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Today Nvidia (Nasdaq:NVDA) is allowing us to lift the lid on GeForce RTX 4080 performance figures and this huge, expensive, but ultimately extremely powerful – the second Ada Lovelace architecture GPU to be released behind the RTX 4090 – will set you back a minimum of $1,199.

That’s a lot for a graphics card, but these kinds of prices aren’t new, even outside of crypto mining crazes. Even with a PC budget of $2,000, this won’t leave you with much for the rest of your gear, especially if you want to build a balances gaming PC.

In this GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition review, we’ll be comparing it to a bunch of other cards so if you do have a serious budget for your gaming PC or upgrade, you’ll know if it’s right for you.

The specifications are interesting because in a lot of ways the RTX 4080 is a lesser card than the likes of the RT 3090 Ti – a narrower memory bus, less memory, fewer Cuda cores – but trounces it with a massive 2.5GHz peak boost frequency, next generation Tensor and RT cores and an L2 cache ten times the size. There’s also DLSS 3.0 that for now is RTX 4000-only.

Is my case big enough?

This is a big graphics card and the same size as the RTX 4090 – at least in Founders Edition guise. it’s 5.4in wide, requires three PCI slots and plenty of clearance underneath for cooling. It’s also 12in long. Most standard cases will be fine, but it’s worth checking these requirements, especially with smaller cases.

Test system and benchmarks

The test system uses the Nvidia release driver for the RTX 4080 and the latest drivers as of November 10th 14th for other Nvidia and AMD cards along with a fully up to date version of Windows 11. I used an Intel Core i9-12900K, Asus ROG Strix Z690 Apex motherboard, Kingston 6,000MHz Fury DDR5 memory, a Kingston Fury Renegade SSD and Thermaltake Toughpower GF3 1350W PSU.

Other GPUs were the RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti OC, courtesy of Palit in the form of its GameRock models and AMD RX 6950 XT

I started testing at 2,560 x 1,440 as the RTX 4080 makes no sense for 1080p gaming, and used a mixture of ray tracing/DXR tests, enabling DLSS mostly at the top of the resolution scale to show fps scaling.

Benchmarks

First up is Rainbow Six Extraction and at 1440p both new RTX 40 cards were outrageously fast, but the RTX 4090 had a significant lead over the RTX 4080. However, the latter was again much faster than the next best card, which was the AMD RX 6950 XT followed closely by the RTX 3090 Ti.

Stepping up to 4K below and the RTX 4080 was again a lot faster than any other card except the RTX 4090, which again enjoyed a huge advantage. Still, the RTX 3090 Ti was well and truly beaten by the new card which added more than 20fps to the minimum 99th percentile frame rate and also a 58 percent improvement over the RTX 3080.

Finally at 4K but with DLSS enabled in balanced mode, and again the RTX 4080 was much faster than the RTX 3090 Ti while the RTX 4090 was even faster, edging out a significant lead.

Next in Forza Horizon 5, which certainly favors AMD handing second and third place to RX 6900 GPUs, the RTX 4080 had a decidedly average minimum 99th percentile, but much more competitive average frame rate that was second overall.

Stepping up to 4K saw the RTX 4080 leapfrog the RX 6900 XT and would be the pick over the RX 6950 XT too given it offered a much higher average frame rate again. However, there wasn’t as big a difference between it and previous generation RTX cards as in other games.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is a tricky game to net big increases in frame rates and at 1440p, there clearly seems to be bottlenecks in other parts of the system – this is where DLSS 3.0 can help which we’ll get to in a minute. Without it, there’s very little difference between the cards on test.

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4K was a similar picture although with greater difference between the RTX 4080 and RTX 3080 -not really enough to warrant the upgrade costs though.

Adding in DLSS didn’t really help much seeing as bottlenecks were still hampering things, but a few frames were added mostly to the average frame rates in some cases.

