NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs

NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX 3080 is an absolute monster, it destroys everything in its path -- 4K 120FPS gaming is now a reality.

@anthony256
Published Wed, Sep 16 2020 8:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 100%Manufacturer: NVIDIA (B07L8YGDL5)

Introduction

This would have to be one of the most exciting launches ever, but also one of the strangest ever. Normally NVIDIA flies the media out at this time of the year every two years, for a new graphics card launch.

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We get to mingle and talk with our friends in the industry from all over the world, but more importantly to everyone we need to at NVIDIA. This gives us the ability to get information on the cards, the architecture, a deeper story into certain things depending on the person you talk to.

Not this time, and it's all because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shipping was tight on the cards because of the obvious worldwide supply chain issues, everything was virtual -- no face-to-face, no seeing Jensen in person with his iconic leather jacket.

But in a way that doesn't matter... because the GeForce RTX 3080 is here, and it kicks ass.

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Normally I would write this totally insane super-long review, but I'm going to cover what I need to -- and give you what you want the most: benchmarks and my thoughts on it. This will be almost a review-in-progress as we go because I cannot simply cover it in a single review.

There are a few reasons for this, I will address this before the end of my review, but it's something you need to keep in mind before going into it.

  • The $699 pricing will change over time
  • The availability of the GeForce RTX 3080 will change
  • Custom cards will be here soon

Availability & Price

NVIDIA has it's new GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition priced at a pretty damn good $699 price point, with availability kicking off tomorrow: September 17. I would get in quick if you want one, because they're going to sell out instantly... and who knows when, or how many will be available in the coming weeks.

This is a big point I'll cover in my Final Thoughts at the end of the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition graphics card review. The $699 price is for the first day reviews and rush of the "OMG the $699 card totally kicks the $1199 graphics cards ass" but then the prices go up by $100-$200 post-launch from total scarcity.

That doesn't take away from the fact that NVIDIA has an absolutely amazing graphics card on its hands, with the largest generational leap ever -- Ampere destroys everything in its path in the right tests.

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Ampere GPU architecture

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NVIDIA really doubled down on Ampere in more ways than one -- Ampere is really Turing Times Two as NVIDIA says. There's nothing new in terms of RT cores or Tensor Cores, as that was introduced with the Turing GPU architecture and the GeForce RTX 20 series cards.

What we do have here is a lot of doubling up in many areas -- CUDA core counts, huge leaps in memory bandwidth thanks to the new GDDR6X memory, a massive increase in TFLOPs counts across the board (single precision, Tensor FP16 perf, etc) and huge RTX ray tracing and DLSS performance gains over Turing.

In the right tests, Ampere utterly destroys Turing.

GA102 -- the GPU that powers the GeForce RTX 3080, has an insane 28 billion transistors -- this is up from the 18.6 billion transistors inside of the Turing TU102 GPU that powered the flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card.

NVIDIA built TU102 on the TSMC 12nm "FFN" node, while GA102 has been built on Samsung 8nm.

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If we're directly comparing graphics cards, NVIDIA looks at the last-gen GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER -- which had 3072 CUDA cores -- the new GeForce RTX 3080 on the other hand, has a whopping 8704 CUDA cores in comparison.

There is so much more going on under that Ampere hood, with 30 TFLOPs of compute performance versus just 11 TFLOPs on the RTX 2080 SUPER.

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NVIDIA makes some lofty promises in its marketing charts, and while I won't be testing all of these games I tested a few of them (Metro Exodus, Shadow of the Tomb Raider) and played around with Control with the GeForce RTX 3080 -- we'll have more on this in the coming weeks as I have more time to play with it versus getting this review out the door for the NDA embargo.

RTX improvements

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It wouldn't be a new GeForce graphics card this year if it didn't have some huge improvements in ray tracing... and that's exactly what NVIDIA delivers here with Ampere. It completely doubles down on its ray tracing dominance in a really, really big way.

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You can see how much dedicated ray tracing cores can do to delivering you a single frame (and its latency of getting to you). 51ms versus 20ms with the RT Core and then just 12ms with the RT Core + Tensor Core magic.

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The upgrades between the Pascal GPU architecture (comparison here uses the GTX 1080 Ti) versus the Turing GPU architecture (RTX 2080 SUPER). We have 92ms to produce 1 single ray traced frame, but compare that Pascal to Turing and the delay goes from 92ms to 51ms.

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Now NVIDIA uses some more of that Turing magic, adds in the use of the RT Cores and then again with DLSS on the Tensor Cores and you have an even faster (well, quite ridiculous in comparison really) 13ms versus 51ms.

But then the holy sh*t moment happens with Ampere.

