Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Review – The one and only 4080

After the arrival of the RTX 4090, it is now time for the GeForce RTX 4080. Nvidia is once again bringing a luxurious and expensive video card to the market, but this time it is a slightly lower price point than the flagship that was released in mid-October. The GeForce manufacturer originally planned to release two different cards called ‘RTX 4080’, but later backed off. In this review, we look at the model that is allowed to go through life as an RTX 4080 and compare its performance with a range of other video cards from both Nvidia and AMD.

Where the x80 series of GeForce video cards was positioned just below the real top model in the past and offered a more or less acceptable price-performance ratio for the enthusiast, the RTX 4080 should not only cost 1469 euros, but originally also had to sharing its name with an inferior card based on a lower quality chip with significantly lower specifications. Nvidia’s goal with this seemed clear: lure potential buyers to the performance of ‘the’ (faster) RTX 4080 and entice them with the price of the slower model. RTX 4080 performance for an RTX 4080 price, except one doesn’t equal the other.

Video card RTX 4080 16GB “RTX 4080” 12GB
CUDA cores 9728 7680
GPU AD103 (379mm²) AD104 (295mm²)
Boost speed 2.51GHz 2.61GHz
Memory 16GB GDDR6X 12GB GDDR6X
Memory bus 256bit 192bit
Tbp 320W 285W
Release date November 15, 2022 November 2022 (cancelled)
MSRP 1469 euros 1099 euros

 

That Nvidia finally shot down the slower ’12GB version’ of the RTX 4080 will no doubt have at least as much to do with competitor AMD’s announced line-up as with all the feedback from gamers and hardware enthusiasts about the confusing, if not misleading, positioning of the two RTX 4080 cards. In the past, the manufacturer has often raised a finger not the thumb at the consumer, and the introduction of the RTX 4080 is further confirmation that the company is, again and again, pushing the boundaries of what the customer just accepts.

The green light never changes to red

So what remains is the ‘real’ RTX 4080, with 16GB memory and the larger GPU chip. Unchanged is the suggested retail price, we will mention it again, of 1469 euros. Due to inflation, the exchange rate of the euro against the dollar and a series of decisions at Nvidia headquarters, the MSRP of the RTX 4080 is twice as high as the RTX 3080 at launch in September 2020 . It must now be said that Nvidia’s suggested retail price of 719 euros for the RTX 3080 was completely unrealistic at the time, and only the most fortunate for that amount were able to get hold of this video card shortly after it came out.

Still, the suggested retail price of the RTX 4080 in euros illustrates well what kind of world the PC gamer has unfortunately ended up in. In addition, Nvidia has been paying close attention over the past two years to what its customers are apparently willing to pay for GeForce video cards. Nvidia’s strategy of an imaginative ultimate flagship builds on its reputation for premium quality and features, with matching premium suggested retail prices across its portfolio. Despite sharply increased competition from the Radeon camp in recent years, Nvidia’s market share hardly seems to suffer from this. The fact that the tech community breathed a sigh of relief when the bogus RTX 4080 was revealed to have been “canceled” speaks volumes about the self-reinforcing effect of Nvidia’s closed technologies and ” walled gardens’ on its market share. Hooray, the one and only RTX 4080 is here!

Odd man out: AD103

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 uses the AD103 GPU, which is currently exclusive. Namely, the canceled 12GB version of the RTX 4080 , which appears to be rebranded as an RTX 4070 Ti , uses the AD104 chip, which is even smaller than the AD103. In the naming, the AD103 GPU also stands out because Nvidia rarely uses odd numbers, and specifically the ‘103’ has never been used before by the manufacturer for desktop cards. Like the RTX 4090, the RTX 4080 is also based on the Ada Lovelace architecture. In our review of the GeForce RTX 4090 you can read more about the new features of the RTX 40 series, including DLSS3 and AV1 encoding.

Apart from the name, the AD103 cannot be called groundbreaking compared to both the RTX 4090 and previous generations. This is first apparent from the die-size, which at 379mm² is rather on the small side for a GeForce x80 card when compared to previous RTX cards. Thanks to the 4nm process, the number of transistors on this ‘small’ GPU is of course considerably higher than on older Nvidia models.

