Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming OC 8 GB Review 22

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming OC 8 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Gigabyte RTX 2080 Gaming OC is currently listed online for $830.
  • Faster than the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX Technology not gimmicky, brings tangible IQ improvements
  • Deep-learning feature set
  • Fans stop in idle
  • DLSS an effective new AA method
  • Highly energy efficient
  • Overclocked out of the box
  • Quiet in gaming
  • Backplate included
  • HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4, 8K support
  • High price
  • Small overclock out of the box
  • Power limit adjustment range lower than on Founders Edition
  • No Windows 7 support for RTX, requires Windows 10 Fall 2018 Update
  • Bogged down by power limits
  • High multi-monitor power consumption
Our exhaustive coverage of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20-series "Turing" debut also includes the following reviews:
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition 11 GB | NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition 8 GB | ASUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti STRIX OC 11 GB | ASUS GeForce RTX 2080 STRIX OC 8 GB | MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio 8 GB | MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio 11 GB | MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Duke 11 GB | NVIDIA RTX and Turing Architecture Deep-dive

Gigabyte's RTX 2080 Gaming OC comes with a large triple-slot, triple-fan cooler to keep temperatures and noise levels in check. The PCB, while slightly different in looks, is really just the NVIDIA Founders Edition PCB with the same 8+2 VRM configuration. With an out-of-the-box overclock of 1815 MHz boost, the RTX 2080 Gaming OC is clocked just 15 MHz higher than the Founders Edition, which is quite meager, especially compared to other RTX 2080 cards we've reviewed so far. Memory isn't overclocked even though the chips could certainly handle it, as our manual overclocking tests show.

Thanks to its out-of-the-box overclock, the Gigabyte RTX 2080 Gaming OC runs 2% faster when averaged over our test suite at 4K resolution, which isn't a lot. With those results, the RTX 2080 is the perfect choice for 1440p gaming, or 4K if you are willing to sacrifice some details settings to achieve 60 FPS. Compared to the RTX 2080 Ti, the 2080 Gaming OC is 26% behind. Compared to the Radeon RX Vega 64, which is the fastest graphics card AMD has on offer, the performance uplift is 47%.

We also tested the new "higher power limit" BIOS Gigabyte put up on their website a few days ago. Using that BIOS, the card delivered 1% higher performance, which is not insignificant considering the increase from OC out of the box only results in a 2% increase over the RTX 2080 FE. While we could measure the higher power draw from the new BIOS (about +15 W in gaming), noise levels and temperatures were not affected, which is why I'm recommending that every owner of the Gigabyte RTX 2080 Gaming OC flashes that new BIOS to their card. It's in our BIOS collection here. To flash, you can use the updated NVFlash from our Downloads section; it has Turing support. Newer shipments of the card will automatically come with a BIOS with higher power limit (as confirmed by Gigabyte).

NVIDIA only made small changes in their Boost 4.0 algorithm compared to what we saw with Pascal. For example, instead of dropping all the way to base clock when the card reaches its temperature target, there is now a grace zone in which temperatures drop slowly towards the base clock, which is reached when a second temperature cut-off point is hit. Temperatures of the Gigabyte RTX 2080 are a bit better than on the Founders Edition, by 3°C. Thermal throttling is a complete non-issue on both cards.

However, every single Turing card we tested so far will sit in its power limit all the time during gaming. This means the highest boost clocks are never reached during regular gameplay, which is in stark contrast to Pascal, where custom-designs were almost always running at peak boost clocks. It simply looks like with Turing, the bottleneck is no longer temperature, but power consumption or, rather, the BIOS-defined limit for it. Manually adjusting the power limit didn't solve the power-throttling problem, but it provided additional performance, of course, making this the easiest way to increase FPS besides manual overclocking. Surprisingly, even though the Gigabyte card is pretty much identical to the Founders Edition, Gigabyte has chosen to lower the maximum power limit adjustment range from 280 W to 245 W (default power limit is identical at 225 W). The company was quick to respond to that by posting the previously mentioned "higher power limit" BIOS, which increases both the default and maximum board power limit beyond Founders Edition levels.

NVIDIA has once more made significant improvements in power efficiency with their Turing architecture, which has roughly 10%–15% better performance per watt compared to Pascal. Compared to AMD, NVIDIA is now almost twice as power efficient and twice as fast at the same time! The red team has some catching up to do as power, which generates heat, which requires fan noise to get rid of, is now the number one limiting factor in graphics card design. While at launch, non-monitor power consumption of Turing was sky high, this has been partially fixed by a newer driver. Now single-monitor idle power is fine, but multi-monitor power draw is still much too high.

Gigabyte's thermal solution seems to aim at being slightly better than the Founders Edition cooler, although without the high cost, and the card succeeds at that. Temperatures are 3°C better, and noise levels are improved by 1 dBA in gaming. From a user's perspective, these numbers are too close to make a meaningful difference in daily use, so both coolers should be considered equal. However, what is definitely noticeable is the elimination of idle fan noise through the inclusion of the popular fan-stop-in-idle feature for a completely silent operation during idle, Internet browsing, and light gaming.

Overclocking, while just as complicated as on other Turing cards, is similar to other cards. It looks like the silicon lottery didn't give us the best GPU overclocker as the results are a few percent below what we've seen from competing cards, but the differences are small. Memory overclocks really well, on the other hand; 200 MHz is the highest result of all GeForce RTX cards we have tested so far.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX doesn't just give you more performance in existing games. It introduces RTX cores, which accelerate ray tracing—a rendering technique that can give you realism that's impossible with today's rasterization rendering. At this time, not a single game has RTX support, but the number of titles that will support it is growing by the day. We had the chance to check out a few demos and were impressed by the promise of ray tracing in games. Many studios have already announced support for RTX, but it'll be a long time before ray-tracing hardware becomes mandatory.

The second big novelty of Turing is acceleration for artificial intelligence. While it was at first thought that it won't do much for gamers, the company devised a clever new anti-aliasing algorithm called DLSS (Deep Learning Super-Sampling), which utilizes Turing's artificial intelligence engine. DLSS is designed to achieve quality similar to temporal anti-aliasing and solve some of its shortcomings, with a much smaller performance hit at the same time. We tested several tech demos for this feature and had difficulty telling the difference between TAA and DLSS in most scenes. The difference only became obvious in cases where TAA fails; for example, when it estimates motion vectors incorrectly. Under the hood, DLSS renders the scene at lower resolution (typically 50%, so 2880x1620 for 4K) and feeds the frame to the tensor cores, which use a predefined deep neural network to enhance that image.

With a price of $830, the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Gaming OC is $30 more expensive than the NVIDIA Founders Edition, and I don't think that's justified. Yes, it has a (small) overclock out of the box, and a slightly better cooler, but overall, the differences are small enough to not justify much of a price increase over the Founders Edition. The NVIDIA Founders Edition is a flashy and costly design, especially the thermal solution drives up the price quite a bit. Gigabyte is using their own cooler, which performs a bit better than the NVIDIA version and is no doubt much cheaper to fabricate. That's why I think the Gigabyte Gaming OC is overpriced at $830. A more realistic price point would be slightly below the Founders Edition, maybe at around $770.
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