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

The Digital Foundry verdict.

When Nvidia first announced the RTX 4000 line of graphics card, it did so by unveiling a vision of the future for PC gaming graphics - innovations in terms of both software and hardware that offer exceptional increases to performance in the here and now, and effectively laying the groundwork for a new paradigm for PC graphics going forward. The results have been mixed: on the one hand, the RTX 4090 is one of the best halo products we've ever seen, delivering astonishing performance. It's expensive, but it does something we've never seen before. Meanwhile, DLSS 3 looks like a highly promising technology - but it still requires more work in ironing out some of its issues. The point is though, that it's a net positive, an enabler to improved experiences for PC gamers. The upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 RT Overdrive may well be the best proof of concept there is that PC gaming can move in new and exciting ways that consoles simply cannot match.

However, the missteps of the RTX 4000 launch have only been partially rectified. All of the good stuff that Nvidia revealed at its announcement was overshadowed by pricing problems. The RTX 4080 12GB model may well have been 'unlaunched' but this does not address the fact that the 'one true' RTX 4080 remains significantly overpriced in terms of price vs performance. It's overpriced compared to its direct predecessor, the RTX 3080, which delivers two thirds of the performance for 58 percent of the RTX 4080's cost. It's overpriced compared to the RTX 4090, which can show an actual price vs performance ratio superior to the RTX 4080.

It's rewriting the rulebook in a way that simply doesn't make sense to the consumer. Typically, the higher-end the GPU, the lower the price/performance ratio tends to be. Conversely, the lower down the stack you go, the better the deal you get. I don't think that this is the case with the RTX 4080. Those looking for a slightly cut-down RTX 4090 with a decent discount will obviously be disappointed - and in fact, the $1199 price-point leaves little room for an RTX 4080 Ti. A cutdown 4080 Ti at $1399 makes no sense when the full model would be just $200 more.


Going back to the RTX 4000 launch, I saw some benchmarks that didn't really seem to make sense, which compelled me to do some specific tests. For example, this table seems to suggest that native 4K performance for A Plague Tale: Requiem sees the RTX 4090 outperform the RTX 4080 by around 93 percent! The good news at least is that my testing, embedded directly above, shows a narrower and more plausible deficit. In addition to native 4K testing, I've included various flavours of DLSS2, with DLSS3 variants. So, the gap between RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 can be wide - but thankfully not to the extreme extent this example from Nvidia suggests.

I have no hesitation in recommending the RTX 4080 as a product, as a great piece of technology, but the current pricing makes little sense with the Founders Edition reviewed here. Some of the third party cards advertised in the UK actually seem to have prices closer to the RTX 4090 Founders model, which is shocking. In terms of the RTX 4080 FE reviewed here, I love the form factor, I love the near-silent operation and the actual experience of playing games on a 4K 120Hz TV with G-Sync is excellent - it may not have quite the wow factor of the RTX 4090, but it's still highly impressive. However, the price premium is difficult to justify with pressure coming from so many different directions: from legacy GA102 Ampere cards, from the upcoming AMD RX 7900 products - and astonishingly, even from the RTX 4090.

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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