The next generation of games is around the corner and before the end of the year there will be plenty of high performing options for players to choose from. After Nvidia unveiled its latest – and most powerful consumer graphics card to date – the GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, the conversation has turned into a battle between PC gaming and console gaming.
While we don't know all the details yet, silicon rival AMD will dominate Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's PlayStation 5.
For the first time, all of these products will include support for real-time ray tracing for richer, more detailed graphics and support for high-resolution, high-refresh-rate games. So what should you get
Prices and availability
If you just look at the prices, console gaming offers more value. Both the flagship Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are expected to cost $ 499 at launch, while Nvidia announced that its flagship GeForce RTX 3080 alone will cost $ 699.
While a $ 200 premium doesn't sound like much, gamers need to keep in mind that with a console you get an entire system – including gaming controllers – that you can start playing right away. While PC gaming promises much higher performance, with the $ 699 outlay you get just one graphics card. You need to consider the cost of CPU, memory, storage, power supply, cooling solutions, cases, and other peripherals and accessories before you can start playing. These costs add up, and a high-performance rig can cost as much as a used car.
Fortunately, if you haven't already decided which route to take, you still have some time to decide. The RTX 3080 GPU launches on September 17th, while both consoles will arrive before the end of the year. Microsoft recently announced that the Series X will be out on November 10th.
|GeForce RTX 3080||Xbox Series X.||PlayStation 5|
|GPU architecture||Discrete amps graphic||Integrated RDNA 2||Integrated RDNA 2|
|GPU clock||1710 MHz||1825 MHz||2333 MHz|
|memory||10 GB GDDR6X||10 GB GDDR6||16 GB DDDR 6|
|Memory bus||320 bits||320 bits||256 bit|
|Bandwidth||760 GBit / s||560 GBit / s||448 GBit / s|
|Pricing||$ 699||$ 499||$ 499|
The GeForce RTX 3080 makes it the undisputed champion with almost three times the processing power of its closest rival. Nvidia claimed that the RTX 3080 supports 29.7 TFLOPs compared to the 12 TFLOPs on the Xbox Series X and 10.2 PlayStation 5.
To achieve this level of performance, Nvidia had 50% more CUDA cores thanks to the more compact 8nm amp microarchitecture compared to the previous generation 12nm design used for Turing. To further boost performance, Nvidia also offers more ray tracing and tensor cores for the card, as well as faster GDDR6X memory and support for RTX I / O to improve game load times.
All of these improvements give the RTX 3080 with ampere drive, according to Nvidia, twice the performance of the Turing-based RTX 2080 of the previous generation. In our testing, we found that the RTX 3080 outperformed the RTX 2080 Ti by 23% in Assassin's Creed Odyssey and 22% in Battlefield V when both games were played at 4K with the highest game settings available. Our results show that Nvidia's claims to play 4K games at 60 fps are becoming a new reality for PC gamers. It is unclear with which measurements Nvidia achieved a two-fold increase in performance compared to the previous generation card.
Nvidia compares the performance of the RTX 3080 with the custom silicon made by AMD for consoles with 8,704 shader units on the RTX 3080 and packs almost four times the functions available on the PlayStation 5. As a reference, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 come with 3,328 and 2,304 shader units, respectively. All three products will support ray tracing this year. Given the differences in the design of the microarchitecture – the RTX 3080 uses Nvidia's Ampere design while the consoles are based on AMD's RDNA 2 graphics – we currently can't make a direct correlation on how these numbers affect actual performance I've tested both consoles.
There are other notable differences between Nvidia's GPU and the consoles it will be up against. Although the RTX 3080 has the same 10GB of video memory as the Xbox Series X, it is the only one of the three to feature the newer and faster GDDR6X memory standard. The two consoles will be based on the GDDR6 non-X memory, although the PlayStation 5 ships with 16 GB. Because the RTX 3080 uses faster memory and has a wider 320-bit memory bus – compared to just 256 bits on the PlayStation 5 – it also has a larger memory bandwidth of 760 Gbps as opposed to 560 Gbps on the Xbox and 448 Gbit / s on the PlayStation.
Another important difference is that the RTX 3080 is a discrete graphics solution designed to be paired with a powerful processor for extreme performance. On the other hand, the semi-custom silicon in AMD's consoles is built as an APU, which means the GPU is built into the processor for better power consumption and efficiency.
