Sure, we all want NVIDIA's RTX 4090, but it's tough to stomach its $1,599 starting price (if you can even find it at that price) or its massive power demands. That leaves impatient PC gamers with only one other new NVIDIA option this year: the $1,199 RTX 4080 with 16GB of VRAM. While $400 isn't exactly a huge discount in the world of high-end PC gaming (certainly not as significant as the $899 12GB RTX 4080 that NVIDIA "unlaunched."), it may tempt some gamers.
After all, it's faster than the RTX 3080 Ti that launched at the same price earlier this year, and it works with NVIDIA's powerful new DLSS 3 upscaling technology (which is limited to 4000-series GPUs). If you can live without the bragging rights of having a 4090, the RTX 4080 is a powerful GPU that'll satisfy anyone who wants to game in 4K with ray tracing. For those stuck with lower resolution monitors, though, you're probably better off waiting for the eventual 4070 and 4060 cards, as well as AMD's upcoming RDNA 3 GPUs.
- Significantly faster than the 3080 Ti
- Excellent ray tracing performance
- DLSS 3 offers great upscaling
- Cool under load
- Still pretty expensive at $1199
- RTX 4090 steals its shine
Surprisingly enough, the RTX 4080 Founders Edition we reviewed shares the exact same design as the 4090. They both take up three PCI-e slots, sport massive vapor chambers, and they retain the unique pass-through fan design from NVIDIA's previous GPUs. I was expecting something a bit smaller, to be honest. At least the 4080 only needs three 8-pin PSU cables to function, whereas the 4090 demands four. (Both cards can also be powered by a single PCIe 5.0 PSU cable, but those power supplies are pretty rare at the moment.)
The 4080's power cables also hint at one of its major advantages: It has a 320-watt thermal design profile (TDP) and requires a 750W PSU, whereas the 4090 has a far more demanding 450W TDP. Unless you already have an 850W power supply, upgrading to the 4090 may involve getting a new unit and rewiring power throughout your entire system. These cards won't always use their maximum power loads, but you'll still need to be ready for the rare moments when they need more juice.
While it may look just like the 4090, the RTX 4080 is a dramatically different beast under the hood. It's powered by 9,728 CUDA cores, 16GB of GDDR6X VRAM and offers a base clock speed of 2.21GHz (with boost speeds to 2.51GHz). The 4090, on the other hand, has 16,384 CUDA cores, slightly higher clock speeds and a whopping 24GB of VRAM. Compared to the 3080 Ti, the 4080 wins out with NVIDIA's new Ada Lovelace architecture, significantly faster speeds and 4GB more VRAM. (The 3080 Ti technically has around 500 more CUDA cores, but they're also inherently slower and less efficient than NVIDIA's new platform.)