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It’s difficult to understand why a company that cannot keep up with demand would introduce even more products. But that’s exactly what Nvidia is doing with the RTX 3080 Ti, which it claims is its new flagship gaming GPU. And that’s fair considering this card is essentially an RTX 3090 but with a memory configuration that’s better for gamers. And the improvement over the 3080 is significant.
So is Nvidia only doing this to eliminate any doubts about its position as the computer-graphics king? That is always a factor, but the company is also getting increasingly skilled at squeezing more performance out of its cards while also improving yields and profit margins. So this sort of thing is inevitable even if you never even had a chance to buy an RTX 3080.
Nvidia is launching the RTX 3080 Ti on June 3 for $1,200. That puts it much closer to the $1,500 3090 than the $700 3080 — although the idea that an RTX 3080 would ever sell for $700 is ridiculous. You can buy a 3080 from scalpers right now for around $2,500.
Demand for the 3080 Ti will likely match that of the 3080 — at least among hardcore gamers. This is a powerful, 4K graphics card with a suite of great features as well as enough speedy GDDR6X memory to demolish productivity tasks and ray tracing workloads.
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It’s not quite the generational leap versus the 2080 Ti that the 1080 Ti was versus the 980 Ti, but it’s playing in that league. And that alone is impressive.
Computer graphics are in a good place, and Nvidia isn’t getting left behind
Before I get into the performance results, let’s touch on some of the features that enable you to get the most out of the 3080 Ti.
Nvidia added support for resizable BAR, which enables the GPU to share its faster memory with the CPU. This feature is even better with the 3080 Ti versus the 3080 and other recent RTX cards thanks to the 12GB of VRAM. That’s often more than enough to spare, which means the CPU can actually tap into those resources.
Of course, you’re also getting the most recent RT cores, which are excellent at handling ray tracing. And the improved Tensor cores power Nvidia’s magical deep-learning supersampling (DLSS), which can make games look 4K while performing like they’re running at 1080p.
Nvidia also made sure that its most recent drivers play well with Windows Game Mode and hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling. The former feature is something Microsoft added years ago, but Nvidia now seems confident that it delivers consistent and better results.
Oh, and Nvidia’s latest version of the GeForce Experience software has built-in “automatic tuning” to get simple overclocking performance.
All of this is rather simple to set up and use. You’ll need a compatible CPU and motherboard to take advantage of resizable BAR. But when everything is working, it feels like Nvidia threw in everything to ensure you get your money’s worth. And that is an important psychological trick when you’re spending $1,200.
RTX 3080 Ti performance results
I didn’t have a lot of time for testing the 3080 Ti, so I focused on a comparison to the RTX 3080. But even with the holiday weekend disrupting the review, I found that the 3080 Ti came in an average of 17% faster than the 3080, which is pretty massive. A big reason for the size of that delta is ray tracing, which is significantly faster on the 3080 Ti.
I tested on a Windows rig with the following hardware:
- Intel Core i9-10900K
- Asus ROG Maximus XIII Hero
- SanDisk Ultra II 960GB
- 16GB HyperX Predator 3600MHz memory
- EVGA 1000W PSU
I used Frameview to record frame times and then analyzed that in Excel. I also ran each test three times and took the average. A note when you read percentage differences: I let Excel calculate that using the reported framerates that include two significant digits instead of the nice round integers that you’ll see in the charts below.
Here are the results.
I used Hitman 3’s benchmark test on Dartmoor, and this game provided the most modest improvement from the 3080 to the 3080 Ti. This test ran at 4K with all of the graphics options set to maximum. And the 3080 Ti had a 6.71% higher average framerate than its cousin.
Assassin’s Creedy: Odyssey
I set Odyssey to 4K and used the benchmark tool. The extra VRAM and wider memory bus helped the 3080 Ti get almost 9% more frames than the RTX 3080.
Control runs 30.5% faster on the 3080 Ti compared to the 3080. That’s a huge difference, but Control hits the RTX cards right where it matters most. So the extra video memory in the 3080 Ti is more adept at rendering a 4K scene with ray tracing and graphics set to maximum with no DLSS. Of course, the 80 RT cores and 10,240 CUDA cores also make a huge difference. The reality is that Control is now very playable at 4K with max settings for RTX even before you turn on DLSS thanks to the 3080 Ti.
I like to test Avengers even if seems like no one else is playing it. It’s a demanding game if you turn off DLSS, which I did for this test. I also set the graphics to maximum, but I turned off the two Intel-branded CPU features. The results once again illustrate just how good the 3080 Ti is with nearly 25% better results with the newer GPU.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Finally, Flight Simulator is another great game to test for both CPUs and GPUs. While the game is definitely CPU-bound at lower resolutions, it is just as GPU-bound at 4K. This was another 4K test, and the extra power of the 3080 Ti made the Brazil landing challenge run 13.89% faster than on the RTX 3080.
Buy it if you can find it
A $1,200 GPU is so expensive that it’s the kind of thing that, in normal times, only the most wealthy and dedicated gamers would consider. But we don’t live in normal times, and I once again feel ill-equipped to judge this product based on any value proposition. Chances are that you will not be able to buy this component for $1,200 any time soon. But if you have the cash and need the best gaming GPU, then I wouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to get one for myself. But, of course, that’s just the out-of-balance supply-and-demand driving me as wild as everyone else.
Here’s what I can speak to. This is the best gaming GPU you can get. The 3090 is maybe slightly better, but it’s definitely not worth the extra money for gaming tasks. If you are content creator, the 24GB of VRAM in the 3090 will make a huge difference. But for gaming and even livestreaming from one PC simultaneously, the 3080 Ti is incredible. I’ve done some more testing beyond what I was able to throw into the charts, and it has continued to blow me away. This is especially true when you do turn on resizable BAR and really enable your CPU to access that 12GB of memory.
As far as the comparison to AMD, I’m saving a more direct showdown for when I can also speak about the 3070 Ti. But I predict that all offerings from AMD and Nvidia will continue to impress, but the RTX cards will have an advantage with ray tracing, and in my opinion, that should make a big difference in your purchase decision now as you look to get the most from these cards over the next three-to-five years.
For now, I’ll just say that the 3080 Ti is fantastic.
The Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is available June 3 starting at $1,200. Nvidia provided a sample unit for the purpose of this review.
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