NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 vs. RTX 3080: Which GPU should you buy?

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

NVIDIA RTX 3070 vs. RTX 3080 tech specs

These two Ampere graphics cards (GPU) are from the same NVIDIA RTX 30-series, landing with the same set of major features, including ray tracing and DLSS. However, price and performance disparities make them ideal for different users. Let's take a look first at the specs that make up these cards that both inhabit our list of best graphics card options.

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Header Cell - Column 0 NVIDIA RTX 3070NVIDIA RTX 3080
CUDA cores5,8888,704
Base clock1,500MHz1,440MHz
Boost clock1,725MHz1,710MHz
Memory bus256-bit320-bit
Memory clock14Gbps19Gbps
Memory bandwidth448GB/s760GB/s
RT cores4668
Tensor cores184272
Transistors17.4 billion28.3 billion
NodeSamsung 8nmSamsung 8nm
PortsHDMI 2.1Three DisplayPort 1.4aHDMI 2.1Three DisplayPort 1.4a

NVIDIA RTX 3070 vs. RTX 3080 4K performance

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

From the raw specs listed above, it's clear the RTX 3080 is a strong performer and the superior option out of the two GPUs. It has more memory that's faster and has a larger bus, it has more CUDA cores, more RT cores for ray tracing, and it has more tensor cores. It also demands a TDP of 320W, which is 100W more than the RTX 3070. If you are opting for the RTX 3080, be sure you have a PSU that can handle the increased draw. NVIDIA recommends a 750W PSU, and we've collected some of the best PSUs for the RTX 3080 to help you find what's right.

The NVIDIA RTX 3080's specs make it a great GPU for 4K gaming. In our testing, it was able to hit well above 60 frames-per-second (FPS) in six of nine games played at 4K, with only the most intensive dropping it down to around the 60 FPS mark. Turning in-game settings down from their maximum got games like Control to hit the 60 FPS sweet spot.

Take a look at how the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 compare when gaming at 4K with in-game settings cranked up.

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GameRTX 3080 (avg. fps)RTX 3070 (avg. fps)RTX 2080 (avg. fps)
Microsoft Flight Simulator423228
Death Stranding1017458
Far Cry New Dawn1028165
Gears 5785946
Metro Exodus987456
Red Dead Redemption 2826348
Shadow of the Tomb Raider755844
Total War Saga: Troy614536

It's clear from these numbers that the RTX 3070 can handle its own at 4K in certain games. However, it's still not going to be the GPU for 4K going forward. If you have a 4K monitor with a 60Hz refresh rate or better and want to play modern games without sacrificing quality, the RTX 3080 remains the right GPU for you. That's especially true if you're looking to future-proof for years to come. Just note that it's going to cost, in general, about $200 more than the RTX 3070.

NVIDIA RTX 3070 vs. RTX 3080 1440p performance

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

Looking at 1440p performance tells a different story. Yes, the RTX 3080 will absolutely crush 1440p, but so will the RTX 3070 at $200 less. If you plan on sticking with QHD for a few years to come, the cheaper card makes a lot more sense. It still brings ray-tracing capabilities and DLSS technology for a performance boost, and it can dabble with 4K if you really need to push things up to the higher resolution.

Following are average FPS numbers from the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 at 1440p with in-game settings maxed out.

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GameRTX 3080 (avg. fps)RTX 3070 (avg. fps)RTX 2080 (avg. fps)
Microsoft Flight Simulator484742
Death Stranding164135102
Far Cry New Dawn144136118
Gears 512510278
Metro Exodus174136105
Red Dead Redemption 212910282
Shadow of the Tomb Raider13010784
Total War Saga: Troy1058267

As you can see by the numbers above, $200 more for the RTX 3080 doesn't get you a huge boost to performance at 1440p. The RTX 3070 is going to deliver a quality QHD experience, and as long as you don't want to seriously dabble with 4K, it's likely going to be the better card for most people.

The RTX 3070 is the right GPU for 1440p gaming

If you plan on sticking primarily with a quality 1440p gaming experience, the RTX 3070 is far more affordable and performs close to the RTX 3080. This is no doubt going to be a very popular GPU for a lot of gamers, though availability is still poor.

The RTX 3080 is the proper card for 4K gamers

The RTX 3070 can handle 4K gaming at acceptable frame rates, but if you're going all-in with the boosted resolution, you probably want to spend the extra money on the RTX 3080. It should also last longer into the future, but availability is also poor.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.