Your Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 might secretly be an old RTX 3080 Ti

(Image credit: Nvidia)

The ongoing global shortage of chip components has contributed to graphics cards like the GeForce RTX 3080 being incredibly difficult to get hold of, which might explain why it appears that Nvidia is recycling unused versions of the RTX 3080 Ti as its flagship GPU, the RTX 3090.

The official release of the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU has been rumored for some time, with release dates initially expected for mid-April

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The latest update suggests we will likely see the card arriving sometime in mid-May, though it seems the SKU we previously expected to be featured on the currently unreleased GPU has already made an official appearance.

Nvidia's recycling scheme?

The confusing product was discovered by a user on Hardwareluxx's forums, and appears to show the Ampere GA102-250 GPU SKU expected for the original RTX 3080 Ti scratched out and replaced with the official GA102-300 SKU used on the RTX 3090. The GPU seemingly dates back to November 30, 2020, which could indicate the decision to recycle the hardware was made back near the launch of the Ampere line in September.

The initial release of the RTX 3080 Ti was expected to be a suped-up variant of the RTX 3080 featuring a whopping 20GB of memory and was reportedly scheduled to launch in December, but Nvidia since pushed the release back numerous times.

Since its announcement, the SKU has received new specs and a memory downgrade to 12GB, and now looks set to land alongside the rumored Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti. As well as reduced memory, the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is also expected to ship with fewer CUDA cores than was previously suggested, downgrading to 10,240 from the previously rumored 10,496. 

This could of course all be down due to a bizarre mislabelling incident, but, with reports suggesting GPU shortages could last until next year, it looks like buying any Ampere graphics card in the near future is likely to be a serious struggle. Nvidia wanting to use as much available hardware to create working GPUs for consumers is understandable.

It also isn't clear if the 250 variant SKU offers the same performance or power as the 300, but given the naming conventions, we would assume that there could be a notable difference. We have reached out to Nvidia for comment.

Via Notebook Check

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.