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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 review: what is the typical performance boost?

Gears 5, Far Cry 5, Hitman 2

So, we've seen the positive outliers highlighted by Nvidia - but what does a typical game run like on the RTX 3080? To answer this admittedly very broad question, we've enlisted the help of three more games: Gears 5, Far Cry 5 and Hitman 2. Far Cry is the only DX11 title in this section and the only one returning from our previous GPU test suite, with Hitman 2 and Gears 5 being new additions running on the more modern DX12 API. That means they should be better equipped to utilise modern multi-core processors, although of course this will change from engine to engine and game to game.

We've updated our test bench for the RTX 30-series launch, swapping our Core i7 8700K for the newer Core i9 10900K on an Asus Maximus 12 Extreme Z490 motherboard. The CPU is locked to an all-core turbo of 5GHz and cooled by a Corsair H110i 280mm AiO. This is paired with two 8GB sticks of G.Skill Trident Z Royal DDR4 RAM running at 3600MHz CL16. Our expanded test suite now exceeds 1TB in size, so we've opted for a 2TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus NVMe SSD for game storage. To ensure we have more than enough power for these high-grade components, we're running a 1000W Corsair RM1000i PSU.

Gears 5

Like the more recent release Gears Tactics, Gears 5 includes a lovely integrated benchmark that proves an accurate indicator of in-game performance. This game is also fascinating because I've seen a two week port running on Xbox Series X, Microsoft's next-gen console built on AMD's new RDNA 2 architecture. While it's quite likely that developer The Coalition has been able to squeeze more performance out of the console since I saw the port back in March, at that time it delivered performance more-or-less in line with the RTX 2080. With the RTX 3080, you're getting around a solid 30 per cent boost over the 2080 at 1080p, rising to nearly 50 per cent at 1440p and 65 per cent at 4K. It'll be fascinating to see if we see a similar differential once the Series X is released.

If you're on the GTX 1080, you're more likely to be eyeing an upgrade to the RTX 3080 - and here, frame-rates more than double at 4K, with a 115 per cent boost that sees the game move from 38fps to 81fps. And for the early adopters running an RTX 2080 Ti and planning on upgrading to the 3080, you'd still get a 28 per cent frame-rate advantage by opting for the new card. At 1080p and 1440p, the differential is smaller - seven per cent at 1080p and 21 per cent at 1440p.

Note: Gears 5 seems to have a driver issue with v-sync on certain resolutions that made getting accurate benchmarks on 10 series cards more difficult - we're looking into this and have logged the issue with Nvidia.

Gears 5, Ultra, DX12, TAA

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is our next stop, and it's a curious game. Despite being released relatively recently, it's often limited by the amount of performance you can squeeze out of a single processor thread. You can see that CPU bottlenecking in the 1080p tests, where the RTX 3080 leads the RTX 2080 by just 10 per cent, recording a score that's near-identical to the RTX 2080 Ti. Things look more normal at 1440p, where the RTX 3080 runs out to a 38 per cent lead, and at 4K we're back to a convincing advantage for the new hardware, with 60 per cent separating the RTX 3080 from its last-gen counterpart.

After effectively tying the RTX 3080 at 1080p, the RTX 2080 Ti settles back into second position in our higher resolution Far Cry benchmark runs. At 1440p, the 3080 holds a 10 per cent lead, growing to nearly 25 per cent at 4K. Meanwhile, the 3080 outperforms the GTX 1080 by 40 per cent at 1080p, 83 per cent at 1440p and 119 per cent at 4K. If you've got a high resolution screen, then an RTX 30-series card seems like a sensible upgrade.

Far Cry 5: Ultra, DX11, TAA

Hitman 2

Hitman 2, running on the Glacier engine, is another game that doesn't show a massive performance delta between the GTX 3080 and its last-gen alternatives. The 3080 is again effectively tied with the 2080 Ti at 1080p, running only five per cent faster than the RTX 2080. 1440p advances the 3080's lead over the 2080 to just under 40 per cent, and 4K again looks more respectable with the 3080's advantage holding at nearly 65 per cent.

If you've got an RTX 2080 Ti already, then upgrading only really makes sense at 4K, where you can expect a performance boost in the region of 23 per cent - solid, but nothing to write home about. GTX 1080 owners will see a much more meaningful improvement from an upgrade, with the 3080 holding a 26 per cent lead at 1080p, 84 per cent at 1440p and finally 117 per cent at 2160p.

Hitman 2: Ultra, DX12, TAA

Let's look at three more games in the next section, including two Digital Foundry favourites - although perhaps not the ones you'd expect!

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Analysis