Nvidia RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti Review
Published: 19th September 2018 | Source: nVidia | Price: £749 and £1099 Respectively |
Normally when it comes to wrapping up a review of a flagship GPU, it's a pretty easy task. The latest and greatest has sufficiently huge performance to allow us to shout from the rooftops about high frame rates and the like.
The RTX 2080 and RTX 2080Ti are a sufficient revolution in the nVidia canon to necessitate an entire leap in the naming convention, moving from 1080 to 2080. With the addition of some cores which handle AI type image quality settings, and others which enable a form of real-time ray tracing, it's clear why nVidia have made that bold step. That is without mentioning the move across to GDDR6 and the implementation of GPU Boost 4.0 and its OC Scanner technology.
Let's get all the items which we can deal with easily out of the way first.
Both the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080Ti are priced similarly to the current major models in the nVidia range, the GTX 1080Ti and GTX Titan respectively. This gradual price creep shows no signs of abating and although we can understand the enormous costs involved in development and production and even shipping, alongside natural inflation of world markets, it does seem to be a bit much to ask people to shell out that amount of money on just a GPU, no matter how much has been built into it. Sure nVidia will tell you that the extra technology costs money, and indeed it does, but that's their prerogative. We are the ones buying them. Even with the RTX 2080 hitting the price point of the beloved GTX 1080Ti it seems an awful lot of cash to spend. Performance in current titles - i.e ones which don't take advantage of the RT or DLSS tech on the RTX cards - also don't really show a massive kick on in performance. The RTX 2080 in particular is almost a frame for frame match with the GTX 1080Ti in all resolutions but doesn't have quite enough horsepower to make the most of the RT side of things as we saw on the previous page. Sure the old adage about skipping a card holds true, and we're sure that nVidia will say the RTX 2080 is designed to replace the GTX 1080, because nobody would go from a GTX 1080 to a 1080Ti. Fine, but the RTX 2080 still only has 1080Ti performance in current titles, even if there are some extra bells and whistles under the hood. We can't review theoretical future titles, only what is available today. The RTX 2080Ti is, as you would expect from such a hefty investment, a bit more promising in current titles with the 4K performance in particular showing a healthy boost over its predecessor. Obviously if you can spend this much on a card you've got a 4K screen, and if so then the RTX 2080Ti has enough to pique your interest, finally bringing 60FPS gameplay to the single card solutions, something we've been crying out to have for a long time.
The overclocking abilities, either manually or with the OC Scanner technology, also show good rewards for your efforts, and neither come at a major efficiency cost with both Turing cards drawing similar wattage to their Pascal contemporaries. Considering that there are RT Cores slaving away at making your images more realistic, and the Tensor Cores beefing up image quality wherever they can, this is a seriously impressive feat. nVidia deserve a lot of credit for the excellence of their cooler too. This has, for years, been a big weak spot in their own cards, but the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080Ti look the part, cool well, aren't too loud, and are built like a tank. Very nice indeed.
Somewhat stickier to untangle is the new technologies that form the large part of why anyone would become an early adopter. DLSS shows the most immediate promise, providing all the image quality you'd expect from some serious anti-aliasing, without incurring the kind of performance hit that plagued AA in any form for most of its early years. Only recently have cards been powerful enough to handle AA without seriously hampering performance, and the ability to utilise DLSS and gain frames has to be something with which we all can get on board. Similarly the real-time (kinda) ray tracing that gives the RTX it's name looks freaking amazing in the Star Wars benchmark, as realistic as anything we've seen on our screens. It does come at somewhat of a performance hit though, and one which cannot be fixed by overclocking. Maybe the tech demo has limitations, or maybe overclocking doesn't affect the RT cores. As yet we don't know. The results are jaw-dropping though.
Therein lies the rub. The two major headline features require game designers to fully utilise them before we'll see any benefit. The list of supported titles is, despite nVidia's claims, somewhat thin. Maybe in the future this will change. We have got the lesson of PhysX from which to draw comparisons though. PhysX looked amazing in the handful of titles that fully supported it, and was left doing nothing in every other game. Developers and publishers are financially incentivised to supply games with are supported by the largest number of potential owners, and just as PhysX required an addon card and then a dedicated nVidia one, so it didn't gain traction as AMD owners couldn't use it. Will RT and DLSS go the same way? Neither major console (PS4/XBOX One) have nVidia hardware on board, and even if they did it would be older tech, and consoles are the major market for all games, excluding some Indie/Steam stuff which wouldn't really do ray tracing anyway. Yes, it's fabulous, and yes if the market goes that way then our gaming fidelity will go through the roof, but it might go the same way as PhysX (replaced by Havok and the like and even if used was farmed off to the CPU because everyone had one).
All of which means that today, with the current crop of games and those on the immediate horizon, the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080Ti are pretty much the same as current flagship nVidia cards, although with some image quality improvements. The RTX 2080Ti in particular is a fantastic card at 4K, and if you're the type of user who absolutely demands the very highest equipment to bring them the very highest image quality, there is no doubt at all it's a route you should investigate. Equally if you're running a Maxwell or earlier card and have been sitting tight awaiting the new cards to splash out on, you should run to your local emporium and procure one immediately.
Unquestionably the titles we've seen which do support them, Final Fantasy XV and the Star Wars demo, are so jaw-dropping that they have to win our Innovation Award. But if you're anything other than a cashflow rich early adopter you're better off waiting a bit to see which way the market moves. The GTX 1080Ti still fights blow for blow with the RTX 2080, and the release of these cards will only make it more attainable. It's not that we're being negative, but rather we're being cautious. Real-time Ray Tracing looks spectacular, and the image quality benefits of the Tensor Cores are undeniable. Both, however, require implementation and although there are a few forthcoming titles that support them, we expect that the launch of the new DirectX will open the floodgates and we can spend our gaming futures picking our jaws up off the floor.
The nVidia RTX 2080 Founders Edition is expected to retail for £749 whilst the RTX 2080Ti has an MSRP of £1099.