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A single ray traced frame might take 13ms on Turing, but that same frame now takes 7.5ms on Ampere... and then if you add in the second-generation concurrency (Graphics + RT + Tensor Cores) we have a reduction to 6.7ms.

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Wrapping up -- NVIDIA pretty much rips and tears your games and delivers them to your eyeballs faster than ever before with Ampere. Holy balls it's actually impressive to see this much of the GPU lighting up (just from a technological perspective).

You don't 'see' any of this -- this is the magic of Ampere.

GDDR6X memory

NVIDIA is the first to use Micron's new GDDR6X memory, which it collaborated with the company on. We have some ridiculous speeds here with the 10GB of GDDR6X on the GeForce RTX 3080 -- where we have a 320-bit memory bus and a huge 760GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

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This means the GeForce RTX 3080 has some serious grunt at high-res and high-detail gaming situations like 4K gaming and beyond. It's especially useful for the next wave of games coming out this year and into 2021 -- with enough bandwidth to destroy the RTX 2080 Ti at 4K gaming.

With the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition at stock settings, the 10GB of GDDR6X memory on its 320-bit memory bus means we're looking at 760GB/sec of memory bandwidth. It's quite the feat, and there's some wiggle room for you to make your way past 20-20.5Gbps on the RTX 3080 FE cards.

12-pin PCIe power connector

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NVIDIA is exclusively using a 12-pin PCIe power connector on its GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 Founders Edition graphics cards. A single 12-pin PCIe power cable on its own cable deliver 300W minimum, which is double that of an 8-pin cable (150W).

If you do not have a 12-pin PCIe power connector on your PSU, then you will be voiding your warranty to not use this dual 8-pin PCIe to 12-pin PCIe power cable that NVIDIA provides in the box of its GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 Founders Edition graphics cards.

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Here's some hands-on with the new 12-pin PCIe power connector, which will convert 2 x 8-pin PCIe power connectors into the single 12-pin that plugs directly into the top of the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition, and the GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition graphics cards.

You shouldn't need to buy a new PSU if you've already got a brand name 650W+ power supply, but there will be new PSUs rolling out in the coming months and into 2021 that will have a proper 12-pin PCIe power connector so you won't need to use the adapter (that NVIDIA provides in the box).

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PCIe 4.0 connectivity

NVIDIA wasn't first with PCIe 4.0 connectivity, with AMD taking that crown with its RDNA-based Navi-powered Radeon RX 5000 series graphics cards. But now Ampere is here, and we have PCIe 4.0 compatibility. It doesn't do much just yet, but I'll be diving that into the near future.

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HDMI 2.1: 4K 120Hz + 8K 60Hz = single cable

Now this is something that is a big deal: HDMI 2.1 connectivity.

We live in a world where we now have big 4K 120Hz monitors and TVs, but the TV size of things requires HDMI 2.1 as it's the new revision of the standard that is actually capable of delivering 4K at 120Hz -- but it also does the incredibly huge 8K @ 60Hz, too.

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I personally have owned an 8K monitor for many years now, the Dell UP3218K which requires dual DisplayPort connectors to get 8K @ 60Hz. All of that over a single HDMI 2.1 cable is a much better way, especially when it comes to plugging it into your TV.

RTX IO: wicked-fast load times RTX gaming PCs

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This is something that I cannot cover at launch, but will do so over the coming months and years as RTX IO becomes a real thing for PC gamers. It's great to see NVIDIA delivering here, and I'm sure it has something to do with the fact the next-gen consoles have similar technology.

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AMD is behind both of those chips in the next-gen Microsoft Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 consoles, both with wicked-fast PCIe 4.0-powered RTX IO-like technologies.

This is where AMD wins again as most gamers would buy a Ryzen 3000 series CPU and X570 motherboard for their new GeForce RTX 3080. You'll get those tasty PCIe 4.0 lanes, and a super-fast high core count processor.

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NVIDIA notes that games like Crysis were under 10GB, but now games are well over 100GB. This is a growing issue and will only continue to do so as games get bigger and bigger over the years -- which is where RTX IO comes into play.

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As the games get bigger the I/O operations for those increasingly better graphics and bigger worlds need to be loaded from your storage. Older mechanical-based HDDs are so slow it's not funny, and even a SATA-based drive only feeds out at a maximum of around 500MB/sec or so.

PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs can push 3500MB/sec (3.5GB/sec) while the newer PCIe 4.0-based SSDs like what Sabrent's new Rocket 4 Plus SSD wish pushes out a huge 7GB/sec thanks to its new Phison E18 SSD controller.

World's fastest esports display: insane 360Hz G-SYNC

Another big deal with Ampere is the introduction of NVIDIA Reflex and support for the world's fastest esports display at a huge 360Hz. Yeah, 360 frames per second -- I can't imagine gaming at that frame rate (albeit just at 1080p, which I don't like to game at as it is).

