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Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition review

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  • Posted on 15th Nov, 2022 14:05 PM
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The Nvidia RTX 4080 has finally landed, but is this high-end Nvidia graphics card worth the $1199 asking price?

The Nvidia RTX 4080 has finally landed, but is this high-end Nvidia graphics card worth the $1199 asking price?

The Nvidia RTX 4080 is a graphics card with a bit of a storied history. It was first announced as the Nvidia RTX 4080 16GB, alongside a 12GB variant which was unceremoniously canceled. It’s releasing around a month after the extremely powerful RTX 4090, as the next GPU in the 40-series lineup.

We felt that the RTX 4090 was almost too powerful for its own good in our testing, so will the RTX 4080 manage to strike a finer balance between its own power, and hardware limitations?

Key specs

GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition
CUDA cores9728
Boost clock2505 MHz
Memory clock11200 MHz
Memory speed22.4 Gbps
Memory16GB GDDR6X
Memory bus width256-bit
TDP320W
Power input16-pin
Size304mm x 134mm x 61mm (3-slot)
Display outputs3x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1x HDMI 2.1
Price$1199

Design

Dexerto

The RTX 4080 Founders Edition sports an identical cooling solution to the RTX 4090 Founders Edition Model. This three-slot RTX 4080 is packed with flow-through fans and a chunky heatsink, ensuring that everything is kept cool. This is a departure from the RTX 3080 Founders Edition model, which was visually similar but came in a slim 2-slot design.

However, there have been some notable changes. The metal body now tapers inward at the center slightly, giving off the impression that the beefy card is sucking its stomach. Additionally, both fans on the RTX 4080 Founders Edition are larger than its previous-generation counterpart, and this revised design promotes higher airflow at lower RPM, for quieter operation under higher thermal loads. Nvidia claims that these counter-rotating fans will allow for 15% more airflow compared to the cooler of the RTX 3090 Founders Edition.

Dexerto

On the front, you’ll see the infamous 16-pin power connector, which has caused various issues on some RTX 4090 models. Though, it remains to be seen if the same will be replicated on the RTX 4080. Nvidia includes a 16-pin to 3x 8-pin PCIe power connector, for those not lucky enough to have an ATX 3.0 power supply. We do think that the power port’s placement could have been slightly smarter. We loved the look of our RTX 3080’s angled vertical connector, which sticks out much less compared to the RTX 4080.

Around the back, you will find three DisplayPort 1.4 ports, in addition to a singular HDMI 2.1 port. Like the RTX 4090, we did wish there was a revised DisplayPort adapter. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to go above 4K, 120HZ with this GPU, so it is a minor complaint.

Founders Edition cards just look better than the rest

Dexerto

Say what you want about the performance of the graphics cards, but Nvidia is really on a tear with the visual design of its Founders Edition graphics cards. We loved the redesign of the 30-series coolers, and the RTX 4080 Founders Edition carries on that legacy. Compared to AIB cards, the Founders Edition models look more like tools than toys.

The solid metal construction and sparse RGB just reinforce that fact. Sorry AIB manufacturers. You might have fancy high-power BIOS configurations, but none of them look as good as the Team Green-certified card.

It’s not just for gaming

Inside, you get access to Nvidia’s AV1 media encoder, which has been added to OBS Studio. AV1 should also speed up video editors massively compared to H.264 and H.265 standards. The RTX 4080 also has access to Nvidia Studio Drivers, making it an excellent option for those who will be using their GPUs for 3D or video-based workloads, not just gaming.

Performance

Dexerto

Much like the RTX 4090, the RTX 4080 boasts incredibly impressive performance. When you take into account new features like DLSS 3, which has a brand-new frame generation feature. The raw rasterization performance compared to previous generations is also extremely impressive. You can also expect better Ray Tracing performance out of the graphics card, to boot.

The RTX 4080 is built to handle 4K and high frame-rate workloads at 1440p while gaming, so that’s what we’ll be testing.

Test system

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-13600K
  • CPU cooler: Cooler Master PL360 Flux
  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG Z790 Maximus Extreme
  • RAM: ADATA XPG Lancer RGB 32GB DDR5-6000
  • Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 4TB
  • Case: Hyte Y60
  • PSU: EVGA Supernova GT 1300

Sporting our shiny-new testbench, we should be able to push the RTX 4080 to the brink, when it comes to performance. Though we expect that it may be CPU limited in some scenarios when running games at higher framerates.

RTX 4080 4K gaming performance

The RTX 4080 just manages to eke out great performance at 4K in a number of modern titles, which we also tested with the RTX 4090, so we are able to compare both of Nvidia’s gaming behemoths. We also went ahead and tested the GPU against its previous-gen counterpart, the RTX 3080 10GB.

