Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition Review

After last month’s launch of the $1,599 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, a graphics card largely intended for professional use, today the new generation of GPUs has finally arrived for the slightly less affluent crowd of PC gamers in the form of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition, launching tomorrow for $1,199. That means the entry point for the high performance claims of the RTX 40 series and frame-generating DLSS 3 has dropped at least a bit. We are still at the beginning of this new GPU generation, but so far the RTX 4080 is a strong performer.

What’s in a name

Before we get to the spec sheet and performance numbers, we should address the RTX 4080’s naming error and a bit about how Nvidia’s GPUs are typically positioned – and why this generation is a little different than it was years ago. Dating back more than a decade, Nvidia GPUs named “-80” are considered the most important mainstream cards, and are priced in the $500 to $700 range. Looking more specifically at recent trends, the GTX 1080 was launched for $599, and both the RTX 2080 and 3080 launched for $699.

You may be wondering why the RTX 4080 starts at almost double that range. The answer lies in that aforementioned naming fiasco. Originally, Nvidia had planned two variants of the RTX 4080: a 16 GB for $1,199 (the version we’re reviewing here) and a 12 GB, priced at $899. This wouldn’t have been the first time Nvidia had introduced cards with a VRAM variant, but usually the amount of VRAM was the only difference, while in this case the two cards also had different core counts and clock speeds – differences that previously would have provided justification. collide on another level (in this case the RTX 4070).

People rightly complained about the confusion this was already starting to cause, and to Nvidia’s credit, it responded by choosing to “unlaunch” the RTX 4080 12GB; it’s now rumored that those cards will be re-announced with the “RTX 4070 Ti” moniker, though nothing official as of yet.

That’s all well and good, but it still leaves us with a ‘mainstream’ card with the enthusiast level pricing previously reserved for a ‘Ti’ labeled card – which is a step up from represents the middle generation. In other words, typical generation comparisons are a bit skewed this time around, so we’ll mainly be comparing the RTX 4080 to the RTX 3080 Ti, which also launched in June 2021 for $1,199, as opposed to the RTX 3080.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 – Design and Features

If you read my review of the RTX 4090, you’ll remember that it’s an absolutely massive card, both in size and performance. The RTX 4080, meanwhile, is… no smaller. It has the same three-slot designation and measures 11.9 inches (304 mm) long, 5.4 inches (137 mm) wide and 2.4 inches (61 mm) thick – the exact same dimensions as the RTX 4090. This is a big Map. By comparison, the RTX 3080 was 11.2 inches (285 mm) long, 4.4 inches (112 mm) wide, and 1.5 inches (40 mm) thick, while the RTX 2080 and GTX 1080 were even smaller.

Most of that weight comes from the large, dual-axial flow-through cooling solution needed to keep temperatures under control. The cooler design is largely similar to that of the RTX 3090, but with larger fans and taller fins to achieve what Nvidia claims is 15% more airflow at the same acoustic level. In practice, the RTX 4080 remained whisper quiet as temperatures hovered around 53-55C, peaking at 57C, over a long period of benchmarking.

Compared to the RTX 3080 Ti, the RTX 4080 has 9,728 CUDA cores (up from 10,240), 304 fourth generation Tensor cores (versus 320 third generation), and 76 third generation RT cores (versus 80 second generation). In other words, it has newer cores, but a little less overall. The drop in numbers shouldn’t be alarming though, as the 4080 packs a boost clock of 2,505MHz compared to the RTX 3080 Ti’s 1,665MHz clock, not to mention the 16GB of GDDR6X VRAM, compared with 12 GB on the 30 series “predecessor.”

Like the RTX 4090, the 4080 uses the somewhat controversial 16-pin 12VHPWR power connector that has been in the news recently due to reports of overheating and melting. We didn’t have any issues with it during our testing, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the situation as this generation of graphics cards matures.

Speaking of power, the RTX 4080 has a TDP of 320W, instead of 350W on the RTX 3080 Ti. Nvidia recommends using a minimum of 750W power supply. There’s also a 3x 8-pin adapter in the box for those 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 for current-generation graphics cards, although AMD’s recently announced RX 7900 XT and XTX use the newer DisplayPort 2.1, which has more than three times the bandwidth and 4K resolution up to 480 Hz or 8K up to 165 Hz makes possible. versus 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 it’s a bit of a moot point, but AMD does technically have the advantage.

Nvidia Geforce RTX 4080 – Performance

Starting with our synthetic benchmarks, the RTX 4080 comes out swinging in 3D Mark Fire Strike Ultra with a 17% improvement over the RTX 3090 Ti and 28% over AMD’s RX 3950 XT – the top two GPUs of the previous generation – and a 35% boost over its generation-price-equivalent predecessor, the RTX 3080 Ti. However, as you might expect, it lags significantly behind the RTX 4090, with a score of 16,255 compared to the RTX 4090’s 21,872, which makes perfect sense considering that card costs $400 more.

Heading 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. However, against the RTX 3080 Ti it consistently wins with a 13% lead at 1080p, 14% at 1440p and a slim 4% at 4K.

The ray tracing plastics are more dramatic. The RTX 4080 offers an average 28% increase over the RTX 3090 Ti in our three tests, and of course absolutely destroys the RX 6950 XT, which lacks the ray tracing chops of Nvidia’s hardware. Compared to the 3080 Ti, it offers even more impressive results, with an average improvement of 45% over that card.

Moving on to our gaming benchmarks, the RTX 4080 again has strong performance in all three resolutions tested. Right now, our benchmark tests are basically CPU-bound at 1080p, with the RTX 4080 pinging the meter alongside the more powerful RTX 4090. 1440p is relatively similar, with the card showing big gains over the last generation in non-CPU tests. -bound , and of course match the best in tests out there.

However, given the high-end nature of this hardware, the real story lies with 4K. (If you’re not playing at 4K or higher resolution, you shouldn’t be spending that much money on a GPU.) Expanding our test suite slightly, you can see that the RTX 4080 offers significant advantages over the previous generation, with an average improvement of 27% over the RTX 3090 Ti and 45% over the RTX 3080 Ti. Keep in mind that the last of those cards launched at the same price of $1,199, while the first had a suggested retail price of $2,000 when it launched earlier this year (although prices have now dropped to about what you’d expect to pay for an RTX 4080 fresh off the market). shelf).

Those are impressive gains, but not really unusual when you consider that this is a new generation of graphics. Looking back at our RTX 3080 review, that card offered 50% to 70% improvements over its generation predecessor, the RTX 2080 Super. That’s not to say the RTX 4080 is left out – 4K framerates well above 60fps in the most demanding games will raise eyebrows for years to come – I just think it’s important to remember we’re talking about high-end , if not enthusiastic level prices here, so my expectations are sky high.

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

DLSS offered another stunning improvement, bringing the RTX 4080’s frame rate to 73 with no frame generation, and 108 with it. Those are great numbers for one of the most technically demanding games available on PC today – and remember this benchmark is running at 4K with max settings and ray tracing turned on. The 30-series RTX cards, meanwhile, both get 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 for now. That said, it’s steadily rolling out to more 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 continues to be as formidable, DLSS 3 will be the great feature that really makes upgrading to a 40-series card worthwhile for high resolution, high frame rate gaming.


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