After months of anticipation, the RTX 3080 from NVIDIA finally lands on our shelves – well, sort of. You still have to be incredibly lucky to actually find one that hasn’t already sold. But yeah, they’ve made an official launch and god are we excited to get our hands on a few of the best AIBs on offer.
The RTX 3080 is the most anticipated piece of graphics hardware to be released this year – sorry AMD. It comes to the table boasting a whole host of impressive features that include; 2nd gen Ray tracing cores, 3rd Gen tensor cores, and Nvidia’s latest Ampere architecture. All this bundled together translates to massive amounts of performance gains over last year’s flagship GPU – the RTX 2080Ti – at a much cheaper price point. That’s right, the following GPUs will all be cheaper than the RTX 2080Ti but will offer a performance increase of around 30%.
The following guide will be a closer look at some of the most popular AIBs to come to fruition after the RTX 3080 Founder’s Edition. We’ll be looking at cooling, clock speeds, design, and overall value for money in this guide, ensuring that the selections we choose are the best available today.
So, with all that being said, let’s waste no further time and jump straight into it!
Best RTX 3080 Graphics Cards: First Look
We’ve given the MSI Gaming X Trio our top spot for best RTX 3080 and for good reason. This card doesn’t just look the part, it also brings excellent cooling and performance to the table as well.
The best RTX 3080 runner up comes in the shape of EVGA’s XC3 Ultra Gaming – a GPU that offers fantastic build quality, superb design features, and a very efficient cooling solution.
Best Value RTX 3080
The ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3080 is an excellent example of quality thermals, great performance, and low noise levels. It’s all bundled into a very affordable price point making it the best value RTX 3080 out there.
The GIGABYTE RTX 3080 Gaming OC impressed us with its high-end combination of cooling, aesthetics, and tasteful RGB. It comes with all the bells and whistles you could imagine from a high-end gaming GPU.
Best Budget RTX 3080
ZOTAC get the best value for money RTX 3080 spot, beating out competitors thanks to a combination of nicely thought out aesthetics, excellent cooling, and improved build quality.
It requires hours of product research, performance benchmarking, and user feedback to get anywhere close to a definitive conclusion. If you aren’t tech-savvy and struggle to put time aside to go through the above requirements, you may end up purchasing a GPU that isn’t right for you or your build.
Fear not though, friends! Here at WePC, we like to take the stress of all that research away and transform it into an easy-to-follow, complete buyers guide. That’s right, our team of PC enthusiasts has done all the hard work, so you don’t have to.
Testing the products we recommend is a huge part of the overall selection process in our best of guides. It’s a way to make sure what we recommend is the absolute best option in its specific category. To be sure a product is “the best,” it must show excellent performance in our tests and display better qualities over the competition it faces.
Most of the products we recommend here at WePC have gone through a strict testing process that involves everything from price and looks to performance and efficiency. Each product is pushed to the limit to see how it performs under intense stress to make sure it warrants the top spot.
Doing this enables us to provide you with the most accurate review of how the product performs and, ultimately, whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
If you’ve been keeping bang up to date with the latest Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU news, you’ll already be well versed in the pros it comes with – especially when comparing it to last generation’s flagship offering. That being said, there are still several areas that must be considered before purchasing a GPU of this calibre. For that reason, we’re going to be taking a closer look at the main things to consider before purchase an RTX 3080 graphics card.
When it comes to a new GPU purchase, understanding its performance is hugely important. Whilst most high-end graphics cards will please the everyday gamer, not all have what it takes to achieve high-end resolutions and frame rates.
The best way to ensure that the GPU you plan to buy is right for your needs is to have a clear idea of what you want to play/render before looking for a GPU. By doing this, you can then tailor your needs around the GPU you plan to purchase.
That being said, getting a GPU that suits your specific needs can be a costly factor – going from a 3070 to a 3080 can literally set you back hundreds of dollars.
If you’re a gamer, GPU performance is the most important thing to consider before buying a new PC. New games have been designed to put most of their computational demand on the GPU, so choosing has the performance potential to meet your requirements is absolutely essential.