GameRTX 4080 RTX 4090RTX 3080 10GBPercentage Difference
Forza Horizon 5 (Ultra)125 FPS153 FPS69 FPS -20% vs RTX 4090+45% vs RTX 3080
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS Performance, Frame Generation)108 FPS116 FPSN/A-7% vs RTX 4090
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS Performance) 74 FPS90 FPS59 FPS-19% vs RTX 4090+24% vs RTX 3080
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS off) 29 FPS37 FPS13 FPS-21% vs RTX 4090+76% vs RTX 3080
CS:GO (High, Dust 2) 399 FPS416 FPS258 FPS-4.1% vs RTX 4090+ 42% vs RTX 3080

At 4K, we see a trend of the RTX 4080 managing to boast impressive 4K performance, with around 20% less performance than the RTX 4090. Considering there’s a $400 difference between the two graphics cards, the RTX 4080 is looking like a steady contender for value compared to its bigger brother.

For esports gamers, comparing the RTX 4090 to the RTX 4080 in our own testing only showed around a 4.1% difference between the two graphics cards. This is likely due to CPU bottlenecking, where we’d be hitting the upper limits of performance. So, if you need the fastest framerates in your game, you can rest easy knowing that you can probably save $400 by picking up an RTX 4080, instead.

RTX 4080 vs RTX 4090: 4K performance

Dexerto We reviewed PNY’s RTX 4090, and it certainly doesn’t look as good as Nvidia’s Founders Edition models.

The RTX 4090 was 20% faster than the RTX 4080 in our 4K benchmarks. However, putting DLSS into the equation results in a narrower 14.2% difference between the two. In many cases, since performance is CPU bound, you might be getting more value for your money from picking up an RTX 4080. But, compared to the RTX 3080, it’s really no contest. The RTX 4080 screams ahead in pure rasterization performance, in addition to anything using DLSS 3.

RTX 4080 1440p gaming performance

At 1440p, you begin to see a significantly narrower performance gap, as the RTX 4080 becomes CPU bottlenecked in many cases (reminder: We were using an i5-13600K for these tests).

GameRTX 4080 RTX 4090RTX 3080 10GBPercentage Difference
Forza Horizon 5 (Ultra)132 FPS172 FPS104 FPS-25% vs RTX 4090+23% vs RTX 3080
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS Performance, Frame Generation)181 FPS191 FPSN/A-5.3% vs RTX 4090
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS Performance) 116 FPS113 FPS59 FPS+2% vs RTX 4090 +65% vs RTX 3080
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, DLSS off) 63 FPS74 FPS34 FPS-16% vs RTX 4090+59% vs RTX 3080
CS:GO (High, Dust 2) 399 FPS432 FPS370 FPS-7% vs RTX 4090+7% vs RTX 3080

The best examples of the bottlenecking are in Cyberpunk 2077 with DLSS 2 and without DLSS. Additionally, when looking at performance in CS:GO, you can see that there’s a pretty negligible difference between the RTX 4090, 4080, and 3080 GPUs.

However, since Forza Horizon 5 scales incredibly well, we once again see a similar performance gap emerge between the RTX 4080 and RTX 4090. Though, these are still being throttled by the CPUs performance, too.

The RTX 4080 is an incredible card for 1440p performance, especially if you are looking for high framerates in-game. for many esports titles, this will be the sweet spot that you want to attain, especially since there are 1440p/360Hz panels imminently launching.

Take me down to the bottleneck city

Below 1440p, the RTX 4080 becomes slightly less viable. 1080p performance will be significantly bottlenecked in all cases, even if you have a screaming-fast CPU. If you wanted to splash $1199 on a graphics card, you will also probably own a display that is capable of pushing more than 1080p. Trust us.

RTX 4080 synthetic benchmarks

BenchmarkRTX 4080 RTX 4090Percentage difference
Speed Way717910310-35.8% vs RTX 4090
Port Royal 1782922598-23% vs RTX 4090
Time Spy Extreme (Graphics score)1402818578-27% vs RTX 4090

In synthetic benchmarks, the RTX 4080 garnered some incredibly impressive results and remains to track around 28% slower than the RTX 4090. According to 3DMark, the RTX 4080 becomes around 25% faster than the RTX 3090 Ti, which was previously in the $1199 price point.

Coming in at $1199, the RTX 4080 might be a good pick, especially since you get all the best bells and whistles that make the RTX 4080 great while being sandwiched in between the performance of the RTX 3090 Ti, and the RTX 4090.

