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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080: Should you upgrade?

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 reviewNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 reviewNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is the direct successor to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080. It has kept the same starting price of $700 but offers better performance at 4K, and with ray tracing. The upgrade from RTX 2080 to RTX 3080 is recommended, especially since it makes a clearer jump to the next generation of gaming.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080 specs

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 comes with a new Ampere GA102 chipset, made with Samsung's 8nm fabrication process. On the other hand, the RTX 2080 has the Turing TU104 chipset, based on TSMC's 12nm process. The shift to a considerably smaller fabrication process means that the transistor count has jumped from 13.6 billion to a whopping 28.3 billion — which amounts to a significant gain in power as well. Let's take a look at the specifications of both cards.

CategoryNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080
Shader (CUDA) Cores87042944
Core Clock1440MHz1515MHz
Boost Clock1710MHz1710MHz
Memory10GB GDDR6X
320-bit bus width
8 GB GDDR6
256-bit bus width
Memory Clock19Gbps14Gbps
Memory Bandwidth760GB/s448GB/s
RT Cores6846
Tensor Cores272368
Transistors28.3 billion13.6 billion
NodeSamsung 8nmTSMC 12nm
ArchitectureAmpereTuring
TDP320W215 W
Ports1 x HDMI 2.1
3 x DisplayPort 1.4a
1 x HDMI 2.0b
3 x DisplayPort 1.4
1 x USB C
Power Connector1 x 12-pin
2 x PCIe 8-pin converter included
1 x 6 pin + 1x 8 pin

The RTX 3080 has a significantly higher number of shader cores as well. The 8,704 CUDA cores versus the RTX 2080s 2944 CUDA cores means that the 3080 has a raw computing power figure of 29.77 TFLOPs — up from 10.7 TFLOPs that the RTX 2080 hits.

This is the on-paper comparison, but to understand how much better the RTX 3080 does, we have to look at the real-world performance.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 vs. RTX 2080 real-world performance

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review

Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

In our NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 review, we tested out the GPU in a direct comparison with the RTX 2080, pitting the two against each other in the top AAA titles. The RTX 3080 provides huge performance gains over the RTX 2080 here, and it is clear that the 3080 is the go-to GPU for everybody looking for a consistent and smooth next-gen gaming experience. Here are some FPS comparisons from our review.

GameRTX 3080 (avg. FPS, 1440p)RTX 2080 (avg. FPS, 1440p)RTX 3080 (avg. FPS, 4K)RTX 2080 (avg. FPS, 4K)
Microsoft Flight Simulator48424228
Control98615228
Death Stranding16410210158
Gears 5125787846
Metro Exodus1741059856
Red Dead Redemption 2129828248
Shadow of the Tomb Raider130847544

The RTX 2080 is a decent 1440p gaming card, but the RTX 3080 is clearly the card to go for if you want 1440p 144 FPS performance. The RTX 2080 is only sufficient and will require you to turn down a few settings to get to that magical 144 FPS figure at 1440p, but the RTX 3080 does it more comfortably, with fewer compromises. Let's look at 4K gaming performance.

With 4K, RTX 2080 struggles to hit the 60 FPS baseline, but the RTX 3080 seems to do it with ease. The RTX 3080 will even let you hit 4K 144 FPS with a few settings turned down. The RTX 2080, on the other hand, would have to sacrifice a lot of the visual quality if it is to get to those figures.

Basically, an upgrade to the RTX 3080 will mean that you can play all the latest games at higher graphics settings. It will also mean your PC will consume a bit more power and might need upgrades to some of the other components to get the most of it.

So should you upgrade to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 from RTX 2080?

The clear answer: yes. RTX 3080 is a beast of a GPU and will serve you well in next-gen gaming perhaps the best graphics card on the market. Even though it's just a single-generation upgrade, it's still a solid one regardless. However, there is a catch. The RTX 3080 is currently very difficult to find, given the short supply and heavy demand.

This has also led to price gouging, with some sellers pricing RTX 3080 cards over two to three times the actual retail price. While the card is a stellar value at its original price, you absolutely must not pay the inflated asking prices. The RTX 2080 should be able to carry you until you can find a reasonably priced RTX 3080.

There are also a few things to consider while upgrading. First of all, you need to remember that an upgrade like this is only as good as the rest of the computer. An upgrade to the RTX 3080 does come with better performance in games, provided your PC can accommodate it. Your current components need to be compatible with the new card, especially the power supply unit (PSU) since the RTX 3080 consumes about 105W more power than the RTX 3080.

However, if you have a powerful enough rig and can get your hands on one without burning a hole in your wallet, by all means, buy the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080.