Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition Review

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition Review

After the launch last month of the $1,599 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090a graphics card aimed largely at professional use, the next generation of GPUs have finally arrived for the slightly less affluent crowd of PC gamers in the form of Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition, which launches tomorrow for $1,199. This means that the entry point for the high performance claims of the RTX 40 series and DLSS 3 frame generator has at least dropped a bit. We’re still at the start of this new generation of GPUs, but so far the RTX 4080 is a solid performer.

what’s in a name

Before we get to the spec sheet and performance numbers, we should cover the RTX 4080 naming kerfuffle and talk a bit about how Nvidia’s GPUs are generally positioned – and why this generation is a little different from years ago. previous ones. Dating back over a decade, Nvidia GPUs with the “-80” moniker are considered the flagship consumer cards and are priced between $500 and $700. Looking specifically at recent trends, the GTX 1080 launched at $599, and the RTX 2080 and 3080 launched at $699.

You might wonder then why the RTX 4080 starts at nearly double that range. The answer is in that aforementioned naming fiasco. Nvidia was originally planning two variants of the RTX 4080 – a 16GB for $1,199 (the version we’re reviewing here) and a 12GB, priced at $899. This wouldn’t have been the first time Nvidia has released VRAM variant cards, but usually the amount of VRAM was the only difference, whereas in this case both cards also sported different core counts and speeds. different clocks – differences that previously would have warranted a jump to another tier (in this case, the RTX 4070).

People rightly complained about the confusion it was already starting to cause, and to Nvidia’s credit it responded, opting to “launch” the RTX 4080 12 GB; it is now said that these cards will be re-announced with the name “RTX 4070 Ti”, although there is nothing official yet.

That’s all well and good, but it still leaves us with a “mainstream” card bearing the enthusiast tier price tag that would previously have been reserved for a card bearing the “Ti” label – representing a mid-gen stage. In other words, typical generational comparisons are a bit skewed this time around, so we’ll be comparing the RTX 4080 primarily to the RTX 3080 Ti, which also launched at $1,199 in June 2021, as opposed to the RTX 3080.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 – Design and Features

If you read my exam of the RTX 4090, you will recall that this is an absolutely massive card, both in terms of size and performance. The RTX 4080, on the other hand, is… not smaller. It bears the same designation at three locations, measuring 11.9 inches (304 mm) long, 5.4 inches (137 mm) wide and 2.4 inches (61 mm) thick – exactly the same dimensions as the RTX 4090. This is a big map. For comparison, the RTX 3080 was 11.2 inches (285mm) long, 4.4 inches (112mm) wide, and 1.5 inches (40mm) thick, while the RTX 2080 and GTX 1080 were even smaller.

Most of that weight comes from the large dual axial flow cooling solution needed to keep temperatures in check. The cooler design is mostly similar to the RTX 3090, but with larger fans and taller fins in order to achieve what Nvidia says is 15% more airflow at the same acoustic level. In practice, the RTX 4080 stayed quiet while maintaining temperatures hovering around 53-55°C, peaking at 57°C, for an extended period of benchmarking.

Compared to the RTX 3080 Ti, the RTX 4080 has 9,728 CUDA cores (vs. 10,240), 304 fourth-gen Tensor cores (vs. 320 third-gen), and 76 third-gen RT cores (vs. 80 second-gen). In other words: it has newer cores, but slightly fewer of them overall. The drop in numbers shouldn’t be alarming though, as the 4080 includes a boosted clock speed of 2,505 MHz compared to the RTX 3080 Ti’s 1,665 MHz clock, not to mention the 16 GB of GDDR6X VRAM, versus 12 GB on its 30 series “predecessor.”

Like the RTX 4090, the 4080 uses the somewhat controversial 16-pin 12VHPWR power connector that has recently made headlines due to reports of overheating and melting. We didn’t encounter any issues during our testing, but we’ll definitely monitor the situation as this generation of graphics cards matures.

Speaking of power, the RTX 4080 has a TDP of 320W, compared to 350W on the RTX 3080 Ti. Nvidia recommends using a power supply of at least 750 W. There’s also a 3x 8-pin adapter in the box for people whose power supplies don’t have the new connector.

