NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
$1,199 USD / $1,920 AUD
The Ti has always been like the showroom model that comes with all of the extra add-ons. Tinted textures, ray-traced headlights, DLSS-rendered leather interior, 8K-capable GPS, and turbo-charged cooling using a new and dynamic intake and exhaust system. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
is that version of the already impressive and sleek GeForce RTX 3080
. Albeit one that arrives at a very weird time for the industry.
From chip shortages affecting everything from consoles to CPUs to routers and even Smart TVs, to the recent crypto-mining boom that has seen prices of all graphics cards explode into the stratosphere. Even for cards that first hit the market years ago... things are a little crazy.
It would be one thing to be able to walk into a well-stocked PC store and see a polo-shirt wearing employee pop an RTX 3080 Ti on a shelf next to existing RTX 3080 stock -- but that’s not going to be the case. Make no mistake, the GeForce RTX 30 Series continues to sell and get into the hands of people that crave a little RTX On action. The entire line-up has already made its mark in the PC space, as seen in the latest Steam Hardware Survey
With that in mind, and in following in the footsteps of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
before it, it’s not hard to see why the RTX 3080 Ti is being met with excitement. Even with the high-end creator and industry-focused GeForce RTX 3090 already a thing, with its overkill 24GB of GDDR6X memory, the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti was inevitable. And in making its debut, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti becomes the new flagship model in the RTX 30 Series.
So then, with the RTX 3090 a known element, where does the RTX 3080 Ti fit into the picture -- performance wise? It goes without saying that it outperforms the previous flagship, the RTX 2080 Ti, by a considerable margin. Blows it away you could say. It also provides a noticeable increase over the 4K powerhouse that is the RTX 3080, but not a monumental one. To summarise (or, spoiler-ise), the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is impressive and performs on par with the most powerful GPU on the planet -- the Geforce RTX 3090. Which we gleaned after conducting a sizable 30 benchmarks across a wide range of games and tests.
More importantly it con-Ti-nues the Ampere story. Ahem. In that NVIDIA’s latest architecture goes beyond outright power and real-time ray-tracing -- thanks to DLSS rendering, NVIDIA Reflex for latency reduction, and powerful tools for creators and broadcasters, there’s a lot more to the story.
An Ampere Primer
The below is a summary of the RTX 30 Series technology, applicable to all RTX 3080 Ti models. An Ampere primer if you will.
A sizable portion of games currently in development for PC and consoles, from indies to AAA high-end titles, will be driven by resolution, frame-rate, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing. The latter is already here, first brought to the scene in 2018 with the GeForce RTX 20 series. The original ‘RTX On’, NVIDIA made that tech-dream of real-time ray-tracing a reality.
Something that, with the arrival of affordable RTX-powered gaming laptops and consoles like the Xbox Series S, has become somewhat mainstream.
It provides a noticeable increase over the 4K powerhouse that is the RTX 3080, but not a monumental one. To summarise (or, spoiler-ise), the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is impressive and performs on par with the most powerful GPU on the planet -- the Geforce RTX 3090.
From NVIDIA’s side, being first to implement ray-tracing also meant being on the cutting edge from the get-go, and at the forefront of in-game performance. Additional hardware in the form of RT Cores were brought into the picture to take some of the taxing computation off of GPU processors. To ensure that games ran at the coveted 60-fps, Tensor Cores were added into the mix -- building on NVIDIA’s expertise in the field of AI to drive rendering with DLSS.
, Cyberpunk 2077
, Death Stranding
, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
, and more -- DLSS is without a doubt one of the most impressive technical feats we’ve seen in a long time. With or without ray-tracing, it provides a generation leap in performance without sacrificing visual quality. Ampere features second generation RT Cores (NVIDIA’s dedicated ray-tracing hardware) and third-generation Tensor Cores (the AI stuff that makes DLSS the perfect match for hardware intensive ray-tracing in addition to simply boosting performance).
There’s also the new custom Samsung 8nm process and a chipset that radically re-designs the Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) to effectively double the concurrent calculations and what have you. To get technical we’re talking about FP32 and INT32 operations, two things that are, err, things. Topping it all off is the introduction of HDMI 2.1 support and a PCIe Gen 4 interface leading to better CPU utilisation and faster loading times.
In the end Ampere is all about the future -- resolution, frame-rate, AI-rendering, and cutting-edge effects like real-time ray-tracing using smart design and forward thinking innovation. From the GeForce RTX 3060 to the flagship GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, it’s Ampere that powers it all.
