Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super review

Supercharging the GeForce RTX 2080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super comes in some attractive packaging.

Our Verdict

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super is a more powerful graphics card than its predecessor, but the performance increase isn't enough to blow your mind. Still, it may convince people with older models to jump into the modern age of graphics cards.

For

  • Great 1440p and 4K gaming performance
  • Cheaper than original RTX 2080
  • FrameView software is useful

Against

  • Still expensive
  • Minimal performance gains over RTX 2080
Nvidia News

AMD vs Nvidia: which should be your next graphics card?

We've gone hands-on with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Nvidia Turing graphics have been out for nearly a year now, with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 taking the lead. When those graphics cards first rolled out, we had a bit of an issue with how pricey they were, especially when compared with their previous-generation equivalents. However, in the face of AMD Navi, Nvidia is finally feeling the pressure, releasing more powerful 'Super' cards for less.

So enters the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super, replacing the original RTX 2080. A brief look at the spec sheet will show just a marginal improvement over the original, with slightly more CUDA cores and faster video memory (VRAM).

Should previous and present Turing owners even take a second look at the RTX 2080 Super? Does this graphics card mark a more appealing entry into Nvidia's ray traced future? Well, the short answers are no and yes, respectively, since the RTX 2080 Super marks an interesting point in the Nvidia Turing lifespan, especially following the impressive RTX 2070 Super

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super alongside its counterparts

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super alongside its counterparts
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super in packaging

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super in packaging
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The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super backplate looks amazing

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super backplate looks amazing
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super power

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super power
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super fans

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super fans
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super ports

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super ports
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Price and availability

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super was released in the US on July 23, 2019, and the Founders Edition is available for $699 (about £560, AU$990). Compared to the RTX 2080 which it replaces, that card launched back in September 2018 for $799 (£749, AU$1,199).

You read that right: the RTX 2080 Super is technically giving you more power for less money than the RTX 2080 did back at launch. While this means pretty much nothing for people who already own an RTX 2080 – something we'll dive into later – it does mean that people who have been waiting for an RTX 2080 price drop finally have a more powerful graphics card to upgrade to without splurging. To make the price point even sweeter, Nvidia is throwing in Control and Wolfenstein: Youngblood with the price of the card.

We're just wondering, though: why didn't Nvidia launch the RTX 2080 back in September with this hardware and at this price point? The answer probably has something to do with AMD Navi.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super specs

How the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super performance compares on specs.

(Image credit: Infogram)

Specifications and features

When you look at Nvidia Super, and the technology behind it, it's not much different than the first round of Nvidia Turing cards that came before. With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super, you're basically getting a slightly more powerful RTX 2080 with 3,072 CUDA cores, as opposed to the 2,944 in the RTX 2080, with a boost clock of 1,815MHz.

It’s minor, but it's still an improvement. However, the more compelling upgrade here is the faster VRAM: you're getting up to 15.5 Gbps of memory bandwidth, compared to the 14Gbps in the standard RTX 2080.

Theoretically, this should help increase performance, especially with games and applications that chew through memory bandwidth. 

So, basically, on a hardware level, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super delivers improved performance over the RTX 2080. However, that’s not enough to really blow anyone's mind, like the RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 saw more of with their Super sequels. 

Then again, beyond hardware, there is a new software feature available that should actually be a boon to any hardware enthusiasts out there: FrameView. This is a benchmarking software and API that's much more accurate and easier to use than many others. 

FrameView will not only show you frame rates, frame times, GPU Usage and temperature, but also break down how much power your graphics card is consuming without having to rely on costly external hardware or iffy third-party software. 

For most everyday gamers that are just trying to play the latest PC games, this might not be super useful. However, it should come in handy when you're either trying to troubleshoot potential problems, or are trying to overclock your graphics card to get the maximum potential out of it. 

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Test system specs

CPU: 3.8Ghz AMD Ryzen 5 3600X (6-core, 12-thread, 35MB cache, up to 4.4GHz)
RAM: 16GB G.Skill TridentZ Royale DDR4 (3,400MHz)
Motherboard: ASRock Taichi X570 
Power Supply: Corsair RM850x 
Storage: 2TB Gigabyte Aorus M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4) 
Case: Corsair Crystal Series 570X RGB 
Operating system: Windows 10

Performance

There’s no arguing that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super is a powerful piece of hardware. With its 3,072 CUDA cores and 8GB of GDDR6 clocked at 15.5 Gbps, it's one hefty graphics card. However, it isn't that much more powerful than the existing RTX 2080. 

When testing the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super, we saw about 4-6% increased performance over the vanilla RTX 2080, both in our synthetic benchmarks and in our anecdotal gaming testing. 

For instance, in the Metro Exodus benchmark at 4K using Ultra settings, we see around 40 fps on the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super and 38 on the older card. That's an increase of 2 fps, or just 5%. It's still an improvement, but it's nothing really to write home about. 

Then, in 3DMark we see similar numbers. In Firestrike Ultra, the RTX 2080 Super scores 6,636 points to the RTX 2080's 6,281: an improvement of just 6%. Then, in TimeSpy Extreme, we see the Super card get 4,869 points to the RTX 2080's 4,656, another 6% improvement. 

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In game, we can definitely feel the power of the RTX 2080 Super. In titles like Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we were able to play at max settings at 4K with ray tracing enabled. Of course, we had to enable DLSS to get playable frame rates, but at least that possibility is there. 

That small bump in performance makes a lot of difference for a graphics card that was right on the precipice of playable 4K performance in the first place.

At the end of the day, a 4-6% improvement is still an improvement, and the fact that this graphics card is more affordable than the RTX 2080 was at launch is definitely beneficial. It does seem that Nvidia likely could have released the RTX 2080 at this new Super level at launch, but it was waiting for some more competition from AMD. Still, to be fair to Nvidia, AMD doesn't have anything that comes close to the raw in-game performance of the RTX 2080 Super. 

So, that leaves the question: who is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super for? Well, if you weren't swayed to upgrade from Pascal when the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti launched, the small uptick in performance here probably won't convince you either – and GTX 1080 Ti users especially shouldn't be swayed yet. 

At least on raw performance, that is. You're still not getting ray tracing on that card.

However, if you're on a Maxwell card or older, and you've been waiting to jump into the modern age, this more powerful and more affordable version of the RTX 2080 Super, or really any of the new Super graphics cards, makes for a compelling case to make the upgrade. 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super chrome

Some in the TechRadar office love the chrome, while others aren't so fond.

(Image credit: Future)

Final verdict

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super is a more affordable, more powerful version of the original RTX 2080, and that alone may be enough to convince people who have been sitting on that Turing fence. However, Nvidia Pascal users who were hoping for performance that comes close to the RTX 2080 Ti, but with an affordable price tag may be dissatisfied.

Still, we can celebrate the drop in price if nothing else, high-end graphics becoming more accessible can only be beneficial for everyone. So, if you're in the market for a high-end graphics card, now might be the time to jump on the Nvidia Turing train.