Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 2080 Super

Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 2080 Super
(Image credit: Nvidia; Future)

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 has been officially announced as team green’s new flagship gaming graphics card, and while it promises big things when it comes to powering the best PC games, just how does it compare to its predecessor, the RTX 2080 Super?

That’s a question that we’re going to answer here, by pitting the Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 2080 Super. We’ll look at if the RTX 3080 is a worthwhile upgrade for RTX 2080 Super owners, as well as looking at if the older card is a better buy for gamers on a budget.

Because, even though the RTX 3080 (along with its siblings, the RTX 3070 and RTX 3090) is the new hotness, the RTX 2080 Super is still an excellent card in its own right. For people looking to upgrade their gaming PCs, then, this offers up a dilemma: the Nvidia RTX 3080 or the RTX 2080 Super – which GPU is the best for you?

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 2080 Super price

In the run up to the RTX 3080 launch, many of us were apprehensive about just how much Nvidia would be asking for the GPU. After all, the company has a bit of a reputation when it comes to releasing pricey components.

However, with the reveal that the RTX 3080 will cost $699 (£649, about AU$950), we were pleasantly surprised. Sure, it’s still high, but not as high as we’d feared, because of the specs, and it’s actually launching for around the same price the original RTX 2080 launched for, as well as the RTX 2080 Super.

Now, if the 2080 Super was still selling for that price, there’d be no competition – the RTX 3080 is the one to go for thanks to the leap in performance compared to the 2080 Super – and for no extra cost.

However, since the RTX 2080 Super launched last year, prices have been dropping, and you can now get it for around $100/£100 less. With the release of the RTX 3080, prices could drop even further. This would make the RTX 2080 Super a more appealing purchase.

However, as the RTX 2080 Super is still a recent, and powerful card, don’t expect the price to drop too much, especially with some retailers now no longer stocking the card.

It does mean, though, that you could sell your RTX 2080 Super to help fund your purchase of the RTX 3080. But would it be worth it? Let’s take a deeper look.

(Image credit: Future)

Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 2080 Super: specs

On paper, the RTX 3080 looks like a decent upgrade with some very exciting tech:

  • CUDA Cores: 8,704
  • Boost Clock: 1.71GHz
  • Base Clock: 1.44GHz
  • Memory Interface: 320-bit
  • TDP: 320W

So, how does that compare to the 2080 Super? Here are the older card’s specs:

  • CUDA Cores: 3,072
  • Boost Clock: 1.8GHz
  • Base Clock: 1.6GHz
  • Memory Interface: 256-bit
  • TDP: 250W

Comparing those two specs, you can see straight away what a leap the RTX 3080 is over the RTX 2080 Super – and that’s before we even go into the new tensor cores and benefits of the 3080’s Ampere architecture over the 2080 Super’s Turing.

The clear benefits, looking at the specs, are when it comes to CUDA cores and memory. On the CUDA front, the RTX 3080 offers over twice as many. But what does that actually mean?

CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) cores are essentially parallel processors that allow an Nvidia GPU to handle multiple complex tasks at once, such as rendering lighting, character models and scenery all at once. Basically, the more CUDA cores, the more efficient the GPU is for handling demanding and complex graphics, in a similar way that a quad-core processor is better at multi-tasking than a dual-core processor.

So, the RTX 3080’s big CUDA advantage over the RTX 2080 Super could be one of the biggest reasons to go for the newest card.

Then, there’s the memory. Not only does the RTX 3080 have more of it, it uses the faster GDDR6X memory, compared to GDDR6 of the 2080 Super.

The memory interface of the RTX 3080 is also faster, so once again the RTX 3080 has a big advantage. Having more, faster, memory will pay off when playing at high resolutions. So, if you’re looking to play at 4K or even 8K resolutions, or you’re going to use an ultrawide monitor, or multiple monitors at once, then the RTX 3080 is, again, the one to go for.

However, we should note that the specs for the RTX 2080 Super are still very good, and it does have a faster base and boost clock than the RTX 3080. If you have a 2080 Super, don’t go thinking it’s obsolete just yet.

Now, comparing specs will only get you so far when figuring out what kind of performance difference there will be. Once we’ve finished our in-depth testing of the RTX 3080, we’ll be able to better compare the two cards.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 2080 Super: which one should you buy?

So, should you buy the RTX 3080 or RTX 2080 Super? If you’re looking to upgrade your PC with a new GPU, and have the budget, then you should go for the RTX 3080 every time. The specs bump means this is going to be one heck of a GPU, and will happily power upcoming games for years to come. When you’re paying this kind of money, you’ll want to try to get the most capable GPU you can, which is easily the RTX 3080.

The fact that Nvidia has been pretty aggressive with the price of the new GPU, means it’s even more appealing.

If you are on a budget, then the RTX 2080 Super may be a more affordable way to get high-end graphics, but do temper your expectations with just how low the price of the GPU will drop. You may find the RTX 3070 to be a better purchase, anyway, which offers Ampere features for less money.

But what about if you already own an RTX 2080 Super? Should you upgrade? Possibly – if you can sell your card for a decent amount, it could mean getting a much more powerful GPU for little initial outlay.

However, the RTX 2080 Super is still an excellent card, so you may want to hold on to it for now – as it will still easily play modern games at 1080p, 1440p and even 4K, with relative ease. Then, when the RTX 4000 series comes out, you may find you can get an even better upgrade.

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.