Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 review

An impressive graphics card for a king’s ransom

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Our Verdict

It doesn't reach the heights of the RTX 2080 Ti, but Nvidia’s high-end Turing RTX GPU comes damn close to achieving 4K 60fps gaming for a mildly steep price.

For

  • Impressively improved gaming frame rates
  • The second most performant GPU in the world
  • Super simple overclocking

Against

  • Nvidia’s most expensive xx80 card yet
  • Dips under 60 fps with some 4K games
  • More power demanding

Following in the footsteps of previous Nvidia xx80 cards (like the GTX 980 and 1080), the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 tries to hit the sweet spot of high end performance that justifies a high cost. Now, as part of the Nvidia Turing lineup, the GeForce RTX 2080 is proving this is true once again, but with an even higher price tag and gaming performance that’s just ton the verge of breaking the 4K 60 fps barrier that the RTX 2080 Ti deftly achieves.

Pricing and availability

Just when we were getting over the $549 (£469, AU$925) Nvidia GTX 1080 being noticeably more expensive than its predecessor, the RTX 2080 dropped with an even higher $799 (£749, AU$1,199) price. 

Bear in mind this is the price of the Founders Edition for this generation, which are high-end versions of Nvidia’s GPUs. You’ll find other models that start at a slightly lower $699 (£749, AU$1,199) price.

Still, the RTX 2080 represents yet another significant increase in price for Nvidia’s latest graphics cards. It wasn’t that long ago that the GTX 1080 Ti cost just as much at $699 (£669, AU$1,129). With this latest series of GeForce GPUs, it seems Nvidia is trying to up the prices on its graphics cards to be more premium than in years past.

If you’re looking for a high end graphics card that’ll cost less than $500, you’re stuck with the $499 (£549, AU$749) AMD Radeon RX Vega 64. However, AMD’s highest-end Vega graphics card is getting long in the tooth after a year, and there’s no signs of Team Red launching any high-end graphics cards in the near future – we’ll have to wait for AMD Navi.

However, the RTX 2080 is everywhere, with plenty of stock in most online stores. In fact, there are so many of them out there that you can expect some deals in time for the holidays.

Specifications and features

Spec for spec, the RTX 2080 is a step up from its predecessors in every way with more CUDA cores, faster GDDR6 video memory and even the first very 90Mhz factory overclock on Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards.

On top of that, the Nvidia RTX 2080 introduces a new set of 46 RT Cores and 468 Tensor Cores, which play a hand in rendering real-time ray tracing and artificial intelligence-powered computations. 

Both features are unique to Nvidia’s latest graphics cards, but you’ll probably notice the immediate effects RT Cores and Nvidia RTX brings as it transforms puddles, glass and other reflective surfaces into mirrors for the first time in video games.

Tensor Cores are also impressive too. By introducing AI into mainstream graphics cards, Nvidia claims all Turing-based GPUs will be able to process anti-aliasing eight times faster. The RTX 2080 can also tap into a new Deep Learning Super Sampling feature that’s much more efficient at applying super sampling and anti-aliasing at the same time.

Those AI-injected Tensor Cores are also pivotal for Nvidia’s new super-simple overclocking features.

Popular overclocking apps like EVGA Precision X1 and MSI Afterburner have released beta builds that integrate this new NV Scanner API, which essentially tweaks your GPU up a precise micro-voltage curve and tests for stable overclock speeds and voltages.

The new test essentially takes out all the guess work out of maximizing the performance of your GPU, and its one of the unique features we love about the new Turing series.

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Test system specs

CPU: 3.7Ghz Intel Core i7-8700K (hexa-core, 12MB cache, up to 4.7GHz)
RAM: 32GB Vengeance LED DDR4 (3,200MHz)
Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming
Power Supply: Corsiar RM850x
Storage: 512GB Samsung 960 Pro M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4)
Cooling: Thermaltake Floe Riing 360 TT Premium Edition
Case: Corsair Crystal Series 570X RGB
Operating system: Windows 10

Performance

The Nvidia RTX 2080 is certainly uncomfortably more expensive than its predecessor, but thankfully it produces results to make up for the price bump. The new GPU is a significantly better performer than the GTX 1080 with remarkably higher benchmark scores that even beat the GTX 1080 Ti and Titan Xp.

Short of the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, you won’t find another graphics card more powerful than this. 

In games you’ll see an even bigger jump in performance if you choose to pick up this new RTX graphics card. 1080p gaming results show a 20-40 fps jump in frame rates. Meanwhile, at 4K the Nvidia RTX 2080 is hitting as high as 60 fps, and that’s damn impressive. 

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Outside of our benchmark tests, the RTX 2080 also managed to achieve 40 fps while playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 4K and the highest settings available. Destiny 2 delivered even better numbers with a frame rate hovering between 60-75 fps, once again at 4K and Ultra settings, plus HDR turned on.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

Final verdict

If you’re prepared to hand over the kingly sum of $799 (£749, AU$1,199) that this graphics card demands, you won’t come away disappointed. Other than the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, there isn’t another graphics card faster than this, or one that could possibly deliver a 4K 60 fps gaming experience all on its own.

But even then, the RTX 2080 is cutting it close to delivering that sacred, silky-smooth frame rate at Ultra-HD resolutions. If you don’t want to deal with compromises and toning down your settings, you’d be much better off going with the top-end Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti.

We’d personally go for the Nvidia RTX 2080 as its still hitting that sweet spot of performance to price, even if you have to save up a little more or swallow an extra credit card payment to pay it off.

First reviewed September 2018