Should You Wait And Buy An RTX 30-series GPU?

Should you put your build upgrades on hold for the RTX 30-series? We take a closer look at what it has to offer.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

The hype around the new Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs has been nothing short of monstrous, filling online forums and chat boards with an unhealthy combination of joy and raw hatred. After 3rd party performance benchmarks landed on YouTube, people have been going nuts over the new RTX 3080 GPUs – doing whatever they can to try and get their performance-thirsty hands on one. Some reports have shown online bidding wars reach their thousands, well over the recommended retail price. 

Amongst all the hype, there are still a ton of individuals asking themselves whether or not it’s even worth buying an RTX 3080. I mean, a 20 series GPU will be just as good for entry-level games like CS:GO and LoL, do I really need a 3080?

What about Big NAVI? AMD is hinting at performance that could even outshine their bitter rivals? With unanswered questions spilling around the internet, we thought it’d be a great idea to showcase some of the main upgrades and architectural changes that come with the new 30-series GPUs. We’ll also be doing our best to answer the big question on many people’s lips – should you wait and buy an RTX 30-series GPU?

GPU Specifications

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the flagship RTX 3080 and last generation’s flagship, the RTX 2080 TI. Below are their specifications:

 Nvidia RTX 3080Nvidia RTX 2080 TI
CUDA Cores8,7044,352
Boost Clock (MHz)1,7101,545
Standard Memory Config10GB GDDR6X11GB GDDR6
Memory Interface Width320-bit352-bit
Memory Speed19 Gbps14Gbps
Memory Bandwidth760.0 GB/s616 GB/s
Maximum Resolution7860 x 43207680 x 4320
InputsHDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4aDisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type-C
Start Price$699$1,000

Architecture & Power Limits

One of the biggest changes made from 20-series RTX cards to 30-series is the architecture. Last generation’s GPUs were built around Turing architecture – which, at the time, was still a large increase over the previous generation. However, the latest offering from Nvidia comes equipped with Ampere architecture, providing a much greater performance jump over the 20-series card in almost every avenue. 

Ampere architecture offers up 2nd-Gen RT cores (2x throughput), 3rd-Gen tensor cores (up to 2x throughput), and a new SM which also offers 2x FP32 throughput. 

The GA102 is also the first GPU that drops into single digits on lithography, using Samsung’s 8N process. Whilst TSMC’s N7 node is still considered better overall – and in an ideal world would have been used for the latest 30-series GPUs – using it would add a substantial amount to the cost of the GPU and could slow the release of stocks to retailers as it’s currently in high demand. 

The GA102 chip boasts an impressive 28.3 billion transistors all packed into a 628.4mm square die. That’s a jump of 52% over the TU102 chip used in the RTX 2080 Ti, yet in a 17% smaller space. 

It isn’t just architecture changes that make the RTX 3080 so powerful, the new cards will also consume a bunch more power in order to drive the performance gains you’ll see. Whereas the RTX 2080 Ti was a 225W part (Founders Edition), the RTX 3080 adds 100W to that. That’s an almost 50% increase for nearly 70% performance gains – not bad.

Price and Performance

Considering the specification differences that separate these high-performance GPUS, it’s no surprise that the new RTX 3080 beats the 2080Ti when it comes to raw gaming performance. As always, a performance jump from generation to generation is always expected – but even more so when it’s the 2nd generation of new technology. 

The RTX 3080 is the first GPU to actually unlock a whole new world of 4K gaming at playable frame rates. Whilst the RTX 2080Ti does have the capacity to run some games at this demanding resolution, we didn’t always see the best frame rates. However, as you can see from the tables below, that is no longer the case with the 30-series.

Despite the RTX 2080Ti coming equipped with more memory and a slightly larger memory interface width, it falls behind thanks to the GDDR6 memory it offers. In comparison, the RTX 3080 offers up much faster GDDR6X VRAM which also has a better memory speed and bandwidth. It also offers a faster boost clock speed and double the CUDA cores, all of which ramp up the performance of this already impressive GPU. 

In titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we saw a performance increase of around 20% when comparing the 3080 to the 2080Ti. When comparing against the 2080 Super, a card that retailed for roughly the same amount, the performance increase was closer to 50-60% – an impressive leap to say the least. 

So, speaking of price, it’s probably worth mentioning the value for money you get with the RTX 3080. 

When Jensen unveiled the new GPUs in his kitchen, we weren’t entirely sure what price Nvidia would put on these impressive cards. However, when he finally unveiled the price tag, we were staggered at how well priced they actually were.

The RTX 3080 showed such good value for money, they pretty much sold out in every retailer you can think of. It became incredibly difficult to purchase a new 30-series GPU, with many retailers having virtual queues in their thousands. 

The RTX 3080 was almost half as costly as the RTX 2080Ti, yet showcased an uplift of around 20% in all titles. That’s huge. It was double the performance of the 2080 SUPER and was valued at the same price. If that doesn’t answer any questions regarding value for money, I don’t know what will. 

RTX 30-series Vs Big NAVI?

There are still a few burning questions that have yet to be answered. Like, how will the BIG NAVI perform against the RTX 30-series? Well, early signs show that the BIG NAVI could actually be snapping at the heels of the RTX 3080. A Reddit user discovered a listing in the new ROCm firmware update that showcased details of two GPUs based on AMD’s new RDNA2 architecture. 

Whilst this didn’t give us all the information required to make a fully informed estimation of the performance these GPUs might have, it was an eye-opening look at what we could potentially expect. 

With 80CUs and a 256-bit memory bus, we expect the BIG NAVI to be right beside the RTX 3080 when it comes to gaming performance. Whether or not it’ll beat the 30-series is yet to be known, but one thing’s for sure – it’ll be a damn sight better than anything we’ve seen from team red in the past.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it guys, a closer look at the RTX 3080, and what it can offer you from a gaming standpoint. Hopefully, this article has made deciding whether or not to get an RTX 30-series GPU a little easier. 

For me, it’s a no brainer. The RTX 3080 is one of the best and most valued GPUs we’ve seen in some years. Having said that, thanks to stock levels, who knows when we’ll eventually be able to get our hands on one. 

If you have any questions regarding the RTX 30-series, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. Better still, you can now head on over to our community hub where you can discuss everything GPU related with like-minded individuals.