On the RTX 4080, 9728 CUDA cores are available, while the AD103 GPU contains a total of 10752. That means that almost 10 percent of the computing cores are disabled. For the tensor and RT cores we encounter the same proportions, as do the texture units and rops . With the available memory controllers, the memory bus totals to 256bit. That is narrower than the 320bit on the RTX 3080, but thanks to the higher memory speed, this is largely compensated on the RTX 4080. In addition, a significantly larger L2 cache ensures less dependence on the vram on the RTX 40 series. Nvidia has set the total graphics power at 320W, identical to the RTX 3080.

Video card RTX 4090 RTX 4080 RTX 3080 (10GB) RTX 2080
GPU AD102 AD103 GA102 TU104
Architecture Ada Lovelace Ada Lovelace Ampere Turing
Process 4nm 4nm 8nm 12nm
Die size 608.5mm² 379mm² 628.4mm² 545mm²
transistors 76.3 billion 45.9 billion 28 billion 13.6 billion
CUDA cores 16,384 9728 8704 2944
Tensor cores 512 304 272 368
RT cores 128 76 68 46
Texture units 512 304 272 184
Rops 176 112 96 64
Base clock 2230MHz 2205MHz 1440MHz 1515MHz
Boost clock 2520MHz 2505MHz 1710MHz 1710MHz
1800MHz (FE)
L2 cache 72MB 64MB 5MB 4MB
Vram 24GB GDDR6X 16GB GDDR6X 10GB GDDR6X 8GB GDDR6
Memory speed 21 Gbit/s 22.4 Gbit/s 19 Gbit/s 14 Gbit/s
Memory bus 384bit 256bit 320bit 256bit
Bandwidth 1008GB/s 716.8GB/s 760GB/s 448GB/s
Tgp 450W 320W 320W 215W
Suggested retail price FE
(at launch)
1959 euros 1469 euros 719 euros 849 euros

Test accountability

Our starting point in GPU tests is always that we want the rest of the system to form the smallest possible bottleneck. We have therefore upgraded our test system in recent weeks, after having used an overclocked AMD Ryzen 9 5950X for a long time. Our new gpu test system consists of a water-cooled Intel Core i9-13900K processor, overclocked to 5.5GHz allcore. Because the e-cores of this processor cause performance degradation in some of our tests, we have completely disabled the e-cores on our platform. This means that only all 8 performance cores with 16 threads remain active. As working memory, we use 32GB of fast DDR5-7200 with relatively tight timings, to ensure that both the CPU and the RAM are the limiting factor for measuring GPU performance as little as possible.

The exact specifications of the test system can be found in the table below.

Test system GPUs
Processor Intel Core i9-13900K (p-cores @5.5GHz, e-cores disabled)
Motherboard Gigabyte Aorus Z790 Master
Random access memory G.Skill Trident Z RGB F5 32GB (2x 16GB) DDR5-7200 CL34-45-45-115
SSD Silicon Power XS70 4TB
Nutrition FSP Hydro PTM Pro ATX3.0 1200W
Cooling Alphacool Eisblock XPX, Alphacool XT45 480mm radiator, Alphacool D5 water pump, be quiet Pure Wings 2 fans
Operating system Windows 11

Tested video cards

For our GPU tests, we always use reference cards or Founders Editions, unless the GPU in question has not been released as such or we do not have one available. In that case we use a custom model that is as close as possible to the reference specification in terms of clock speeds.

For this review we used the following models:

  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition
  • Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Ti Gaming OC
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition
  • AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT reference card
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT reference card
  • Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Gaming OC
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti Founder’s Edition

Drivers and measurement method

We tested all video cards for this review with the latest driver available when we started. For the AMD Radeon cards, we used Radeon Software 22.10.3; for Nvidia GeForce cards it was GeForce 526.72.

Using PresentMon, we measure the performance in each tested game, from which we calculate the average frame rates, fps, as well as the frame times of the 99th and 99.9th percentiles and report the latter two in milliseconds .

The time it takes to render images within a 3D game and therefore within our benchmark varies from frame to frame. With our frametime measurement, the rendering times of all individual frames are stored. Then we discard the 1 percent slowest frames. The highest render time of the remaining 99 percent of the frames, or the slowest frame, is the 99th percentile frametime.

