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

Metro Exodus, Dirt Rally 2, Assassin's Creed Unity

The RTX 3080 looks jolly impressive thus far, but let's keep those tests coming. We have three more games here, starting with Assassin's Creed Unity. This is the oldest title we've benchmarked the 3080 against so far, with the game first hitting shelves in 2014. It's joined by a more recent addition to the Digital Foundry test suite, in the form of Metro Exodus, while driving games are represented for the first time in a long time with Dirt Rally 2.0.

To capture our performance data, we use the FCAT tool baked into the Rivatuner Statistics Server (RTSS). This produces a coloured border on the side of the screen, with each new element's height corresponding to the time taken to generate a single frame. We capture a direct feed of what the video card produces - the game footage with the FCAT border - and then load the resulting video file into our own bespoke analysis tools to generate metadata for each run. It's this metadata that we upload to the Eurogamer website, which can then be included in any combination to create the embedded performance metrics you see below.

Metro Exodus

Our Metro Exodus test uses the integrated benchmark, which was bugged on launch but now works reliably. Let's start with the 4K results, as these see our most impressive differentials - the RTX 3080 leads the 2080 Ti by 24 per cent, the 2080 by 61 per cent and the 1080 by 131 per cent. It's also worth noting that the 3080 is the first card we've tested to exceed a 60fps average at 4K in this benchmark, with a score of just a tad under 70fps.

At 1440p, we see a similar lead for the 3080 over its predecessors. It holds a 21 per cent advantage over the RTX 2080 Ti, 54 per cent over its nominal predecessor, the 2080, and 112 per cent over the GTX 1080. The 3080's average frame-rate here is around 106fps, which means we're able to take good (if not complete) advantage of the increased fluidity of a 1440p 144Hz monitor. Dropping the resolution down to 1080p doesn't improve performance by a significant degree, with an average of only around 130fps on the RTX 3080. That's still good for a lead of 15 per cent over the RTX 2080 Ti, 47 per cent over the RTX 2080 and 104 per cent over the GTX 1080.

Metro Exodus: Ultra, DX12, TAA

Dirt Rally 2.0

Racing games aren't the most popular in terms of overall player counts, but this genre has undoubtedly spurred the development of many PC technologies, particularly multi-display setups, ultra-wide monitors and high refresh rate displays. Dirt Rally 2.0 is our game of choice here, as it's a relatively recent DX12 release with an integrated benchmark that comprises an entire stage of the game. The game runs well on a wide range of hardware, but for hitting high refresh rates at maximum settings you'll definitely want a high-end graphics card.

Starting at 1080p, even the relatively ancient GTX 1080 is able to deliver a smooth experience with an 83fps average, with the RTX 2080, 2080 Ti and 3080 all in the triple figures. The RTX 3080 manages 170fps in our chosen stage, good enough for a narrow 15 per cent lead over the RTX 2080 Ti and a 60 per cent advantage over the RTX 2080. Looking back at the GTX 1080, frame-rates more than double by swapping to the RTX 3080.

We'd expect to see higher percentage differences at higher resolutions, and a cursory examination of our 1440p results proves this to be the case - but perhaps not to the extent you'd expect. The RTX 3080 leads the 2080 Ti by only 17 per cent and the 2080 by 'only' 61 per cent. Once again, we're moving from a circa 60fps result for the GTX 1080 to something closer to 130fps on the 3080, enough to take advantage of a high refresh rate display without sacrificing graphical fidelity.

Let's close out with 4K. The GTX 1080 and RTX 2080 are both below the 60fps average line here, with the RTX 2080 Ti managing 64fps and the RTX 3080 hitting 79fps. In terms of percentage advantage, the RTX 3080 leads the 1080 by 118 per cent, the 2080 by 66 per cent and the 2080 Ti by 24 per cent. Again, the higher resolution is translating into a better opportunity for the 3080 to show its strength, but we're not seeing the tremendous gains we spotted in some other games at 4K.

Dirt Rally 2.0: DX12, Ultra, TAA+8x MSAA

Assassin's Creed Unity

Our Assassins Creed Unity scene takes place early in the game, as Assassin-in-training Arno considers his options in one of his first true tests. It's fitting then that this game has the distinction of being one of the hardest to set up for a benchmark run, requiring a surfeit of loads and settings tweaks each time. Despite this, Unity's continuing mission to confound even high-grade graphics hardware at our chosen ultra high settings make it a worthwhile investment of time and space.

We see better scaling here for the RTX 3080 than we did in Dirt Rally 2.0, with the new Nvidia flagship holding a 14 per cent lead over the 2080 Ti at 1080p, growing to 23 per cent at 1440p and 30 per cent at 4K. If we consider instead the RTX 2080, the figures are 30 per cent, 52 per cent and 66 per cent at 1080p, 1440p and 4K, respectively. That's a solid increase, but again the 3080 doesn't sparkle as much as it did in titles like Doom Eternal or Control. Still, if you bought a GTX 1080 to play Unity at 4K back in 2016, trading up for an RTX 3080 will at least move you from 41fps to 96fps, an easily appreciable improvement of 133 per cent.

AC Unity: Ultra High, DX11, FXAA

While the RTX 3080 is an impressive piece of kit, there are some games that simply don't seem to play as well with Nvidia's new flagship. Let's take a look at three games that buck the trend with lower-than-expected performance, including some recent DF favourites.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Analysis