Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 review - a high price graphics card
Wait, the RTX 4080 GPU costs how much?
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 came out in November 2022, arriving just a month after the RTX 4090, Nvidia’s best GPU. While the RTX 4090 was an absolute powerhouse for the money, the RTX 4080 hasn’t been quite as successful, as it’s a bit too expensive for many that just want to build the best gaming PC they can afford.
But that’s not to say the RTX 4080 isn’t a fantastic graphics card. If you have the cash, the RTX 4080 is a ridiculously powerful GPU that can easily power all of the best PC games at 4K with all the eye candy turned up to max. There were some issues with performance when the graphics card first hit the market, but thanks to numerous driver updates, the RTX 4080 is finally at a point where I can actually recommend it.
And even if the price is a little high for your liking, Nvidia has now followed up the 4080 with the RTX 4070 Ti, which provides a bit better value, but we’re still waiting to hear a bit more about the RTX 4060 Ti until we have a solid mid-range option in the Ada Lovelace lineup.
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Originally reviewed November 15, 2022
Updated: February 24, 2023
🛍️ Where to buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080
🏆 Score: 3.5 out of 5
⚙️ Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 specs
🧠 16GB GDDR6X VRAM
⚡320W TGP (Total graphics power)
✨ 9,728 CUDA cores
💡 76 RT (ray tracing) cores
🏃♂️ 2,505 MHz Boost clock
🔌 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.1
If you’re just getting started with GPUs, then I suggest you read my what is a graphics card explainer to understand more about the RTX 4080 specs.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080, even on paper, is a huge jump over the last-generation RTX 3080. We get a jump from 8,704 CUDA cores to 9,728, which along with the bump to a 2,505 MHz boost speed, sees theoretical performance around 49 TFLOPs. To put that in perspective, the next-generation GPU in the Xbox Series X and PS5 only provides around 10 Teraflops of theoretical performance. No wonder it’s so much cheaper to snag a PS5 restock.
How I tested the RTX 4080
I ran the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 through my standard lineup of benchmarks, to see exactly where it stands in Nvidia’s current lineup. I compared it with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, RTX 3090 and the AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT. Even though I’ve previously tested all of these graphics cards independently, I ran all of them through the benchmarking process again with the current drivers, just to make sure the results are as reliable as possible.
I tested everything on my personal home PC, to replicate what someone with a real computer would actually see. That means no overclocking and no open-air test bench, so you can see what temperatures would actually look like.
My test specs are:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus X670E Master
RAM: 32GB DDR5 @ 6,000MHz
Storage: PNY XLR8 CS3140 PCIe 4.0 SSD, 1TB
CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken X53 240mm
PC case: Cooler Master H500P Mesh
Why trust my Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 review?
I’ve been a tech and gaming journalist for around a decade, and the entire time my whole philosophy when it comes to testing products is to use them like a normal person would. When it comes to graphics cards, that means using game benchmarks from games that are actually popular, along with the same kind of system monitoring software that you can download easily for free.
I also look at these graphics cards not as some arcane item, but as an actual product you can buy off of the shelf. So, I’m more concerned about whether or not the graphics card does what’s on the box, and whether or not that’s worth the asking price, than whether or not it improves X% on another architecture.
The future of 4K gaming 📺
Nvidia is billing the RTX 4080 as the card for folks that want to play all the latest PC games at 4K with all the eye candy turned all the way up. As such, this probably isn’t the graphics card to aim for if you’re using a 1440p display – which is the best PC gaming resolution if you ask me. It will be capable of running this kind of display at an extremely high frame rate, though, if you’re the type that wants to play competitive shooters like Overwatch 2 or Call of Duty.
If you’re like me, though, this graphics card is only going to be worth it if you are playing absolutely beautiful games like Cyberpunk 2077 and you absolutely won’t compromise on visual quality for anything.
Everyone else, though, is probably better served with an older graphics card like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which is still the best graphics card on the market for most people.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 release date
Launches November 16, 2022 at 6am PST (9am EST, 7am CST)
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 launches on November 16, starting at 6am PST. However, if this graphics card launch is anything like previous generations, it may end up being very hard to actually buy the thing. So, if you have your heart set on buying this graphics card, my advice is to set an alarm a good 30 minutes before the store pages go live, and then start mashing that refresh button.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 price
Starts at $1,199
Goes up to $1,599
With these new Ada Lovelace graphics cards, Nvidia seems to be charging a bit more than the last generation. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 starts at $1,199 for the Founders Edition, though the price will go up from there depending on which version of the graphics card you go for.
