Nvidia’s Turing Architecture Explored: Inside the GeForce RTX 2080

Nvidia’s Founders Edition: Farewell, Beautiful Blower

The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070 Founders Edition cards represent a departure from the “reference” design we were first introduced to in 2012 with GeForce GTX 690. After the 690, we grew to appreciate cards like the original GeForce GTX Titan with its centrifugal fan that blew heated air out the dual-slot bracket and away from your PC’s guts. Many enthusiasts felt differently, though. Because centrifugal fans move air through heat sinks quickly, they tend to be noisier under load than more free-flowing thermal solutions with multiple axial fans. And because Nvidia tried to keep their reference boards running quietly, they were often accused of limiting peak GPU Boost clock rates or even outright throttling performance.

Sadly for us, those days are gone. The new Founders Edition design eschews a centrifugal fan for two axial fans. They sit atop a dense fin stack that surrounds what Nvidia calls the largest vapor chamber ever used on a graphics card. A forged aluminum cover encircles the cooler’s length but leaves the top and bottom open. Heated air is consequently directed up out the top and down towards your motherboard, possibly in the direction of an M.2-based SSD installed underneath. The aesthetic just isn’t as distinct, sacrificing the prestige of Nvidia’s previous-gen reference boards.  

Gamers who put a lot of care into building PCs with plenty of airflow should enjoy a better experience overall though; the axial fans can dissipate more power or drive lower temperatures at a given noise level. Alternatively, the axial fans offer improved acoustics compared to blowers in a power-limited condition. Either way, there’s a silver lining for anyone who preferred the elegance of a centrifugal fan exhausting heated air but is willing to entertain the merits of Nvidia’s latest creation.

Another potential selling point is improved overclocking headroom. Some of this comes from the cooler’s increased capacity. But Nvidia also says its power supply facilitates close to 60W of additional capacity beyond the stock 260W. At the same time, efficiency is optimized using an eight-phase power supply able to dynamically turn phases on and off based on load.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table

MORE: All Graphics Content

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • siege19
    "And although veterans in the hardware field have their own opinions of what real-time ray tracing means to an immersive gaming experience, I’ve been around long enough to know that you cannot recommend hardware based only on promises of what’s to come."

    So wait, do I preorder or not? (kidding)
  • jimmysmitty
    Well done article Chris. This is why I love you. Details and logical thinking based on the facts we have.

    Next up benchmarks. Can't wait to see if the improvements nVidia made come to fruition in performance worthy of the price.
  • Lutfij
    Holding out with bated breath about performance metrics.
    Pricing seems to be off but the followup review should guide users as to it's worth!
  • Krazie_Ivan
    i didn't expect the 2070 to be on TU106. as noted in the article, **106 has been a mid-range ($240-ish msrp) chip for a few generations... asking $500-600 for a mid-range GPU is insanity. esp since there's no way it'll have playable fps with RT "on" if the 2080ti struggles to maintain 60. DLSS is promisingly cool, but that's still not worth the MASSIVE cost increases.
  • jimmysmitty
    21319910 said:
    i didn't expect the 2070 to be on TU106. as noted in the article, **106 has been a mid-range ($240-ish msrp) chip for a few generations... asking $500-600 for a mid-range GPU is insanity. esp since there's no way it'll have playable fps with RT "on" if the 2080ti struggles to maintain 60. DLSS is promisingly cool, but that's still not worth the MASSIVE cost increases.

    It is possible that they are changing their lineup scheme. 106 might have become the low high end card and they might have something lower to replace it. This happens all the time.
  • Lucky_SLS
    turing does seem to have the ability to pump up the fps if used right with all its features. I just hope that nvidia really made a card to power up its upcoming 4k 200hz hdr g sync monitors. wow, thats a mouthful!
  • anthonyinsd
    ooh man the jedi mind trick Nvidia played on hyperbolic gamers to get rid of thier overstock is gonna be EPIC!!! and just based on facts: 12nm gddr6 awesome new voltage regulation and to GAME only processes thats a win in my book. I mean if all you care is about is your rast score, then you should be on the hunt for a titan V, if it doesn't rast its trash lol. been 10 years since econ 101, but if you want to get rid of overstock you dont tell much about the new product till its out; then the people who thought they were smart getting the older product, now want o buy the new one too....
  • none12345
    I see a lot of features that are seemingly designed to save compute resources and output lower image quality. With the promise that those savings will then be applied to increase image quality on the whole.

    I'm quite dubious about this. My worry is that some of the areas of computer graphics that need the most love, are going to get even worse. We can only hope that overall image quality goes up at the same frame rate. Rather then frame rate going up, and parts of the image getting worse.

    I do not long to return to the day where different graphics cards output difference image quality at the same up front graphics settings. This was very annoying in the past. You had some cards that looked faster if you just looked at their fps numbers. But then you looked at the image quality and noticed that one was noticeably worse.

    I worry that in the end we might end up in the age of blur. Where we have localized areas of shiny highly detailed objects/effects layered on top of an increasingly blurry background.
  • CaptainTom
    I have to admit that since I have a high-refresh (non-Adaptive Sync) monitor, I am eyeing the 2080 Ti. DLSS would be nice if it was free in 1080p (and worked well), and I still don't need to worry about Gstink. But then again I have a sneaking suspicion that AMD is going to respond with 7nm Cards sooner than everyone expects, so we'll see.

    P.S. Guys the 650 Ti was a 106 card lol. Now a xx70 is a 106 card. Can't believe the tech press is actually ignoring the fact that Nvidia is relabeling their low-end offering as a xx70, and selling it for $600 (Halo product pricing). I swear Nvidia could get away with murder...
  • mlee 2500
    4nm is no longer considered a "Slight Density Improvement".

    Hasn't been for over a decade. It's only lumped in with 16 from a marketing standpoint becuase it's no longer the flagship lithography (7nm).