The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is an especially powerful GPU that will easily exceed 60 fps in 4K in all the best PC games. Not only is it dramatically more powerful than the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti that preceded it, this is the best graphics card for pushing the boundaries of computer graphics forward with ray tracing and AI-driven Tensor cores.
However, the price of admission into the RTX 2080 Ti’s elite world of graphics is extremely high. And, you’re going to need one of the best processors and the best gaming monitor to really take advantage of everything the RTX 2080 Ti can do.
Price and availability
The Founders Edition of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti rings up for an almost obscene $1,199 (£1,099, AU$1,899). Although Nvidia has said you’ll be able to find this graphics card at a starting price of $999 or £1,049 (about AU$1,390), that’s still way more expensive than the $699 (£669, AU$1,129) price we’re used to seeing on the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti – and you won’t be able to find the RTX 2080 Ti at this lower price anyway.
Still, AMD hasn’t announced a new series of high-end graphics cards for more than a year, so the RTX 2080 Ti’s closest competition remains the $499 or £549 (about AU$690) Radeon RX Vega 64. But, when you look at the performance, there really is no competition.
Specifications and features
While it might cost almost twice as much as the graphics card its replacing, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti delivers some impressive specs with 11GB of GDDR6 VRAM, 4,352 CUDA cores and a boost clock of 1,635MHz – thanks to Nvidia’s first ever self-implemented 90MHz factory overclock. Comparatively, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti sports 11GB of last-generation GDDR5X VRAM, 3,584 CUDA cores and a 1,582MHz maximum frequency.
This GPU also features two additional types of cores its predecessors never had in the form of RT and Tensor cores. The RTX 2080’s Ti’s 68 RT Cores power ray tracing, which allows this graphics card to render much more complex, real-time lighting scenarios and natural shadows than the 1080 Ti ever could.
Meanwhile, 544 Tensor Cores bring artificial intelligence (AI) to consumer graphics cards, and Nvidia hopes to use these to great effect for more efficient anti-aliasing. According to Nvidia, Turing is eight times faster at processing anti-aliasing than Pascal via machine learning.
Tensor Cores also drive a new technology called Deep Learning Super Sampling, which can increase resolution while applying anti-aliasing at the same time.
During our testing we ran the Epic Infiltrator benchmark, which stacks a version of the experience up temporal anti-aliasing against DLSS. The former was able to maintain a frame rate between rendered a minimum of 34 frames per second and maximum of 117 fps, while the later churned out between 35 and 89 fps.
You’ll also find a surprising number of new ports on this new GPU. For starters, the high-bandwidth connector Nvidia has used for years for multi-card setups has been replaced by NV Link, which promises 50 times the transfer bandwidth of previous technologies. The RTX 2080 Ti specifically has two of these connectors to deliver up to 100GB of total bandwidth that it can use to power multiple 8K monitors in surround.
Around the back, there’s also a newly added USB-C video out port that has become prevalent among new monitors. The USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port not only supports UHD video, but also pipes out 27 watts of power, so you may only need to plug in one cable to power up future virtual reality headsets.
Design and cooling
The RTX 2080 Ti – and the whole Turing-based RTX series – also brings the first dual fan cooling system ever seen on an Nvidia Founders Edition (a.k.a. reference) card.
Typically, first-party cards have always come with a blower-style cooler that essentially sucks in cool air through its fan to funnel heat through the back of the card. A dual-fan system, meanwhile, basically takes cool air and splashes it against an open heatsink to exhaust heat in every direction.
While blower-style coolers are great for isolating heat from the rest of your components, their cooling capacity has been historically much smaller, because a single fan can only move so much air. Dual and multi-fan systems can move much more air but end up leaving more accumulated heat inside your PC case. This debate, among many in the computer industry, has yet to be resolved, so we’ll have to see if Nvidia’s decision to add another fan was a good idea in our testing.
Aside from the new fans, the RTX 2080 Ti also sports a full-length vapor chamber to cover the entirety of the card’s printed circuit board, or PCB. Nvidia has promised the whole system works to deliver ultra-cool and quiet performance.
In our own testing, we found the Founders Edition’s new cooler to work just as promised as they kept the GPUs running cool and quiet. However, it seems like the new coolers were much more of a necessity rather than Nvidia let on, as both the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 ran a few degrees hotter than their predecessors – even while at idle.
Although neither graphics card went above 80-degrees Celsius, we can imagine they would have overheated easily, had they come equipped with a standard blower-style cooler.
After benchmarking the card thoroughly, we can confidently say that the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is the most powerful graphics card in the world.
It not only runs laps around the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, it outpaces the Nvidia Titan Xp – and not just by a small bump either. Nvidia’s new flagship GeForce card holds a 2,000 point lead in almost every synthetic benchmark and delivers at least 10 more frames per second (fps) in each of our gaming-based tests.
Nvidia was already ahead of AMD, and now it’s almost as if the company has made a faster than light jump into the next galaxy. The only threat to this flagship GeForce graphics card supremacy is the $799 (£749, AU$1,199) RTX 2080, which consistently nips at its coattails in all benchmarks, but fails to completely break the 60 fps barrier of 4K gaming.
Outside of benchmarks, we could finally play Destiny 2 at an incredible 70 to 100 fps while the game was running at 4K HDR with the highest quality settings turned on. Meanwhile, the recently released Shadow of the Tomb Raider played at a fairly high 50 to 55 fps with similar 4K Ultra settings.
Unfortunately, outside of ray tracing demos, there are currently no games that actually support it yet, so we can’t quite say how Nvidia RTX will affect performance. What we can tell you is that Shadow of the Tomb Raider and other games with Nvidia RTX turned on looks stunning with ray tracing turned on.
At Nvidia’s GeForce Gaming Celebration event at Gamescom 2018, we saw Nvidia RTX deliver much more realistic with different intensities everywhere depicted in a stony ruin in the rainforest. We also just gawked at the walls, looking them shimmer as light reflected and refracted off of them.
In terms of frame rate, an early build of Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran at a mostly consistent 40 to 50 fps, which is impressive giving the game is running on a single GPU – on top of all the new ray tracing techniques.
We also played Battlefield V and Metro: Exodus with Nvidia RTX turned on, and saw performance run in excess of 100 fps at 4K and Ultra settings. You can see our Battlefield V with Nvidia RTX gameplay above (we shared it with PC Gamer), which was captured through the Nvidia GeForce Experience app.
Surprisingly, to reach this level of performance, the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti actually draws less power than the Titan XP and 1080 Ti it outpaces. That said, this GPU does draw twice as much minimum power and gets hot quick, so be sure your PC is ready to exhaust all that heat before installing it.
Whether you’re a PC gamer who was waiting in the wings for a more powerful graphics card or you truly believe in Nvidia’s vision of a ray traced future, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the new top dog in the world of graphics cards.
After seeing the realistic lighting that ray tracing can produce, we honestly don’t want to go back to traditionally rasterized, murky puddles where we expect there to be incredible reflections. Tensor Cores, on the other hand, look like they’ll pay long-term dividends by reducing the overhead of anti-aliasing and super sampling.
The prohibitively steep $1,119 (£1,099, AU$1,899) price of the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is going to put the brakes on for a lot of interested users. The $799 (£749, AU$1,199) RTX 2080 is an almost equally appealing graphics card featuring stunningly close performance to Nvidia’s flagship card. However, if you were already thinking about spending just as much on an equally expensive $1,199 (£1,149, AU$1,950) Titan Xp, just skip ahead to the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.
First reviewed September 2018
- Nvidia Turing could really shake things up in the world of the best graphics cards