The biggest problem with this price point is Nvidia’s other Ada Lovelace GPU, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090. It’s just 25% more expensive at $1,599, but is up to 50% faster in some of the tests I ran. The math is simple: if you’re already spending more than $1,000 on a graphics card, save up just a little bit more and get the RTX 4090.
The calculus here would have been much different if the RTX 4080 just launched at the same price as the already-expensive RTX 3080. Then, the massive performance difference between it and the more expensive 4090 wouldn’t have hit so hard. And now, Nvidia has to worry about the upcoming AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX, which is launching at $200 cheaper in December 2022.
Nvidia’s software suite
DLSS 3.0 makes games go zoom
DLSS 3.0 supported in 8 games at launch
The actual graphics card is only one part of the equation. What makes it actually worth your time is the vast software suite supported by the RTX 4080. The biggest addition this time around is the third iteration of Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS.
DLSS 3.0 includes something called “AI Frame Generation.” This is essentially where the Tensor Cores in the graphics card use an algorithm to generate entire frames in between rendered frames. In CPU-heavy games like Cyberpunk 2077, this keeps the GPU working full speed, and works to eliminate bottlenecks.
There are only a few games that support this new version of DLSS so far, but in our testing, it results in much higher frame rates, making the aforementioned Cyberpunk 2077 run at an extremely smooth 94 fps at 4K with all the eye-candy enabled.
There is a bit of a downside, with the technology introducing a bit of latency to the equation, which means esports gamers might want to consider enabling Nvidia Reflex as well – or just running at a lower resolution altogether.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 benchmarks and performance
Around 20% faster than RTX 3090
Between 20-40% slower than the RTX 4090
You’ll need at least a 750W power supply, but we recommend an 850W unit
4K 60 fps gaming with all the eye candy
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 is billed as a 4K graphics card, and it does manage to have incredible performance at that resolution.
In Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition, even with no DLSS enabled, the RTX 4080 is able to manage an incredible 72 fps. Which means we only needed two extra graphics architectures to make that game playable without any AI assistance.
And in the latest addition to the 3DMark test suite, Speed Way, which measures performance in DirectX 12 Ultimate – the hot new graphics API for gaming – the RTX 4080 is 20% faster than the RTX 3090.
But not everything is roses and honey here. There are some games where the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 struggles to maintain a great framerate, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs Legion without DLSS enabled. Now, you’re going to want to enable DLSS anyway, but it goes to show how far the RTX 4080 drops compared to the slightly more expensive RTX 4090.
As far as temperatures and power goes, the RTX 4080 has an advertised Total Graphics Power (TGP) budget of 320W. In my testing, without any overclocking, I managed to hit 311W of peak power consumption.
That was in 3DMark, but there were plenty of games where performance was struggling where the GPU was only consuming around 220W-250W of power. I can’t help but think that if the graphics card’s power algorithm was more finely tuned, the performance problems simply wouldn’t be there. That’s something that can be fixed in future driver updates, though.
Nvidia recommends a 750W power supply if you want the RTX 4080, but I’d go further and recommend at least an 850W PSU. Call me superstitious but I’m not really a fan of running a power supply at 100% capacity – it’s bad for efficiency and for the long-term health of your system.
There are also some reports of Nvidia’s new power connectors potentially melting. However, even after plugging and unplugging the thing dozens of times between two 4000-series graphics cards, I haven’t noticed any kind of degradation of the adapter. Nvidia of course could avoid this by just using the 8-pin power connectors we all know and love, but then Team Green would have to abandon the sleek design of these Founders Editions.
Should you buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080?
✅ You want to play PC games at 4K
✅ You have a high budget
✅ You don’t want to spend an extra $400 on the RTX 4090
❌ You’re on any kind of budget
❌ You already have an Nvidia RTX 3000 series graphics card
❌ You don’t have an 850W+ power supply
Your Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 questions answered
I’ll be testing and retesting the RTX 4080 over and over again over the next couple years, so if you have any questions about the new graphics card, don’t be afraid to leave a comment here or DM me on Twitter. I’ll do my best to help you out.
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