At the request of some readers, we’ve also included the 99.9th percentile values. So for this we only disregard the 0.1 percent slowest frames. In theory this is even more precise, but in practice incidental causes and measurement errors sometimes throw a spanner in the works. For now, we’ve listed them in the review, so keep that in mind when looking at these results.

Game selection

We regularly review the range of games and make these choices taking into account each game’s API, engine, genre, AMD/Nvidia ratio, age and technical benchmark details to arrive at the most representative suite possible. to come out.

Game Publication date API engine
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla November 2020 DX12 Anvil Next 2.0
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II October 2022 DX12 IW 9.0
Cyberpunk 2077 December 2020 DX12 red engine 4
Doom Eternal March 2020 Vulcan Id tech 7
F1 2022 July 2022 DX12 EGO Engine 4.0
Forza Horizon 5 November 2021 DX12 ForzaTech
Guardians of the Galaxy October 2021 DX12 Dawn Engine
Metro Exodus (+Enhanced) February 2019 DX12 4A Engine
Red Dead Redemption 2 November 2019 Vulcan RAGE
Total War: Warhammer III February 2022 DX11 TW Engine 3

Current measurement

In addition to performance, we measure the power consumption of video cards. We perform the current measurement with a riser card from the manufacturer Adex, which we place between the PCIe slot and the video card. That way we can not only measure the current that runs through the loose power cables, but also the power that the video card draws directly from the PCIe slot. For the measurement we use several copies of the Tinkerforge Voltage/Current Bricklet 2.0 . For the final measurement, the riser card is equipped with such a bricklet. To measure the current of the PEG cable, the bricklet was placed together with the necessary connectors on a printed circuit board specially designed for our test. Depending on the number of power cables that a video card requires, we obviously use various meters.

3DMark and Unigine Superposition

3DMark has a whole suite of benchmarks, of which we run Time Spy, Fire Strike and Port Royal by default. Fire Strike uses the DX11 API, Time Spy and Port Royal of DirectX 12. The benchmarks calculate an overall score based on the GPU and CPU performance, with the graphics score having the most weight. The Graphics scores are independent of the performance of the other components as much as possible and you can therefore best use these scores as an indication of GPU performance independent of the rest of the system.

The RTX 4080 is over 60 percent faster than the RTX 3080 in Time Spy and the RTX 4090 is in turn almost 30 percent faster than the RTX 4080. In Fire Strike Ultra we measure the same ratios between the RTX 4080 and its predecessor, but here the RTX 4090 even ends up more than 43 percent above the RTX 4080.

3DMark Port Royal

Port Royal is 3DMark’s benchmark in which raytracing performance is measured. It is a synthetic test that produces both a score and an average frame rate. The RTX 4080 outperforms the RTX 3080 by 55 percent and the RTX 3090 Ti by 22 percent in this test. The RTX 4090 is now more than 42 percent faster than the RTX 4080.

Superposition

Superposition is a benchmark of Unigine and can be run in both OpenGL and DirectX 11. For our tests we use DX11 and two of the available graphics presets. We also see the RTX 4080 perform significantly better than its predecessor in Superposition.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is a third-person adventure game and runs on DirectX 12 in the Anvil Next 2.0 engine. Valhalla is a game that runs very well on AMD hardware by default.

The RTX 4080 achieves 95fps at 4k Ultra, which is a 45 percent higher frame rate than the RTX 3080 and 20 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti. The RTX 4090, meanwhile, remains almost 22 percent faster than the RTX 4080 at 4k with Ultra settings.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is a 2022 first-person shooter of the well-known Call of Duty series. Modern Warfare II uses the IW 9.0 engine, to which Infinity Ward added significant upgrades, including volumetric lighting , spectral rendering , and improved ray tracing. Although the engine has support for ray tracing, this graphical feature is not yet available in Modern Warfare II.

In this game, the RTX 4080 comes out at an average frame rate of 97 at 4k with Ultra settings. That’s a whopping 60 percent higher than on the RTX 3080, and 23 percent better than on the RTX 3090 Ti. The fastest card remains the RTX 4090 in this game, which is 35 percent faster than the RTX 4080 here.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is an action RPG released in December 2020 by CD Projekt. The game uses the REDengine 4 and runs on DirectX 12. The game is extremely demanding; only the fastest hardware produces at 4k ultra playable frame rates.