Like all hardware components, price plays a major role when it comes to purchasing your next graphics card – even more so when it can set you back the best part of a thousand bucks!
That being said, the RTX 3080 has been so well priced, it blows literally everything else out the water in terms of raw bang for your buck. You can purchase an RTX 3080 right now for anywhere from £650-£900, with each offering its own unique thermal design and out of the box clock speeds. When you consider the performance power this card comes equipped with, you’d be hard-pressed to find better value for money in today’s market.
One of the main differences that separate all aftermarket GPUs is the cooling solution they come equipped with. For us, cooling is one of the most important factors to consider before delving into a new graphics card pick – especially larger alternatives that naturally produce more heat.
The RTX 3080 is a pretty big card and outperforms last generations 2080Ti by some way. That means, from a consumer standpoint, the cooling of an RTX 3080 is one of the most important factors to consider.
When heat builds up in a GPU, it starts to run less efficiently and can decrease the longevity of the card’s lifespan. Keeping it cool ensures that, not only will your GPU run at optimal temperatures, but will also live the entirety of its expected lifespan.
Over the years, GPUs have been increasing in size exponentially – I mean, the 3090 looks so big Jen-Hsun Huang physically had to hide it in his oven during the RTX 30-series live announcement stream.
That said, taking the size of your GPU into consideration is an extremely important step when it comes to your next GPU purchase.
There are a few ways to consider the size of a GPU, one is height and length, the other is the number of physical slots it takes up at the rear of your case. By not planning around your GPU’s size, you could see yourself purchasing a pricey new card that simply doesn’t fit in your PC case.
When it comes to a new graphics card purchase, one of the first things you should familiarize yourself with is the product specs. Learning the specifications of a graphics card will not only let you know its capabilities but will also give you a good idea of what components you’ll need to pair it with and how far you’ll be able to push it if you plan to experiment with overclocking.
First up, we have clock speeds. Like most computer hardware, GPUs come pre-clocked to a certain speed. This is one of the specifications that lets us know how fast your graphics will be.
Clock speed, or clock rate, is the speed in which your microprocessor operates. It lets us know how fast your GPU performs instructions and renders graphics. Each GPU comes equipped with its own clock speed, usually dependant on a number of different factors. Whilst clock speed does not have a direct impact on in-game performance, it certainly gives us an indication of how fast your GPU will perform tasks.
Understanding VRAM is extremely important when it comes to a GPU purchase, it can be the dictating factor that allows you to play games in ultra-high resolutions such as 4K.
VRAM is your GPU’s video RAM (random access memory). VRAM has a direct impact on how well your graphics card performs and how much data it can store and access at any one time – in any order and at any time.
VRAM works in the exact same way your GPU does, it stores important data used by a game or application you’re running and allows the GPU to utilize that data at any time. This means the GPU doesn’t have to go between the CPU and the hard drive to collect the data, it already has it readily stored to be used with immediate effect.
TDP stands for thermal design power and, at its core, refers to the maximum amount of heat the GPU’s cooling system can dissipate when at maximum capacity. For the most part, TDP is more important when referencing CPUs, as the user has to purchase their own independent cooling solution for some processors.
Alternatively, the GPU already comes with a cooling solution attached, meaning its purely a measure of how effective that GPU cooler is. If you plan on overclocking to a high level, then chances are you’re probably going to need to increase the cooling – Ie water cooling.
It’s also a good indicator of how much heat your GPU will be pushing in/around your case.
Best RTX 3080 Graphics Cards in 2020 & 2021
Best Value RTX 3080
Best Budget RTX 3080
Very quiet thermal design
Extremely attractive 3080
High out-the-box clock boost
Excellent build quality
Lies within the higher end of the 3080 price spectrum
We’ve given the MSI Gaming X Trio the top spot for best RTX 3080 and for good reason. It comes to the table sporting a family look that MSI has utilized across a number of older-Gen cards before. Whilst the cooling solution is a clear improvement over previous versions, it still comes to the table with all the gaming aesthetics you’d expect from a Gaming X Trio GPU. That said, this particular model is one of the biggest in the range, taking up 3 PCI case slots and a generous amount of internal case space too – 323 x 140 x 56mm to be exact.
