Rumored Nvidia RTX 3080 Photo Shows off Wacky Heatsink

(Image credit: LeeJiangLee/Reddit)

We're eagerly awaiting more news on Nvidia RTX 3080 and Ampere, the vendor's next-gen graphics card architecture. Keeping us busy while we wait, a Redditor today shared a photograph of a gigantic heatsink with the caption "RTX 3080?" If this is indeed Nvidia's Founders Edition cooler for Ampere, we can expect beastly GPUs that aren't easily tamed. 

The heatsink photographed has a very intricate design compared to current Founder's Edition graphics cards. The alleged Ampere heatsink appears to have two main stacks of aluminium fin arrays complemented by two trapezoid-shaped stacks.

As exposed by the baseplate, the primary stack should cool Ampere's GPU, which is presumed to be the GA102 die for the GeForce RTX 3090 (Ti / Super), RTX 3080 (Ti / Super) and RTX 3070. Given the position of the GPU itself and the fan cutout on the image, odds are that the graphics card's memory and power delivery subsystem also benefit from the cooling. 

The primary stack is connected to a secondary stack via four heat pipes. The secondary stack also depends on a fan for active cooling, but it's located on the reverse side of the graphics card.

The biggest talking point about the rumored Founders Edition cooler is the position of the fans. Instead of a traditional design, the photo shows the two fans on opposite sides of the shroud. 

The bottom fan is likely for intake, while there are more possibilities for the top fan. Ideally, the top fan should be used as an outake to expel the hot air out of the graphics card. However, the top fan could also serve as an intake. In that case, the hot air would likely have to exit the graphics card through the middle of the shroud, since both fans would be pushing air inside the card.

Of course, Nvidia hasn't verified the image (or even announced its upcoming consumer cards), so we can't be sure that it's real. If it is, however, it'd be interesting to see how such a design compares to traditional ones when it comes to performance. Ampere-powered graphics cards are rumored to have a TDP (thermal design power) up to 350W, and the new Founders Edition cooler allegedly costs $150 on its own, so it better work wonders. Ultimately, aesthetics takes a backseat to functionality. 

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • A Stoner
    This could be a failed experimental version and why it was leaked is that it is no longer in the pipeline as a possible heat sink. They probably go through lots of itterations of their heat sink before they settle on the best cost/benefit ratio.
  • Soaptrail
    I like the idea of an outtake fan but would adding cooling to the top side of the card cause compatibility issues with other components?

    Maybe this is a BTX design?