Note: This review was first published on 16 Sept 2020.
NVIDIA’s newest GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition graphic card has arrived, paving the way for the rest of the RTX 30 Series cards to follow up – the more budget-friendly RTX 3070 and the incredibly monstrous RTX 3090 that NVIDIA is aptly nicknaming it the BFGPU – in the coming weeks, and we can finally talk about the card’s performance!
But let’s leave that aside for a moment and let me talk about the card itself. We’ve already covered the hardware design of the RTX 3080 previously (TL;DR it’s a really gorgeous looking Founders Edition card as you can see from the photos) including the Ampere architecture it's based upon and the new design approach to cooling. We have even discussed the new RTX IO technology that will speed up future gaming loading and reduce game install sizes.
So, without further ado let’s talk about what do you get on this new graphics card and jump in to performance figures.
The RTX 20 Series, while great was not quite the big hitter over the previous GTX 10 Series that many gamers envisaged it to be. With the RTX 30 Series, and in particular the RTX 3080, NVIDIA claims the new cards represent a generational leap in performance. More so, when you consider that not only is the RTX 3080 Founders Edition more than twice as powerful on paper than the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, but going for the same launch price at US$699.
NVIDIA has somewhat given an update to the card's outputs as well. It now features a HDMI 2.1 connector, which allows support for 4K resolution at 120Hz refresh rate. and three DisplayPort 1.4a outputs. All four connectors can drive displays up to an 8K resolution at 60Hz. What’s disappeared in the RTX 3080 and other Founders Edition and partners cards, however, is the USB-C port that supports VirtualLink to power VR headsets. The interface never really took off, and now it looks like it never will with NVIDIA all but killed it off.
Another feature lacking is an NVLink interconnect, last seen on the RTX 20 Series cards. That means for the first time in a long while, a flagship GeForce card will not support SLI. I’m not sure if most gamers will miss this feature, as the performance gains even with two RTX 2080 Ti cards, were marginal at best with many modern games. But that said, the RTX 3090 Founders Edition will still retain the NVLink interconnect for SLI capability, perhaps for extreme server or complex AI applications – and you’ll need to dish out more than US$3,000 and sacrifice six bays in your casing.