Today is the day we get to sit down with Nvidia’s new Turing GPU’s which were released back in Sept of 2018. To be more specific we are going to compare the top aftermarket iterations of the long awaited RTX 2080 which boasts some very handsome new technologies including AI enhanced graphics and Real-time ray tracing which will be touched upon shortly.
So you might be asking yourself, why did they change from GTX, to RTX, and it’s very simple, RTX stands for ray tracing technology and is, in a nutshell, the future of graphics and gaming. It’s a new way in which picture and light is written by the graphics card giving a much more realistic final product. A long side the new processing cores, Nvidia have equipped the RTX range with the latest GDDR6 memory making the RTX much faster than its counterpart, the GTX, and much more efficient. All in all the new RTX range seems very appealing but lets find out which aftermarket card is best, how it stands up to the 1080 ti and whether or not it’s time to invest.
Our Top Picks
The Best RTX 2080: First Look
EVGA bring their 2080 XC gaming edition to the table which boasts a boosted clock speed of 1815MHz, 8GB of VRAM and a triple fan configuration with EVGA’s monster heatsink which has been equipped with their latest ICX 2 cooling system. It once again holds a place within our ‘Best of’ range and I imagine that’s no surprise to anyone.
EVGA are no strangers when it comes to creating fantastic aftermarket graphics cards and the 2080 may be some of their finest work to date.
It only comes with 2 fans but they work extremely efficiently to create a smooth, cool and extremely quiet graphics card. The design is neutral and translucent and looks really sleek in a finished build.
The rog, as most will know, is renowned for its incredible RGB which would give any festival a run for its money. However it’s not just lights and aesthetics this card holds, decent clock speeds and very low temperature throughout testing makes this card a very attractive prospect for fans of the ASUS range.
The ASUS ROG STRIX is by the far the biggest on the list and that’s thanks to the hugely impressive heatsink ASUS have equipped this RTX 2080 with. A heatsink of this size makes it the most efficient and quietest out of the bunch whilst allowing for massive overclocking headroom which is something every gamer loves to do. Just make sure which ever case you choose has enough room to house this build.
The performance power matches the size of the heatsink and clocks at almost 1900Mhz which is hugely impressive. The design is classic as far as the ROG range goes and is riddled with RGB to improve the look of any build.
Possibly the biggest card we have in today’s list and that’s thanks to MSI’s heatsink and fan setup which is both huge and impressive. They have packed the X TRIO Gaming 2080 with such cooling as it has the ability to push 2100MHz +. Fantastic performance but chunky is our initial thoughts of this one.
MSI’s gaming geforce RTX 2080 is our first runner up mention which fell just short of the top 3. The price/performance wasn’t quite as high as the top 2 which meant it fell just short. This being said, it still performs extremely well under all benchmark tests and looks really nice inside our build.
The RGB comes in several zones which is always nice and the fan setup keeps this card nice and cool. Build quality feels decent but didn’t blow me away.
ZOTAC again have designed a really attractive looking GPU in the 2080 and this one comes equipped with 3 fans which are super quiet. It holds a boosted clock speed of 1830MHz and has handled most games we’ve thrown at it in 4k at over 60fps. First impressions are very solid.
We usually refer to ZOTAC as budget picks that slightly under perform when put against the big OEM’s in the industry. However, their gaming RTX 2080 is both superb in price and brilliant in performance.
It has a newly designed triple fan cooling system which works very well but can become noisy in stressful situations. Overall for the price though it offers extremely good value for money and is high recommendable.
The Gigabyte RTX 2080 is probably the least flashy of the list we have created today and comes equipped with only 1 RGB zone which is found on the name. However if youre not worried about RGB you will be happy to know the card comes clocked at 1850MHz with a booster button which adds another 50Mhz if required. Like many in this list this card comes equipped with a fairly large heatsink and 3 fans to provide fantastic cooling and ability to overclock at your desire.
We don’t usually find ourselves saying Gigabyte and budget in the same sentence especially when it comes to GPU’s but with the RTX 2080 Gigabyte have managed to achieve this feet quite well.
It’s the cheapest on the list whilst still providing quality levels of performance across our benchmarks which makes it the best value for money card on the list. It comes with a triple fan setup, meaty design features and RGB. What more could you want?
Regularly we’re asked the question of how we choose which GPU is the absolute best option for each category, the answer is always the same. Our team of hard working, gaming/PC enthusiasts spend hours of endless research looking across the latest and most up-to-date technology in the quest to give informed and accurate recommendation in our guide pages.
Further to research, the team set strict goals and criteria which each product must meet before it goes into what we like to call, the final contenders list:
- Brand must be trustworthy and established
- Hardware must be reliable and build for longevity
- We must always try to provide maximum value for money
For the categories just mentioned above, we chose the most meaningful criteria to filter out the best possible choices. The following are the categories we eventually select for each card, hopefully resulting in a product for every type of consumer:
- Top Performance – Performance is something we take very seriously here at WEPC because ultimately it’s what we all want, the best performing hardware components available in our budget range. It’s one of our main priorities here and across the board.
