EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra Review 52

EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra Review




EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra is the company's premium air-cooled graphics card based on the swanky new GeForce RTX 3080 "Ampere" GPU that everyone wants a piece of. The FTW3 Ultra in this review is a fully custom-design rendition of the RTX 3080 by EVGA, and is targeted at those who seek a well-rounded RTX 3080 card complete with all the overclocking features and RGB bling characteristic of premium-custom graphics cards. EVGA seems to have listened to what the high-end market wants in terms of aesthetics, and has given the FTW3 Ultra generous amounts of RGB lighting and product style. We see a unique "V3" arrangement of fans on this massive graphics card.

The GeForce RTX 3080 "Ampere" is being pushed by NVIDIA as its latest flagship graphics card, even knowing that the faster RTX 3090 exists, too. This is because the RTX 3080 10 GB is targeted squarely at gamers who want to play at 4K UHD with RTX raytracing turned on, unlike the RTX 3090, which has potential benefits for the creator crowd thanks to its massive 24 GB memory. The RTX 3080 offers AAA RTX gaming at 4K UHD at a price you got 1440p-class graphics cards for. The new Ampere graphics architecture by NVIDIA brings you the 2nd generation of the company's RTX real-time raytracing technology. NVIDIA perfected a means of combining traditional raster graphics with certain real-time raytraced elements, such as lighting, shadows, reflections, ambient occlusion, and global illumination, to make the hybrid raster+raytraced 3D scene as true to life as possible. With the 2nd gen RTX, NVIDIA is introducing raytraced motion-blur, an effect that's so difficult to pull off in real-time, that it takes fixed-function hardware.

The 2nd generation RTX is a combination of the new "Ampere" CUDA core that can process concurrent FP32+INT32 operations, 2nd generation RT cores that feature dedicated hardware with temporal components to accelerate raytraced motion-blur, besides a doubling in raytracing performance over "Turing" RT cores, and the new 3rd generation Tensor cores that leverage the sparsity phenomenon in deep-learning neural nets to accelerate AI inference performance by an order of magnitude over the previous generation. NVIDIA heavily leverages AI in its consumer graphics stack, including an AI-based denoiser for RTX, and for the DLSS performance enhancing feature.

NVIDIA has also more than doubled the SIMD horsepower of the RTX 3080 over its predecessor, the RTX 2080, with a staggering 8,704 CUDA cores, 68 RT cores, 272 tensor cores, 272 TMUs, and 96 ROPs. To ensure a steady stream of data to these, the company sought to significantly increase the memory bandwidth, by opting not just for 10 GB of memory across a 320-bit wide memory interface, but innovating a whole new memory standard—GDDR6X, which ticks at a blistering 19 Gbps, working out to 760 GB/s of memory bandwidth—70% higher than that of the RTX 2080. The new "GA102" silicon at the heart of the RTX 3080 is built on a new 8 nm silicon fabrication process Samsung designed specially for NVIDIA. The card also takes advantage of PCI-Express 4.0 x16, which means it is ready for new-generation desktop platforms.

The GeForce RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra won't be what it is without the innovative new iCX3 cooling solution by EVGA. This triple-slot cooler leverages a large aluminium fin-stack heatsink with high fin surface area; and three hydro-dynamic bearing fans that are arranged such that the middle fan is pushed slightly off the alignment of the two other fans. EVGA also innovated cutouts in the PCB at various places, so air from the cooler can flow right through, similar to the dual axial flow-through cooling solution of the Founders Edition card. The FTW3 also features three 8-pin PCIe power inputs to support overclocking headroom for the RTX 3080, which pulls 320 W typical board power even in its reference speeds. It won't be an FTW3 card without a meaty factory-overclock, and EVGA has tuned the card to go up to 1800 MHz GPU Boost out of the box, compared to 1710 MHz reference. EVGA is pricing the RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra at USD $810, a $110 premium over the Founders Edition card. EVGA also has the RTX 3080 FTW3 Gaming, at $790, which is the exact same card, just with lower clocks out of the box.

GeForce RTX 3080 Market Segment Analysis
GTX 1080 Ti$6503584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$3702560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070$3402304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super$4502560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$6803840641802 MHzN/A1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080$6002944641515 MHz1710 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super$6903072641650 MHz1815 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$10004352881350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
RTX 3070$5005888961500 MHz1725 MHz1750 MHzGA10417400M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3080$7008704961440 MHz1710 MHz1188 MHzGA10228000M10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit
FTW3 Ultra
$8108704961440 MHz1800 MHz1188 MHzGA10228000M10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit
RTX 3090$1500104961121395 MHz1695 MHz1219 MHzGA10228000M24 GB, GDDR6X, 384-bit


Package Front
Package Back

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back
Graphics Card Front Angled

EVGA has completely revamped their design language with the RTX 30 series. Instead of a transparent cooler shroud we now get classic black that's paired with silver metal highlights and a red trim. I have to say I really like the red, even though it clashes a bit with NVIDIA's "green" color theme. On the back you'll find a high-quality metal backplate.

Graphics Card Dimensions

Dimensions of the card are 30 x 14 cm.

Graphics Card Height
Graphics Card Back Angled

Installation requires three slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include three standard DisplayPort 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1. 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.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

Unlike the NVIDIA Founders Edition card that introduces the new 12-pin power input, EVGA sticks to industry standard 8-pin PCIe power inputs, but there are three of them. Combined with PCIe slot power, this configuration is rated for 525 W.

Near the back of the card you'll find two pin headers. The first one is to provide an RGB signal to other components, so they can be synced with the graphics card RGB. The second one lets you connect a case fan to the graphics card, making it spin at the same rate as the GPU fans. Since the graphics card is the highest heat output in most computers, this makes a lot of sense—idle fan stop during browsing and productivity—fans running when gaming.

This BIOS switch lets you toggle between the normal (default) BIOS and an "OC" BIOS. Both BIOSes run the same clocks and voltages, the only difference is that "OC" has no fan-stop and the fan curve is a bit more aggressive.

Multi-GPU Area

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.


Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

EVGA's heatsink uses a copper baseplate to spread the heat, and six heatpipes that move the heat away quickly from the GPU.

The backplate is made of metal and protects the card against damage during installation and handling. It would have been nice to see some thermal pads here, like on other cards, to reduce temperatures by a degree or two.

High-resolution PCB Pictures

These pictures are for the convenience of volt modders and people who would like to see all the finer details on the PCB. Feel free to link back to us and use these in your articles or forum posts.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

High-res versions are also available (front, back).

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