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But the refresh and response time and the feel of the game with Reflex is going to be something else I will be testing in the coming months. I'll secure a 360Hz monitor and put this GeForce RTX 3080 (and the other RTX 30 series cards) to the test.

RTX: new RTX games coming

There are so many new RTX-powered games coming out that will light up that entire Ampere GPU inside of your new GeForce RTX 3080... with NVIDIA powering some of the biggest games of the next few months, as well as some of the biggest games of 2020.

In the coming months we can expect Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Fortnite with RTX (just like Minecraft with RTX) as well as Watch Dogs Legion and probably the most anticipated game of 2020 is powered by NVIDIA RTX technology: Cyberpunk 2077.

Detailed Look

NVIDIA shifted the NDA before this review was finished, allowing reviewers to do unboxing articles so I did an unboxing of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition here.

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I won't leave you without some pictures to check out, though.

Test System Specs

I've got a new upgrade inside of my GPU test bed before my change to a next-gen test bed, where I will be preparing for NVIDIA's next-gen Ampere graphics cards and AMD's next-gen RDNA 2 graphics cards.

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Sabrent helped out with some new storage for my GPU test beds, sending over a slew of crazy-fast Rocket NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSDs. I've got this installed into my GPU test bed as the new Games Storage drive, since games are so damn big now. Thanks to Sabrent, I've got 2TB of super-fast M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD storage now.

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Anthony's Test System Specifications

Additional Images

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Benchmarks - Synthetic

3DMark Fire Strike

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3DMark has been a staple benchmark for years now, all the way back to when The Matrix was released and Futuremark had bullet time inspired benchmarks. 3DMark is the perfect tool to see if your system - most important, your CPU and GPU - is performing as it should. You can search results for your GPU, to see if it falls in line with other systems based on similar hardware.

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3DMark TimeSpy

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Heaven - 1080p

Heaven is an intensive GPU benchmark that really pushes your silicon to its limits. It's another favorite of ours as it has some great scaling for multi-GPU testing, and it's great for getting your GPU to 100% for power and noise testing.

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Benchmarks - 1080p

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DOOM Eternal is one of the best-looking, but superbly-optimized games of 2020 with the folks at id Software truly putting their all into the id Tech 7 engine for DOOM Eternal. We're using the Vulkan API on DOOM Eternal here.

You can buy DOOM Eternal at Amazon.

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Another new entry into our regular graphics card benchmarks is Red Dead Redemption 2, which is powered by the RAGE engine by Rockstar Games. The RAGE engine has been tuned from its normal use in the Grand Theft Auto series. We're also running this on the Vulkan API.

You can buy Red Dead Redemption 2 at Amazon.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War at Amazon.

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Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.

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Far Cry New Dawn was developed by Ubisoft, and is powered the Dunia Engine, an engine that has been modified over the years for Far Cry and last used in Far Cry 5. Dunia Engine itself was a modified version of CRYENGINE, scaling incredibly well on all sorts of hardware.

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.

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1080p Benchmark Performance Thoughts

I would not recommend buying the GeForce RTX 3080 for 1080p gaming, period. I almost don't even want to discuss performance thoughts at this resolution because you'd be nuts to buy the RTX 3080 for 1920 x 1080.

However, from a pure technical standpoint: look at DOOM Eternal on the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition. We have a huge 238FPS average, up from the 182FPS average on the RTX 2080 SUPER. That scaling between the cards isn't great at 1080p, but still we're looking at nearly 240FPS at 1080p in a game as great-looking as DOOM Eternal.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has stellar performance at 1080p on the RTX 3080 FE, with 117FPS average -- nothing comes close to that on the charts. The previous-gen Turing-based flagship RTX 2080 Ti can't even breach 100FPS.

Benchmarks - 1440p

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DOOM Eternal is one of the best-looking, but superbly-optimized games of 2020 with the folks at id Software truly putting their all into the id Tech 7 engine for DOOM Eternal. We're using the Vulkan API on DOOM Eternal here.

You can buy DOOM Eternal at Amazon.

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Another new entry into our regular graphics card benchmarks is Red Dead Redemption 2, which is powered by the RAGE engine by Rockstar Games. The RAGE engine has been tuned from its normal use in the Grand Theft Auto series. We're also running this on the Vulkan API.

You can buy Red Dead Redemption 2 at Amazon.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War at Amazon.

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Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.

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Far Cry New Dawn was developed by Ubisoft, and is powered the Dunia Engine, an engine that has been modified over the years for Far Cry and last used in Far Cry 5. Dunia Engine itself was a modified version of CRYENGINE, scaling incredibly well on all sorts of hardware.

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.