- Top All Rounder – The top all rounder must do pretty much what it says on the tin, it must have good, everything basically. Good performance levels, good cooling, well priced and aesthetically pleasing.
- Best Budget – The budget pick is designed for people looking to get the most out of their money. The products we recommend aren’t just cheap however, they must also live up to the 3 main priorities in any best of guide: Value for money, reliable and performance.
- Best Balanced – A “balanced” pick, balancing things like performance and cooling to make a good middle-road pick for those who want a well-balanced graphics card.
How will these cards perform?
So, as mentioned above, the RTX 20series have been powered by Nvidia’s new turing architecture which brings newly enhanced AI graphics and real-time ray tracing to the table. Nvidia claim this gives the new range of GPU’s up to 6x more performance than previous generation GPU’s and brings incredible new levels of realism and immersion to your gaming. This all sounds very attractive, however at present there are only a handful of games which utilize features such as ray tracing and DLLS, so justifying a purchase right now might seem fairly difficult.
Despite there not being a massive product base to test the new technology of RTX on, there’s still many scenarios we can test this card on to see how it performs against the competition. We sampled the 2080 across a number of different games and platforms in several different graphics settings and resolutions and found the card handled itself very well. FPS across the board was extremely good, 4k at 60FPS was easily achievable as was 100+ for lower resolutions. The temp of the cards obviously reflects the quality of the fans and the heatsink but across the board all cards were pretty quiet and very efficient. Most did not exceed 75degrees when being put through relative stress tests and gaming scenarios which is reassuring considering many of them are being overclocked aswell. All the RTX cards have been equipped with the Type-C adaptor, which if you don’t know is the connection needed for VR. The RTX range also makes use of the worlds fastest GDDR6 memory which in turn provides the 2080 with the power it needs to push everything else a side.
All in all the 2080 is a top of the range graphics card with all the mod cons you would need to future proof you for the next couple of years. If you plan ahead, the 2080 is years a heads of its rivals.
How does it compare to the GTX 1080?
Many people will probably be wondering at this stage how the RTX 2080 compares with the people’s champion, the GTX 1080 ti. The 1080 was widely considered to be the pinnacle of all GPU’s so we were very interested to see how the 2080 would compare. To our surprise the results were very similar, if not slightly edging towards the 2080 which in honesty we didn’t expect. First thing which was tested was FPS across several different games and the 2080 leveled or beat the 1080 ti on everything apart from CS:GO.
For the higher GPU demanding games the 2080 edged it in some cases and just fell short in others. Considering the 1080Ti comes with 11GB of RAM you would expect the performance to be leaning towards a 1080Ti win. However, thanks to newly improved GDDR6 memory which is now across all the RTX 20 series range, the gap has been narrowed dramatically.
As far as price is concerned, the 1080Ti is still more expensive whilst being outdated and outperformed (in some scenarios) by the newer RTX 2080 cards. With this I can only see the 1080Ti taking a back seat in sales whilst a new champion emerges.
Table Key and Terms
- Clock Speed – Clock speed refers to the internal, “core” clock of the graphics processor. The higher the clock speed, the better your performance.
- VRAM – VRAM for anyone who doesn’t know, refers to the ‘Video RAM’ or memory available at your GPU’s disposal. Discrete GPUs tend to come with their own VRAM– in the 1080’s case, this is GDDR5X VRAM, which is a bit faster than the industry standard GDDR5. The RTX series come with the latest GDDR6 which is much faster than anything we’ve seen previously.
- Overclock – Overclocking refers to pushing the clock speed of a component higher to get more performance. Usually, this is done by the user, but the cards we’re listing here today all boast “factory overclocks”, which is overclocking done by the manufacturer and proven stable. You can manually overclock further but it is none recommendable.
The Best RTX 2080
Large Efficient Heatsink
Attractive, translucent design
Great performance levels
An expensive card
Only 2 fans
EVGA snap up the top performance spot for our best RTX 2080 buyers guide and for good reason. When it comes to performance with a GPU it doesn’t just boil down to how efficiently the card performs ingame. We also take into consideration areas such as temperature, fan efficiency and design.
The XC Ultra Gaming comes to shelves with a base clock of 1515Mhz and a boost clock of 1815Mhz making it one of the fastest in our list. Thanks to the monstrous heatsink that EVGA have equipped this card with the XC ultra is the largest card in the guide. However, it allows for much more overclocking headroom as the card will naturally stay cooler for longer.
Just be aware when purchasing this card that your case has enough room to accommodate this thing, cause it really is huge.
The design has a translucent shroud which is something we’ve seen in previous pascal GPU’s. Overall I think the design looks great and only boosts the lasting impression I get with this card.