Of Numbers and Heat Sinks
In terms of looks, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition is just about identical to the gorgeous RTX 3080 model. NVIDIA’s sleek and modern design returns in full here, with the same innovative new cooling, whisper quiet performance, and that adaptor cable for the new power-pins. Plus, that black meets brushed bronze finish that somehow looks even better in person. Outside of the ‘Ti’ product name on the backplate you wouldn’t be able to tell the two apart in a GPU line-up.
DLSS is without a doubt one of the most impressive technical feats we’ve seen in a long time. With or without ray-tracing, it provides a generation leap in performance without sacrificing visual quality.
There are, of course, differences when you peek under the fans and backplate. The stuff that puts the Ti in RTX 3080 Ti. Compared to the RTX 3080 the Ti brings about chipset and memory increases in just about every aspect, from an 18% increase in the overall CUDA Core count, to more GDDR6X memory, and increased memory bandwidth. The cost comes in more power, literally, with the RTX 3080 Ti arriving with a pretty hefty TDP rating of 350W.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
- Architecture (GPU): Ampere
- CUDA Cores: 10240
- RT Cores: 80 (2nd Gen)
- Tensor Cores: 320 (3rd Gen)
- GPU Boost Clock: 1665 MHz
- Memory Capacity: 12GB GDDR6X
- Memory Interface/Clock: 384-bit/9500 MHz
- Memory Bandwidth: 912 GB/s
- TDP: 350W
The 18-20% increase seems to be the rule here across things like CUDA Cores, RT Cores, and Tensor Cores. Even the 12GB of GDDR6X is a 20% increase, which sees the RTX 3080 Ti resolve one of the issues some had with the RTX 3080. That being, the more VRAM the better and when it comes to 4K gaming 10GB might not be enough. All of these improvements over the baseline RTX 3080 results in the new flagship performing on par with the RTX 3090, which is an impressive feat. The two cards perform so close that most of the in-game differences can be measured in a couple of frames.
Also it’s worth noting that with NVIDIA looking to clamp-down on crypto miners snapping up RTX 30 series stock, the RTX 3080 Ti includes NVIDIA’s new measures to combat crypto mining by limiting the hash-rate at the hardware level.
Plus, there’s all of the stuff that puts Ampere in a class of its own.
More Than a Number
One of the big draws that comes from NVIDIA’s latest GPU architecture lies beyond raw performance, and that’s applicable whether you’re talking about the RTX 3060 Ti or the new RTX 3080 Ti. Both DLSS and hardware-driven real-time ray-tracing are game changers, DirectX 12 features like Variable Rate Shading and Mesh Shaders too. AI-based video production tools for creators, full Adobe integration, RTX Broadcast which can turn any space into a streaming setup with AI powered voice and visual controls. It goes on.
The 18-20% increase seems to be the rule here across things like CUDA Cores, RT Cores, and Tensor Cores. Even the 12GB of GDDR6X is a 20% increase, which sees the RTX 3080 Ti resolve one of the issues some had with the RTX 3080. That being, the more VRAM the better.
Resizable BAR support, as seen in the RTX 3080 Laptop GPU and the RTX 3060, improves performance by better utilising PCIe express lanes across AMD and Intel-based CPUs. In terms of competitive games and esports, NVIDIA Reflex is something of a game changer in its own right, lowering system latency across a wide range of titles (that is reducing the time between input and the action you actually see being carried out on screen) like Fortnite, Apex Legends
, Rainbow Six Siege
, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Paired with NVIDIA’s own G-Sync it’s another value-add and forward thinking bit of tech that goes beyond simply looking at an fps counter. All of these things are the direct result of hardware, software, and AI coming together - a testament to a future where raw power only represents part of the story.
That said, we’re now at that part of the story. So brace yourself, it’s Power Time.
Deep down we’re all a little bit like a certain galactic senator turned Emperor, we crave ultimate power. Where in this instance that’s firing up some of the most visually intensive games currently out there, setting things like Shadow Quality, Texture Filtering, and Temporal Activation Metrics to maximum, the resolution to 4K and seeing what happens.
But first though, a look at our testing rig.
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
- Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY
- Memory: HyperX FURY DDR4 RGB (32GB at 3600 MHz)
And now, the first batch of results.
These results cover what you might call ‘rasterised’ performance, that is titles without DLSS or hardware accelerated real-time ray-tracing (scroll down for those numbers). Just straight hardware grunt pushing as many frames as possible, with the optimisation left mostly to game developers, engines, and driver support.
4K is where we’ll begin as it paints the clearest picture of the RTX 3080 Ti’s capabilities -- and that is as a 4K powerhouse, where just about every game can hit well above 60 fps. DOOM Eternal
continues to stun, turning in a 167.3 fps average at 4K, a 1.7 times increase over the RTX 2080 Ti and a 15% increase over the baseline RTX 3080.