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1080p Benchmark Performance Thoughts

Now this is where the fun begins: 2560 x 1440.

Starting off with DOOM Eternal, the new Ampere-based GeForce RTX 3080 FE smashes out an insane 220FPS average at 1440p. This is up from the 163FPS on the RTX 2080 Ti, and up from the 137FPS on the RTX 2080 SUPER.

RTX 3080 > RTX 2080 SUPER:

  • DOOM Eternal: 52% faster
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: 46% faster
  • Shadow of War: 16% faster
  • Metro Exodus: 37% faster

I mean, 52% improvement in DOOM Eternal on the RTX 3080 is nothing short of freaking incredible. The same goes for RDR2 with a huge 46% uplift in performance over the RTX 2080 SUPER at 1440p. Metro Exodus also enjoys a huge 37% increase at 1440p.

Benchmarks - 4K

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DOOM Eternal is one of the best-looking, but superbly-optimized games of 2020 with the folks at id Software truly putting their all into the id Tech 7 engine for DOOM Eternal. We're using the Vulkan API on DOOM Eternal here.

You can buy DOOM Eternal at Amazon.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 26 | TweakTown.com
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 4016 | TweakTown.com

Another new entry into our regular graphics card benchmarks is Red Dead Redemption 2, which is powered by the RAGE engine by Rockstar Games. The RAGE engine has been tuned from its normal use in the Grand Theft Auto series. We're also running this on the Vulkan API.

You can buy Red Dead Redemption 2 at Amazon.

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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 4006 | TweakTown.com

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to the popular Shadow of Mordor, which was powered by the Lithtech engine. When cranked up to maximum detail, it will chew through your GPU and its VRAM like it's nothing.

You can buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War at Amazon.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 12 | TweakTown.com
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 4013 | TweakTown.com

Metro Exodus is one of the hardest tests that our graphics cards have to go through, with 4A Games' latest creation being one of the best looking games on the market. It is a serious test that pushes GPUs to their limits, and also features RTX technologies like DLSS.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 06 | TweakTown.com
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 4015 | TweakTown.com

Far Cry New Dawn was developed by Ubisoft, and is powered the Dunia Engine, an engine that has been modified over the years for Far Cry and last used in Far Cry 5. Dunia Engine itself was a modified version of CRYENGINE, scaling incredibly well on all sorts of hardware.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 15 | TweakTown.com
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 4002 | TweakTown.com

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest games to join our graphics card benchmark lineup, with the game built using the Foundation engine as a base, the same engine in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Eidos Montreal R&D department made lots of changes to the engine during the development of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to make it one of the best-looking games out right now.

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4K Benchmark Performance Thoughts

4K is where NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX 3080 really shines, totally destroying everything else in its path. AMD has absolutely nothing in its stack that can compare to the total and utter GPU destruction that NVIDIA reigns down on Team Red with Ampere.

Starting off with DOOM Eternal which the results totally blew my mind: the GeForce RTX 3080 is spitting out 137FPS average 4K. 137FPS average... at 3840 x 2160! Compare this to just 81FPS of the RTX 2080 SUPER and you have a game-changing 69% performance uplift.

AMD's fastest card in the Radeon VII with its nifty 16GB of HBM2 memory can't get anywhere near close to the GeForce RTX 3080 FE in DOOM Eternal with its 73FPS average -- the RTX 3080 is 88% faster than the Radeon VII. 88%!!!

The same domination continues in Red Dead Redemption 2, with NVIDIA's new GeForce RTX 3080 pumping out a huge 70FPS average at 4K. This is a performance uplift of 55% over the RTX 2080 SUPER, and a huge 89% increase over the Radeon VII -- hell, it's a 112% jump over the Navi-based Radeon RX 5700 XT.

Amazing.

RTX 3080 > RTX 2080 SUPER:

  • DOOM Eternal: 69% faster
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: 55% faster
  • Shadow of War: 38% faster
  • Metro Exodus: 51% faster

Benchmarks - RTX

I've now got an entire section dedicated to ray tracing and DLSS benchmarks, where I'll slowly benchmark more and more titles and add them into future reviews. First up, we have 4A Games' Metro Exodus which is a constant pressure on our GPUs.

Metro Exodus

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Starting things off with RTX ray tracing set to Ultra, without DLSS enabled and we're seeing 77FPS max on the new GeForce RTX 3080. Enabling DLSS sees no difference at 1080p, but that's something you'll see a big difference with below as we go into 1440p and 4K.

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See what I mean? We have the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER with 38FPS average, while the new Ampere-based GeForce RTX 3080 forges ahead in Metro Exodus with 60FPS average. This is a 57% improvement in performance. Enabling DLSS improves the results even more, with the RTX 3080 pulling away to 68FPS average -- up 45% over the RTX 2080 SUPER with its 47FPS average.

