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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review: Say hello to 4K ray traced gaming

By Aaron Yip - 20 Dec 2020

Benchmark Numbers

Our Test Rig

Now for the fun part – performance! We have bumped up our graphics card test rig and comes with the following specifications:

  • 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K (3.7GHz base clock, 20MB Intel Smart L3 cache)
  • ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula (Intel Z490)
  • WD Black SN750 2TB SSD
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Acer Predator X27

Naturally, we’ll be stacking the RTX 3080 Founders Edition against the class of “80” cards from the RTX 20 Series. This includes the full suite of the RTX 2080 Founders Edition cards, including the original 2080, 2080 Super and the current reigning king of the hill RTX 2080 Ti. For good measure, I’ve also included an older GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition to see how far a leap the RTX 3080’s performance compares.

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

All graphics cards were installed with the yet-to-be-released ForceWare 456.16 driver.

Test cards compared
  NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
  NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition
Core Code
  • GA102-200
  • TU102
  • TU104
  • TU104
  • GP102
GPU Transistor Count
  • 28.3 billion
  • 18.9 billion
  • 13.6 billion
  • 13.6 billion
  • 12 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 8nm (Samsung)
  • 12nm FinFET
  • 12nm FinFET
  • 12nm FinFET
  • 16nm
Core Clock
  • Base: 1,440MHz
  • Boost: 1,710MHz
  • Core: 1,350MHz, Boost: 1,635MHz
  • Core: 1,650MHz, Boost: 1,815MHz
  • Core: 1,515MHz, Boost: 1,800MHz
  • 1480MHz (Boost: 1582MHz)
Stream Processors
  • 8,704
  • 4,352
  • 3,072
  • 2,944
  • 3584
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 272
  • 272
  • 192
  • 184
  • 224
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 96
  • 88
  • 64
  • 64
  • 88
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 10GB GDDR6X
  • 19,000MHz
  • 11GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
  • 8GB GDDR6 15,500MHz
  • 8GB GDDR6 14,000MHz
  • 11000MHz
Memory Bus width
  • 320-bit
  • 352-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 352-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 760GB/sec
  • 616GB/s
  • 496.1GB/s
  • 448GB/s
  • 484.4 GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • 4.0 / 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • 3.0
  • PCI Express 3.0
Power Connectors
  • 1 x 12p-pin
  • 2 x 8-pin
  • 1x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
  • 1x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
  • 1 x 8-pin, 1x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • No
  • Yes (2-way SLI)
  • Yes (2-way SLI)
  • Yes (2-way SLI)
  • SLI
DVI Outputs
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • No
HDMI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1x
  • 1x
  • 1x
  • 1
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 3
  • 3x
  • 3x
  • 3x
  • 3
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1,650MHz
  • 1480MHz

 

Benchmarks

We have also updated our benchmarks used, including the removal of some older titles for more recent ones and also those that supports ray tracing and/or DLSS:

  • 3DMark
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood
  • Hitman 2
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Metro: Exodus
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Death Stranding
  • Doom Eternal
  • Control

We used the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark and stress test in 3DMark for our temperature and power consumption tests respectively.

 

3DMark

3DMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests graphics and computational performance at different resolutions, starting at 1080p and going all the way up to 4K. A series of two graphics test, one physics test, and then a combined test stresses your hardware in turn to assess its performance.

Unsurprisingly, the GeForce RTX 3080 knocks the wind out of the rest of the cards here. Interestingly, in Firestrike (based on DirectX 11) runs we see the GTX 1080 Ti matching up to the GeForce RTX 2080 yet on the other end of the spectrum, the RTX 2080 Ti is no match for the GeForce 3080. It’s only with TimeSpy, a DirectX 12 benchmark, do we see the GTX 1080 Ti lagging behind all RTX cards with the RTX 3080 clearly leading the way again.

 

Since the RTX cards support hardware ray tracing through its RT Cores, I’ve also used 3DMark’s Port Royal Ray Tracing benchmark to size up each card’s ray tracing capabilities. The GTX 10 Series cards run ray tracing too, but without dedicated RT Cores like on the RTX cards, it just can’t run playable frame rates with it enabled. What’s eye-catching here is how much better the RTX 3080 fares with ray tracing as compared to all three RTX 20 Series cards. The performance difference between it and the nearest RTX 2080 Ti is quite an impressive feat. We’ll find out more about this with real-world games benchmarks next page. In the meantime, let’s look at how the cards fared with DLSS turned on.

 

For the uninitiated, deep learning super sampling or DLSS uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to produce an image that looks like a higher-resolution image, without the rendering overhead. The idea is to make games rendered at 1440p look like they’re running at 4K, or 1080p games to look like 1440p. This is all possible thanks to NVIDIA’s Tensor cores, which are only available in RTX GPUs. Although RTX 20 series GPUs have Tensor cores inside, the RTX 30 Series come with NVIDIA’s second-generation Tensor cores, which offer greater per-core performance – and the results here isn’t surprising as much as it was expected of the RTX 3080 card.

Now let’s look at how the card performs in games.

9.5
  • Performance 9.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 9
The Good
Excellent 4K performance
Huge ray tracing performance improvement
Solid built
Great price point
The Bad
New approach to cooling may not appeal to some PC enthusiasts
Location of power point is understandable but awkward still
10GB may not be enough for 4K gaming at max settings for selected games
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