MSI has equipped this GPU with the TRI FROZR 2 thermal system that, historically, has been extremely efficient when it comes to dissipating thermals. Newly designed TORX FAN 4.0 blades help focus airflow over the PCB to ensure optimal temperatures are achieved. Thermal pipes have been precision-machined for maximum contact over the GPU, spreading the heat along the full length of the heatsink for greater thermal performance.
For added rigidity, MSI has equipped the Gaming X Trio GPU with a rigid metal anti-bending strap that will put your mind at ease when installing this card into your system. Unlike other 3080s, this particular card requires 3 x 8-pin connectors. Whilst this may seem like an annoyance, it theoretically opens up the overclocking headspace of this card. That means, even though this card is already jam-packed with power, you’ll have to potential to take it even further.
Very good build quality
Displays excellent value
A very long design
Next up we have EVGA’s XC3 Ultra Gaming 3080 – a model that has done extremely well in years gone by. For the latest 3080, EVGA has not only boosted the thermal design of the XC3 Ultra but has given it some choice aesthetic changes too – changes that will definitely please most individuals.
The new thermal design offers up airflow pockets within the heatsink to allow air to move more freely when under the highest levels of stress. Furthermore, new 180-degree heatpipes have been equipped to the XC3 Ultra, increasing the fin contact area by 65% and optimizing the heat dissipation. A large copper plate has been used on this particular card, offering greater (25% increase) PCB coverage to improve the thermal transfer of both GPU and VRAM.
EVGA didn’t just improve on thermal dissipation, they also concentrated on the noise levels created by yesteryear’s version. The new iCX3 fans feature a 2nd Gen optimized HDB active motor which offers a silent (0DB) mode, asynchronous mode, and a unique upraised “E” pattern used for the sole purpose of noise reduction. That all translates to a 5.1% temperature improvement and 9.7% acoustic improvement.
Best Value RTX 3080
Very competetively priced
Very efficient thermal design
One of the quieter 3080 AIBs
Low acoustic output
Not the most aesthetically pleasing 3080
As far as value goes, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any 3080 that offers greater value for money at this early stage of testing. The TUF Gaming 3080 comes equipped with the subtle design aesthetics we’ve come to expect from TUF in years gone by. It offers minimal RGB lighting and focuses more on thermal design and build quality, which, let’s be honest, should be every manufacturer’s first priority.
The TUF is a 2.7 slot design, meaning it takes up 3 PCI slots at the back of the case. It measures in at 299 x 127 x 51mm in size, meaning again, you’ll need a fairly decent size case to accommodate a GPU of this size. That being said, it is one of the smaller RTX 3080s available, so that’s certainly a positive. It has an all-black theme – that will suit most PC build aesthetics – and has been equipped with some TUF unique design features; including tire tracks on the backplate.
In terms of build quality, the TUF Gaming offers up an extremely sturdy design thanks to only minimal plastic utilized throughout its makeup. The only plastic to be found is in the fan blades, the shroud itself is comprised of aluminum and adds excellent rigidity to its design. The TUF Gaming also provides the ‘stop-start’ feature like previous generation offerings – switching the fans off when the thermals drop below 55 degrees.
Improved build quality
Efficient cooling solution
High out-the-box clock boost
Greater expected lifespan
Very large design
Next up we have the Gigabyte RTX 3080 Gaming OC, a GPU that looks as good as it feels. The Gaming OC comes equipped with a nicely thought out aesthetic that would suit most PC custom build setups. It is mostly black in design but does come with gun-metal edgings to give the fan side of the GPU a bit of character. There is a small RGB lighting zone at the top of the card which highlights the branding.