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The real fun begins at 4K, where the GeForce RTX 3080 is crushed down to just 35FPS with everything enabled in Metro Exodus. This is still up from 21FPS on the RTX 2080 SUPER, but with DLSS enabled the GeForce RTX 3080 leaps up to 50FPS average -- a 47% increase in performance.

Now that is the largest generational leap I've ever seen -- it even leaves the GeForce RTX 2080 in its dust as the previous-gen Turing flagship graphics card only reaches 41FPS at 4K with RT + DLSS enabled. That's still a 22% boost over the RTX 2080 Ti for the RTX 3080 FE.

Bright Memory Infinite is a totally new benchmark to my suite, with some radical graphics that are super-powered by ray tracing and even more super-powered by Ampere. I've decided to run this benchmark 3 times so you can see the difference between Balance, Quality, and Performance modes of DLSS.

Bright Memory Infinite

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Starting with 1080p we see the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition utterly, utterly crushing everything else in the benchmark charts. Starting with the Quality preset for DLSS we have 105FPS... which is just incredible. This is a huge leap over the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER and RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards.

RTX 3080 > RTX 2080 SUPER:

  • 1080p + DLSS = Quality: 69% faster
  • 1080p + DLSS = Balance: 69% faster
  • 1080p + DLSS = Performance: 58% faster
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The difference in performance with Ampere to Turing becomes even more apparant in Bright Memory Infinite at 1440p where the GeForce RTX 3080 is a mind blowing 84% faster than the GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER. Hell, it's still 48% faster than the RTX 2080 Ti.

RTX 3080 > RTX 2080 SUPER:

  • 1440p + DLSS = Quality: 84% faster
  • 1440p + DLSS = Balance: 70% faster
  • 1440p + DLSS = Performance: 68% faster
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The total and utter ray tracing domination of Ampere continues at 4K of course, with the GeForce RTX 3080 providing 34FPS average at 4K with DLSS set to quality, this is a huge 79% improvement over the RTX 2080 SUPER.

With DLSS set to balanced we're still looking at a 74% improvement, while DLSS set to Performance has the Ampere-based GeForce RTX 3080 pushing 53FPS average. Compared to the 29FPS average of the RTX 2080 SUPER that is an improvement of 83%.

It's almost unbelievably faster than Turing, making me run these numbers multiple times to confirm them. Incredible stuff.

RTX 3080 > RTX 2080 SUPER:

  • 1440p + DLSS = Quality: 79% faster
  • 1440p + DLSS = Balance: 74% faster
  • 1440p + DLSS = Performance: 83% faster

Benchmarks - DLSS

This is a section that will continue to grow -- Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) benchmarking. I've got some throughout the review, but here we'll look at the DLSS performance in F1 2020 -- which is stellar.

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I've also run a bunch of my AMD Radeon graphics cards through Fidelity FX, which is a similar upscaling technology but for Team Red. It's actually pretty impressive under F1 2020 -- but I can't wait to sink my teeth into Death Stranding and Control -- and then soon, Cyberpunk 2077 with some of that DLSS 2.0 action.

DLSS performance: Jumping right into the good stuff at 4K we have the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition leaping right through to a huge 137FPS with DLSS enabled. DLSS adds 36FPS to the stock 108FPS which is an impressive feat.

You can see here that enabling DLSS (as well as Fidelity FX) improves F1 2020 performance across the board. You'd be stupid not to put it on, really -- you're getting improved visuals with even more performance -- and I can't believe I even get to write that sentence.

But once again, I'll be exploring DLSS performance in follow up articles -- I've just got to get through this review and then into the custom cards first. Busy times!

Power Consumption & Temps

NVIDIA hasn't made a cool-operating graphics card, and that's a concern -- it runs at a huge 79C under an hour of full load which might just be 1C warmer than the RTX 2080 Ti, but it does have a fancy new cooler, it's made on a new node, and a bunch of toher improvements that should have the card running cooler.

But we have a very power hungry card whcih I'm sure many are going to say 'but power efficiency OMG, I'm sure if I dug up a review of Vega you bitched about power' and to that -- I'll say look at the freaking benchmark numbers.

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Slide 1080p and 1440p off to the side and think about 3440 x 1440 and 4K gamers -- the GeForce RTX 3080 totally delivers on the very best 4K gaming experience on Earth today. When the performance is there, then enthusiasts and gamers won't worry about it using 350W on its own.

It's actually an issue for me as well -- because I feel forced by the mainstream wave to kinda talk about power consumption like it means something. Like, us using a 350W graphics card is going to destroy the planet. It won't.

