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Review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition

by Tarinder Sandhu on 2 June 2021, 14:01

Tags: NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

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Introduction

Launching cutting-edge products during acute ongoing stock shortages is an interesting move. Nvidia has done precisely that with the arrival of the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and GeForce RTX 3070 Ti premium graphics cards announced yesterday.

Built to offer an additional bump in performance compared to non-Ti cards debuting last September, today we're putting the RTX 3080 Ti through its paces on our new benchmark suite. Let's evaluate if it's worthy of an update as we roll out the specification table.

Ampere and Turing Compared

 
RTX 3090
RTX 3080 Ti
RTX 3080
RTX 3070
RTX 2080 Ti
RTX 2080 Super
RTX 2080
RTX 2070 Super
Launch date
Sep 2020
June 2021
Sep 2020
Oct 2020
Sep 2018
July 2019
Sep 2018
July 2019
Codename
GA102
GA102
GA102
GA104
TU102
TU104
TU104
TU104
Architecture
Ampere
Ampere
Ampere
Ampere
Turing
Turing
Turing
Turing
Process (nm)
8
8
8
8
12
12
12
12
Transistors (bn)
28.3
28.3
28.3
17.4
18.6
13.6
13.6
13.6
Die Size (mm²)
628.4
628.4
628.4
392.5
754
545
545
545
PCIe
4.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
3.0
Base Clock (MHz)
1,400
1,365
1,440
1,500
1,350
1,650
1,515
1,605
Boost Clock (MHz)
1,695
1,665
1,710
1,725
1,545
1,815
1,710
1,770
Founders Edition Clock (MHz)
1,695
1,665
1,710
1,725
1,635
1,815
1,800
1,770
Shaders
10,496
10,240
8,704
5,888
4,352
3,072
2,944
2,560
GFLOPS
35,581
34,099
29,768
20,314
13,448
11,151
10,068
9,062
Founders Edition GFLOPS
35,581
34,099
29,768
20,314
14,231
11,151
10,598
9,062
Tensor Cores
328
320
272
184
544
384
368
320
RT Cores
82
80
68
46
68
48
46
40
Memory Size
24GB
12GB
10GB
8GB
11GB
8GB
8GB
8GB
Memory Bus
384-bit
384-bit
320-bit
256-bit
352-bit
256-bit
256-bit
256-bit
Memory Type
GDDR6X
GDDR6X
GDDR6X
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
GDDR6
Memory Clock
19.5Gbps
19Gbps
19Gbps
14Gbps
14Gbps
15.5Gbps
14Gbps
14Gbps
Memory Bandwidth
936
912
760
448
616
496
448
448
ROPs
112
112
96
96
88
64
64
64
Texture Units
328
320
272
184
272
192
184
160
L2 cache (KB)
5,120
5,120
5,120
4,096
5,632
4,096
4,096
4,096
SLI
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Power Connector (FE)
12-pin
12-pin
12-pin
12-pin
8-pin + 8-pin
8-pin + 6-pin
8-pin + 6-pin
8-pin + 6-pin
TGP (watts)
350
350
320
220
250
250
215
215
Founders Edition TGP (watts)
350
350
320
220
260
250
225
215
Suggested MSRP
$1,499
$1,199
$699
$499
$999
$699
$699
$499
Founders Edition MSRP
$1,499
$1,199
$699
$499
$1,199
$699
$799
$499

GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Analysis

There's nothing radically new here. RTX 3080 Ti uses the same GA102 die as the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080. For those that need a refresher on what the Ampere architecture brings to the table, head over here. The specs intimate it is closer to the RTX 3090 in composition, so the best method of discerning potential is to compare it to the flagship GPU.

Whereas RTX 3090 uses an 82-SM approach yielding 10,496 Cuda cores, RTX 3080 Ti trims this down to 80. Crunching the 128-cores-per SM reveals a 10,240-shader GPU endowed with a commensurate ratio of Tensor and RT Cores. As the table shows, the Ti variant is comfortably more powerful than the non-Ti, but overall performance is not as clear cut as the Ti ships with marginally lower clocks. Do be aware that no GeForce uses the full might of the GA102 architecture; that honour is left to the workstation-optimised RTX A6000 housing the full complement of 10,752 cores.

The similarities to RTX 3090 persist through Nvidia choosing to maintain a 384-bit memory bus, albeit with two key differences. The memory footprint is halved to 12GB, which feels stingy, and speed reduced by an effective 500MHz. The other difference is a lack of NV-Link support on the newest member of the Ampere clan, but who runs SLI nowadays anyway?

All the numbers point to the RTX 3080 Ti benchmarking at around 95 per cent of the RTX 3090's levels, perhaps even closer. Nvidia therefore plumbs this GPU with the same TGP of 350W. It's easy to think of this as repurposed silicon that didn't quite make the higher RTX 3090 grade.

Let's be clear. This is an RTX 3090 Lite more than an upgraded RTX 3080, and Nvidia knows this. We can liberally discard MSRPs these days, but for what it's worth, the RTX 3080 Ti comes in at $1,199 (£1,049), further underlining its RTX 3090 Lite credentials. Is this a value-focussed part? Of course not, but when regular RTX 3080 boards are selling for $2,000-plus on popular auction sites, due to a combination of stock shortages and inflated cryptocurrency interest, talking about price is verging on pointless.

Speaking of crypto, like very recent RTX GPUs, Nvidia is limiting the hash-rate potential of this card. There's no mention of this anywhere in the specifications, but if you're thinking of buying one to mine, think again, and we'll show you just how artificially castrated it is later on.

In summary, before we go on a benchmarking journey, know that GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 12GB feels like an interesting but largely unnecessary addition to the high-end gaming fold during times of constraint.