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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti review: the Digital Foundry verdict

It's fast, it's powerful, but the FE card is very noisy.

There are few surprises really with the RTX 3080 Ti - it treads the path of prior 'Ti' releases, this time nipping at the heels of an xx90 spec that would have been called a Titan in the last generation. The 3080 Ti loses a few shaders and has only half the RAM, but still boasts broadly equivalent gaming performance overall. And when we say equivalent, we really mean it - the 3090 is between one to three percent faster in our tests than the 3080 Ti, which is not something you're going to notice without pulling the frame-time graphs out. There does appear to be a bit more of a 3090 advantage in ray tracing applications, however.

It all comes back to the fact that the 3080 is using the exact same chip as the absolute top-end offering, something we've not seen since the GTX 780, 780 Ti and the original Titan back in 2013. That means that the gap between the RTX 3080 and its much dearer siblings is much smaller than it was between the 2080 and 2080 Ti - the circa 25 to 35 percentage point difference is more like nine to 13 percent here. It can even be lower on games with traditionally poor scalability, like Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Meanwhile, the gap in memory allocation has also narrowed - the 3GB increase seen between 10-series and 20-series xx80 cards and their Ti counterparts is now 2GB instead. It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that you're getting the lion's share of the experience with a standard 3080. For content creators working with 4K footage, video memory remains king and the RTX 3090 will remain a mainstay alongside the Titan RTX, but for straight-up gaming the RTX 3080 or RTX 3080 Ti are going to be the better choices.

Ultimately, what you're left with is a halo product that has more in common with the extreme offerings of old - a relatively small amount of extra performance for a whole lot more money. If this were a sane world where GPUs could be bought at their nominal retail price, it would be fair to say that AMD would still be in the game with the RX 6900XT - the 3080 Ti is on par or faster, but really it's the ray tracing support and DLSS that go some way towards justifying the extra expense. Of course, that logic also makes the original 3080 much better value.

Let's wrap up by saying this: the RTX 3070 Ti is due in just a week's time, and the specs suggest that it could be much more striking. There's a fair amount of space between the power envelopes of the RTX 3070 and 3080, and a Ti-class tweener card could do some real damage. In the here and now, the RTX 3080 Ti is indeed a gaming flagship and its performance is excellent, but the RTX 3080 does seem to be the sweet spot when looking at all three of the GA102-based video cards.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti analysis

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry  |  digitalfoundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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