Following last month’s launch of the $1,599 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, a graphics card intended primarily for professional use, today the new generation of GPUs for the slightly less affluent PC gamer crowd has finally arrived in the form of Nvidia. GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition, launching tomorrow for $1,199. That means the entry point for the lofty performance claims of the RTX 40 series and frame-gen DLSS 3 has been lowered at least a bit. We’re still at the beginning of this new generation of GPUs, but so far the RTX 4080 is a good sampler.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition – Photos
What’s in a name
Before we get to the spec sheet and performance numbers, we should cover the RTX 4080 naming confusion and talk a bit about how Nvidia GPUs are typically positioned, and why this generation is a bit different than years ago. previous. Over a decade old, Nvidia GPUs that carry the “-80” moniker are considered flagship main cards and are priced in the $500 to $700 range. Looking more specifically at recent trends, the GTX 1080 is it launched at $599, and both the RTX 2080 and 3080 launched at $699.
You might be wondering, then, why the RTX 4080 starts at almost double that range. The answer lies in that aforementioned naming fiasco. Nvidia originally planned two variants of the RTX 4080: a 16GB one for $1199 (the version we’re reviewing here) and a 12GB one, priced at $899. This wouldn’t have been the first time Nvidia has released cards. VRAM variants, but usually the amount of VRAM was the only difference, whereas in this case the two cards also had different core counts and clock speeds, differences that previously would have warranted a downgrade to 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, opting to “relaunch” the 12GB RTX 4080 instead; those cards are now rumored to be re-announced under the name “RTX 4070 Ti”, although nothing is official as of yet.
That’s all well and good, but it still leaves us with a “mainstream” card at the enthusiast-level price that would have previously been reserved for a card labeled “Ti,” which is a step up from mid-gen. In other words, typical generational comparisons are a bit skewed this time around, so we’ll primarily be comparing the RTX 4080 against 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 review of the RTX 4090, you’ll remember that it’s an absolutely huge card, both in terms of size and performance. Meanwhile, the RTX 4080 isn’t… smaller. It has the same triple-slot designation, measures 11.9 inches (304mm) long, 5.4 inches (137mm) wide, and 2.4 inches (61mm) thick, exactly the same dimensions as the RTX 4090. . This is a great card. For comparison, the RTX 3080 measured 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-axis continuous-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 to achieve what Nvidia claims is 15% more airflow at the same noise level. In practice, the RTX 4080 remained quiet while keeping temperatures around 53-55 °C, with a peak of 57 °C, over a long benchmarking period.
Compared to the RTX 3080 Ti, the RTX 4080 has 9,728 CUDA cores (vs 10,240), 304 4th-gen Tensor cores (vs 320 3rd-gen) and 76 3rd-gen RT cores (vs 80 2nd-gen) . In other words: It has newer cores, but a bit fewer overall. The drop in count shouldn’t be alarming though, as the 4080 packs a 2505MHz boost clock speed compared to the RTX 3080 Ti’s 1665MHz clock, not to mention 16GB of GDDR6X VRAM, in compared to the 12 GB of its 30 series. predecessor.”
Like the RTX 4090, the 4080 uses the somewhat controversial 16-pin 12VHPWR power connector that was recently in the news due to reports of overheating and melting. We haven’t had any issues with it in any of our tests, but we’ll definitely be monitoring the situation as this generation of graphics cards matures.
Speaking of power, the RTX 4080 has a TDP of 320W, down from 350W for 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 design of current generation graphics cards, although AMD’s recently announced RX 7900 XT and XTX use the newer DisplayPort 2.1, which has more than triple the bandwidth and enables 4K resolution up to 480Hz or 8K up to 165Hz. vs. 240Hz at 4K and 60Hz at 8K for DisplayPort 1.4. Most games and monitors won’t be able to take advantage of that bandwidth, so it’s a moot point, but AMD technically has the upper hand.
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 a 28% improvement over AMD’s RX 3950 XT, the top two GPUs in the industry. previous generation, and a 35% boost over its equivalently priced generational predecessor, the RTX 3080 Ti. Unsurprisingly, though, it falls considerably short of the RTX 4090, scoring 16,255 compared to the RTX 4090’s 21,872, which makes perfect sense given that the card costs $400 more.
Moving on to Unigine Heaven, the RTX 4080 beats the RTX 3090 Ti and RX 6950 XT at 1080p and 1440p, but doesn’t really hit both cards at 4K. Against the RTX 3080 Ti, however, it always wins by 13% at 1080p, 14% at 1440p, and a slight 4% at 4K.
Ray-traced synthetics are more dramatic. The RTX 4080 offers an average improvement of 28% compared to the RTX 3090 Ti in our three tests, and of course completely demolishes the RX 6950 XT, which lacks the ray tracing abilities of Nvidia’s hardware. Comparing it against the 3080 Ti offers even more impressive results, with an average improvement of 45% compared to that card.
Moving on to our gaming benchmarks, the RTX 4080 again performs well at all three resolutions tested. At this point, our benchmark tests are basically tied to the CPU at 1080p, with the RTX 4080 pinging the meter alongside the more powerful RTX 4090. 1440p is relatively similar, and the card shows huge gains over the last generation in non-CPU-bound benchmarks, and of course matching the best benchmarks out there.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 16GB Founders Edition – Gaming Benchmarks
However, given the high-end nature of this hardware, the real story is in 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 27% improvement over the RTX 3090 Ti and 45% improvement 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 an MSRP of $2,000 when it launched earlier this year (though prices have now dropped to around what you should expect). pay for a fresh off the market RTX 4080). shelf).
Those are impressive gains, but not really out of the ordinary when you consider that this is a new generation of graphics. Looking back at our RTX 3080 review, that card offered 50-70% improvements over its generational predecessor, the RTX 2080 Super. That’s not to rule out the RTX 4080 – 4K frame rates well above 60fps in the most demanding games will turn heads for a few years. I just think it’s important to remember that we’re talking high end, if not enthusiast level. prices here, so my expectations are very high.
Finally, I want to touch on Nvidia’s new DLSS 3 frame generation technology. See my RTX 4090 review for a more detailed explanation, but in short, the GPU looks at two sequential 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 rendering in Cyberpunk 2077.
DLSS again offered a surprising improvement, taking the RTX 4080’s framerate up to 73 without framerate and 108 with it. Those are staggering numbers for one of the most technically demanding games available on PC today, and remember, this benchmark runs at 4K with maximum settings and ray tracing enabled. Meanwhile, RTX 30-series cards receive fewer DLSS enhancements and don’t have access to co-frame generation.
Of course, DLSS 3 is still a new technology and game support is limited at the moment. 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 improvement remains formidable, DLSS 3 will be the main feature that really makes upgrading to a 40-series card worthwhile for high-res, high-framerate gaming.