Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti review: Basically a 3090, but for gamers

Say hello to Nvidia's "new gaming flagship."

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Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2020 benchmark at 4K for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter, which measures the power consumption of our entire test system. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

This isn’t a worst-case test; this is a GPU-bound game running at a GPU-bound resolution to gauge performance when the graphics card is sweating hard. If you’re playing a game that also hammers the CPU, you could see higher overall system power draws. Consider yourself warned.

power Brad Chacos/IDG

RTX 3090-like performance means RTX 3090-like power draws. Like other Nvidia Ampere GPUs, the RTX 3080 Ti draws a staggering amount of power, due in part to the high energy needs of that blazing-fast GDDR6X memory that provides so much bandwidth. AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT and its standard GDDR6 memory draws significantly less power—even less than the non-Ti 3080!

We test thermals by leaving GPU-Z open during the F1 2020 power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temp Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia’s radical new cooler still delivers a very good experience—AMD’s standard triple-fan reference card runs hotter by several degrees. But opting for a dual-slot design makes the 3080 Ti Founders Edition less exceptional cooling-wise than the other high-end members of the RTX 30-series family. Nvidia tamed the 3090 with a massive triple-slot cooler for wondrous results. Shoving nearly the same GPU into the vanilla 3080’s dual-slot design means the Ti model runs a bit hotter and slightly noisier than its siblings. Custom boards will have plenty of room to improve things with bulkier configurations.

That said, the Founders Edition provides a good overall experience: 75 degrees Celsius is a fine temperature for a GPU. While you can hear the 3080 Ti FE’s fans blowing during gameplay, they aren’t loud by any means. Nvidia’s engineers did good with this design.

Next page: Should you buy the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti?

At a Glance
  • Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is essentially an RTX 3090 in all but name (and memory capacity). It's an exceptional graphics card for 4K gaming with no major weak links, but the Founders Edition cooler isn't quite as impressive in this form and still needs an ugly power adapter. Actual price and availability remain a concern during the crippling worldwide GPU shortage.

    Pros

    • Excellent 4K and 1440p gaming
    • 12GB of high-speed GDDR6X memory
    • Best-in-class ray tracing, DLSS 2.0
    • Nvidia software: Reflex, G-Sync, Shadowplay, Broadcast, RTX IO, DLSS
    • Founders Edition design is gorgeous and effective
    • PCIe 4.0, Resizable BAR, and Nvidia Lite Hash Rate tech

    Cons

    • Big price increase vs. prior xx80 Ti models
    • Proprietary 12-pin power connector requires ugly adapter
    • Actual price, availability in doubt due to GPU shortage
    • Founders Edition design isn't as effective as on other RTX 30 models, and lacks extra features
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