Final words and conclusion
I'll keep saying this, but it is a bizarre time to write reviews on graphics cards with the shortages and insane price hikes related to that. Really what the market needs are affordable, high-performing graphics cards that sit well under the 500 USD marker. The 3080 Ti does fall into a very premium niche and likely will be hard to get. The good news is that the new NVIDIA SKUs are mostly hash-rate limited on the AIB side, preventing cryptocurrency miners from dominating sales. The reality, however, is also that NVIDIA can only fabricate only a certain number of GPUs, and they'll still need to make the call on how much allocation ends up at gamers and how much is intended for other markets. We hope NVIDIA will make wise decisions because if the trend continues, then the PC gaming market will die off as they need to realize what software houses will invest in PC gaming if that market is on a sharp decline?
The GeForce RTX 3080 Ti is second to that flagship product, blazingly fast on all fronts, and (based on that USD 1199 MSRP) is the cheaper card to get. The 12GB GD6X memory seems well balanced; we never understood the expensive 24GB on the 3090, to be brutally honest (not that I mind or don't find it awesome). Overall though, this is a small powerhouse. This card can run games at 4K quite easily with raytracing and a DLSS combo; it will serve you well at that resolution. The closest product from the competition would be the Radeon RX 6900 XT. NVIDIA, however, offers faster raytracing performance and offers you the option to put that into 6th gear with DLSS.
Cooling & noise levels
I am still a fan (pun intended) of the reference cooling design introduced with Ampere GPUs; it works and looks awesome. Seen from last-gen, it has made the product 'overall' quieter. In extremely stressed conditions, we hit 38 dBA though it took a while for the card to get there (warms up slowly); still, even that is considered a normal acoustic level. Depending on the airflow level inside your chassis, expect the card to sit in the 70, maybe 75 Degrees C range temperature-wise under hefty load conditions (depending on the airflow in your chassis). As FLIR imaging shows, the card's topside shows minor heat bleeding. Overall, we're very comfortable with what we observe.
Heat output and energy consumption are always closely related to each other as (graphics) processors and heat can be perceived as a 1:1 state; 100 Watts in (consumption) often equals 100 Watts of heat as output. This is the basis of TDP. NVIDIA is listing their TGP at 350 Watts, the amount of power the GPU and major components use. We measure the graphics card based on TBP, total board power, as you'd easily forget that fans spinning and RGB also draw power. As such, in peak load conditions, we're hovering at a 350 Watt state for a typical power draw.
Much like the 3080 and 3090, the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti does exhibit coil squeal. Is it annoying? It's at a level you can hear it. In a closed chassis, that noise would fade away in the background. However, with an open chassis, you can hear coil whine/squeal. Graphics cards all make this in some form, especially at high framerates; this can be perceived.
NVIDIA is pricing the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti at USD 1199. The good news is that that is cheaper than the price of the RTX 3090, while in most scenarios, you are at close to that performance. But it is an awful lot of money, of course. We Expect AIB cards to be more expensive, as that is a trend as of late. We'll have to wait and see how that pans out, though, as everything is dependant on the actual volume availability of these cards. We can say so little sensible about pricing these days.
Overall we can state that all cards, and really it doesn't matter which brand, as any and all, will get you an extra 5% performance once tweaked. This is calculated by NVIDIA, with small margins here and there based on ASIC and memory quality. For the RTX 3080 Ti series, we'd expect you to add and reach 500 MHz to 1000 MHz on the memory subsystem (Gbps / effective bandwidth). One of the most important settings you can tweak is the power limiter, set it to the max, so your GPU gets more energy budget, then the GPU clock can be increased anywhere from +50 to +200 MHz. Why this huge differential, you might wonder? The results will vary per board, brand, and even card due to cooling (GDDR6X/GPU/VRM) and ASIC quality. I will say this, though, and frequency matters LESS these days. Even if the GPU could do 2000~2100 MHz, your power limiter will be the decisive and dominant factor, lowering that clock frequency to meets its assigned power budget. Small note, we could reach a +200 MHz; however, it was not stable, same for memory now configured at 20 Gbps, whereas on most AIB boards, we easily hit 21 Gbps.
There's no doubt about it, we like the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, yet we're in a unique situation where chip and components shortages are slaughtering this market due to lack of availability or way too high prices. As such, we'll stick to what we review, the actual hardware, and not so much the delicate situation we're still facing. I think anyone would agree with me; we all would love to own a 3080 Ti. This is a very well-balanced enthusiast-class graphics card. Basically, it's almost a 3090 with half the memory and a few configuration tweaks. I am totally fine with the 12GB memory btw; the 24 GB on the 3090 is impressive but far-fetched and made the product extra expensive. 12GB is a notably well-balanced value in the year 2021. Performance-wise NVIDIA carved out something beautiful. You will be way up there in the highest performance regions, and even at Ultra HD, you can enable Raytracing with the combination of DLSS where applicable. Competition-wise, overall, AMD will still win in the lower resolutions thanks to their massive L3 buffer. However, in more demanding scenarios, NVIDIA takes the lead in rasterized shading performance when the resolution goes up when it comes to brute force muscle power in more demanding scenarios. NVIDIA also has faster Raytracing performance and, of course, the implementation of DLSS that will support that raytracing even further in performance. For raytracing, it's still hard to find Games with raytraced properly reflections, but that's what you should be after, and the numbers will grow in the future. The GeForce RTX 3080 Ti performs well on all fronts, performance, cooling, and acoustics as an overall package of hard- and software. The big question will remain to be availability and pricing. But as a desktop gaming graphics card, the product itself is imposing.
- Hilbert, LOAD"*",8,1.