Your fridge is consuming more power, your air conditioner, your Mom's hair dryer uses more power. But this time, we don't have a leaf blower Fermi -- we have the Can of Whoop Ass powered Ampere architecture that might consume 350W, but it'll smack you in the face with its brute force performance.

I'm over being worried about power consumption -- I have been forever, but with this release and going forward I'm not going to care. Everyone else can, but when we've got Intel CPUs pushing 100W+ more over TDP when overclocked and no one is losing their (hopefully ray traced) marbles.

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  • NVIDIA and AMD: give me all the performance you can, use every trick you can (12-pin PCIe power connectors, triple 8-pin power connectors, 500W+ cards I do not care) as long as the performance is warranted.

We don't have 1000W+ power supplies on the market for no reason, there are enthusiasts out there that simply do not care about power consumption and I have been one of them forever. As a graphics card reviewer, I stay unbiased and discuss power consumption.

But now? 350W is delivering a gigantic chunk of performance over the RTX 2080 Ti, where an 'inefficiency' could be talked about there. Sure, the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition uses 100W more power to deliver 30-50% and sometimes even up to 80% or more performance over the RTX 2080 Ti.

  • Another thing: The system can use 400W+ and the thing is you're not running it all day and night like that. Most people would be putting in a few hours per day, and even at 8-10 hours a day for a pro streamer or someone who games all day and night it's not a bad price to pay (for the power consumption) to have this much graphical grunt.

What's Hot & What's Not

What's Hot

  • Total and utter performance domination: Nothing else comes remotely close to the GeForce RTX 3080, especially in the right circumstances. DOOM Eternal at 4K is one of them, and not even the previous $2499 TITAN RTX can come close to the RTX 3080.
  • That $699 price: Seriously, pricing the GeForce RTX 3080 at $699 is going to win NVIDIA a lot of press and a lot of gamers' hearts. You're getting way more performance than the Turing flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti that debuted at $1199, for just $699 -- or thereabouts post-launch. Insanity.
  • 12-pin PCIe power connector: I'm actually a huge fan of the new connector, it just looks so much more sleek in a system versus two larger 8-pin connectors. The new 12-pin PCIe connector is exclusive to the GeForce RTX 30 series Founders Edition cards, though.
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  • Technological achievement: Samsung 8nm + smaller PCB, more transistors
  • GDDR6X memory: Having the very latest memory technology on the fastest GPU ever made makes sense, right? Micron's new GDDR6X comes out of the box @ 19.5Gbps on the GeForce RTX 3080, letting it rip through high-res gaming like a hot knife through butter.
  • 4K gaming god: Seriously, the DOOM Eternal numbers from the GeForce RTX 3080 had me yelling. Seeing that type of generational leap in performance is just something truly awe inspiring. It truly reminds me of the GeForce 256 days where you stood up the second it was out -- pointed at it, and said "I don't just want this, I need this".
  • RTX goes second-gen: I'm still not fully sold on ray tracing just yet for the mainstream, as I would rather have brute performance (4K 120FPS) over ray tracing at 4K 60FPS. But that is just me, I'm a multiplayer shooter type of gamer -- but if you're into single player games and don't mind 60FPS but want truly gorgeous RTX-powered graphics -- maybe Cyberpunk 2077 or COD: Black Ops Cold War... then hell yes the RTX 3080 is for you.
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  • GeForce GTX 1080 owners, upgrade now: If you purcased a Pascal-based GeForce GTX 1080 or GeForce GTX 1080 Ti a few years ago and skipped over the Turing-based GeForce RTX 2080, RTX 2080 SUPER and RTX 2080 Ti -- this is what you should be upgrading to.
  • Most radical Founders Edition design yet: This is the biggest change NVIDIA has made to its Founders Edition design yet, and I'm kinda in love with it. I dug the GeForce RTX 20 series Founders Edition cards but the new Ampere-based FE cards are just glorious. Very Apple-y.
  • Custom designs: I've got the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity and MSI GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING X TRIO sitting behind me as I type, but the NDA on the RTX 3080 Founders Edition is up first. If you're waiting for custom designs, you don't have much longer to go -- the market is about to have a lot of custom RTX 3080s on offer.
  • Big Navi is coming soon: AMD has been teasing its new RDNA 2-based "Big Navi" graphics card as NVIDIA stokes the flames of hype for its RTX 30 series, so if you want to sit on the fence until then I wouldn't blame you -- this will have a big effect on NVIDIA marketing, RTX 30 series price, and so much more over the months.
  • 20GB version of RTX 3080 coming soon: If you do wait, there will be custom-only GeForce RTX 3080 graphics cards that should arrive between now and Big Navi (October 26) that will offer a larger 20GB framebuffer. If you need the additional VRAM, then you might want to wait -- but for 95% of games you're not going to need more than 10GB.
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What's Not

