Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti review: Changing the game

These graphics cards are built for the future. What does that mean today?

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Our test system

We’ve completely revamped our graphics card test system for this new generation of graphics cards, as the Core i7-5960X-based rig we dedicated to GPU benchmarking was starting to show its age. We’ve loaded our new system with some of the fastest complementary hardware around, in hopes it’ll be our bedrock for a few years, like our last one. Fingers crossed. The components we selected are known for being beastly overclockers, in case we need more oomph in the future.

Here’s what’s inside. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the cooler and storage ourselves.

  • Intel Core i7-8700K processor ($360 on Amazon)
  • EVGA CLC 240 closed-loop liquid cooler ($120 on Amazon)
  • Asus Maximus X Hero motherboard ($260 on Amazon)
  • 64GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4/2933 ($416 for 32GB on Amazon)
  • EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply ($180 on Amazon)
  • Corsair Crystal 570X RGB case, with front and top panels removed and an extra rear fan installed for improved airflow ($170 on Amazon)
  • 2x 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSDs ($100 on Amazon)

We’re comparing the GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition ($800 on GeForce.com) and RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition ($1,200 on GeForce.com) against the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition and PNY GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Neither of those are on sale any longer, but you can find other customized GTX 1080s starting around $470 on Newegg, and custom GTX 1080 Tis starting around $700 on Newegg, though we’ve seen both on sale for significantly cheaper prices in recent weeks. We prefer to compare reference cards to reference cards for these initial reviews, but unfortunately our GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition gave up the ghost, so PNY it is. With Nvidia applying an out-of-the-box overclock to the RTX Founders Edition models, comparing them against an overclocked GTX 1080 Ti doesn’t feel horrible—though note that the PNY model is about 6 percent faster than a GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition.

pny gtx 1080 ti xlr8 oc 1 Brad Chacos/IDG

The PNY GTX 1080 Ti XLR8.

We’re also tossing AMD’s most potent GPU, the Radeon Vega 64, into the mix to see where it stands. Note that this is the air-cooled reference edition, not the liquid-cooled model. We have a liquid-cooled version, but it’s no longer for sale and was only available in limited quantities. Custom Vega 64 models start around $500 on Newegg, though most sell for $550 or more.

Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets, with VSync, frame rate caps, and all GPU vendor-specific technologies—like AMD TressFX, Nvidia GameWorks options, and FreeSync/G-Sync—disabled, and temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) enabled to push these high-end cards to their limits. If anything differs from that, we’ll mention it. Let’s go!

GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti gaming performance

Strange Brigade

Let’s kick things off with Strange Brigade ($50 on Humble), a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It showcases the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and is infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. We tested DirectX 12 with async compute off, as it traditionally only boosted Radeon GPUs.

strange brigade Brad Chacos/IDG

First thought: Man, the GeForce RTX 2080 and GTX 1080 Ti are virtually identical in performance. That’s a theme we’ll continue to see throughout these benchmarks. The RTX 2080 Ti leapfrogs its predecessor by almost 32 percent at 4K, though the overclocked nature of both cards makes the comparison a little murky. The RTX 2080 Ti’s lead shrinks the lower you go in resolution, though it consistently remains the fastest graphics card by a considerable margin. Also worth noting: AMD’s Vega 64 trumps the GTX 1080 even with async compute turned off.

strange brigade async compute Brad Chacos/IDG

We also tested Strange Brigade with async compute enabled for the GeForce cards at 1080p resolution, to see if the new INT32 pipeline inside the RTX 2080’s Turing GPU architecture improved performance there. It does, but only by about 3.6 percent in this particular scenario.

Next page: More benchmark results

At a Glance
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