The RTX 4080 achieves almost 65fps here at 4K Ultra, which is 31.5 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and a good 10 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti. The RTX 4090 is up to 29 percent faster than the RTX 4080 in this game.

Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal , part of the very well-known series of first-person shooters, runs in the Vulkan API on the relatively new idTech 7 engine and came out in March 2020. The benchmark consists of a 60-second fixed route through the game’s Hell on Earth map.

In Doom, the RTX 4080 manages to reach 272fps at 4k Ultra without ray tracing, 55 percent more than the RTX 3080 and 20 percent more than the RTX 3090 Ti. At these settings, the RTX 4090 is in turn 32 percent faster than the RTX 4080. Once we enable ray tracing, the RTX 4080 is now 50 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and 18 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti at 189fps, while the RTX 4090 remains over 34 percent faster than the RTX 4080.

F1 2022

As one of the most famous racing games, F1 2022 is part of our test protocol. The series has been running on the EGO engine for years, of which we are now using the fourth iteration. We use the DirectX 12 API and the game’s built-in benchmark, testing ray tracing both on and off.

In F1, at 4k Ultra at 172fps, the RTX 4080 is almost 35 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and a good 8 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti. The RTX 4090 is 18.5 percent faster than the RTX 4080 here. As soon as we switch on ray tracing, the RTX 4080 comes out at an average of 64fps at this resolution and settings. That is respectively 51 and 15 percent faster than we measured on the RTX 3080 and 3090 Ti. Of course, the RTX 4090 is also the fastest card here: it finishes more than 36 percent above the RTX 4080.

Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 is a racing video game developed by Playground Games and released in November 2021. The game uses DirectX 12 and runs on the ForzaTech engine. Although ray tracing is currently available in Horizon 5, it, unfortunately, cannot be used for the benchmark.

In Forza, the RTX 4080 at 4k Ultra is nearly 50 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and over 25 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti, just as the RTX 4090 in turn is also 25 percent faster than the RTX 4080.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is an adventure game created by Eidos-Montréal and released in October 2021. The game runs in DX12 on the Dawn Engine, known from the Deus Ex series, among others. What is striking about Guardians of the Galaxy is that this game usually has very similar frame rates on Medium and Ultra settings with most video cards. That’s why we’ve chosen to also enable ray tracing in the Ultra settings, although we don’t include those results in our standard performance score.

At 4k Ultra, the RTX 4080 in this game is 49 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and nearly 19 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti. He has to leave the RTX 4090 for himself, which is 28 percent faster on the resolution and settings.

Subway Exodus

Metro Exodus is a first-person shooter that runs on the 4A Engine. For our testing in this game, we use the DirectX 12 API and the fairly heavy built-in benchmark. We test Metro Exodus without ray tracing and the Exodus Enhanced version with ray tracing.

On the RTX 4080, we see an average frame rate of 109 at 4k Ultra, which is 55 and 18 percent higher, respectively, than the score we record with the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 Ti. The RTX 4090 is 32.5 percent faster than the RTX 4080 here. When we also enable ray tracing, the RTX 4080 increases the lead over its predecessor to 61 percent and is also 22 percent ahead of the RTX 3090 Ti. With ray tracing, the RTX 4090 is also relatively faster: it is 40 percent ahead of the RTX 4080.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is Rockstar’s well-known open-world game from late 2019 and runs on the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine. The game can run with both DirectX 12 and the Vulkan API and because DX12 on our test system gives problems, we use Vulkan, which works without any problems. For this test we use the game’s built-in benchmark, using only the last, and longest, scene.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, the RTX 4080 achieves an average of 103fps at 4k Ultra. That’s 42 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and 13 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti. Meanwhile, the RTX 4090 is 28.5 percent faster than the RTX 4080. At lower resolutions, these differences naturally decrease slightly.

Total War: Warhammer III

Total War: Warhammer III is a recent real-time strategy game that runs on the TW Engine and uses DirectX 11. The game usually runs very well on Nvidia hardware.

In Warhammer III, the RTX 4080 averages over 75 frames per second at 4k Ultra. The RTX 3080 just falls short of 54fps, making the RTX 4080 up to 40 percent faster than its predecessor. The lead over the RTX 3090 Ti is smaller, but still noteworthy at over 9 percent. However, the RTX 4090 remains 37 percent faster than the RTX 4080 in this game.

