The world may have changed in 2020 but the emergence of a global pandemic appears to have done little to dampen consumer appetite for new hardware. Nvidia's recently launched GeForce RTX 3080 has ripped through the benchmarks and left behind a crater at every major retailer, with stores struggling to replenish stock in the face of unprecedented demand.
Our conversations with top-tier UK retailers suggest that the number of orders far surpasses any recent GPU launch - one contact claims a 10x increase in demand over the previous gen - and the likes of Scan Computers have even taken steps to introduce an RTX 3080 pre-order promise. With every card from every partner seemingly sold out, it has quickly become a case of beggars can't be choosers, and if you do happen to find a card in stock, does it matter which one?
Our initial batch of reviews found partner cards from the likes of Asus and MSI to be a good alternative to Nvidia's new-and-improved Founders Edition, though post-launch pricing has left something to be desired. Palit's GamingPro OC model, on the test bench today, faces a similar dilemma. While the official RRP is quoted as £690, the card is listed at £730 at Overclockers and Box, £750 at Ebuyer and a whopping £800 at Novatech. Not a pretty picture and none of the aforementioned currently have stock.
We suspect the retail gouging will run for a good number of weeks at least, so in the meantime, let's get back to the card in hand. Measuring 294mm x 112mm x 60mm and weighing in at 1,185g, the GamingPro OC is the most petite custom RTX 3080 we've tested thus far, though it does still occupy the best part of three slots - 2.7, to be precise.
We had wondered if partners would pull out all the stops to offer something different to the eye-catching Founders Edition, but Palit has instead opted to play it safe. The firm's latest cooler doesn't look too dissimilar to the previous generation and incorporates three 82mm fans atop two large heatsinks joined by U-shaped heatpipes. Cooling performance shouldn't be a problem, and from a visual standpoint we quite like the honeycomb pattern toward the end of the metal backplate; it looks tidy while allowing improved airflow to the third fan. Jury's out on the greyish-brown colour, mind, and it's a shame there's a notch in the backplate where you'd normally find SLI connectors. RTX 3080, remember, doesn't support multiple GPUs.
RGB lighting is kept to a minimum - the 'GP' logo on the central fan is illuminated, as are three slithers either side - and colour control is managed through the optional Thundermaster utility. Power is sourced through a pair of eight-pin connectors, and as you'd expect on any modern RTX 3080, all three fans switch off for a practically silent experience at low load. That's the theory, but the 0dB tech could do with some fine-tuning. During testing we found that even the smallest amount of activity would cause the fans to spin into action, and the transition isn't particularly smooth, so you can clearly hear the fans whirring into duty from time to time.
Display outputs go unchanged with three DisplayPort 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1, allowing the card to drive up to a 4K120 or 8K60 resolution from a single cable. Elsewhere, and as the GamingPro OC name suggests, there's a factory overclock to boot.
Don't get too excited, mind you. Palit's OC is extremely mild in that it adds just an extra 30MHz to the boost clock, taking it from 1,710MHz on the Founders Edition to 1,740MHz on the GamingPro OC. A 1.8 per cent increase is hardly worth writing home about, and the 10GB GDDR6X frame buffer is kept to a stock 19Gbps. Performance will be within touching distance of the Founders Edition, and as we'll demonstrate later in the review, there's not a lot of headroom for manual overclocking, either.
Palit hasn't pushed the boat out in terms of graphics card design, however it does include one of the nicest GPU support brackets we've seen. The GeForce RTX-branded acrylic arm attaches to three expansion slots and features a height-adjustable tip on which the graphics card can rest. It works well and the transparent design has the double benefit of not making the build appear overly cluttered while simultaneously accentuating the RGB effects.
But here's the thing, the £649 Founders Edition looks the business and, at the time of writing, is the most affordable RTX 3080 to date. It has become increasingly difficult for partner cards to compete, and with current prices ranging from £730 to £800, Palit's GamingPro OC has its work cut out. Let's see what the benchmarks have to say before coming to a conclusion.