Right in time for Computex, NVIDIA had great news to share: the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is launching—reviews today, in stores tomorrow. We have a total of six GeForce RTX 3080 Ti reviews today: ASUS RTX 3080 Ti STRIX LC
, EVGA RTX 3080 Ti FTW3 Ultra
, MSI RTX 3080 Ti Suprim X
, Palit RTX 3080 Ti Gaming Pro
, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
, and Zotac RTX 3080 Ti AMP HoloBlack
The GeForce RTX 3080 has been a huge success NVIDIA sought to +1—partly because AMD has launched extremely competitive cards in the meantime, partly to introduce their hash-rate limiter designed to make new GeForce cards unattractive to miners. The Radeon RX 6800 XT matched the 3080, which the RX 6900 XT beat. That's why NVIDIA has increased the number of cores by a 17%, from 8,704 to 10,240. At the same time, the memory bus width got bumped to 384-bit, matching the RTX 3090. VRAM has also been increased from 10 GB to 12 GB, a good PR move, though of little effect in real-life gaming. ASUS went all out with their STRIX LC Liquid Cooled RTX 3080 Ti. The factory OC is among the largest today, 1830 MHz is a +165 MHz increase over the NVIDIA reference speeds.
Averaged over our 22-game-strong test suite at 4K resolution, the ASUS RTX 3080 Ti STRIX LC ends up 6% faster than the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition, making it the fastest RTX 3080 Ti tested today. This lets the STRIX beat the RTX 3090 by 5%, which is very impressive.. The RTX 3080 is 16% slower. AMD's Radeon RX 6800 XT is beat by 17%, and even the RX 6900 XT can't keep up since it's 11% slower. Against last generation's RTX 2080 Ti, the performance uplift is 56%.
With those performance numbers, RTX 3080 Ti is the perfect choice for 4K gaming at 60 FPS and above. It's probably the only resolution you should consider for this beast because even at 1440p, we've seen some titles get CPU limited—for 1080p it's definitely overkill. On the other hand, if you have a strong CPU and a 1440p high-refresh-rate monitor, the 3080 Ti could be an option. The added performance of the RTX 3080 Ti will also give you more headroom in case future game titles significantly increase their hardware requirements, which seems unlikely considering the new consoles are out and their hardware specifications will define what's possible for the next few years.
There are no big surprises with raytracing performance; the RTX 3080 Ti is basically 10% faster than RTX 3080 and nearly as fast as RTX 3090. The underlying reason is that there has been no change in the GPU chip or GPU architecture. Still, compared to AMD Radeon RDNA2, NVIDIA's raytracing performance is better. The new game consoles use AMD graphics tech, though, so we'll see how much of that can be helped with optimization, or simply choosing less demanding RT implementations. For example, Resident Evil Village has support for raytracing, but only uses very limited RT effects, which cushions the performance penalty incurred by Radeon cards. I'm sure we'll learn more about whether this trend can persist in the coming months, or if the only option for serious raytracing will continue to be NVIDIA GeForce.
ASUS did a great job putting preinstalled watercooling on a triple-slot card. I do know that they've been working on this concept for years, and we've seen several iterations of it previously, on the RX 6800 XT STRIX LC. The new watercooler on the RTX 3080 Ti STRIX LC combines a copper waterblock with the pump for a single unit that sits right on top of the GPU. The waterblock not only cools the GPU chip, but also the memory chips. Secondary components, like the VRM circuitry, are cooled by a single fan installed in the traditional location on the graphics card. ASUS also did a fantastic job with the VRM. It's now a mammoth 18-phases for the GPU only, powered by the excellent Monolithic controllers paired with Texas Instruments DrMOS chips.
Temperatures are outstanding because of the watercooler. Even under full load, the GPU only reached 51°C, and memory 70°C. While this is definitely impressive, I think ASUS focused on low temperatures too much. With 42 dBA, the card is one of the loudest reviewed today, louder than the Founders Edition. What I don't get is why ASUS did not allow for a few more degrees with a better balance between noise levels and temperatures. Maybe it's because the card has dual BIOS, with the second BIOS the "quiet mode." When activated, noise output drops to 33.5 dBA, which is very quiet. It's still slightly louder than the purely air-cooled MSI Suprim X with its quiet BIOS active. If willing to run a custom fan curve, you'll be able to achieve amazing noise levels with the STRIX LC because the radiator is able to move much more heat than any dual, triple, or even quad-slot cooler. With Ampere, NVIDIA introduced idle fan stop on their Founders Edition, which makes fan stop a mandatory capability for custom designs, too. In idle, during desktop work, internet browsing, and light gaming, the ASUS RTX 3080 Ti STRIX LC will turn off its fans completely for the perfect noise-free experience. The pump will still be running in that state and constantly emit a low-pitched hum, not a rattle, almost impossible to notice with no other noise sources.
ASUS has increased their card's power limit to 400 W, which is the highest setting seen today; EVGA and MSI use 400 W, too. When it comes to the manual adjustment power limit, ASUS is also #1 with up to 450 W, same as the EVGA FTW3 Ultra. What I do wonder is why more wasn't given to us. The card has three 8-pins, so it should be able to pull up to 525 W in theory. Overclocking potential was good, too, and maximum OC performance achieved the best result of all RTX 3080 Ti cards tested today, though differences are slim.
According to ASUS, the RTX 3080 Ti STRIX LC will retail for $2100, which is a $900 increase over the NVIDIA MSRP. Pretty crazy? I'm not sure. No doubt, the watercooling unit doesn't add that much cost. It rather seems ASUS will be pocketing some of the crazy price inflation themselves. There's no doubt that a $1200 price point is unrealistic for the RTX 3080 Ti and won't hold for long. I'm predicting we'll see $2000 for the RTX 3080 Ti, so maybe ASUS is doing the right thing here? I don't know. In normal market conditions, there is simply no way you should pay such a premium for a card of the same class, no matter the improvements. For the case of the STRIX LC, I could see myself spending maybe $2300 if the base RTX 3080 Ti ends up at $2000, but not more. On the other hand, with the STRIX LC, you're getting higher performance than even the RTX 3090, so if money is no object and you want to impress your friends, do consider the STRIX LC.