Performance score games

To see at a glance how the different GPUs relate to each other, we calculate weighted averages from used and discussed games based on the results. We calculate these performance scores with the tested resolutions and quality settings.

Performance scores with rasterization

We tested a total of nine games without ray tracing. In it, the RTX 4080 averages 105fps at 4k with Ultra settings. That’s 42 percent more than the RTX 3080 and 13.5 percent more than the RTX 3090 Ti. At this resolution and settings, the RTX 4090 in turn is almost 30 percent faster than the RTX 4080. At lower resolutions, the relative differences between the different cards become smaller.

Performance scores with ray tracing

We enabled ray tracing in five games. We also calculate a weighted average from that to understand the overall DXR performance. At 4k, the RTX 4080 is on average 57.5 percent faster than the RTX 3080 and 18.5 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti. The RTX 4090 is nearly 35 percent faster than the RTX 4080 in ray tracing in our tests. Here, too, the differences at lower resolutions diminish.

Power consumption

We measure the in-game power consumption during load in the benchmark of Metro Exodus at 4k-Ultra.

The GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition consumes about 325W in our test under full load. That’s marginally more than the stated total board power , but not very different from the consumption of the RTX 3080 Founders Edition. Compared to the RTX 4090 FE, the consumption on our RTX 4080 FE is more than 100W lower, which is 25 percent less.

Performance per watt

In terms of performance per watt, the RTX 4080 does slightly better than the RTX 4090, but the difference is small. This duo clearly performs better in this test than other cards from the previous generation. Please note that the results below cannot be compared with scores from previous reviews because the entire test platform has been revised.

Conclusion

The GeForce RTX 4080 is without a doubt a contender for the list of the most controversial video card launches in Nvidia’s history. The original plan of the manufacturer was to release two completely different cards, each with a different GPU, memory arrangement, performance level and price under the same name. The faster variant attracts attention because of its performance, the slower card attracts buyers because of its price. After announcing the RTX 40 series, it took Nvidia almost a month to figure out that the naming may be “confusing” for consumers. It became clear to the manufacturer that it had really gone too far in an attempt to mislead its customers.

Due to this annoying run-up to the launch, the RTX 4080 that was released has also been cast in a bad light for many. On paper, not all specifications are impressive compared to its predecessor, while the performance level of the RTX 4080 is clearly of the new generation. The RTX 4080 is about 15 to 20 percent faster than the RTX 3090 Ti, depending on the game and whether you use ray tracing. It is not the card that by definition allows you to game smoothly at 4k Ultra with ray tracing, as the RTX 4090 actually is. In contrast to the flagship of the RTX 40 series, you will have to make compromises on the RTX 4080 in some cases, such as with heavier games without DLSS support.

Not a bad video card, just a bad price

The suggested retail price of 1469 euros for the RTX 4080 ensures that the card does not have a distinctive price-performance ratio compared to the flagship, as was often the case with previous generations. Previously, for the avid gamer and hardware enthusiast, a GeForce x80 card was always a more interesting deal than the model above it. This is less the case with the RTX 4080. Actually, that is not surprising: the RTX 4080 that we discuss in this review was originally intended to make the 12GB card with the identical name sell well. After canceling the 12GB model, Nvidia didn’t adjust the suggested retail price of the true RTX 4080, which now makes the card a less compelling proposition.Without a smaller brother with the same name, the comparison with its bigger brother is then made faster. The RTX 4090 averages 29 to 35 percent faster than the RTX 4080 in our tests, but the MSRP is also 33 percent higher. The RTX 4080, therefore, does not deliver a better price-performance ratio on paper, but it does bring this ratio to a lower price point. How the prices of the RTX 4080 will compare to the RTX 4090 in practice will become clear in the near future.

If price is the only real remaining pain point of the otherwise well-performing RTX 4080, then there’s relatively little to worry about for Nvidia. After all, this is an easy button to turn for the manufacturer. Whether this will actually happen in the foreseeable future, of course, remains to be seen. Who knows, in practice PC gamers may be happy to be able to buy a card of this caliber for 1500 euros, instead of a less fast model for double, as was no exception around this time last year.