For ports, the RTX 4080 has 3x DisplayPort 1.4a and 1x HDMI 2.1a. This is the typical layout of current generation graphics cards, although AMD’s recently announced RX 7900 XT and XTX use the new DisplayPort 2.1, which has more than tripled the bandwidth and enables 4K resolution up to 480 Hz, or 8K up to 165 Hz, compared to 240 Hz at 4K and 60 Hz at 8K for DisplayPort 1.4. Most games and monitors won’t be able to take advantage of that bandwidth, so that’s kind of a moot point, but AMD technically has the advantage.

Nvidia Geforce RTX 4080 – Performance

Starting with our synthetic benchmarks, the RTX 4080 comes out in 3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra with a 17% improvement over the RTX 3090 Ti and 28% over AMD’s RX 3950 XT – the two best GPUs of the generation previous one – and a 35% increase over its equally priced generational predecessor, the RTX 3080 Ti. As you’d expect, however, it falls considerably short of the RTX 4090, scoring 16,255 compared to the RTX 4090’s 21,872, which makes perfect sense given the card costs $400 more.

Moving on to Unigine Heaven, the RTX 4080 outperforms the RTX 3090 Ti and RX 6950 XT at 1080p and 1440p, but actually falls short of both cards at 4K. Against the RTX 3080 Ti, however, it consistently wins with a 13% lead at 1080p, 14% at 1440p, and a slight 4% at 4K.

Ray tracing synthetics are more dramatic. The RTX 4080 delivers an average 28% boost over the RTX 3090 Ti across our three tests, and of course absolutely demolishes the RX 6950 XT, which lacks the ray tracing chops of Nvidia’s hardware. Comparing it to the 3080 Ti offers even more impressive results, with an average improvement of 45% over this card.

Moving on to our gaming benchmarks, the RTX 4080 again shows a solid performance across all three resolutions tested. At this point, our benchmark tests are mostly CPU bound at 1080p, with the RTX 4080 slashing the meter alongside the more powerful RTX 4090. 1440p is relatively similar, with the card showing significant gains over the last generation in non-CPU related benchmarks. , and of course corresponding to the best possible tests.

Given the high-end nature of this hardware, however, the real story is at 4K. (If you’re not gaming at 4K or higher resolutions, you shouldn’t be spending that much money on a GPU.) Expanding our test suite slightly, you can see that the RTX 4080 offers considerable gains over the previous generation, with an average improvement of 27% compared to the RTX 3090 Ti and 45% compared to the RTX 3080 Ti. Keep in mind that the last of these cards launched for the same price of $1,199, while the first had an MSRP of $2,000 when it launched earlier this year (although prices have now dropped to roughly what you should expect to pay for an RTX 4080 fresh off the shelf).

These are impressive gains, but not really out of this world when you consider this is next generation graphics. Coming back to our RTX 3080 review, this card offered 50%-70% improvements over its generational predecessor, the RTX 2080 Super. This isn’t to discount the RTX 4080 – 4K frame rates well over 60fps in the most demanding games will raise eyebrows for a few years – I just think it’s important to remember we’re talking about high-end, if not enthusiast-level pricing here, so my expectations are sky-high.

Finally, I want to touch on Nvidia’s new DLSS 3 frame generation technology. See my RTX 4090 review for a more in-depth explanation, but in short, the GPU looks at two sequential frames, calculates the difference between them, and then uses AI to generate an image between them. As with the RTX 4090, I tested DLSS 3 and frame generation in Cyberpunk 2077.

DLSS again offered a stunning improvement, bringing the frame rate of the RTX 4080 to 73 without frame generation and 108 with it. Those are impressive numbers for one of the most technically demanding games available on PC today – and remember, this benchmark is running at 4K with maximum settings and ray tracing enabled. RTX 30-series cards, on the other hand, receive less of a boost from DLSS and don’t have access to frame generation.

Of course, DLSS 3 is still a new technology and game support is limited at this time. That said, it’s regularly rolling out to other games, including Microsoft Flight Simulator, A Plague Tale: Requiem, and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. If support continues to grow as expected and the performance boost remains as formidable, DLSS 3 will be the killer feature that really makes upgrading to a 40-series card worthwhile for high-res, frame-rate gaming. high pictures.

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