Nvidia RTX 2080: What You Need to Know

Nvidia's new GeForce RTX line of consumer graphics cards is finally official and due to start shipping soon. These cards are based on the GPU giant's Turing architecture and are the first with built-in, real-time ray tracing capability.

Here's what you need to know about Turing and Nvidia's first three cards: the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080 and RTX 2070.

What makes the RTX 2080 and its siblings special?

Nvidia's Turing architecture allows the RTX cards to perform real-time ray tracing, which allows for extremely realistic lighting and reflections. Before Turing, the only way to get ray tracing into a game was in pre-rendered cutscenes.

Nvidia's new GPUs not only have dedicated ray-tracing (RT) cores, but also A.I. "Tensor Core" that help predict what pixels are needed to create the effect. According to Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang "reflections will never be the same again."

Turing also promises faster performance in non-ray tracing workloads than the previous Pascal architecture. The company claims that an improved graphics pipeline, more CUDA cores (Nvidia's GPU cores) and new shading techniques help overall frame rates. The cards use GDDR6 memory which should provide a significant speed bump over the GDDR5 memory in the Pascal cards.

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is a process that creates highly-realistic lighting effects in computer graphics such as games. Without ray tracing, computers use a process called "rasterization" to create the illusion of depth, mapping polygons into 3D models and using shaders, which change the colors of pixels to simulate what light would look like bouncing off of them.

Ray tracing uses a different methodology, working backward from the viewer's (aka the game player's) perspective and plotting where rays of light would hit virtual objects and how they would create reflections, hot spots and shadows.

During its announcement press conference, Nvidia showed a number of examples of games with RTX (aka ray-tracing) effects. In Battlefield V, an image of a car showed photo-realistic reflections of a fire (that was diagonally behind it) with RTX on and just bright reflections with it off.

Battlefield V with RTX On

Battlefield V with RTX Off

Which games will support for real-time ray tracing?

We've got a complete list here, but so far, we've only heard of 11 titles that include Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, MechWarrior 5 and Metro Exodus. There are also 16 announced games that will support Nvidia's new Deep Learning Super-Sampling feature, which is designed to improve image quality.

What RTX GPUs is Nvidia releasing?

There are three new GPUs coming to the market, with the RTX 2080 Ti at the high end of the stack and RTX 2070 at the bottom. The table below has specs and pricing for the Founder's Edition versions of the cards (Nvidia's first-party cards).

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders EditionGeForce RTX 2080 Ti Reference SpecsGeForce RTX 2080 Founders EditionGeForce RTX 2080 Reference SpecGeForce RTX 2070 Founders EditionGeForce RTX 2070 Reference Spec
CUDA Cores435243522944294423042304
Boost Clock1635MHz (OC)1545MHz1800MHz (OC)1710MHz1710MHz(OC)1620MHz
Base Clock1350MHz1350MHz1515MHz1515MHz1410MHz1410MHz
USB Type-C and VirtualLinkYesYesYesYesYesYes
Maximum Resolution7680x43207680x43207680x43207680x43207680x43207680x4320
ConnectorsDisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type-C-DisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type-CDisplayPort, HDMIDisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type-C-
Graphics Card Power260W250W225W215W175W185W

Third-party cards may have slightly different specs such as an overclocked GPU and / or different ports.

How much do the RTX cards cost?

Nvidia's MSRP for the Founder's Edition cards is $1,199 for the RTX 2080 Ti, $799 for the RTX 2080 and $599 for the RTX 2070. During his announcement, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang showed a slide, showing prices of $499, $699 and $999 for the chips so we assume that he was talking about third-party cards with lower prices.

As of this writing, we found third-party RTX 2080 Ti cars available for order with prices ranging from $1,169 to $1,629 and RTX 2080 cards with prices from $749 to $869.

What third-party RTX cards are there?

All of the major video card vendors that typically make Nvidia-powered cards have announced their RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti cards. These include Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, and Zotac. There are about four dozen cards available for pre-order. See our comprehensive list of third-party Turing cards for more details.

RTX 2080 Card from EVGA

We have not seen any RTX 2070 cards listed for preorder, probably because the 2070 isn't due out until October.

When are the Nvidia RTX cards coming out?

The RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 will start shipping on September 20th. Nvidia has not given a precise date for the RTX 2070, other than to say that it is coming sometime in October.

What connectors do they have?

Third-party cards may have different ports, but the Founder's Edition RTX 2080, 2080 Ti and 2070 will all have DisplayPort, HDMI and USB Type-C out. The Type-C connection will support the new VirtualLink VR connection standard.

Nvidia NVLink

The RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti GPUs will also use Nvidia's proprietary NVLink, instead of the old SLI-standard, to connect two of the cards together. You'll have to buy a $79 NVLink Bridge to make a pair of these new cards work in tandem.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.
  • AgentLozen
    Those are some juicy rumors you've got there.
    We'll see how this pans out in a few months.
  • Zaporro
    Such a shame to see such low quality posts on Toms Hardware. Quoting "anonymous sources" and websites reposting same posts from "sources" known for making information up just like that.
    But i already got used to the quality of articles on toms hardware going lower and lower with each day.
  • scohen158
    @Zaporro....Anonymous sources don't necessarily mean not true. I take everything until actual release of product with a grain of salt. However certain people in the know may have to share as an anonymous source otherwise they may be easily found out in breach of contract and risk losing their Job/Career. Again it's very possible it is all made up but you can't just dismiss all anonymous source reports as sometimes the source has to protect themselves.
  • kougeru
    Wccftech is a joke though
  • John Nemesh
    Based on the rumored specs, it looks like AMD has a golden opportunity here to one-up Nvidia! These specs are really underwhelming.
  • scohen158
    20975304 said:
    Wccftech is a joke though

    True but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  • rygar
    I saw another rumor yesterday saying anonymous sources inside Nvidia told them that they were going to skip these and go directly to 7nm, releasing around November.
  • rygar
    @John - everything I have heard about AMDs card is that 7nm Vega will come in around the 2 year old 1080 in performance with a decent price drop.

    Everything about 7nm Navi is saying that it will not be a consumer card and if they do decide to release it, it will be prosumer like the Titan V ($3,000 range)

    Based on that, the 1180 with either of the rumored specs would completely smoke 7nm Vega.
  • urbanman2004
    I just want an 1180 at MSRP, that is all
  • tubagznyven
    ready to splash my money