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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Fire Strike, power draw, and thermals

We also tested the GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition cards using 3DMark’s highly respected Fire Strike synthetic benchmark. Fire Strike runs at 1080p, Fire Strike Extreme runs at 1440p, and Fire Strike Ultra runs at 4K resolution. All render the same scene, but with more intense graphical effects as you move up the scale, so that Extreme and Ultra flavors stress GPUs even more. We record the graphics score to eliminate variance from the CPU.

firestrike Brad Chacos/IDG

Interestingly, the GTX 1080 Ti outscores the RTX 2080 across the board, and the Vega 64 beats out the GTX 1080. The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is ahead of the RTX 2080 by around 28 percent at 4K/Ultra, smack-dab in the middle of the low-20s to low-30s leads it holds in real-world games.

Power draw

Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards pack a lot more hardware than their predecessors, and it shows when you compare the power draw for these cards. We test power draw by looping the F1 2018 benchmark after we’ve benchmarked everything else with a card, and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion.

power draw Brad Chacos/IDG

Both RTX Founders Edition models have notably higher idle power draw than their rivals, though it’s impressive that the RTX 2080 manages to hang with the GTX 1080 Ti performance-wise while sucking down a little bit less juice. Remember how much we derided the Vega 64 for being hot, loud, and power hangry? The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti draws significantly more energy from the wall—albeit while delivering 60 to 90 percent more gaming performance—with the whole system drawing a whopping 482W under load.

It’s nevertheless a lot more pleasant graphics card to experience than AMD’s hellacious Vega 64. We test thermals by leaving HWInfo’s sensor monitoring tool open during the F1 2018 5-lap power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temperature Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia’s talked about the improvements to the RTX Founders Edition’s cooling, and it walks the walk here. Both the GeForce RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti run noticeably quieter than the GTX 1080 Founders Edition, and the GeForce RTX 2080 FE runs a significant 7 degrees Celsius cooler than the GTX 1080 FE. Heck, the RTX 2080 is 4 degrees Celsius cooler than the triple-fan custom PNY GTX 1080 Ti. It’s an impressive improvement, though you have to wonder how Nvidia’s partners will feel about how the company’s essentially stepping on their toes. While we haven’t tested any of the early custom RTX graphics cards yet, they’ve resorted to massive, metal-filled coolers to stand out, and that drives up costs considerably.

Reference Vega cards still suck. Womp womp.

Next page: High/no AA 4K gaming performance

At a Glance
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