  • Any recent RTX 2080 SUPER or RTX 2080 Ti purchase: If you've purchased one of these graphics cards in the last couple of months, I'm sorry. That would suck, and it would've been nice for NVIDIA to have offered something like a free copy of Cyberpunk 2077 to anyone who purchased an RTX 2080 SUPER, RTX 2080 Ti, or TITAN RTX in the last 3 months as a 'sorry, everyone'.
  • 10GB VRAM: There are some situations where 10GB of framebuffer isn't enough, so I'll give NVIDIA the fact that this isn't the insane RTX 3090 that is an 8K gaming GPU that offers 24GB of GDDR6X memory. There should be RTX 3080 20GB models launching soon, but not in Founders Edition models.
  • Limited OC: I was hoping for much more overclocking potential on the GeForce RTX 3080, but there's just not that much wiggle room. The card is wicked fast on its own, but it would be nice to push like 500W through the card and see the GPU clocks skyrocket -- still, the card is mighty powerful anyway.
  • Pricing: I've got this in both the 'What's Hot' and the 'What's Not' section -- it's great at $699, almost freaking unbelievable. But how long will the price stay here before the first wave of RTX 3080 sells out... we could be looking at maybe $100-$200 premium, possibly more. I'll be keeping a close eye on the price over the next couple of months and do a 'few weeks on, or couple of months on' with the RTX 3080 later in the year.
  • The dual fan design: Another issue is the dual-fan design, which I'm two minds about. I dig the aesthetics of it, but functionality wise I'm not so sure. The rear fan on the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition blows hot air right into your RAM and CPU.

If you're using a stock CPU cooler -- let's say a Ryzen 3000 series CPU so you've got PCIe 4.0, then you're going to have your RTX 3080 FE blowing hot air directly into the CPU fan. This isn't good, and there's simply no way out of that.

Final Thoughts

I actually don't want to fully write a 'final thoughts' on the GeForce RTX 3080 this time, as I feel like we're going to need to come back to these reviews in the coming weeks as prices, stock levels, game patches, game releases (Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, etc) happen.

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But in a nutshell: NVIDIA has an incredible product with the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition graphics card. I would probably recommend that if you are an enthusiast, skipped the GeForce RTX 20 series, and are now thirsty for some frames -- the GeForce RTX 3080 is for you.

Now, a sensible person would wait until AMD drops Big Navi -- but there are two types of people here, so let's break it down.

  • Long time NVIDIA fans: Just like a certain website said back with the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti launch: Just Buy It. If you were happy to spend $1199 on the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti at launch (which was fine, because it was a beast at the time and still was, until today) then you'll be ecstatic to spend considerably less than that and get a huge chunk in performance with the RTX 3080.
  • Performance enthusiasts: You too, guys -- Just Buy It. Seriously, the GeForce RTX 3080 is a graphics card that enthusiasts like me having been waiting for, for a very long time. Almost no restraints total grunt, 4K 60FPS easy and 4K 120FPS in most games.

At this point I don't know why you would wait for AMD... I don't see Big Navi being able to topple the GeForce RTX 3080 although I think it will come close. It should launch with 16GB of RAM (GDDR6 or HBM2, rumors of both are floating around) and see NVIDIA retaliate with 20GB versions of the RTX 3080.

You don't need 20GB of VRAM, so if you wanted to bite the bullet now it's probably your absolute best time to get a graphics card before they sell out and the price increases. If you can buy a GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition (especially the FE card, it is a monster) for $699, do it.

A personal note

Rewinding the clock back 21 years to 1999 and you would find 16-year-old me, I was totally addicted to PC gaming and technology and had been spending years playing and tweaking my 3dfx Voodoo 1. But then news started of NVIDIA's next-generation card: the GeForce 256.

I remember my good friend Craig (his online nick was 'FLB'), a friend of my cousins (who also pushed me in some ways into PC gaming from a young age on the Amiga 500, and later into PCs) was working full-time so he had money to spend on PC hardware. I was a teenager in high school with no funds.

Craig would come around for a LAN every weekend pretty much, and we (along with my brother and uncle) would play games from the second we got home from school on Friday afternoon, through to as late as our parents would let us stay up on Sunday.

Of course we'd have days off, because LANs were freaking awesome and my parents were pretty cool.

Now, Craig came in with a Pentium II 300 processor at the time and I remember being totally blown away at the monster of a processor. Wishing that I could eventually have one, but then we started talking about the GeForce 256.

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At the time my online nickname was 'Voodoo' and I used to read the hell out of websites like Voodoo Extreme, HardOCP, Rage3D, OCAU, and many others because I was a huge fan of 3dfx, their Voodoo VGA accelerators, and their multi-card SLI technology.

