NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti review: An extravagant upgrade

But good luck getting one for retail price.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

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Devindra Hardawar
Devindra Hardawar|@devindra|June 2, 2021 9:00 AM

NVIDIA's goal with the RTX 3080 Ti is obvious. After launching the RTX 3080 last year for $699, and the wildly powerful yet expensive RTX 3090 at $1,499, the chip giant is filling that pricing gap with an $1,199 card. It's also throwing a bone to loyal RTX 2080 Ti customers, who had no clear upgrade path with this latest generation of GPUs. But is it really worth $500 more than the excellent RTX 3080? That depends on many factors, but mostly the size of your wallet and your patience for fighting other buyers in the cut-throat GPU marketplace.

As we pointed out when the RTX 3080 Ti was announced, it's undoubtedly the worst time to buy a new video card. Manufacturers can't make enough to keep up with demand, which means scalpers are making a killing by quickly snapping everything up and reselling at a premium. At least the RTX 3080 Ti, and its less powerful sibling the 3070 Ti, are hash limited, so they won't be of any use to cryptocurrency miners.


NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

Critics - Not yet scored
Users - Not yet scored
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti


  • Genuinely faster than the RTX 3080
  • Excellent ray tracing performance


  • Far pricier than the 3080
  • Fans can be loud and run often
  • It’s basically going to be a unicorn in stores
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Given the state of the market, though, you can expect to spend a lot more than $1,199 if you do find a 3080 Ti. And things are even worse if you look to eBay and other secondary sellers, where the midrange, theoretically affordable $499 RTX 3070 is selling for upwards of $1,500. That's the price of an entire computer! But if you're willing to step into this world of madness, at least the 3080 Ti is a capable performer.

CardRTX 3080RTX 3080 TiRTX 3090
SM count688082
CUDA cores8,70410,24010,496
RT cores688082
Tensor cores272320328
Boost clock1,710MHz1,665MHz1,695MHz
Memory bandwidth760 GB/s912 GB/s936 GB/s

The benchmarks tell all: It hit 8,683 on the 3DMark TimeSpy Extreme test, 600 points more than the 3080. And it was almost 1,000 points faster than the Radeon 6800 XT, AMD's top-end $999 GPU. As for real-world 3080 Ti gameplay, I saw nearly 200fps in Destiny 2 running at 1,440p with maxed out graphics settings. Typically, I'd have to lower graphical flourishes to get anywhere near that number, even with the RTX 3080.


3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

Destiny 2

Hitman 3

Port Royal (ray tracing)



1440p: 175-195fps
4K: 130-145fps

1440p: 170fps
4K: 110fps




1440p: 150-165fps
4K: 100-115fps

1440p: 161fps
4K: 98fps




1440: 140-150fps
4K: 76-87fps

1440p: 151fps
4K: 83fps


AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT


1440p: 100-120fps
4K: 85-105fps

1440p: 198fps
4K: 110fps


AMD Radeon RX 6800


1440p: 80-100fps
4K: 82-102fps

1440p: 185fps
4K: 100fps


All benchmarks run at the highest graphical settings on a PC powered by a Ryzen 7 5800X and 32GB of RAM.

So sure, it's fast. But what really makes the 3080 Ti stand out from the rest of NVIDIA's sub-$1,000 lineup is its ray tracing performance. In the Port Royal RT benchmark, it reached 12,948 points — but most importantly, it averaged a steady 60fps for that test. In comparison, the 3080 hit 11,623 points at a 54fps average, while the 6800 XT hit just 9,104 points at around 42fps. Benchmark scores are nice for comparing performance figures, but it's framerate bumps that you'll actually notice.

Similarly, the 3080 Ti also tackled Control's demanding ray tracing well. It reached 85 to 90 fps in 1,440p with maxed out graphics and medium ray tracing settings. While impressive, though, that's only 5 to 10fps more than what I saw on the 3080. Oddly enough, both cards delivered similar performance while playing in 4K with NVIDIA's DLSS technology, which upscaled the rendered graphics from 1,440p. I was able to crank the ray tracing settings up to high and still see a steady 65 to 70fps on the 3080 and the 3080 Ti. It could just be that game isn't fully optimized for NVIDIA's faster hardware yet.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Given that the 3080 Ti is in many ways a 3090 crammed into a 3080 case, cooling could be an issue down the line. In my chilled basement office, which hovers around 20 degrees celsius (68 Fahrenheit), the new card peaked at 78c under load. That's 2 degrees more than the 3080, which wasn't too concerning, but I noticed that the fans ran louder and more often on the 3080 Ti. I'm sure many gamers won't mind as they're wearing headphones much of the time, but the heat could be a bigger issue for anyone in a warmer room, especially during the summer.

If heat isn't a concern, the 3080 Ti may end up being a reasonable compromise for anyone who can't quite fit the massive 3090 in their PC case. At the very least, you'll be able to save quite a bit of money. While the 3090 launched at an eye-watering $1,499, it's now going well above $2,000 in stores when it's in stock (which is rarely), as well as for over $3,000 on eBay. Personally, even at the unicorn-like retail prices, the RTX 3080 seems like the best option for most high-performance gamers. You'll get close to the performance level of the 3080 Ti while paying significantly less.  

This is the point where I have to reiterate: For all that's holy, try to avoid buying a new video card anytime soon. Both AMD and NVIDIA are dealing with a supply crunch, due to rabid demand and pandemic manufacturing difficulties. It may be worth holding out until the end of the year until prices stabilize. If you can't help but wait, and you're fine sacrificing cash to the capricious GPU gods, the 3080 Ti is a powerhouse GPU that'll satisfy any demanding gamer. 

NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti review: An extravagant upgrade