Nvidia’s Ampere-based RTX 30XX-series GPUs continue to be very scarce, so scarce that took me six weeks to even get one loaned to me for review. Asus have come to the table, letting me play with one of their top-of-the-ranger GPUs, the ASUS ROG STRIX GAMING GeForce RTX 3080 OC.
The first thing that strikes you with these cards is just how big they are. The 3080 was a fair size bigger that the RTX 2080 Ti that I had in the case. I can see a lot of disappointed people being faced with buy a new case to house these monsters.
Installing the card required adding an extra 8-Pin PCI cable to the power supply unit. The Asus RTX card requires three 8-Pin connectors.
The card is factory overclocked with a 1935 MHz GPU boost clock out-of-the-box. That’s 225Mhz over the Nvidia Founders Edition reference settings. As with all the RTX 3080, the ROG card has 10GB of GDDR6X memory. Yes, that’s 2GB less than the RTX 2080 Ti that the card replaces, but, in all seriousness, it’s more than enough for today’s games.
The box contains a little pack with a thank you note, trading card, quick set-up guide and what I can only assume is a metallic sticker for your case. There’s also some branded Velcro cable ties and little ruler-come-keyring. All in all, it’s a nice package that really complements this prestige GPU.
The card has two HDMI 2.1 outputs and three DisplayPort 1.4a outputs. The USB-C that was on my old RTX 2080 Ti has been ditched for the RTX 30xx-series.
The RTX 3080’s Ampere technology features the 3rd generation of Nvidia’s Tensor cores and the 2nd generation of their RT cores. The Tensor cores allow the card to utilise Nvidia’s latest deep-learning super-sampling AI algorithms to produce high quality visuals without the usual processing overhead. The RT cores power the card’s real-time raytracing ability, to produce life-like reflections and lighting.
The card is heavy. Very heavy. I’d be carefully lugging your case about this this beast installed, and it puts quite a bit of pressure on the PCIe mount. This weight is down to the robust heatsink and spreaders that form the card’s cooling system. You can see the finned heatsink running almost the whole length of the card. Asus really want this card to be kept cool.
The card has a tiny switch that can be used to switch the card from the OC mode to a more sedate boost speed. Why you’d pay all this money for a card like this is beyond me. But if you want to run the card with lower performance and use less power, the option is there, I suppose.
The underside of the card is covered by a baseplate to protect the electronics. There is a box-out on the rear of the actual GPU showing off a full set of the more expensive, and apparently more robust, smaller “MLCC” capacitors. In the unlikely event of something actually going wrong, the card has a 3-year warranty.
The side of the RTX 3080 has an addressable RGB strip. This can be customised using the ROG Armory Crate software to sync it up with other ROG RGB components. The ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC is a stylish-looking card that looks good in your rig.
The RTX 3080 has really been designed to enable 4K/60fps PC gaming. The Ampere technology likes to be pushed. If you are still gaming with a 1920×1080 monitor, you may want to look at the RTX 3070 instead, or pick up a used RTX 2080. I game on a 2560 x 1440 monitor and I found games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare easily breaching 100fps maxed out with DLSS. Games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey performed at above 60fps even with 200% super-sampled resolution. Using an Nvidia Shield TV I was able to stream Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to a 4K HDR TV with the settings maxed out and still achieve the TV’s max 60fps!
The extra power that the RTX 3080 gives your PC allows for better ray-tracing results than those teased by Nvidia’s 20xx-series GPUs. The Minecraft RTX beta, for instance, allowed me to increase the RTX effects without impacting performance.
These GPUs also give virtual reality applications a powerful boost. EA’s Star Wars Squadrons looked and played great in VR using the Vive Cosmos.
Nvidia’s RTX GPUs have a built-in feature that allows “one-click” overclocking. 3rd-party programs like MSi’s Afterburner can be used to analyse a GPU’s individual attributes and create a robust, custom over-clock unique to the card.
Of course, I had to give it a whirl with the ROG RTX 3080 to see what happened. Afterburner spent about half-an-hour checking the GPU before applying an overclock that saw the boost clock exceed 2000Mhz. I added a cheeky +200Mhxz to the memory clock as well.
You can see below, benchmark comparisons between my old RTX 2080 Ti, the ROG RTX 3080 factory settings and the ROG card with the Afterburner one-click OC applied. With the Afterburner overclock applied, the card was noisier, with the fans running a bit higher to counter the additional heat.
Whilst the overclock only gave the card a marginal boost, when every frame counts, this is effectively something for nothing. The substantial gains that the 3080 has over the 2080 Ti is clearly illustrated. Whilst not as impressive with DX11 games like with the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey benchmark, The RTX-enabled DX12 Shadow of the Tomb Raider had some good gains, as did the 3DMark ray-traced Port Royal benchmark.
The Asus ROG Strix Gaming Geforce RTX 3080 OC is a prime example of Nvidia’s Ampere technology. The GPU heralds the next-generation of PC gaming, finally fulfilling the promise of 4K/6fps gaming. The card is a well built and robust high-performance bit of kit that should be welcome in anyone’s gaming rig.