ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 Noctua OC Edition review: Just chilly
Note: This review was first published on 8 October 2022.
The ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 Noctua OC is what happens when two of the biggest brands in gaming hardware come together. ASUS is a behemoth in the PC component space, while Noctua is a cooling giant. Together, the duo have created a beastly card that promises to be one of the fastest and quietest air-cooled cards on the market.
The card takes up a whopping four slots in your case, thanks to the custom Noctua cooling solution. It is ridiculously large and heavy, so you may want to think about whether you want to mount it the traditional way or go for a vertical mounting solution.
The fans are Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM fans, which are exceptionally quiet compared to other cards. These fans feature a metal-reinforced motor hub, stabilised bearings, and a custom low-noise PWM IC to help reduce the decibels.
The heatsink has been custom-designed as well to take advantage of the airflow characteristics of the fans. A large heat spreader covers the GPU die, VRM, and memory chips, connecting them all to the main heatsink.
However, no effort has been made to tailor Noctua's signature brown to fit ASUS' usual aesthetic better. While I get the need to stick to Noctua's brand identity in a collaboration product like this, it would have been nice to see the card come in some other colour than a drab brown. There is no RGB lighting anywhere either, so this is a card that unabashedly focuses on performance over looks.
Having said that, that may not be a bad thing. I could see it being popular in silent chassis with opaque, sound-dampening sides, where you could care less about what the card looked like.
On ASUS' end, its usual technologies are also in play here. The fans support semi-passive operation and will completely wind down if the GPU temperature falls below 50°C. The PCB is also manufactured using Auto-Extreme, an automated manufacturing process that reduces component strain and avoids harsh cleaning chemicals, allowing for lower environmental impact and a more reliable product.
A nifty Dual BIOS switch lets you choose between two cooling profiles. The default Q mode (for quiet) activates a more gentle fan curve to reduce noise, while P mode (for performance) prioritises ultra-low temperatures.
To cap things off, a sturdy metal backplate protects the PCB and prevents it from flexing. A wide vent directs hot air toward the chassis exhaust fans, so it exits the case instead of circulating inside it. A reinforcing bracket beneath the GPU also ensures consistent mounting pressure between the die and heat spreader. Finally, the I/O bracket is stainless steel for an even more secure mount.
Display connectivity options include three DisplayPort 1.4 and two HDMI 2.1 ports. The card draws power from two 8-pin power inputs and ASUS is recommending at least an 850W power supply unit to go with it.