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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 review: the lower-performing outliers

Death Stranding, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Assassin's Creed Odyssey

So: the outliers. These are the games that should be a natural fit for the RTX 3080, with plenty of demand for graphics horsepower, but for whatever reason the card isn't as performant as we'd expect right now. The list includes two mainstays of our GPU testing, as well as the recently-released-on-PC Death Stranding.

We'll get into those results soon, but it's also worth mentioning one game that we wanted to include but couldn't: Crysis 3. Long-time Digital Foundry readers and viewers will know that this is the game we install first on any PC to test its performance, but for some reason it seems borked on the RTX 3080. Even running at 1600x900, lower than 1080p, the game simply doesn't exceed 95 frames per second. By comparison, the RTX 2080 Ti manages an average of 138fps through our normal benchmark run - and that's at 1440p! This isn't just a Crysis 3 issue either, as other CryEngine games like Ryse Son of Rome are broken too. It's not clear whether it's a driver or Windows issue, but we've informed Nvidia and hopefully a fix is on the way.

With that obvious omission explained, let's move into our final trio of rasterised game tests.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Ghost Recon Wildlands remains a favourite for us because it provides an unapologetic thrashing to basically any graphics card on the market if the user is bold enough to enable its 'ultra' preset. The RTX 3080 is arguably the first GPU to actually survive at 4K, with an average frame-rate just marginally below 60fps, but this represents just a 20 per cent lead over the 2080 Ti and a 47 per cent advantage over the original 2080. That's a smaller margin than we've seen in other games, and things get even closer at lower resolutions.

At 1440p, the 3080 manages only a 12 per cent lead over the 2080 Ti, while the margin over the 2080 is just 36 per cent. The percentages get even tighter at Full HD, where the RTX 3080 outperforms the 2080 Ti by just 10 per cent and the RTX 2080 by 29 per cent. You still get a good uptick in performance from the GTX 1080, with a circa 90 per cent lead for the 3080 over its grandfather at 4K, but it's a rare title where we don't see at least a doubling of frame-rates.

Ghost Recon Wildlands: Ultra, DX11, TAA

Death Stranding

Death Stranding's implementation of DLSS is among the best we've seen, but it's also possible to run the game with standard TAA to provide an even fight for older graphics cards - and that's what we've done here. The RTX 3080 manages a terrific 186fps at 1080p, but that's only good for a 14 per cent lead over the 2080 Ti and a 35 per cent advantage over the 2080. The RTX 3080 is also able to max out a 1440p 144Hz monitor, with a solid 152fps - 21 per cent over the 2080 Ti and 47 per cent faster than the 2080.

Let's conclude with a look at 4K performance, as this is where we'd expect to see the best results for the 3080. The 96fps average for the 3080 is more than respectable, and the lead this new Nvidia hardware has over its predecessors increases too: 25 per cent over the 2080 Ti and 58 per cent over the RTX 2080. These leads are still more modest than we saw with the 'super-performers' earlier, but this is far from a terrible result.

Finally, the GTX 1080 is outperformed by a great margin, to the tune of 104 per cent at 1440p and 132 per cent at 4K. You'll notice that we don't have any listed results for the GTX 1080 at 1080p - and that's because the game crashed with an access violation error each time we attempted to run it. We saw similar issues when we swapped in the GTX 1080 Ti - which is so badly affected in this area, we could get no useable metrics at all. The same error occurs at higher resolutions on GTX 1080 but we managed to fluke a couple of benchmark runs where the game did not crash, allowing us to get the metrics. We've reported this issue to Nvidia.

Death Stranding: Max, DX12, TAA

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

We conclude with another mainstay from our benchmark suite, Assassin's Creed Odyssey. The most recent AC release (at least until Valhalla comes out this autumn) is characterised by a massive open world populated by richly detailed characters, objects and scenery, so it's no surprise that it provides a heavy combined CPU and GPU workout.

Let's look at the lower resolution results to begin with. Here, the GTX 1080 is just above water at 1080p and falls beneath the 60fps line at 1440p, with the RTX 20-series cards managing 60fps or better in both scenarios. The RTX 3080 is the first card we've tested to hit triple digits at 1080p, with an average of 103fps. That works out to a 20 per cent lead over the 2080 Ti, a 34 per cent delta over the 2080 and a healthy 67 per cent advantage over the GTX 1080. At 1440p, the 3080 manages only 85fps, but that's still good for a lead of 15 per cent over the the 2080 Ti and around 40 per cent over the 2080.

The 4K results are interesting too. The GTX 1080 manages 31fps here, the RTX 2080 41fps and the RTX 2080 Ti hits 51fps, so does the RTX 3080 have what it takes to become the first card to achieve an average north of 60fps? The answer's yes - and with some room to spare, as the new card manages 66fps. That translates into a 31 per cent lead over the 2080 Ti and 61 per cent lead over the 2080 - good (especially vs the RTX 2080 Ti) but not quite as impressive as we've seen in some other titles.

AC Odyssey: Ultra High, DX11, TAA

While these titles show that the RTX 3080 doesn't always perform to its potential, there's one category of games that show the RTX 3080 at its very best: those that use ray tracing. Flip the page to see our RTX analysis of the 3080.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Analysis