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DF Direct Weekly takes on Nvidia's RTX 4080 12GB 'unlaunching' U-turn

Plus: reaction to the RTX 4090 debut and Miles Morales' PC upgrades.

I've been covering PC graphics hardware in earnest for around eight years now and I'm not sure I've seen a U-turn quite as profound as the RTX 4080 12GB 'unlaunching' situation. Logistically, the implications are profound: those cards have been manufactured, the packaging is likely waiting. The GPUs themselves may even have RTX 4080 branding that'll need to be addressed. Ultimately though, it was the right decision to make - as we discuss in this week's DF Direct.

The RTX 4080 12GB's pricing only really makes sense if you can ignore the existence of the RTX 3080 and the wealth of availability for the Ampere line-up both in terms of brand-new stock and second-hand bargains. Launching at $699 in 2020, it was based on the same GA102 processor as the much more expensive RTX 3090 - which was only about 15 percent faster. At the most extreme end, a $2000 RTX 3090 Ti arrived much later - and yet it's still only about 25 percent faster than the standard 3080. An $899 4080 12GB makes some kind of sense compared to those much more expensive GA102 offerings, but the $699 RTX 3080 follows it like a mocking shadow.

The new DF Direct Weekly, perpetrated by Rich Leadbetter, John Linneman and Alex Battaglia - a Direct of two halves, as the Nvidia 'unlaunching' news dropped after our first filming session, requiring us to scramble later on.
  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:00:24 News 01: Nvidia 'unlaunches' RTX 4080 12GB
  • 00:21:21 News 02: RTX 4090 launched: our coverage + supporter questions
  • 01:10:30 News 03: Spider-Man: Miles Morales gets big PC boosts
  • 01:06:58 News 04: Two unique unreleased NES games listed for sale
  • 01:10:32 DF Supporter Q1: Was it a good idea for CD Projekt Red to announce so many new games at once?
  • 01:13:59 DF Supporter Q2: Why can’t I disable TAA and upscaling on console games?
  • 01:17:16 DF Supporter Q3: Is an Nvidia/AMD/Intel GPU market sustainable?
  • 01:23:57 DF Supporter Q4: Modern GPUs are 200x as powerful as the best GPU in 2007, so do modern games look 200x better than Crysis?
  • 01:26:04 DF Supporter Q5: Could future LG OLED TVs offer 4K/240Hz to suit high-end GPUs?
  • 01:29:05 DF Supporter Q6: John: give us a eulogy for Google Stadia!

Not helping matters are Nvidia's latest round of benchmarks. Three titles are chosen: Flight Simulator, A Plague Tale: Requiem and F1 22. Each game offers up varying performance differentials but the bottom line is that a notional 29 percent increase in cost against the RTX 3080 delivered a minimum 11 percent of extra performance at native 4K resolution (A Plague Tale: Requiem) and a maximum 24 percent in F1 22. DLSS 3 is used to beef up the numbers in favour of the new Ada Lovelace card - but while we're excited by the technology, it's not the finished article and its use in benchmarks isn't a great move, not least because only a few DLSS 3 titles are available. Whichever way you look at the RTX 3080 12GB, the spectre of the RTX 3080 looms too large.

There's clear water between RTX 4080 16GB and the existing Ampere line-up, but even so, there remain some strange figures in the Nvidia numbers. Quite how RTX 4090 can deliver nigh-on twice the performance of the 4080 16GB in A Plague Tale: Requiem continues to baffle the DF team - the specs don't back that up. Meanwhile, Nvidia's F1 figures suggest that the RTX 4090 is 38 percent faster than the RTX 4080 16GB - and yet the card is 33 percent more expensive. Flight Simulator scores show only a small advantage for the RTX 4090, but we can safely assume that the game is CPU-limited at that point, making the benchmarks of little value. Regardless, cancelling the RTX 4080 12GB at least means that the higher-end model won't have its thunder stolen by the lower-end card that Nvidia itself now admits should not have received the 4080 moniker.

Ultimately, we have the right move from Nvidia here and we should expect the RTX 4080 12GB to return with the 4070 or 4070 Ti branding it should have had from the beginning. The question is whether it'll slot into Nvidia's existing plans with a new name, or whether the entire stack of upcoming GPUs will be renamed/rebranded to take into account an audience that has clearly has expectations in terms of price vs performance.

It's a drama that stands in stark contrast to the success of the RTX 4090 - which sold out in hours despite its mammoth price-tag. Halo products always have some degree of protection against price vs performance scrutiny and stand alone - and we spend some time going over reaction to the product while answering a boat-load of questions about the new GPU flagship from backers of the DF Supporter Program. Miles Morales' PC trailer? Nixxes is adding even more RT features to the game - and we talk about how far that can go, along with Sony's refreshing attitude to its PC ports, where there's no attempt to limit features to match PlayStation 5.

And yes, we end with more DF Supporter questions - and it's a great time to join us! Over the last week alone, we've delivered early access to new content, 4K 120fps gameplay of DLSS 3 in action, along with a comparison of DLSS 3 AI generated frames to standard rendered frames. Oh, and how about a peak into our work in adding 8K benchmarking to our video capture-based performance analysis tools? The DF Supporter Program is where it's at if you love what we do... and we'll be posting our brand-new Final Fantasy 13 DF Retro episode later this week. It's amazing stuff. Join us!

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

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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