CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Nvidia 'Unlaunches' 12GB GeForce RTX 4080. Oops

What's in a name? Quite a bit, it turns out.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
2 min read
GeForce RTX 4080 rendered vertically pointing back

GeForce RTX 4080


After some math and pushback by the GeForce community, Nvidia has decided to "unlaunch" the 12GB version of the newly announced GeForce RTX 4080, leaving the 16GB model as the only 4080 slated to ship on Nov. 16. 

The fact that the company says "it's not named right" points to a likely decision to remarket the graphics card as an RTX 4070. I expect that the rest of the desktop RTX 4000 series models, now including that one, will be announced at CES 2023 in January. 

As announced along with the 16GB model and the RTX 4090, the 12GB version of the RTX 4080 not only had less memory, it had less of everything than the 16GB model: the graphics processor is slower, the data path is narrower and there are fewer CUDA cores. After analyzing the specs, people claimed that there would be too much of a performance gap between the 12GB and 16GB models to consider them both 4080, and that the specs really were closer in spirit to where they sat historically to the -70 models than the -80 models.

On Friday, Nvidia posted on its GeForce news site:

"The RTX 4080 12GB is a fantastic graphics card, but it's not named right. Having two GPUs with the 4080 designation is confusing.

So, we're pressing the "unlaunch" button on the 4080 12GB. The RTX 4080 16GB is amazing and on track to delight gamers everywhere on November 16th.

If the lines around the block and enthusiasm for the 4090 is any indication, the reception for the 4080 will be awesome."

The post immediately jumped to photos of lines of people waiting for the RTX 4090.

The power of the GPU in any system that you play games on locally -- as distinguished from cloud gaming, which is a different story -- directly determines how fast a game is and what resolution and level of quality you can play at. So it's very important for PC gamers, especially those who want to play at 1440p or 4K, in HDR and more.  

Nvidia is hardly new to the marketing game. So why did it attempt this strategy at all? One speculation that immediately springs to mind is that it wanted an RTX 4000-series model that it could price under $1,000 but still bear the more prestigious "4080" name -- or one that could be used to attract buyers for upselling to the 16GB model. But we know that an RTX 4080 by any other name clearly won't smell as sweet to some.