Once again, Gigabyte have utilized their Windforce 3x cooling system which, if previous cards are anything to go by, is a very efficient cooling solution. Like the other cards in this guide, the Gaming OC offers stop-start technology (switching the fans off when the GPU falls under 55 degrees) and alternating spin patterns for better air pressure. Underneath the hood, we find 7 composite copper heat pipes and a large copper plate which is in direct contact with the GPU – a combination which is said to be similar to that of the 3090. Airflow is split by the uniquely shaped blades for smoother guidance of air through the 3D stripe curve on the fan’s surface
Cooling aside, the Gaming OC is clocked at 1800MHz (boost) out the box, boasting one of the highest clock speeds of any RTX 3080 in this list – tipped by only 15MHz. RGB Fusion 2.0 has been utilized for this GPU, offering up excellent levels of customization and numerous lighting presets. You’ll also be able to synchronize your 3080 with other AORUS devices.
Gigabyte has clearly taken build quality extremely seriously, providing a thick metal backplate and reinforced PCI slots for your 8-pin. It also comes equipped with two BIOS settings – OC/silent – allowing you to choose the profile of your fans.
Best Budget RTX 3080
New 11-blade fan for increased airflow
Freeze fan stop technology
Fantastic build quality
Can become noisy
Lastly, we have the Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 3080, the top budget offering on this list. The Gaming Trinity brings all the usual aesthetic appeal you’d expect from a ZOTAC GPU, including some nicely placed RGB at the rear of the card – fairly unique for this particular GPU. It has another RGB lighting zone on the side of the card which illuminates the ZOTAC branding in pretty fancy fashion.
As far as size goes, ZOTAC’s offering is by far one of the biggest we’ve seen – mainly thanks to the massive amount of aluminum fins that make up the majority of this card’s heatsink. The fan solution used for this GPU is ZOTAC’s Ice Storm 2.0 and is a triple-fan configuration. Once again, this fan system offers stop-start technology and also has a ‘flow-through’ backplate that mimics the Founder’s Edition in its own unique way.
At the rear, ZOTAC have installed a pretty chunky metal backplate that, as mentioned above, allows air to pass through it. It’s black in design and adds plenty of rigidity to this card’s build quality. As far as inputs go, the Gaming Trinity has 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a and HDMI 2.1 – a healthy upgrade over previous models and allows you to unlock 120Hz at 4K resolution.
Overall, a very nice looking card that has an excellent cooling solution and packs a real punch in the performance department.
As you can expect, there will be a fairly decent leap forward in performance when comparing the latest generations of RTX GPUs. During the big announcement, Huang held back on September 1st, the RTX 3080 was said to display huge performs leaps over its predecessor, the 2080. It was even said to offer similar – if not slightly better – performance to that of the RTX 2080Ti – Nvidia’s 20-series flagship GPU.
That being said, now benchmarking results are starting to appear, it’s safe to say that the jump up in performance is a little more than we thought speculated.
Last year’s RTX 2080Ti brings more memory and a slightly larger memory interface width – than the 3080 – to the table. However, last gen’s offering only has GDDR6 VRAM which, in comparison to the newer GDDR6X is much slower. The RTX 3080 also has twice the CUDA cores, 2nd gen Ray Tracing cores, and 3rd Gen Tensor cores – all of which add up to a rough performance increase of around 30-50% respectively.
As you can imagine, with high-end performance comes large power draw requirements – and that sentiment couldn’t be more true than with the RTX 3080. Most of the new RTX 3080s will require around 750W of power – much more than previous generation offerings.
You’ll also need to ensure your PSU has the required cables to power such a GPU. For example, the MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio requires 3 x 8pin PCI connectors – more than any other gaming GPU in the past.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive breakdown of the best RTX 3080 graphics cards currently available.
We hope this guide has helped you decide which RTX 3080 is most suited to your specific needs. At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters which RTX 3080 you go for – they all offer unbelievable levels of performance at an extremely competitive price point. The leap forward from last year’s flagship – the RTX 2080Ti – really has been worth the wait.
We will have a whole host of benchmarking results coming your way in the next couple of days – so stay tuned if you want to see exactly how these cards perform. Feel free to drop us a comment in the section below if there is anything you’d like us to answer. Or better still, why not head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything GPU related with like-minded individuals.