To maximize performance, the RTX 3080 uses more power. This graphics card has a TDP of 320 watts, while the Xbox and PlayStation both have a TDP of around 200 watts. With a PC that is expected to use more power overall, PC gamers should expect to install a power supply of at least 750 watts to keep them running.
In terms of raw performance, all three products are expected to offer huge increases in performance compared to their predecessors. Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, promised that the RTX 3080 will deliver twice the performance of the previous generation RTX 2080. It has been reported, though not confirmed, that Microsoft's Xbox Series X will provide the same kind of boost compared to the Xbox One X. DLSS and ray tracing will be a given for all three competitors in 2020, which will help upscale graphics and improve performance.
Resolution and frame rates
How you enjoy playing games also affects how you consider important technical characteristics when choosing your next PC or console. For example, PC gamers often prefer to play at lower resolutions, but with faster frame rates, and technologies like Nvidia's G-Sync and AMD's FreeSync combine with a compatible monitor to create a blurry, smooth visual experience. Nvidia's promise to play 4K games at 60 fps on the RTX 3080 is likely to help improve the pixels this year.
Our review of the RTX 3080 on a test PC with an Intel Core i7-10700 processor found that Nvidia's claims are true. Graphics-intensive titles such as Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Battlefield V played above the 60 fps promise at 4K resolution with the highest game settings. Less intense titles like Fortnite and Civilization VI were played in 4K with significantly higher frame rates.
On the flip side, console gamers often opt for higher resolutions – up to 4K – and around 30 FPS. With the new generation of consoles coming, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft and Sony implement technologies like Nvidia's DLSS to handle the upscaling, especially since both consoles are expected to get HDMI 2.1 support. DLSS-like technology has been demonstrated in the past for both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
The RTX 3080 will also see significant increases in ray tracing performance this year, but you will likely only benefit from it at lower resolutions. In our testing, we found that ray tracing is still a bottleneck at 4K unless you enable DLSS. Without testing both consoles, we don't know how the Xbox and PlayStation 5 handle ray tracing and DLSS, especially at higher resolutions.
Both Microsoft and Sony teased that the frame rate could go up to 120 fps, although 4K at 60 fps seems like the safer route. Sony is also aiming for 8K support. This is the same resolution that Nvidia supports on its much more powerful RTX 3090 graphics card. For the mainstream audience, however, it promises up to 120 fps at 4K resolution.
The key to this smooth performance lies in the support for HDMI 2.1 as this specification enables the consoles to access the automatic low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rate (VRR). The new standard offers more bandwidth than HDMI 2.0b – up to 48 gigabits per second or more than twice as much as before. Nvidia's GPU and both consoles are expected to support HDMI 2.1.
ALLM offers a ready-to-play mode to minimize input latency. This can result in more responsive gaming that will appeal to players of first person shooter games and esports titles. VRR is an adaptive sync technology that makes console games more competitive against PC gamers who can access G-Sync or FreeSync. In conjunction with fast image transport and fast media change, latency and ghosting on the screen should be minimized. Unfortunately, you'll need a new TV that supports HDMI 2.1 to take advantage of these new features.
Even if all three solutions debut with 4K resolution and 60 fps support, the different implementation could lead to different results and we will have to wait for all three to be published to pass judgment.
Studying technical specifications when measuring game performance is one thing, but when gaming it's a completely different situation. It doesn't matter what tech features are supported if the platform of your choice doesn't support the game you want to play. Because of this, Microsoft and Sony are trying to release games exclusively for their platform. Before deciding which system to invest in, make sure that you can play the games of your choice on that system.
Each system has specific streaming service options as well as a la cart games. With the Game Pass from Microsoft you not only have access to over a hundred games on the platform, but you can also play these games on a console and PC. Sony's Playstation Now lets you play PS2, PS3, and PS4 games with DualShock controllers on an updated console or PC. PC gamers have access to additional functions, and the open configuration of the PC enables connectivity with hardware such as AR glasses, VR and much more.
Regardless of which of the three platforms you are using, each of them offers almost no load times, so you can start playing right away. The days of waiting for your game to load and launch won't be long now. By tapping Microsoft DirectStorage on Windows, Nvidia's RTX I / O communicates directly with the server to speed up game loading. This feature will soon be available on both the Series X Velocity system and PlayStation on Xbox.