Were you confused when NVIDIA introduced two GeForce RTX 4080 models with significantly different capabilities? You're not alone. NVIDIA is "unlaunching" the 12GB RTX 4080 over concerns they're confusing. While the company still believes the 12GB version is a solid video card, it said the lower-spec model is "not named right." The company didn't say if or how it might relaunch the card, and didn't elaborate further when reached for comment.
The 16GB RTX 4080 is still on track to launch November 16th at a price of $1,199 for NVIDIA's Founders Edition. This effectively raises the base price for RTX 40-level hardware. This might not be as bad as it sounds, mind you. The 12GB edition was supposed to start at $899, although its dependence on third-party manufacturers was likely to raise real-world pricing higher.
The muddled messaging largely stems from differences beyond RAM quantities. Where the 12GB model includes 7,680 CUDA (general-purpose processing) cores and a 192-bit memory bus, its higher-end counterpart offers 9,728 cores and a 256-bit bus. You're getting a considerably slower GPU with the 12GB unit despite the RTX 4080 branding, and the gaps are sometime huge. NVIDIA's own benchmarks showed the 12GB board trailing its 16GB sibling by up to 30 percent in well-known games. That could be more than a little disappointing if you bought the 12GB card expecting similar performance outside of RAM-dependent situations.
The cancellation won't necessarily create much of a headache for NVIDIA. The RTX 4090 launch reportedly created lines at stores, and the 4080 could easily be the go-to GPU for gamers who can't quite justify the $1,599 flagship. Still, it's rare to see a misstep like this — NVIDIA misjudged the market to the point where it had to axe a graphics card before it reached customers.