Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 benchmarks: better than the GTX 1080 Ti?
Strong 4K performance and new tech is an exciting mix.
While the RTX 2080 Ti is undoubtedly the fastest consumer graphics card on the market, the RTX 2080 offers the same new technology at a more palatable price point - as well as performance in the same region as the outgoing GPU champ, the GTX 1080 Ti. While Nvidia have focused on the possibilities of real-time ray tracing (the titular RTX) and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) when marketing its new cards, the list of games that have actually delivered support for either technology remains limited to a handful of big games - think Metro Exodus, Battlefield 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. That's why we've tested nine traditional rasterised PC games from the past few years to show you exactly the level of in-game performance you should expect from the RTX 2080 compared to its closest rivals.
While the focus of this article is on real performance numbers rather than the story of the card and how the tech actually works - see our GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review for that - we will also briefly examine DLSS performance as well. That's because this new technique can allow for potentially massive performance gains on top of what the RTX series cards already provide, and DLSS support has already been confirmed for 28 titles. While the value of real-time ray tracing may be debatable, significantly higher frame-rates from DLSS could make RTX cards an essential upgrade for high-end PCs, compared to both past-gen GTX cards and AMD's best alternatives.
Which GPUs are worth buying? We've made our picks for the best graphics cards available, updated with the latest graphics cards as they're released. As well as an overall performance champ, we name the best value graphics card and best cheap graphics card to guide your next upgrade.
In this article, we've tested the RTX 2080 against the RTX 2080 Ti and the two graphics cards they replace, the GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti. We've also added AMD's new top graphics card, the Radeon 7, which is aimed at dethroning the RTX 2080 at the $700 price point. We've performed the bulk of our testing at 4K, as the higher resolution better showcases the differences between these GPUs. Before you take a look at the results, it's worth mentioning that the RTX cards are Founders Editions models which come factory-overclocked by Nvidia, while the previous generation of reference designs came at stock clocks. It's not exactly a fair fight, but it does reflect out-of-the-box performance.
|RTX 2080 Ti||RTX 2080||GTX 1080 Ti||GTX 1080||Radeon 7|
|RTX-OPS||78T (76T)||60T (57T)||12T||8T||?|
|VRAM||11GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR5X||8GB GDDR5X||16GB HBM2|
|TDP||260W (250W)||225W (215W)||250W||180W||300W|
The table above includes the Founders Edition figures, with the reference equivalents in parentheses.
Our testing results are shown using a unique Digital Foundry benchmarking system - as long as you're viewing the desktop version of this page, anyway. A YouTube video will show you the scene that we tested each card on, with live frame-rate and frame time data embedded below.
The advantage of this added complexity is that you can use the controls to the right of the video to add or remove different cards and resolutions, letting you compare between just the cards you're interested in - perhaps you're trying to decide whether it's worth upgrading your GTX 1080 for an RTX 2080, or maybe it's a toss-up between the GTX 1080 Ti and the RTX 2080. With these controls, you decide what information to see.
Below the real-time telemetry, you can find quick summaries for the entire run, including the handy lowest one per cent and lowest five per cent figures which give you an idea of each card's worst-case performance and overall stability. It's worth remembering that to see these different figures, you need to mouse over the image. You can also click the chart to toggle between absolute figures and percentages.
Without further ado, let's get into the results!
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
The most recent game to be added to our benchmark suite is a pretty one: Assassin's Creed Odyssey, released in late 2018. The game provides a stern test even for modern high-end hardware, thanks to epic vistas and detailed materials. The RTX 2080 outperforms the GTX 1080 Ti at 1440p with a 2fps lead, which doubles to a 4fps gap at 4K. However, the RTX 2080 is in turn outdone by the RTX 2080 Ti, with the latter scoring 22 higher than the second-place RTX card at 4K. The Radeon 7 is much more competitive than its predecessor, the Vega 64, with a result that sits between the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 at 4K.
AC Odyssey: Ultra High, TAA
Assassin's Creed Unity
Our second game is the now classic title Assassin's Creed Unity, which was released in 2014 but remains a challenge even for modern GPUs at 4K and the ultra high preset that we're using. The RTX 2080 offers near-identical performance to the GTX 1080 Ti at around 45fps, while the RTX 2080 Ti becomes the first card to squeak over the 60fps waterline. AMD's highest-performing card, the Radeon 7, only manages 40 frames per second at 4K by comparison. AMD hardware in general struggles with the game's depth of field effect, explaining the wider variance in its run.
AC Unity: Ultra High, FXAA
Our second test is Battlefield 1, which came out in 2016. There's no dedicated benchmark here, so we're using part of the War Stories mode which sets the player in a British tank racing across French no man's land as explosions tear the place asunder. While there are a few frame-time spikes thanks to these variable explosive interruptions, the performance is nonetheless representative. The standout performer here is the Radeon 7, which eclipses the RTX 2080 by a solid eight per cent at 4K. In turn, the RTX 2080 Ti is able to turn in an average of 103fps at 4K, a result 15 per cent faster than the Radeon 7. Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 makes do with 78fps, seven per cent better than last year's GTX 1080 Ti. In last place, the GTX 1080 still at least manages to eclipse the 60fps mark.
