ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC Review 215

ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC will retail for $730.
  • Huge performance increase over RTX 2080/2080 Ti
  • 60 FPS 4K gaming a reality now
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Very good noise levels
  • Fantastic memory overclocking potential
  • Idle fan stop
  • Slightly better power efficiency than Founders Edition
  • Dual BIOS
  • Adjustable RGB lighting
  • Power limit increased
  • 2nd generation hardware-accelerated raytracing
  • Support for HDMI 2.1, AV1 decode
  • DLSS improved
  • PCI-Express 4.0
  • New GeForce Features: Reflex, Broadcast, G-SYNC 360, and RTX-IO
  • 8 nanometer production process
  • Two HDMI 2.1 ports—one more than FE
  • Makes little sense for gamers without a 4K or 1440p high refresh-rate monitor
  • Runs into power limit all the time
  • Memory not overclocked
  • Overclocking more complicated due to power limit
Yesterday was an exciting day for gamers—NVIDIA lifted the embargo on GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition reviews. General sentiment so far is that this has been an excellent launch, albeit some discussions in our forums are still ongoing. Today is the NDA lift for custom-design cards from NVIDIA's board partners, and we have the following reviews for you: ASUS RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC, MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio, Palit RTX 3080 Gaming Pro OC, and ZOTAC RTX 3080 Trinity. If you haven't, check out yesterday's RTX 3080 Founders Edition Review for some background on what we'll be talking about.

The ASUS GeForce RTX 3080 TUF Gaming is not the flagship—the ROG STRIX will be released soon. On the other hand, this means the TUF Gaming is more affordable at just $730 for the OC version and $700 for the non-OC version, which is identical to the OC version otherwise. ASUS has taken inspiration from the Founders Edition and implemented a through-flow design for the third fan. The other two fans operate in the classic way. ASUS has overclocked their card out of the box to a rated boost of 1785 MHz, which is a 75 MHz increase over the Founders Edition's 1710 MHz, or 4.4%. As you know, NVIDIA's Boost rating is just a theoretical value that gives a rough indication of what to expect in real life. We measured actual GPU clocks using our whole benchmarking suite and got 1967 MHz, which is 1.8% higher than the 1931 MHz on the Founders Edition.

Looking at actual performance gains, the ASUS RTX 3080 TUF Gaming is 3% faster than the Founders Edition at 4K resolution in all our games—not a whole lot. It seems the GeForce RTX 3080 is limited by how far board partners can increase the board power limit. In the case of the ASUS TUF, the power limit is set to 340 W (vs. 320 W on FE). The ASUS card achieves very impressive FPS numbers in games—nearly all games in our test suite run at well over 60 FPS. The only exception is Control, which is kinda close at 49.6 FPS, although DLSS will easily lift you over the 60 FPS mark. Compared to the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, that's a 35% performance uplift. Compared to the RTX 2080, which the RTX 3080 is replacing, the performance increase is a staggering 72%. AMD's fastest, the Radeon RX 5700 XT, will give you less than half (!) the FPS.

If you are looking for fluid 4K gaming, the RTX 3080 is the card you want. At lower resolutions many games are CPU bottlenecked though, so the card won't be able to play out its full potential. The RTX 3080 is also a good option for 1440p high-refresh-rate gaming, but I definitely wouldn't spend that much money for just Full HD 1080p gaming.

While we are usually reviewing the ROG STRIX top-dog cards from ASUS, I'm actually happy to have a TUF Gaming this time. Since these cards are much more affordable, they appeal to a larger audience. ASUS did a great job with the cooler; its three fans achieve outstanding temperatures that are better than any other RTX 3080 we've tested today. With just 63°C, the card is 15°C cooler than the Founders Edition. While that sure looks nice, it comes at the cost of fan noise. Despite the much bigger heatsink, the TUF Gaming is only 1 dBA quieter than the FE—nothing you'd ever notice subjectively. ASUS has an ace up their sleeve, though. The TUF has a dual-BIOS feature, which lets you pick between the default "Performance" BIOS and a "quiet" BIOS, which runs a more relaxed fan curve with slightly lower clocks. With the quiet BIOS activate, noise levels reach an incredible 31 dBA—previously unimaginable for a 4K 60 FPS card. Even with the quiet BIOS, temperatures are still an excellent 71°C. NVIDIA has introduced fan stop on their Founders Edition with Ampere, which means all board partners are expected to adopt this crucial feature, too. When not gaming, the fans on the ASUS TUF Gaming OC will shut off completely for the perfect noise-free experience.

Power consumption of the ASUS TUF Gaming is pretty much identical to the Founders Edition, only a little bit higher in idle probably because of changes in the VRM circuitry, the third fan, and the RGB bling. Gaming power draw is slightly higher, too, but you get more performance for it, so it's a reasonable trade-off. When running Furmark, we measured power draw that's a bit above the spec, with 405 W at an input spec of 375 W. Not a big deal, typical gaming power draw is well below that limit anyway. For the overclockers, ASUS has increased the manual adjustment power limit to 375 W, which is the highest value of all RTX 3080 cards we're testing today. The increase over the FE is just 5 W though, so not a huge difference.

Overclocking still worked fine. We achieved a 2.9% real-life performance gain. GPU overclocking was definitely held back a bit by the board power limit, just like on all other Ampere cards. The power limiter complicates overclocking, too, just like on Turing. Since you can no longer dial in an exact frequency, you'll spend a bit more time working on getting your OC stable.

ASUS expects their RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC to retail for $730, which is just a 4% cost increase. You get a much better cooler in return, and a small overclock out of the box, which alone can't justify the pricing, though. I'd still buy the TUF because I have plenty of space in my case for a triple-slot card, and low noise is very important to me. Adjustable RGB lighting might be the feature that will sway others to pick this card over the Founders Edition, which just has fixed white lighting. On the other hand, the clean, understated looks of the Founders Edition will appeal to many, and it also comes at highly competitive pricing. You feel like the OC isn't big enough for you to justify the cost, but still want the TUF cooler? No problem, the TUF is also available without the "OC", but the same PCB and cooler, for the NVIDIA MSRP of $699. TUF Gaming is finally TUF.
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