DLSS 3 steals the show

Dexerto

In Cyberpunk 2077, we managed to sit around 57 FPS using the RTX 3080 with DLSS 2 set to performance mode. While the RTX 4080 manages to sit pretty at 74 FPS. By comparison, switching over to DLSS 3 sees the RTX 4080 leapfrog over the RTX 3080’s best-case scenario by a staggering 89%.

Frame Generation works incredibly well in-game, and there’s minimal latency whilst using it, too. It’s just about as good as it gets. And, since it’s using AI under the hood, you can really expect it to only get better. In-game, you hardly even notice the AI-generated frames, either.

3DMark DLSS Feature Test (4K)DLSS offDLSS 3 on (Performance, Frame Generation)Percentage difference
RTX 408038.75 FPS148.36 FPS117%

Using the 3DMark DLSS Feature test, we managed to achieve a staggering 117% uplift in performance with DLSS set to performance, with Frame Generation on. Do take note that this is a synthetic benchmark, but the results really speak for themselves. It is an unbelievable jump in performance. It also gives Nvidia an edge over its erstwhile competitors, who are attempting to undercut them.

RTX 4080 Founders Edition thermal performance

Dexerto With a much beefier cooler compared to the 3080, the 4080 FE is exceptionally quiet, too.

The 350W WDP of the RTX 4080 might scare off some, and you will absolutely want to equip yourself with a power supply that is able to match the GPU. However, the large, triple-slot Founders Edition cooler was more than enough to keep the GPU cool during our sustained testing.

We found that under 100% load, the RTX 4080 Founders Edition that we tested reached a peak temperature of 65 degrees. This could only be observed during a torture test in Furmark. In gaming scenarios, such as Cyberpunk 2077, we only managed to top this out at 59 degrees. This is a fantastic result, and it will ensure that your GPU is kept cool, and will still manage to reach its highest-rated clock speeds, too. We kept the graphics card at stock settings for the purposes of this review, but if you wanted to clock the GPU higher, there might just be room, thermally, to attempt to eke out more performance from this graphics card.

RTX 4080 power consumption

Rated for 350W, we used HWinfo to check out just how much power this GPU might drink. To our surprise, even in the most taxing performance scenarios, we found that the GPU topped out at around 315W.

In gaming scenarios, the RTX 4080 sat at 290W on average, even under a taxing load, so don’t worry about topping out that 350W TDP too much.

Cutting the RTX 4080’s power target

With this in mind, we took to cutting the RTX 4090’s power targets to see how it affects performance using EVGA’s Precision X1 software.

Power Target3DMark Speed Way score
100%7184
70%6720
60%5993

It appears as if cutting the power target to 70% is the sweet spot for the RTX 4080, for eco-conscious users. We only saw a 6.67% dip in performance using 3DMark Speed Way. This opens the door for users looking to run the GPU at slightly lower power, but still, manage to retain the majority of the RTX 4080’s performance.

Should you buy it?

The RTX 4080 finds itself nicely positioned slap-bang in the middle of the RTX 3090 Ti’s performance, and the RTX 4090. However, with next-gen features like DLSS 3, AV1 encoding support, and more, it’s clear that this is indeed a worthy upgrade from a previous-generation card.

However, a base price of $1199 is fairly expensive for an “80” class GPU. As a reminder, the RTX 3080 launched for just $699. So, the price might scare off mainstream users. With this in mind, the RTX 4080 is still a supremely powerful card.

The looming specter of the RX 7900 XTX might undercut the RTX 4080. However, you’re going to miss out on rock-solid features like DLSS 3. Features like DLSS, Broadcast, and Nvidia’s software suite make this GPU a must-have, for those who can afford it. It doesn’t have the headliner performance of the RTX 4090, but that GPU is handicapped by its own hardware and display configuration.

Pricing is this GPUs main enemy

When you look online, and compare the RTX 4080 to its previous-generation counterpart, you do see a large performance uplift. However, the Ampere generation of cards remains to be excellent value, especially on the used market. For most people, spending over $1000 on a graphics card is a tough pill to swallow, and this is the RTX 4080’s main weakness. For 1440p gaming at 60Hz, you might be better off with another GPU.

But, the RTX 4080 is instead geared towards high-resolutions and high framerates, so if you are looking for excellent performance, this might be the one for you. It should be noted however that if you arm yourself with a bit more cash, the 4090 will still go a bit further if you want to lean on HDMI 2.1.

The RTX 4080 is a much more well-rounded card, and for those looking to take their gaming performance to the next level, this might just be your next GPU.

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