Battlefield 1: Ultra, TAA
More than 12 years after the series debuted and six years since its latest iteration, running Crysis remains the shorthand for having an awesome gaming PC - and running it at 4K remains a legitimately challenging test. Even the RTX 2080 isn't able to hit 60fps here, with only the RTX 2080 Ti surpassing the figure at 68fps. The RTX 2080 is poor by comparison, at just 53fps, about 23 per cent slower than the new fastest card on the market. The RTX 2080 also comes behind the GTX 1080 Ti, which just outperforms it at 54fps. This may indicate that newer games may perform better on the new cards, and older games may prove relatively more challenging - though few other 2013-era titles are as tough on hardware as Crysis!
Crysis 3: very high, SMAA T2X
Far Cry 5
2018 release Far Cry 5 replaces 2016's Far Cry Primal in our benchmarks, with the beautiful Hope County providing a pleasant backdrop to some seriously challenging graphical effects - particularly at 4K. The RTX 2080 Ti is at the top of the pile once again, with an average result of 75fps at 4K, 25 per cent faster than the the RTX 2080 and Radeon 7 at 60fps. However, that's still enough to moderately outpace the GTX 1080 Ti, which manages only 56fps in the same test.
Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ghost Recon Wildlands remains the most challenging benchmark we have, thanks to its shattering ultra detail preset and a tough but fair integrated benchmark. Even the RTX 2080 Ti isn't capable of pushing 60fps at 4K here, turning in just 47fps on average, while the RTX 2080 manages 38, effectively tied with the GTX 1080 Ti and Radeon 7. That's still in range of a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor and there are still nice-looking presets at high and very high, so achieving a playable result at 4K should still be eminently possible even on the second-place RTX card.
Ghost Recon Wildlands: Ultra, TAA
Rise of the Tomb Raider
2016 release Rise of The Tomb Raider is a good test of relative performance between GPUs, although the title's actual gameplay is significantly more demanding. Here, the GTX 1080 Ti outpaces the RTX 2080 for the second time so far out of six tests, although the margin is just two per cent and both cards are able to reach 60fps. Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 Ti is a good 23 per cent ahead with an average score of 80fps; even its lowest one per cent score is still over 60fps.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Very High, SMAA
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Next up we have another new benchmark, 2018 release Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is a better indicator of in-game performance. Here, only the RTX 2080 Ti manages to turn in an average result about 60fps at 4K, at least with the challenging settings that we've selected on this occasion. The RTX 2080 Ti's score is 23 per cent ahead of the RTX 2080 and Radeon 7, which manage a comparatively meagre 46fps. It is worth keeping in mind that the RTX 2080's results could be further improved with DLSS, which we'll look at in more detail later on in this piece and is promised for Shadow of the Tomb Raider in the near future.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider DX12: Highest, TAA
The Witcher 3
We couldn't test a graphics card without having a good old run through Novigrad on the back of our favourite gaming steed. We're talking of course about The Witcher 3, which was released in 2015 and remains a challenging test at 4K. The RTX 2080 Ti unsurprisingly takes home the top prize with an average frame-rate of 77fps, compared to 60fps for the RTX 2080 and nearly the same for the Radeon 7. The GTX 1080 Ti performs better than expected here, with an average of 64fps. However, the GTX 1080 still manages a tolerable score of around 45fps, allowing the last-place card to reach 60fps through a little settings tweakery.
The Witcher 3: Ultra, POST-AA, No Hairworks
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Our third and final new game is Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which was originally released in October 2017. We tested a level from the campaign that sees BJ astride the Panzerhund in New Orleans using the uber preset, giving the game a good opportunity to test our graphics hardware. Here the RTX 2080 Ti holds a 26 per cent lead over the RTX 2080, which in turn is 14 per cent ahead of the GTX 1080 Ti. Note that we're currently missing 1440p results for the RTX 2080 Ti.
Wolfenstein 2 Vulkan: Uber, TSSAA 8x
Final Fantasy 15: TAA vs DLSS
We'll finish our RTX 2080 benchmarks with a demonstration of the new DLSS tech in a special demo of Final Fantasy 15. You can see our full RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review for a more in-depth discussion of DLSS, but essentially it works like this: a lower-resolution image is rendered, then upscaled by an efficient deep learning algorithm which has been trained on tonnes of high-res images of game graphics. This allows the RTX hardware to deliver a final image that looks about the same or better at a fraction of the usual performance cost, ultimately allowing for higher frame-rates compared to more standard anti-aliasing methods. You can see from the benchmark below that enabling DLSS delivers dramatically higher performance. The RTX 2080 result is nearly 40 per cent higher, and we see similar advantages for the RTX 2080 Ti. Combined with the significant gap in raw hardware performance between the two card generations, the Final Fantasy 15 demo shows an 80 per cent leap between the GTX 1080 and RTX 2080 with DLSS enabled - impressive stuff!
Final Fantasy 15 demo: TAA vs DLSS
With that, our benchmark archive for the RTX 2080 comes to an end.
For more on the RTX 2080 and its bigger brother, check out our full GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review which goes into more detail about the new tech and the cards' performance.
Now that you've seen the benchmarks for one card, why not check out see which PC hardware we recommend to our friends and family? Here are the DF picks for the overall best graphics cards and for the best gaming monitors on the market.