Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition review: A modest upgrade to a powerful GPU

Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2080 Super is the second most-powerful GPU ever released, but it loses its unique identity in the new-look Super lineup.

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Should you buy the GeForce RTX 2080 Super?

dsc00631 Brad Chacos/IDG

If you want to play games with as few visual compromises as possible at 4K resolution, or at high refresh rates at 1440p resolution, and can’t justify spending four figures on a monstrous GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, the $700 GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition is worth considering.

The $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super might be a better value option, though. It’s $200 cheaper, but only about 12 percent slower. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but crucially, spending that extra $200 on the GeForce RTX 2080 Super doesn’t enable any new experiences. Both graphics cards are great for 4K/60 if you shift some visual options down from Ultra, and both graphics cards excel at fast, no-compromises 1440p gaming. The pricier card just performs those tasks a little bit faster. That extra oomph makes the RTX 2080 Super a better option for 4K gaming if you can spare the extra cash, though.

Nvidia’s need to compete against AMD’s impressive Radeon RX 5700 series in the $350 to $500 price range puts the RTX 2080 Super in a tough spot. There was a noticeable performance gap between the original $500 RTX 2070 and $700 RTX 2080 that gave the latter room to shine with a unique performance proposition. Now, the 2070 Super is slightly slower than the original 2080, and the 2080 Super is slightly faster. The rejiggered lineup is good for gamers on a (high) budget but does no favors for the Super-fied TU104 flagship.

The somewhat lackluster RTX 2080 Super update cements the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti’s position at the top of the GeForce product stack. Nvidia’s flagship GPU is expensive, but it’s your only option for 4K/60 gaming with few if any visual compromises, or high refresh-rate 4K gaming if you don’t mind keeping graphics settings at high. It’s a monster, and the RTX 2080 Super can’t come close to touching its performance.

Don’t buy the original RTX 2070 or 2080 at this point unless you find them at super-steep discounts.

dsc00624 Brad Chacos/IDG

Bottom line: The $700 GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition is a great graphics card, but it isn’t a home run like Nvidia’s lower-priced Super options, despite being the second most powerful consumer GPU ever released. Notably, AMD offers no competition in this price range, which may have played into Nvidia’s decision not to bump the RTX 2080 Super up to a cut-down version of the RTX 2080 Ti’s GPU for a bigger performance leap. But with this release, Nvidia’s enthusiast lineup is locked in for the rest of the year. AMD’s new RDNA graphics architecture has plenty of room to expand beyond the RX 5700 into more potent variants.

Did Nvidia just leave the door open for AMD to reclaim victory over an enthusiast-class GeForce GPU for the first time in a long time with the RTX 2080 Super’s mild upgrade? The rest of 2019 could be interesting indeed for graphics card nerds.

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At a Glance
  • The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Founders Edition is the second most-powerful GPU ever released and great for 4K or ultra-fast 1440p gaming, but this modest upgrade loses its unique value proposition in the new-look RTX Super lineup.

    Pros

    • Excellent 1440p and good 4K gaming performance
    • Supports real-time ray tracing and DLSS
    • Nvidia's metallic Founders Edition design is gorgeous
    • Fastest GDDR6 memory available
    • Supports multi-GPU SLI configurations

    Cons

    • Not much faster than original RTX 2080
    • Ray traced games picking up steam, but still relatively rare
    • RTX 2070 Super serves same basic needs at much lower price
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