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Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 review: a powerful GPU with a big pricing problem

Top-tier ray tracing experiences benchmarked.

A trio of excellent ray tracing experiences are put through their paces on this - the third page of the Digital Foundry RTX 4080 review. Hitman 3 looks great even without RT, but IO Interactive pushes realism to the next level with a range of ultra-demanding ray tracing features. Meanwhile, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition remains the first - and only - triple-A gaming experience to be released requiring a GPU capable of hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Marvel's Spider-Man - this one is interesting in that not only does it push CPU and GPU hard, but VRAM allocation is of crucial important at 4K max settings.

To reiterate if you're jumping straight to this page without looking at prior results, our benchmarking system offers a number of ways to get to the data you want, the presentation varying according to the device you're using. You'll get a basic overview of our findings on mobile, with metadata from the video capture of each GPU being translated into simple bar charts with average frame-rate and lowest one per cent measurements for easy comparisons.

On a desktop-class browser, you'll get the full-fat DF experience with embedded YouTube videos of each test scene and live performance metrics. Play the video, and you'll see exactly how each card handled the scene as it progresses. Below the real-time metrics is an interactive bar chart, which you can mouse over to see different measurements and click to switch between actual frame-rates and percentage differences. All the data here is derived from video captured directly from each GPU, ensuring an accurate replay of real performance.

Hitman 3

The Glacier engine from IO Interactive takes no prisoners with its ray tracing implementation, and those lowest one percent and five percent scores show just how demanding it is at its worst, producing single-digit frame-rates on RX 6000-class AMD hardware. This is a title you'll be using DLSS, FSR2 or even XeSS to run effectively but as things stand it's a tough workout for our test cards.

Again, we see the same kind of pressures facing the RTX 4080 that we saw in the tests on the last page. Ultimately, the RTX 4090 is punching above its weight up against RTX 4080 in terms of price vs performance and once again, you're seeing a performance uplift against the 3080 not in line with the cost increase. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's only a comparison against the too-expensive RTX 3080 Ti that paints the RTX 4080 in a good light.


Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition

The revised 4A Engine is built around ray tracing as a foundational concept for its stunning real-time global illumination system. A showcase technological achievement for the current generation of consoles only gets better on PC, where 4A doubles down on further visual fidelity - tessellation, hybrid RT reflections and more. The game works fine on AMD, but delivers vast improvements to performance on Nvidia GPUs.

This is an interesting example of where the performance differentials for the RTX 4080 up against RTX 3080 and 3080 Ti remain pretty much as expected - at 50 and 39 percent respectively - but this time for the RTX 4090 does not scale quite so highly. Ultimately though, the new RTX 4080 still delivers frame-rates closer to RTX 3090 Ti than RTX 4090.


Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered

We spent a lot of time looking at Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered on PC, with our very own Alex Battaglia even suggesting improvements to the suite of ray tracing features that ensured PC users got a range of upgrades that scale way beyond the PlayStation 5 version of the game. This game is also exceptional in supporting DLSS, FSR2 and XeSS upscalers, in addition to Insomniac's own temporal injection system designed for consoles.

With this title, RTX 4080 falls into the same category of performance seen in Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition in that the gap closes up against RTX 4090 - which commands a circa 36 percentage point lead over the RTX 4080. However, the very high RT preset seems to max out the RTX 3080's 10GB memory, resulting in a performance degradation that sees the 4080 pull ahead by 63 percent. The gap closes to just 31 percent when stacked up against the RTX 3080 Ti, where 12 gigs of framebuffer memory can comfortably contain the game's requirements.


Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 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.

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