Nvidia RTX 4080 vs RTX 3080 Ti: both GPUs are still available
Nvidia's next generation is here, but is it worth the extra cash?
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 dropped about two months ago in December 2023, and marked the second GPU in Nvidia’s new Ada Lovelace generation. It’s since been followed by the RTX 4070 Ti, but the better comparison is the RTX 4080 vs the RTX 3080 Ti.
With this generation of graphics cards, Nvidia seems to have, yet again, shifted its GPUs up one tier in terms of product name vs price tier. So while the RTX 3080 was much cheaper than the RTX 4080 currently is, the latter is meant more as a follow-up to the higher-tier RTX 3080 Ti.
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We can definitely see that in the benchmarks, where the RTX 4080 continually outclasses the RTX 3090, which launched at around $1,499 back in 2020. Right now, though the RTX 3080 Ti is still selling for close to a thousand bucks on Newegg. So, that begs the question: if you’re on the market for a high-end 4K graphics card, which is worth your hard earned cash? Well, maybe I can help you pick the best GPU for your gaming PC.
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RTX 3080 Ti vs RTX 4080 Price
RTX 3080 Ti launched at $1,199
RTX 4080 launched at $1,199
RTX 3080 Ti might see discounts to clear out old inventory
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 is available now starting at $1,199. That’s close to the launch price of the RTX 3080 Ti, as noted in my review of the graphics card over at TechRadar. Now you can get the RTX 3080 Ti online for about $849 if you’re ok with an open box unit from Newegg. This won’t last long, though, as the graphics card is listed as discontinued.
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At first glance it looks like Nvidia didn’t raise the price over its last-generation flagship, but it’s important to keep in mind that the RTX 3080 Ti was a mid-generation refresh of the RTX 3080, which was just $699 at launch in 2020 – if you could find it.
Looking at it that way, the Nvidia RTX 4080 sees a massive 71% price increase over the RTX 3080. But as we’ll see when we look at performance it’s not quite as simple as that.
RTX 3080 Ti vs RTX 4080 Specs
RTX 3080 Ti looks better on paper with more CUDA cores
RTX 4080 has more VRAM
RTX 4080 has newer tech that does more with less
Because the RTX 4080 is part of an all-new generation of GPUs, you’d expect it to have much more impressive specs than the last-generation RTX 3080 Ti. And, well, it does.
The Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is based on the last-generation Ampere graphics architecture, and has 80 Streaming Multiprocessors, each with 128 CUDA cores. That means it’s packed with 10,240 CUDA cores in total, backed up with 12GB of GDDR6X memory on a 384-bit bus. This was a huge graphics card when it launched, all but making the then-flagship RTX 3090 completely unnecessary.
Fast forward to 2022, and the Nvidia RTX 4080 is based on the new Ada Lovelace graphics architecture, with 76 Streaming Multiprocessors, with 9,728 CUDA cores in total. Although a slight downgrade, it has more VRAM, with 16GB of GDDR6X on a slower 256-bit bus.
It seems like you’d expect better performance from the older card, but the Nvidia GPUs actually trade blows more often than not – more on that later. Nvidia put a lot of work into the new generation of GPUs, and the RTX 4080 can actually do more with less than the older 3080 Ti can do.
Still, with a price tag as high as the RTX 4080 carries, it’d be nice to see Nvidia shove a little more hardware into the new card – especially since the RTX 4090 is so far ahead with its 128 Streaming Multiprocessors and 16,384 CUDA cores.
RTX 3080 Ti vs RTX 4080 performance
RTX 4080 is around 20% faster on average
There are some games where the performance gap all but disappears
A smaller performance jump than I’d like
Now, when I reviewed the RTX 4080, I didn’t have an RTX 3080 Ti on hand. My old review unit is sitting in the TechRadar labs, where I was working when I reviewed the Nvidia 30-series graphics cards. But I did have an RTX 3090 lying around, and one thing I can tell you from experience is that the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti are extremely close in performance.
There are some games where the RTX 4080 soars over the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090. Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition is one such title, where the newer card sees a massive 20% jump in performance. That gap does narrow when you enable the power-saving DLSS, but at that point the game is hitting CPU limits.
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Other games tell a different story, with Cyberpunk 2077 seeing the two graphics cards with extremely similar performance.
Overall, though, you’ll probably see around a 20% performance improvement with the RTX 4080 over the RTX 3080 Ti. But with a generational improvement and at the same price point, you’d expect to see more.
The bottom line is that if you already have an Nvidia Ampere GPU, you probably don’t need to shell out for a Lovelace card.
RTX 3080 Ti vs RTX 4080 which should I buy?
If you saw both the RTX 4080 and the RTX 3080 Ti on the store shelf for the same money, you should just grab the RTX 4080. The performance is better, and you get access to newer supporting technology like the new DLSS 3.0.
However, if your local big-box store is running a sale to clear out inventory of the now-discontinued RTX 3080 Ti, and you can get it for around $900, the RTX 3080 Ti quickly becomes the better value. It’s very unlikely that the RTX 3080 Ti will be made obsolete any time soon, and is still a very capable 4K graphics card.
Time is running out if you want the 3080 Ti, though. There are no new models being shipped to stores, so it’s only a matter of time until the RTX 4080 is your only choice at this price point – unless you want to grab the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX.
Either graphics card is going to provide an excellent gaming experience for years to come, though, so honestly, you’re a winner with either option.