The ray tracing performance of the RTX 4080 was on full display here in Metro Exodus and here the average frame rates again impressed the most, streaking off into the distance with the RTX 4090 having more of a lead on the minimum 99th percentile over the RTX 4080. There were some significant gains for the RTX 4080 over previous generation cards too

At 4K the RTX 4090 edged a bigger lead, but the RTX 4080 was still significantly faster than other cards, with a 21 percent lead over the RTX 3090 Ti’s minimum 99th percentile.

With DLSS added into the equation it was a similar story, edging out the RTX 3090 Ti with some significant leads, especially with the average frame rate, while the RTX 4090 was much faster on the minimum 99th percentile.

AMD has improved its stance with DXR enabled in Watch Dogs, but still has some work to do as the RTX 3080 was still quicker than both RX 6000 cards. This meant they were easy targets for the RTX 4080, which was far quicker than anything except the RTX 4090 and again enjoying a 21 percent lead over the RTX 3090 Ti’s minimum 99th percentile – the same as in Metro Exodus at the same resolution.

At 4K it was again an impressive showing, this time hitting a 34 percent lead over the RTX 3090 Ti and 72 percent over the RTX 3080, again with the RTX 4090 giving everything a bloody nose.

Adding in DLSS and we have yet more impressive numbers compared to the RTX 3090 Ti and strangely here the RTX 4090 lost a lot of its lead. If you needed a benchmark to warrant the extra outlay over the RTX 3080, this is probably it, with the RTX 4080 enjoying a 76 percent performance gain.

Halo Infinite’s campaign mode wasn’t the picture of consistency, but offered an insight into this popular game’s performance and was another title to see the RTX 4080 benefit more with the average frame rate than the minimum 99th percentile.

At 4K it was even more the case with those average frame rates and also the RTX 4090’s prowess here is quite clear too. There was a 33 percent boost to the average frame rate over the RTX 3090 Ti, but only a handful of frames on the minimum 99th percentile.

DLSS has established itself as a highly useful and worthwhile feature and in Flight Simulator, frate rates are king, especially if you’re more concerned about responsiveness than anything else. With DLSS 3.0, as discussed in the RTX 4090 review, games like this that are bottlenecked by other areas of the system benefit massively. Here, a different benchmark to the one above due to the limited nature of the Nvidia beta that enables DLSS 3.0, although this should be a native feature as you read this courtesy of the new 40th Anniversary Update package.

This is the way to get big frame rate improvements in Flight Simulator, nearly doubling the performance to not using DLSS at all and even at 4K you’re getting frame rates that will cater for most high refresh rate monitors too.

Cyberpunk 2077 was no exception, with the RTX 4080 with DLSS 3.0 actually beating the RTX 4090 with DLSS 2.0 and trebling the performance of the standard RTX 4090 benchmark.

Power consumption is high, but actually less than the RTX 3080 and far less than the RTX 3090, so in terms of bang for your watt, the RTX 4080 packs a punch and likely won’t need a power supply upgrade.

Temperatures usually hovered around 60°C, and with the power draw above you’d kind of hope to see such low gaming temperatures given the absolutely enormous cooler. In fact, I’d sooner see a smaller cooler and add 10°C to that temperature.

Conclusions

If anything the RTX 4080 has reaffirmed what a monstrously fast graphics card the RTX 4090 is, with it enjoying lofty leads in a lot of games. However, the RTX 4080 was also quicker than anticipated, sticking close to the flagship in a lot of benchmarks and often enjoying huge leads over the RTX 3090 Ti, leaving a huge gulf between it and the RTX 3080.

There isn’t much left to say other than this is a huge, powerful and extremely expensive way to add a graphics card to your gaming PC, but with the addition of a reasonably quiet cooler, low temperatures and a potentially very useful feature in DLSS 3.0, the RTX 4080 certainly won’t disappoint if you can afford it. Of course, it’s also worth waiting to see what AMD has in store with its RTX 7900 XTX that’s released soon.

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