Nvidia RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review
Published: 16th September 2020 | Source: Nvidia | Price: |
It's RTX 2080 Ti smashing performance at the price of an RTX 2080 Super. Is there anything more to say than that?
What? Do you want more than that? Why are you still sitting there and not on the phone to your local hardware emporium? Go. Go now.
Realistically that's all you need to know about the latest addition to the RTX range. However, we understand that some of you skip straight to this page and want a summation of all that has come before, so here are the highlights.
Nvidia's redesigned Founders Edition cooler is, if anything, more impressive than Ampere's performance. In the past, most main brand graphics cards ship with a cooler that isn't worthy of their first-party branding. These coolers will least keep the GPU cool, but it will either look meh or will be is louder than an AC/DC concert. Nvidia started to change that with its RTX (Turing) Founders Edition models, but with Ampere, Nvidia's own-brand cooling is game-changing.
Nvidia has not only brought a gorgeous looking GPU heatsink to the market, but they have also changed the way that many people will think of GPU cooling. We're big fans of the subtler lit logo, and we love all of the unique aspects of its design. Nvidia's RTX 3080 Founders Edition heatsink splits its airflow so that as much heat goes out the out of the back of the GPU (and therefore your case) as it does out of the top (and around your CPU/VRM heatsinks). With this cooler, Nvidia exhausts more heat out of your system than many competing designs, which is great news given Ampere's increases to TDP and total power consumption.
With Nvidia's new heatsink design, all of the heat from Founders Edition RTX 3080 GPUs will not be pumped into your case. Those of you with air coolers on your CPU should see a noticeable difference in thermals. Also, by having such a free-flowing fan in the middle of the case, Nvidia has enabled more free-flowing in-case airflow. Your GPU will no longer form a middle-of-the-case divider that blocks/strangles the airflow between the top and bottom of your case.
The performance of Nvidia's RTX 3080 is unquestionably impressive. Even making allowances for the fact that a few of our games get a bit grumpy about both ray tracing and DLSS in various combinations, preferring an everything on or everything off approach (it is true for pre-DLSS 2.0 titles). Another factor that's worth considering is that Nvidia's current pre-release drivers are missing some elements that allow us to overclock things properly. Regardless, the amount of performance available from the card in a simple plug-and-go form is so great that anyone who has recently purchased any of the RTX 2xxx cards will be left green with envy.
We all knew that the RTX 2080 set were supremely good, but they were always stupidly expensive. Here you have a card which is, right now, the fastest card on the planet and yet is so affordable that you could grab a 2TB M.2 NVMe drive and still save on the price of an RTX 2080 Ti. Or, if you're running an X570 system like we are, it is enough of a saving that if you'd budgeted for a Ryzen 3 3300X and RTX 2080 Ti setup you could upgrade that CPU to a Ryzen 9 3950X without needing to spend any extra money. That's bananas.
DLSS is massively impressive too. Just cast your eye across our DLSS off and DLSS on results, it's clear that you can gain massive FPS boosts yet without compromising image quality. If like us, you're old enough to remember the early days of 3D games, you'll know that lowering your game resolution is the easiest way to improve FPS, but turning everything blurry in the process. DLSS 2.0 gives you higher frame rates and higher image quality. It's witchcraft.
Thus, as we said at the start, the RTX 3080 FE is RTX 2080 Ti besting performance for the price of an RTX 2080 Super, and why you haven't already left to buy one, we don't know. You owe it to yourself. If the graphics card is outside of your price range, we know for a fact that cheaper Ampere cards are on the horizon.