4K is something of a buzz word when it comes to modern high-end in-game rendering, but the reality is it’s a struggle for most hardware to render a native 4K image. Compared to the QHD resolution of 1440p -- often seen as the sweet spot -- a 4K image offers up more than double the pixel count. This is why modern consoles that output in 4K often upscale from a lower resolution image. It’s one of the reasons DLSS is as important and impressive as it is. It’s the reason why most gaming displays are high-refresh 1440p.
4K is where we’ll begin as it paints the clearest picture of the RTX 3080 Ti’s capabilities -- and that is as a 4K powerhouse, where just about every game can hit well above 60 fps.
Really though that’s a round-about way of saying that RTX 3080 Ti’s drop-off in performance from 1440p to 4K is an impressive 25% on average.
It is worth pointing out that with a handful of titles at 1440p GPU usage seemed to cap at around 70-80% (The Division 2, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Far Cry New Dawn), but as this happened with the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 we tested comparisons and differences were still consistent across the volume of benchmarks carried.
Speaking of benchmarks, with the various 3D Mark tests above, which cover a wide range of resolutions and DX11 or DX12 or even RTX scenarios, the picture that emerged -- in terms of the RTX 3080 Ti’s place in the 30-Series line-up -- was fairly straightforward.
Compared to the standard RTX 3080 the performance bump sits in the region of 10-15% and compared to the RTX 3090 the difference separating the two is a fairly unnoticeable 2%. In favour of the bulkier RTX 3090. Compared to the RTX 3080 the increase in performance isn’t monumental, though when stacked up next to last-gen’s RTX 2080 Ti it most certainly is. A card that if you were to be in the possession of, is still really powerful.
Ray Tracing and DLSS
When the RTX 2080 Ti launched it did so without the software to support its real-time ray-tracing capabilities. When we began to see RTX On for the first time real-time reflections, we did so at 1080p in order to maintain a stable frame-rate. In 2021 thanks to DLSS you can play games like Control and Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition in 4K on an RTX 3080 Ti at close to 70 fps.
Now, DLSS is a generational leap on top of an existing leap. Through dedicated hardware and advanced AI, image upscaling is given the sci-fi treatment. The difference between a natively rendered image and the DLSS ‘Quality’ equivalent is often negligible. In fact, sometimes the DLSS image features a more detailed image. Death Stranding is a great example of that, where with DLSS enabled performance jumps by around 30 fps alongside the crisper image.
DLSS is the secret sauce, and why RTX On in a visually intensive game like Cyberpunk 2077 is like looking at the impossible made possible. With second-generation RT Cores, ray-tracing implementations have improved and then some. From the fully path-traced Minecraft RTX to Control's use of reflections, shadows, lights, to the aforementioned Cyberpunk 2077.
Really though Metro Exodus (which proved to be one of the best first-uses of the tech) and its new Enhanced Edition showcases the advancements made in a single update. Not only does it implement the latest version of DLSS but it overhauls the ray-tracing to deliver one of the most detailed and impressively lit game-worlds to date.
Compared to the RTX 2080 Ti, DLSS and RTX performance with the RTX 3080 Ti is incredible and still sits in the range of the RTX 3090 too.
And It Looks Good Doing it Too
In our review of the RTX 3080 Founders Edition we wrote that it was one of the most impressive bits of gaming tech in years, and it impressed whilst “looking like something designed and sent back from the distant future”. Both sentiments still ring true, where the RTX 3080 Ti offers RTX 3090-like performance and in the Founders Edition model the overall aesthetic and look of the card is still as beautiful as ever.
As with the RTX 3080 the only real down-side is that the 8-pin to 12-pin adapter sits horizontally blocking some of the view.
Compared to the RTX 2080 Ti, DLSS and RTX performance with the RTX 3080 Ti is incredible and still sits in the range of the RTX 3090.
The radical new cooling design still does its magic too, where cool air coming into your PC case is being blown through the top fan and the exhaust underneath the display inputs. The RTX 3080 Ti is quiet and the temperatures hover in the 50-75-degree Celcius range. It does idle noticeably warmer than the standard RTX 3080, due to the upgraded silicon, but the default profile never really sees the fans get any sort of real workout.
Which brings us to the question of value compared to the current line-up, something that is reasonably hard to answer by factoring in price-points. Taking a look at the current GPU market across all cards (including those from AMD) and you’d be hard pressed to see any sort of consistency. Or reality for that matter. And on that note the best way to view the RTX 3080 Ti comes down to the simplicity of its performance and RTX features like DLSS. It offers up RTX 3090-like performance in a package that is, well, more appealing.
And in the end, it’s the new flagship of a line of GPUs that continue to feel next-gen in every way.