GeForce RTX 3080 Out of the Box
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition card feels like a piece of jewelry to hold. There is an almost Apple-like attention to detail and the product finish. No surface looks or feels cheap to the touch. There are no visible screws or faux rivets. Nothing looks out of place.
The most recognizable part about this design has to be the arrangement of the fans. There are two large 85 mm fans, one on either side of the card. Each of these features impellers with webbed edges to guide all the air axially, so none of it is bled axially. Airflow plays a big role in this cooler's design.
Unlike most multi-fan air-cooling solutions in the market, including the one on the RTX 2080 Founders Edition, the new RTX 3080 Founders Edition cooler features two aluminium fin stacks that are skewered by four copper heat pipes, according to NVIDIA's public presentation. These heat pipes make contact with a vapor-chamber plate that pulls heat from all the hot components on the PCB.
When installed in a typical tower-type case, the fan closest to the rear IO pulls cooler air from the bottom, pushing it onto the first fin stack, with tapered aluminium fins that guide heat exhaust out of the rear. The second fin stack further removed from the rear IO is ventilated by the second fan at the backside of the card. This fan pulls cooler air through the fin stack and vents it on top of the card, where your case's rear/top exhaust should push it out. There are two other non-ventilated heatsink elements between the two fin stacks. The one at the "top" of the card has the main power connector. A sturdy metal alloy superstructure holds the card together, which makes up the shiny part.
This picture by NVIDIA highlights how the various individual fin-stack elements are joined by the heat pipes. These heat pipes make contact with a vapor chamber plate. The NVIDIA render summarizes the airflow scheme beautifully.
The rear IO panel has the card's large rear air vent and four display connectors. These include three DisplayPort 1.4 and an HDMI 2.1 connector that enables 8K 60 Hz HDR with a single cable. NVIDIA removed the USB type-C VirtualLink connector it launched with the RTX 20-series "Turing." Apparently, there are no takers for the standard.
Dimensions and Size Comparison
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition measures 29 cm in length and 11 cm in height (standard full height). It's also exactly two slots thick. The card weighs 1.35 kg, which isn't much by today's standards.
Here's the RTX 3080 Founders Edition compared to other reference-design cards from the recent past. As you can see, it isn't noticeably longer than an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT "Navi." It's also of standard height, so the Radeon VII ends up taller. The reference RTX 2080 Ti is a tiny bit shorter.