Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti review: Basically a 3090, but for gamers

Say hello to Nvidia's "new gaming flagship."

1 2 3 4 5 6 Page 2
Page 2 of 6

Our test system

We’re using our new AMD Ryzen 5000-series test rig to be able to benchmark the effect of PCIe 4.0 support on modern GPUs, as well as the performance-boosting AMD Smart Access Memory and Nvidia Resizable BAR features (which are both based on the same underlying PCIe standard) in spin-off evaluations. Currently, we’re testing it on an open bench with AMD’s Wraith Max air cooler; in the future, we’ll both be moving the setup into a case and adding an NZXT Kraken liquid cooler to the mix. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the storage ourselves.

  • AMD Ryzen 5900X, stock settings
  • AMD Wraith Max cooler
  • MSI Godlike X570 motherboard
  • 32GB G.Skill Trident Z Neo DDR4 3800 memory
  • EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply ($352 on Amazon)
  • 1TB SK Hynix Gold S31 SSD

We’re comparing the $1,200 GeForce RTX 3080 Ti against Nvidia’s Founders Edition models of the $1,500 RTX 3090 and $700 RTX 3080, of course, as well as AMD’s rival $1,000 Radeon RX 6900 XT. Time constraints caused by this GPU’s launch during Computex on a holiday weekend prevented us from testing additional cards like the Radeon RX 6800 XT or last generation’s RTX 2080 Ti, alas, and we weren’t able to test Resizable BAR or ray tracing performance either. That said, because the 3080 Ti is essentially a 3090 with less memory, its ray tracing and DLSS performance should be nearly identical to that card’s. You can see how the comparison GPUs all handle ray tracing in our Radeon RX 6900 XT review.

This evaluation focuses purely on traditional gaming benchmarks. We test a variety of games spanning various engines, genres, vendor sponsorships (Nvidia, AMD, and Intel), and graphics APIs (DirectX 11, DX12, and Vulkan). Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets unless otherwise noted, with VSync, frame rate caps, real-time ray tracing or DLSS effects, and FreeSync/G-Sync disabled, along with any other vendor-specific technologies like FidelityFX tools or Nvidia Reflex. We’ve also enabled temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) to push these cards to their limits. We run each benchmark at least three times and list the average result for each test.

Spoiler alert: The RTX 3080 Ti is only a hair slower than the 3090, and matches or beats the high-end Radeon in all games except a few that strongly favor AMD’s architecture. Because of that we’re going to present these benchmark charts but save our wrap-up commentary for the end.

Gaming performance benchmarks

Watch Dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the first games to debut on next-gen consoles. Ubisoft upgraded its Disrupt engine to include cutting-edge features like real-time ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS. We disable those effects for this testing, but Legion remains a strenuous game even on high-end hardware with its optional high-resolution texture pack installed. Few cards can maintain a 60-frames-per-second average with Ultra graphics options enabled, and the game allocates more than 8GB of memory even at 1440p. Oof.

wdl Brad Chacos/IDG

Horizon Zero Dawn

Yep, PlayStation exclusives are coming to the PC now. Horizon Zero Dawn runs on Guerrilla Games’ Decima engine, the same engine that powers Death Stranding.

hzd Brad Chacos/IDG

Next page: gaming benchmarks continue

At a Glance
  • Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is essentially an RTX 3090 in all but name (and memory capacity). It's an exceptional graphics card for 4K gaming with no major weak links, but the Founders Edition cooler isn't quite as impressive in this form and still needs an ugly power adapter. Actual price and availability remain a concern during the crippling worldwide GPU shortage.

    Pros

    • Excellent 4K and 1440p gaming
    • 12GB of high-speed GDDR6X memory
    • Best-in-class ray tracing, DLSS 2.0
    • Nvidia software: Reflex, G-Sync, Shadowplay, Broadcast, RTX IO, DLSS
    • Founders Edition design is gorgeous and effective
    • PCIe 4.0, Resizable BAR, and Nvidia Lite Hash Rate tech

    Cons

    • Big price increase vs. prior xx80 Ti models
    • Proprietary 12-pin power connector requires ugly adapter
    • Actual price, availability in doubt due to GPU shortage
    • Founders Edition design isn't as effective as on other RTX 30 models, and lacks extra features
1 2 3 4 5 6 Page 2
Page 2 of 6
 
Shop Tech Products at Amazon