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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti tested: Raising 4K gaming to a new level

Say hello to triple-digit frame rates in high resolution with the latest high-end GPU from Nvidia.

nvidia-geforce-rtx-3080-ti-dsc02654-2
Lori Grunin/CNET

If you're persistent, patient and willing to shell out $1,199 when the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card ships on June 3, you may be able to pick one up before the well runs dry and before the eBay prices skyrocket. The company's latest gaming GPU for 4K speedsters comes in right behind the flagship RTX 3090 in the line and looks like a sensible alternative if you don't need the ton of extra memory or extra Tensor-core oomph for AI -- or if you don't have the space in your case for the extra-wide, extra-long RTX 3090. Nvidia revealed it at the same time as the new RTX 3070 Ti, which brackets it on the other side, and how well that card performs will make a big difference as to the perceived value of the RTX 3080.

Nvidia positions it as an upgrade for the RTX 2080 Ti and for the most part it's the best way to get a significant performance boost over that 2080 Ti. For some professional creative applications, though, an RTX 3080 may deliver enough of a step up and the AMD Radeon RX 6800 models are an alternative worth considering.

Read more: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti stock checker

In addition to the speed benefits conferred by the second-gen RT and third-gen Tensor cores introduced with the RTX 3000 series -- such as new algorithms and instruction sets that make them a lot more efficient and a switch to an 8nm process size from 12nm -- the 3080 Ti (and also the 3070 Ti and 3090) have another performance perk you won't find in the more mainstream RTX 3070 or any other lower-end cards Nvidia launches: GDDR6X memory.

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

Memory 12GB GDDR6X
Memory bandwidth (GBps) 912.1
Memory clock (GHz) 1.188
GPU clock (GHz, base/boost) 1.37/1.67
Memory data rate/Interface 19 Gbps/384-bit
RT cores 80
CUDA Cores 10
Texture mapping units 320
Streaming multiprocessors 80
Tensor Cores 320
Process 8nm
TGP/min PSU 350W/750W
Max thermal (degrees C) 199F/93C
Bus PCIe 4.0x16
Size 2 slots; 7.94x4.3 in (202x110 mm)
Launch price $1,199
Launch date June 3, 2021

Micron's GDDR6X incorporates new signaling technology that essentially doubles the data rate over GDDR6, the memory used by the RTX 3070 and 20-series cards. If that's more spec detail than you're used to, my guide to the best PC GPUs can offer a little background.   

The card design is the same as the plain RTX 3080, with the same power requirements and physical dimensions and the same bundled 12-pin adapter necessary for the Nvidia-branded card.

The RTX 3080 Ti goes beyond simply playable frame rates in 4K. Its AI-based upscaling feature, DLSS, can raise frame rates a ton: On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, for example, 4K frame rates at High quality jumped from 85 to 130 frames per second without visible degradation in quality. 

Enabling GPU scheduling in Windows 10 (in the display graphics settings) delivers a little extra lift of a few fps across the board, but that includes the minimum and maximum frame rates as well as the average.

Still, performance isn't unambiguously better than the RTX 3080; a lot depends on your system. A PC with great bus bandwidth and cooling can push the performance of the RTX 3080 beyond a RTX 3080 Ti choked by a pokey bus and basic cooling. That's not news to anyone who builds their own gaming PCs, but it needs to be said, because in the fantasy world where we can still get GPUs for their intended prices, that's an extra $400 which might be better spent elsewhere.

Our performance test results are below. 

Performance snapshot

Far Cry 5 (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
52
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
66
MSI Aegis RS (6700 XT)
74
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
92
Chronos (RTX 3080)
96
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
97
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
109
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti with auto tuning and GPU scheduling)
111

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (fps)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (1440p)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
81
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
97
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
116
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
124
MSI Aegis RS (6700 XT)
124
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
127
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)
130
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
132

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
43
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
52
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
62
MSI Aegis RS (6700 XT)
66
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
69
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
79
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
85
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)
89
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti with DLSS)
130

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Time Spy

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
8669
MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)
10151
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
11349
MSI Aegis RS (6700 XT)
11698
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
12928
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
14261
Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)
14463
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
15899
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)
16024
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
16988

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
5187
MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)
6181
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
7176
MSI Aegis RS (6700 XT)
8323
Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)
8435
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
8533
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)
10509
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
10541
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
11989
MSI Aegis RS (6800XT)
12193

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Variable Rate Shading (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
96.16
MSI Aegis RS (3060 Ti)
125.32
MSI Aegis RS (6700 XT)
136.09
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
150.06
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
169.24
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
192.79
Maingear Turbo (RTX 3080)
200.45
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
220.2

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

SpecViewPerf 2020 SolidWorks (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
77.05
MS Aegis RS (6700 XT)
78.81
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
96.8
MS Aegis RS (3060 Ti)
105.18
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
108.57
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
121.89
Maingear Turbo (RTX 3080)
154.36
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
176.69

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

SpecViewPerf 2020 Medical (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (3060 Ti)
11.06
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
13.14
Maingear Turbo (RTX 3080)
17.64
MS Aegis RS (6700 XT)
19.24
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti)
19.24
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
23.04
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
26.65

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Configurations

Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Ryzen 9 3900XT; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,600; 11GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti; 1TB SSD + 4TB HDD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (20H2); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 12GB EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070 FE) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3080 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (21H1); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 12GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti ; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6700 XT) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (21H1); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 12GB AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800 XT) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800; 1TB SSD
MSI Trident X (RTX 2070 Super) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); (oc) 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super; 1TB SSD
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); Intel Core i9-10900K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 10GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (EVGA); 1TB SSD + 500GB SSD