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GeForce RTX 2080/ RTX 2080 Ti: Performance Analysis

The battle of the 4K juggernauts.

We've covered some examples of how the Turing architecture aims to improve quality and performance through new and enhanced features, but the fact is that in many ways, that's all about the future of gaming technology, so what about the present - and the past? There's been a lot of concern about the lack of performance numbers in the run-up to launch. Has Nvidia spent too much of its time on new features that may or may not be utilised? Has it come at the expensive of standard rasterised 3D performance? To answer this question, we've put together a revised suite of nine benchmark titles - a mixture of old favourites and newcomers based on the most modern rendering techniques.

Owing to time pressures, we've limited our results to 4K performance only - we did carry out some testing on lower resolutions, but really none of these cards should be considered for anything other than 1440p gaming or at higher resolutions. In fact, with RTX 2080 Ti at 1440p, we noted some CPU bottlenecking - on a Core i7 8700K, the fastest gaming CPU on the market today. We'll be getting more numbers together in the fullness of time, but in the meantime, it's pretty clear that ultra HD resolution is the best way to separate all of these cards in terms of their capabilities.

We'll kick off with one of Digital Foundry's absolute favourites - Assassin's Creed Unity. It's a title that vacuums up both compute and VRAM - not to mention memory bandwidth when its depth of field effect kicks in during cutscenes (hence Vega 64's dire low-end figures - DOF lops off a huge chunk of performance there). The results overall are clear-cut. RTX 2080 does a remarkable job of mimicking the throughput of the outgoing GTX 1080 Ti. It's very slightly slower overall on the average, but improves on its lowest one per cent figures.

Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 Ti immediately presents its credentials - delivering a solid 30 per cent chunk of extra performance over both GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080. Playing this beautiful game on top-tier RTX hardware on a 4K display is quite the experience.

AC Unity: Ultra High, FXAA

Next up, it's time to take a look at Battlefield 1 on DX12, running a small section of campaign gameplay at ultra settings - there is no canned benchmark on this title, meaning that there can be some variance on a per-run basis. However, the trend is clear enough. Turing seems to get the most performance out of the most modern rendering architectures and this can be seen here as the RTX 2080 enjoys a solid 10 per lead in frame-rate over the GTX 1080 Ti. Gen-vs-gen (assuming you consider the RTX 2080 a successor to GTX 1080 at the price being charged for it), Turing delivers a solid 32 per cent improvement.

Once again, the RTX 2080 Ti delivers suitably monstrous results. There's a clear 41 per cent boost in performance compared to the GTX 1080 Ti, and it's just over 28 per cent faster than the RTX 2080, further solidifying the Ti's 'GPU king' credentials. This benchmark is also notable in that it's one of a range of titles where AMD's Vega technology yields benefits, giving our air-cooled Vega 64 an edge over the GTX 1080. However, one glance at this barchart demonstrates just how far ahead Nvidia is now.

Battlefield 1: Ultra, TAA

Crysis 3 is always the first game I load up whenever a new graphics card arrives. Why? Well, first of all, we know of its various characteristics in stressing every part of a new GPU. Secondly, while the game may be over five years old now, as display resolutions have scaled over time, Crytek's shooter continues to provide a stern challenge to any kind of hardware that's thrown at it. The game is monstrously challenging to GPU hardware at 4K resolution and has a peculiar habit of revealing specific weaknesses.

Back in the day, it was Crysis 3 that showed that AMD's Vega could be significantly slower clock-for-clock than its Fiji predecessor (explaining the poor Vega 64 result here) and this case, it's showing that the existing GTX 1080 Ti can actually beat RTX 2080 by a noticeable margin in some tasks, with the Pascal chip delivering a 4.8 per cent advantage overall. This appears to be an architectural issue as the percentage differential with RTX 2080 eats into the performance bump delivered by RTX 2080 Ti, which posts a 25 per cent increase over its predecessor.

In actual gameplay though, the RTX 2080 Ti difference is clearly felt. Getting a locked 4K60 on this title has proved elusive in the past - the 2080 Ti stays the course for the vast majority of gameplay, with only occasional drops beneath - dropping the shading settings from very high to high is an easy win here in getting a big performance boost that should keep you over that threshold.

Crysis 3: Very High, SMAA T2X

A new game in our benchmark suite and a significant one. First of all, while I don't have the results rendered here, I did note that this game's reliance on single-thread CPU performance means that the RTX 2080 Ti can be CPU bottlenecked at 1440p resolution (!). Secondly, Far Cry 5 embraces rapid-packed math(s), giving Vega 64 an appreciable six per cent performance uplift over the GTX 1080. But the existence of GTX 1080 Ti and the arrival of Turing takes game performance here to a new level.

Once again, the RTX 2080 reveals that its general performance level is very similar indeed to the GTX 1080 Ti - and the lead it does command here may well vanish once cards running at reference clocks appear (remember that the Founder's Edition cards do get factory OCs this time around). On the flip side, it's worth pointing out that Turing features hardware-level HDR tone-mapping - something that Pascal does not possess - meaning that if you are playing this one on a high dynamic range display, the RTX 2080 will pull ahead.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual with the new RTX 2080 Ti. There's a 29.5 per cent performance increase over the RTX 2080 - the standard increase we should expect to see going from TU104 to TU102. That percentage differential increases to 33 per cent up against GTX 1080 Ti. In terms of actual gameplay performance, the numbers here do flatter to deceive. Sticking at 4K60 on GTX 1080 Ti does require some settings tweaks down from ultra, while RTX 2080 Ti gives you all of the candy at full ultra.

Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA

GeForce RTX 2080/ RTX 2080 Ti Analysis

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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.