New Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 12GB GPU specs leak – and it has us worried

Closeup of RTX 3080 GPU behind partial honeycomb shaped glass barrier
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Rumors have been swirling that Nvidia is planning to release a new version of its RTX 3080 GPU, packing it with more memory and some upgraded internals, and now alleged specs have leaked onto the internet – and it has us concerned.

On paper, the specs sound great. As Videocardz reports, the new RTX 3080 12GB won’t just have more memory (the original RTX 3080 comes with 10GB of GDDR6X memory), but the memory will be faster as well, with a 384-bit memory bus (compared to the 320-bit memory interface of the original).

This will give higher bandwidth speeds of 912 GB/s versus 760 GB/s of the original. It’ll also have 8960 CUDA cores, according to the leak, 256 more cores than the original RTX 3080, and will be based on the GA102-220 GPU. There’ll be more Tensor cores and RT cores as well.

If true, then this points to a GPU that will bring a decent bump in performance when gaming. However, there’s a certain issue that’s preventing us from getting too excited…

Analysis: Good news and bad

Not only would the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 12GB perform better when gaming, but the spec bump – if true – would also mean this is a GPU that will be better at cryptocurrency mining. According to Videocardz, the new RTX 3080 12GB could be around 20% faster at cryptocurrency mining, mainly thanks to the faster memory.

While this would be good news for miners, it’s bad news for gamers. Why? Well, for over a year now, getting hold of a new graphics card has been incredibly hard. A lot of that has been due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, along with a chip shortage.

However, it also coincided with a spike in cryptocurrency mining, which lead miners to gobble up many of the cards that do come into stock, making a bad situation even worse.

So, if Nvidia is planning on releasing a new GPU that performs well at cryptocurrency mining, it could mean that miners flock to buy up stock, making it difficult for gamers to get hold of one. Nvidia could try to artificially limit the cryptomining abilities via software, which it has done with previous GPUs, but this hasn’t made a massive difference, unfortunately.

The idea of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 12GB is certainly exciting. The original RTX 3080 is a very good GPU, but in an age when PC gamers are looking to push ever more impressive graphics in their PC games at ultra-high resolutions of 4K and above, there’s been a concern that the 10GB memory of the original card won’t be enough.

A new version with more memory will certainly help address those concerns, but will anyone actually be able to buy the card? Miners will certainly swoop on it if it proves to be a great mining GPU, and that’ll cause issues for the rest of us. Even if the market gets flooded with used RTX 3080s, this won’t solve much – we’d advise people to be wary of buying a second-hand GPU that has been used for mining, as the process puts a lot of strain on the components which can impact their lifespan.

Rumors had suggested we’d see the new RTX 3080 12GB this month, with a release at the begging of the year, but it now looks like Nvidia has postponed it for now. Whenever it does appear (if it even exists), the RTX 3080 12GB will likely be very popular, so if you want one, you may have to put up a fight.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.