Well, Quake III Arena was around the corner and Craig purchased a GeForce 256 SDR graphics card. The very first GeForce. I remember seeing him boot into Q3A and turn on that magical (at the time) 32-bit color and seeing that smoke from firing a rocket launcher look incredibly smooth.

The performance?

It smashed everything on the market.

I had to have one, so I asked my parents to buy me the GeForce 256 DDR... the faster of the two, and it really made Craig mad that I had the better card at the time. The DDR version was much better than the SDR version at the time.

We had a LAN that weekend in the city (here in Adelaide, South Australia) and I remember turning up and having the GeForce 256 DDR -- plugged into my 21-inch Sony G520 monitor. We turned on my Q3A and I had the ultimate performance. It was incredible.

It was a pivotal point in my life, so I changed my online handle and nickname in games to 'anthony256'. You can find me on Twitter under that handle, my tech products are all named 'something256' -- i.e. nas256, wifi256, etc.

My mates in person call me '256' or 'the 256'.

NVIDIA made a very important change in the world of graphics cards with the GeForce 256, so it is a very humbling feeling to see them pull nostalgia from that launch. I've gone from that teenager who hung out with my mate Craig playing games and talking technology and learning so much from him -- to reviewing NVIDIA's bleeding edge GeForce RTX 3080.

I lost touch with Craig many years ago and very upsettingly had a phone call from my cousin last year that he had taken his life. It was an incredibly sad moment for me as I knew he battled with depression -- but I wanted to take the time to explain that we're not all robots and reviewers online.

We have inspirations, and energy.

I generate mine from total, genuine enthusiasm for this job -- it is my life.

I have gone from a kid who had no direction, no real 'skills' to doing this as a job and I couldn't love it anymore than I do. If Craig could see me now and be here benching my hands into dust doing 20 hours a day to deliver you guys what I hope is a great review on the GeForce RTX 3080.

I'm also celebrating my 10th year working for TweakTown, and I'm about to hit my 21,000th article... 21 years since the GeForce 256, and I'm about to hit 21,000 articles and my name is '256'. I couldn't even make it up if I tried.

RIP Craig (FLB).

In a brighter note, man we would be enjoying scoffing down KFC while benchmarking the RTX 3080 -- so in his honor I actually got KFC for dinner tonight while writing and benchmarking in the last hours before the embargo NDA lifts.

The journey of GeForce has been an insane one, and we're only getting started with the GeForce RTX 3080.

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There's much more to come...

I have so much more to come, so without going into much detail here's what is coming in the next month from me:

  • GeForce RTX 3080 overclocked (didn't have the time, and I wanted to spend valuable time with it)
  • ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3080 Trinity review
  • GeForce RTX 3080 benchmarked @ 8K
  • Intel Core i7 8700K vs AMD Ryzen 7 3700X with the RTX 3080
  • Intel Core i9-10900K vs AMD Ryzen 7 3800X with the RTX 3080
  • GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition review
  • MSI GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING X TRIO
  • MSI GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING X TRIO
  • 3-4 other custom RTX 3080
  • 3-4 other custom RTX 3090

NVIDIA has really hit it out of the park with the Ampere GPU architecture, we have a monster 28 billion transistor chip with 10GB of ultra-fast GDDR6X memory that makes it better than the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in every single situation.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review: The Superman of GPUs 521 | TweakTown.com

If you are an enthusiast who wants the very best, but don't want to spend over twice the amount on the GeForce RTX 3090 ($699 versus $1499 -- at least at launch, and for FE cards) then the GeForce RTX 3080 represents tremendous value for money.

You've got a graphics card that can easily handle 4K 60FPS in virtually every AAA game on the market with details maxed out. If you dial the details down in those games, or play games like Overwatch, Apex Legends, Call of Duty, etc -- then you're going to enjoy that buttery smooth PCMR goodness that is 4K 120FPS.

I feel like this is the fight between NVIDIA and AMD right now -- NVIDIA is Superman, and Batman is AMD. NVIDIA is laying it down with the GeForce RTX 3080 -- launching first, effectively saying "stay down, if I wanted it, you'd be dead already".

But that doesn't mean AMD is down and out just yet...

NVIDIA: you have made a thundering card in the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition, which is one of the best buys of 2020 -- and the absolute best buy of 2020 for any enthusiast or high-end gamer. If you skipped the RTX 20 series, you will very badly want to get your hands-on the GeForce RTX 3080.

P.S.: How many pages is this review? :)

Performance

100%

Quality

100%

Features

100%

Value

100%

Overall

100%

The Bottom Line

NVIDIA hits a gigantic home run with its GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition. This is the card that we've all been waiting for... just buy it!

TweakTown award
100%

NVIDIA Titan RTX Graphics Card

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Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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