Subjectively, this is the best-looking product to wear the TUF Gaming badge by ASUS. The brand has come a long way, and this particular card sheds much of the "cheapness" associated with older generations of TUF Gaming graphics cards. It easily matches up to some of their premium designs. There's close to no illuminated bling, and an airy metal cooler shroud exposes as much of the heatsink underneath as possible.
Dimensions of the card are 30 x 14.5 cm. There's a needless amount of height added by that stub towards the end.
Installation requires three slots in your system.
Display connectivity options include three standard DisplayPort 1.4a and two HDMI 2.1 (one more than other cards). Interestingly, the USB-C port for VR headsets, which NVIDIA introduced on Turing Founders Editions, has been removed—guess it didn't take off as planned.
The DisplayPort 1.4a outputs support Display Stream Compression (DSC) 1.2a, which lets you connect 4K displays at 120 Hz and 8K displays at 60 Hz. Ampere can drive two 8K displays at 60 Hz with just one cable per display. Ampere is the first GPU to support HDMI 2.1, which increases bandwidth to 48 Gbps to support higher resolutions, like 4K144 and 8K30, with a single cable. With DSC, this goes up to 4K240 and 8K120.
NVIDIA's new NVENC/NVDEC video engine is optimized to handle video tasks with minimal CPU load. The highlight here is added support for AV1 decode. Just like on Turing, you may also decode MPEG-2, VC1, VP8, VP9, H.264, and H.265 natively, at up to 8K@12-bit. The encoder is identical to Turing; it supports H.264, H.265 and lossless at up to 8K@10-bit.
Unlike the Founders Edition card with its fancy 12-pin connector, the RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC uses a pair of conventional 8-pin PCIe power inputs right where you'd expect them. This configuration is rated for a maximum power delivery of 375 W.
ASUS includes a dual BIOS feature with the TUF. The default BIOS is "performance", and the "quiet" BIOS will run a more relaxed fan curve with less noise, but higher temperatures and slightly reduced gaming performance. Both BIOSes have idle fan stop.
The GeForce RTX 3080 does not support SLI. Its bigger brother, the RTX 3090, has SLI support. As both are based on the GA102 GPU, it's purely a segmentation choice. Multi-GPU really isn't supported widely anymore, so it's no big deal.
Disassembling the RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC is easy. You simply undo a bunch of screws to remove the backplate, and then turn a second set of screws to pull out the cooling solution. The cooler comes out as a clean piece, leaving behind the PCB and a base plate. The cooling solution uses two large aluminium fin stacks joined at the hip by six 6 mm-thick copper heat pipes.
The base plate on the ASUS RTX 3080 TUF Gaming is one of the more elaborate contraptions we've seen this generation. A metal plate makes contact with the memory chips and some of the VRM MOSFETs. Parts of the plate are interconnected by a flat heat pipe. Heat is dissipated by three aluminium fin stacks. There are also some flat surfaces where thermal pads pass some of the heat onto the main cooler.
As we mentioned earlier, the cooler is longer than the PCB, which means the extrusion of the cooler is cleverly utilized by punching a hole through the backplate and letting air exhaust through, much like the Dual Axial Flow-Through Founders Edition cooler. The backplate is made out of metal and pulls some heat over thermal pads.