Aesthetically one of the nicest 2080’s we tested
Fantastic RGB across multiple zones
High clock speeds
The most expensive card on the list
Limited ray tracing games available
As regular readers will know, products from the ROG range usually appear heavily in our best of guides and that’s thanks to the excellent build quality, fantastic performance levels and all round cutting edge designs that come with the name.
The OC 2080 edition is absolutely no different. It comes in matte black and has a pretty hefty heatsink, the design of this thing just looks gnarly and when paired with ROG’s signature RGB the 2080 comes to life with a sea of colour.
Performance wise the OC 2080 is one of the best in the list boasting impressive clock speeds when OC’d to 1890Mhz. A card of this power needs a solid heatsink to keep things from getting too hot and that’s exactly what ASUS have done. The heatsink is pretty reminiscent of older generation GPU’s being both big and bulky. However, what you get with that is quality and efficiency. It was the quietest card we tested and never really felt or sounded like it was under any real pressure.
It is the perfect balance between performance, price and style and takes the all round spot in this guide. It’s also at the heart of $2000 build which we consider to be one of the best PC’s we’ve built.
MSI’s signature X Trio Fan setup
Super quiet TORX FAN 3.0
High performance levels
One of the most expensive cards on the list
Limited ray tracing games available
The runner up position in our best of guide goes to MSI’s RTX 2080 Gaming Xtrio model, but only just. It was a tough choice sitting down and choosing the top 5 GPU’s and categorizing them, mainly due to OEM’s doing such a good job on their aftermarket offerings.
MSI is a company we think of when picturing high quality products and the X trio 2080 is no different. 8GB of GDDR6 memory, triple fan cooling system and a newly installed backplate help increase the overall build quality of this card.
Performance levels were slightly under par against the top 2, however it was still an absolute beast in comparison to other cards available in todays market.
My only issue with this card is it’s high end price tag. You do get decent performance, build quality and cooling for that price but just didnt boast very good value for money.
If you’re an MSI advocate then you’ll not be disappointed by this, the RGB will make any build look stylish and the design is cutting edge and cool.
One of the cheaper cards in this guide
Solid performance to price value
Great aesthetic design
Fans can become noisey under pressure
Limited ray tracing games available
The ZOTAC brand is usually renowned for providing consumers with excellent budget range hardware offerings and the RTX 2080 is one more to add to their ever growing list.
The guys at ZOTAC really impressed us with their aftermarket model of the 2080 for a few reasons, first of which was the price. It’s no surprise to anyone to see ZOTAC products at the lower end of the price spectrum and the RTX 2080 is no different. Unlike their 2070, the 2080 comes to the table with a triple fan cooling system which is both quiet and efficient. It gives users more room for overclocking which is always welcome.
The design is very stylish and edgy which we love here at WEPC. A long it’s cool angular shroud, the ZOTAC comes with impressive RGB zones which when installed look very nice. They really hit the nail on the head aesthetically with this one so hat’s off to the designers.
Performance wise the clock speed comes in at 1830Mhz in OC mode and handles pretty much everything we threw at it with ease. Price/performance, this GPU scored very highly, again probably to no ones surprise.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the higher end RTX 2080’s but still want nice looks and performance, the ZOTAC is high on our list of recommendations.
Extremely efficient windforce 3x fan setup
Real time ray tracing and deep learning algorithm
Brilliant value for money
Still an expensive card
Limited ray tracing games available
The budget RTX 2080 has been offered by Gigabyte and comes to shelves quite a bit cheaper than everything else in this guide. If what you’re looking for is solid performance benchmarks, a decent design and effective cooling then the Gigabyte windforce is probably the model for you.
The base clock is the same as the EVGA, however the boost clock speed is slightly higher coming in at 1830Mhz making it extremely good value for money. You might by asking yourself what’s the catch at this stage, how can the Gigabyte be quicker than the EVGA but less? Well we can only chalk that down to the build quality and efficiency which you only see in the benchmarks.
The FPS on average was slightly less than others here but nothing to be too dis-heartened about. The heatsink was pretty sturdy and efficient but was quite a bit louder and seemed more stressed in most of the testing scenarios we put this through.
Overall looks decent and runs well, but as with most things Gigabyte have had to cut some corners to accommodate this low price. We still think its good value for money and would recommend this if you’re stick to a budget.
And there you have it, our list of top RTX 2080’s this 2021. When building one of these best of guides we always like to offer every budget and performance ranking an option. It’s difficult to do that when all the products are very good and around the same price but I feel we’ve managed to categorize them well.
If you’re looking for the absolute best performing card on the list to maximize in game experience then the EVGA Geforce RTX 2080 XC Gaming 8G is our top selection.
You can check out our GPU Hierarchy right here if you’d like to see where the 2080 falls in our list of best GPU’s you can buy today.