NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition review: All hail the new 4K gaming king
Do we want a faster card?
Note: This review was first published on 2 June 2021.
NVIDIA’s most opened secret of 2021, the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, is out. Quite literally, by the time you read this NVIDIA’s own Founders Edition version as well as those from partners the likes of ASUS, Gigabyte and ZOTAC will be available for purchase from 3 June onwards. But before we go into the card’s performance, let’s talk quickly about the new card’s hardware design first.
I’ve always admired the hardware design of NVIDIA’s Founders Edition series, and the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition ranked as one of the best-looking graphics cards in my books. It is modern-looking, elegant and devoid of the aggressive “gamer-ish” accents seen in many partners’ cards. It’s a matter of personal taste, of course, but you can’t deny that the Founders Edition cards, especially the RTX 30 Series, looks and feel exceptionally premium.
With the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition, NVIDIA has stuck with the same gorgeous shroud design as the RTX 3080 FE’s, certainly a confidence that the same cooling block will be able to handle the anticipatedly higher heat output from the new GPU. It’s even got the same 12-pin connector located out of the middle of the card’s side and comes with a Y-cable adapter that hooks to two traditional 8-pin PSU power connectors. As with the RTX 3080 FE, you’ll need a 750W-rated PSU to run the RTX 3080 Ti FE too.
In terms of where it stacks in NVIDIA’s RTX 30-Series SKUs, the RTX 3080 Ti is essentially the generational successor to the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and sits between the vanilla RTX 3080 and RTX 3090. Let’s look at the specifications:
|RTX 3080||RTX 3080 Ti||RTX 3090|
|GPU Base clock||1440 MHz||1370 MHz||1395 MHz|
|GPU Boost clock||1710 MHz||1670 MHz||1695 MHz|
|Memory||10 GB GDDR6X||12 GB GDDR6X||24 GB GDDR6X|
|Memory speed||19 Gbps||19 Gbps||19.5 Gbps|
|Bandwidth||760 GB/s||912 GB/s||936 GB/s|
In terms of raw hardware specifications, the RTX 3080 Ti features 12GB of GDDR6X video memory (an extra 2 GB over last year’s RTX 3080, which launched at US$699). But look closer at the table above again and you can see the reason that the RTX 3080 Ti is priced much closer to the RTX 3090, than the RTX 3080, is that its specs are much closer to those of the RTX 3090 on paper - aside from having half the VRAM. So, while the RTX 3080 Ti is essentially a souped-up version of the RTX 3080, it’s probably not farfetched to also consider it as an “RTX 3090 Lite”, which seems to be more technically accurate.
The key spec for the new GPU is the 80 streaming multiprocessors (SMs) it lays claim to, which is a notable bump over the RTX 3080's 68. With each SM housing 128 CUDA Cores, we are looking at a total of 10,240 CUDA Cores with the RTX 3080 Ti. That's a lot, and not far off the 10,752 of the RTX 3090. The chip's 80 RT cores should also mean it'll be able to deliver better ray-tracing performance, while the 320 Tensor Cores will help with NVIDIA's DLSS 2.0 cleverness.
If you're wondering why the RTX 3080 Ti has slightly slower clocks than the RTX 3080, don't be fooled. This is because the new GPU has more CUDA Cores to keep it cool, and ultimately, will still have notably better performance due to the amount of CUDA Cores on offer, despite the disparity in speed. It's the same reason why the RTX 3090 easily outclassed the RTX 3080, despite featuring lower clock speed, even before the arrival of the RTX 3080 Ti.
I’ve already covered the RTX 30-Series quite extensively, including my review of the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition. Apart from sharing the same design, the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti also comes with all of the same bells and whistles as the vanilla RTX 3080 – including DLSS, ray-tracing, and Reflex technologies – so I won’t go into detail about the card’s tech features. If this is your first time reading up about an RTX 30-Series card, or have not read my RTX 3080 FE review, I do recommend you do so. Otherwise, let’s check out how the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition fared in our benchmarks.