With the advent of the RTX-3000 series, it's not worth paying more or even a little less.
The RTX 3080 will be released on September 17th at the same price as the 2080 for $ 699. Board partner cards are likely to be a little more expensive once they are released. If Nvidia's previous product launches taught us anything, you probably won't find a 3080 in stock right away. However, prices for used 2080 Supers will fall almost immediately.
|RTX 3080||RTX 2080 Super|
|interface||PCIExpress 4.0||PCIExpress 3.0|
|Base clock||Unknown||1,650 MHz|
|Boost clock||1.710 MHz||1.815 MHz|
|memory||10 GB GDDR6X||8 GB GDDR6|
|Storage speed||19 Gbit / s||15.5 Gbit / s|
|Bandwidth||760 GBit / s||496 GBit / s|
Based on the technical data alone, the 3080 seems to be massively more powerful than the 2080. It should be, but not exactly as it appears on paper.
The RTX 3080's CUDA core count is almost three times that of the 2080 Super. This is partly a standard increase in core count, but also due to a change in the way Nvidia labels what is and isn't a CUDA core. The RTX 2080 Super has 3,072 floating point CUDA cores (FP32) and another 3,072 integer cores (INT32). They are both used in gaming, but FP32 is more used. The RTX 3080 has 4,352 FP32 CUDA cores and 4,352 cores that can run INT32 and FP32. That means that in FP32-heavy games, the 3080 could use all of these additional cores to boost its FP32 performance. However, in games that require a lot of integer math, the core count increase is closer to 40%.
That's still a big increase, but the actual performance improvement from these multi-purpose cores can be very game-dependent.
In the real world, Nvidia claims the 3080 will double the performance of the 2080, and Digital Foundry coverage certainly suggests it's possible to get close to such numbers. It turned out that the 3080 was between 60% and 90% faster than an RTX 2080 with a slight factory overclock at 4K resolution and all settings on high, regardless of whether ray tracing was enabled or not. Given the small difference between the 2080 and 2080 Super, the 3080 would be a lot more powerful than the 2080 Super and even the 2080 Ti.
The games were hand-picked by Nvidia, however, and with what we now know about the CUDA cores, it may be for good reason. Switching to a much faster GDDR6X memory and 2GB more of it undoubtedly helped too, but we'll need to see more third-party benchmarks in a larger number of games to see how much faster the 3080 really is.
Electricity and cooling
The 2080 Super consumes 250 W in the reference design, with the RTX FE design with two fans from Nvidia cooling the card. It uses a six-pin and eight-pin connector for power, and Nvidia recommends 650W for the card's total system performance. The 3080 has a higher power consumption of 320 W and uses the new 12-pin low-profile power connector from Nvidia. Third-party cards take advantage of traditional dual 8-pin designs, although the 12-pin connector may appear on more cards as supporting power supplies become more common.
Nvidia has redesigned its Founders Edition cooling for the Amp generation, where the same board partners are using their typical selection of multi-fan and water cooling designs to cool custom RTX 3080s. The 3080 and 3090 use a new push-pull fan configuration to bring extra air into the card and push it out at the top and back. This improves the cooling performance and enables a lower noise level.
Again, we'll have to wait to get our hands on a card, but Nvidia's design is fascinating and makes the Founders Edition cards even more appealing to early adopters.
Ray tracing, DLSS and more
The 3080 takes the functions of the 2080 Super further instead of introducing a lot of its own. DLSS 2.0 is available on both cards and offers higher resolutions via Nvidia's deep learning algorithm. However, the RTX 3080 uses a new generation of tensor cores to achieve a much higher upscaling performance.
Ray tracing is also present on both cards, but the second generation RT cores of the 3080 should offer better ray tracing performance at higher resolutions. With the support for ray tracing in the PS5 and Xbox Series X, we'll likely see a surge in games that support this feature. Here you can find all the games that now support Nvidia's RTX-controlled ray tracing.
New software features like Nvidia Reflex, which reduce the delay in system input to increase player competitiveness, will be available for both the RTX 3080 and the 2080 Super. What won't be available is Nvidia's new RTX I / O. This uses the new RTX 3000 GPU to decompress assets in the game. This allows for faster loading of assets in system memory, potentially resulting in faster loading times and less pop-in in games. This could also reduce the CPU overhead.
The next generation leap
The 3080 shows that Nvidia's next generation of GPUs are about refinement. RT cores offer 1.7 times the performance of Turing, GDDR6X improves memory speed and bandwidth, and the 3080 has twice the number of CUDA cores as the Titan RTX, which was already significantly more powerful than the 2080 Super. All of this and the 3080 is the same price as the 2080 Super.
It's hard to recommend a 2080 Super now, with limited availability and massively inflated prices. These prices will go down on the used market. So if you are on a budget, a used 2080 Super is still an option. However, the specs of the 3080 show that it should even outperform the 2080 Ti. So it's a better option if you're looking for raw performance.