The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 is the follow-up to last month's RTX 4090 launch, now one of the best graphics cards and the top listing in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy. Of course, a bit of the shine has come off thanks to the melting 16-pin connectors. The good news: RTX 4080 uses less power, which should mean it's also less likely to funnel enough power to melt the plastic connector… maybe. The bad news: At $1,199, it's still priced out of reach for most gamers and represents a big jump in generational pricing, inheriting the RTX 3080 Ti launch price that we also felt was too high.
We already know most of what to expect from Nvidia's Ada Lovelace architecture, so the only real question now is how performance scales down to fewer GPU shaders, less memory, less cache, a narrower memory interface, etc. Let's quickly look at the specifications for a few of the top Nvidia and AMD GPUs.
|Graphics Card||RTX 4080||RTX 4090||RTX 3090 Ti||RTX 3080 Ti||RTX 3080||RX 7900 XTX||RX 7900 XT|
|Architecture||AD103||AD102||GA102||GA102||GA102||Navi 31||Navi 31|
|Process Technology||TSMC 4N||TSMC 4N||Samsung 8N||Samsung 8N||Samsung 8N||TSMC N5 + N6||TSMC N5 + N6|
|Transistors (Billion)||45.9||76.3||28.3||28.3||28.3||45.6 + 6x 2.05||45.6 + 5x 2.05|
|Die size (mm^2)||378.6||608.4||628.4||628.4||628.4||300 + 222||300 + 185|
|Ray Tracing "Cores"||76||128||84||80||68||96||84|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||2505||2520||1860||1665||1710||2500||2400|
|VRAM Speed (Gbps)||22.4||21||21||19||19||20||20|
|VRAM Bus Width||256||384||384||384||320||384||320|
|TFLOPS FP16 (FP8/INT8)||390 (780)||661 (1321)||160 (320)||136 (273)||119 (238)||123 (246)||103 (206)|
|Launch Date||Nov 2022||Oct 2022||Mar 2022||Jun 2021||Sep 2020||Dec 2022||Dec 2022|
There's a relatively large gap between the RTX 4080 and the larger RTX 4090. You get most of an AD103 GPU — 76 of the potential 80 Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs) — but that's still 40% fewer GPU shaders and other functional units than the RTX 4090. Clock speeds are similar, you get 33% fewer memory channels, VRAM, and bandwidth, and the rated TBP drops by 29%. On paper, the RTX 4090 could be up to 70% faster based on the theoretical compute performance, and that's a concern.
$1,199 is hardly affordable, so it feels like anyone even looking at the RTX 4080 should probably just save up the additional $400 for the RTX 4090 and go for broke — or melted. But then the RTX 4090 has been sold out at anywhere below $2,100 since launch, which means it could actually be a $900 upsell, and that's far more significant.
The pricing becomes even more of a concern when we factor in AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XTX/XT cards coming next month. We now have all the pertinent details for the first cards using AMD's RDNA 3 GPU architecture, and they certainly look promising. Prices are still high, but the specs comparisons suggest AMD might be able to beat the RTX 4080 while costing at least $200–$300 less. This means, unless you absolutely refuse to consider purchasing an AMD graphics card, you should at least wait until next month to see what the red team has to offer.
However, Nvidia does have some extras that AMD is unlikely to match in the near term. For example, the Deep learning and AI horsepower in RTX 4080 far surpass what AMD intends to offer. If we've got the figures right, AMD's FP16 and INT8 throughput will be less than a third of the RTX 4080.
Nvidia also offers DLSS 3 courtesy of the enhanced Optical Flow Accelerator (OFA). Ten games already support the technology: Bright Memory: Infinite, Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed, F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch, F1 22, Justice, Loopmancer, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, Microsoft Flight Simulator, A Plague Tale: Requiem, and Super People. That's about half as many DLSS 3 games in less than a month as those with AMD's FSR2 technology. Of course, you need an RTX 40-series GPU for DLSS 3, while FSR2 works with pretty much everything.
Nvidia GPUs also tend to be heavily favored by professional users, or at least their employers. So while true workstations will likely opt for the RTX 6000 48GB card as opposed to a GeForce RTX 40-series, there's certainly potential in picking up one or more RTX 4080 cards for AI and deep learning use. Content creators may also find something to like, though again, if you're willing to pay for a 4080, it may not be a huge step up in pricing to nab a 4090 instead.
Another piece of good news (depending on which side of the aisle you fall, we suppose) is that GPU mining remains unprofitable. Gamers won't be able to offset the price of a new graphics card through cryptocurrency mining, but at least there should be more GPUs available for gamers. Now let's see exactly what Nvidia has to offer with its new RTX 4080.