Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti: Which should you buy?

When the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti arrived it blew minds both in terms of performance and price. Will the RTX 2080 Ti do the same?

The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti follows the Ti tradition with an alarming spec increase over the standard RTX 2080 – and a price so high that it would once have been in the “pros only” category of card.

But is it worth the outlay? Let’s take a look at how special the RTX 2080 Ti is, and compare it to its predecessor the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti — Overview

Nvidia’s 10-series graphics card arrived more than two years before those of this new Turing generation. However, the GTX 1080 Ti was not in that first May 2016 wave of releases.

It arrived almost a year later, announced in March 2017. As such, it’s almost 18 months older than the RTX 2080 Ti.

Nvidia’s RTX series was officially detailed on 20 August, a month before its 20 September available date.

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Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti – Price and release date

The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is a completely different proposition to the GTX 1080 Ti in terms of cost. Where the older model originally cost £699 (its real-world price rose quickly, mind), this one will set you back £1099.

That gets you the Founders Edition card, which is overclocked as standard. MSi and Gigabyte have already launched rival designs, with the former’s model using a triple-fan layout, and they actually cost more than Nvidia’s own at launch.

The 2017 GTX 1080 Ti’s current cost is, by comparison, a near-sensible £639-£730. Price drops are expected. Of course, like most graphics cards, we’ve seen higher prices in its lifespan thanks to the increased demand caused by Bitcoin miners.

However, it would have taken a supply disaster for the old GTX 1080 Ti to remotely approach the cost of the 2080 Ti.

The GTX 1080 Ti, which went on sale in March 2017, is still available to buy. The RTX 2080 Ti was originally due to launch on September 20th, but it’s now being held back until the 27th.

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Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti – Performance

While we’ve not yet been able to test out the RTX 2080 Ti ourselves and say definitively whether or not you should throw down a grand (or more) for an RTX 2080 Ti, we can share some in-house benchmarking results, provided by Nvidia.

Nvidia’s testing rig for both graphics cards was the same – here’s a short breakdown of what they used, plus fps (frames per second) achieved on a number of DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 titles:

  • Processor: Intel Core i9-7900X 3.3GHz CPU
  • RAM: 16GB Corsair DDR4
  • Motherboard: Asus X299 Rampage VI Apex
  • OS: Windows 10 (v1803) 64-bit
  • Nvidia drivers: 411.38
GTX 1080 Ti RTX 2080 Ti RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti
Battlefield 1 (SDR) 60.3 88.7 +47.1%
Battlefield 1 (HDR RGB444) 62.2 86.5 +39.1%
Battlefield 1 (HDR YUV422) 56.5 88.2 +56.2%
Call of Duty: WWII (SDR) 90.6 138.8 +53.2%
Call of Duty: WWII (HDR RGB444) 89.1 129.6 +45.4%
Call of Duty: WWII (HDR YUV422) 80.0 129.7 +62.0%
F1 2018 (SDR) 62.5 90.5 +44.7%
F1 2018 (HDR RGB444) 64.8 91.9 +41.7%
F1 2018 (HDR YUV 442) 59.7 91.2 +52.7%
PlayerUnknown’s Battleground 57.7 79.3 +37.4%
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 43.2 59.2 +36.9%
Witcher 3 57.0 78.1 +36.8%

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Note that we’re likely to see some new motherboards hitting shelves in the coming months which should see you able to push frame rates even further. Intel’s rumoured to be unveiling its 9th generation of processors next month, so your new 9th Gen CPU will be (you’d hope) significantly better than a 7th Gen Core i9.

We don’t know if Nvidia overclocked that i9-7900X to achieve any of these scores, or if these were possible with the 3.3GHz base clock.

This would have been interesting to see, as Nvidia claims that compared to the 7-phase dual-FET power supply used on the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, the 2080 Ti equivalent uses a new 13-phase iMON DrMOS power supply.

Nvidia claims that this can dynamically adjust power flow so the power supply can run at peak efficiency during low load situations, standard gaming, and maximum load when the GPU is overclocked. It’s also allegedly better at supplying power to the GPU, as less energy is wasted as heat. All of this should let you push PC components further and more safely.

The RTX 2080 GPU also features a similar 8-phase iMON DrMOS-based power supply, so you’ll get some of those benefits, too, albeit on a smaller chip than that of the 2080 Ti.

Portion of graph from Nvidia GeForce RTX 20 Series reviewers' guide detailing fan acoustics vs GPU temperature.

In terms of noise, the 2080 Ti Founders Edition also promises to be significantly quieter than its 1080 Ti counterpart, if the graph below is anything to go by, but we note that in the chart which relates to the 2080 Ti, at the most the GPU temperature is south of 75 degrees Celsius, safely below the maximum 89 C you can push a 2080 Ti (according to the reference spec).

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Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti – Specs

RTX 2080 Ti GTX 1080 Ti
Generation Turing Pascal
Announcement August 2018 March 2017
Cuda cores 4352 3584
Tensor cores Y N
Base speed 1350 1493
Boost speed 1545 1582
Memory speed 14Gbps 10Gbps
Memory bandwidth 616 GB/sec 484GB/sec
Power draw 250W 250W
Rec. system power 650W 600W

The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti has roughly 21.5% more CUDA cores than the GTX 1080 Ti; 4352 to 3584. Just like the step-down RTX 2080, though, quoted Boost clock speed is actually slightly lower in the new model.

It’s 1545MHz in the RTX 2080 Ti, and 1582MHz in the GTX 1080 Ti. However, such a small difference isn’t that meaningful and the actual speeds used will vary between manufacturer cards anyway. The Founders Edition card’s clock speed is 1635MHz, for example.

Memory bandwidth is more important. Like the GTX 1080 Ti, the RTX 2080 Ti has 11GB of RAM, but it’s of the GDDR6 variety rather than GDDR5x. Memory bandwidth is up from 484GB/sec to 616GB/sec – a 27% increase.

Capability increases of 21-27% don’t sound too impressive when you consider that the RTX 2080 Ti costs 50% more than the GTX 1080 Ti.

The performance difference between the RTX 2080 Ti and GTX 1080 Ti with current games is unlikely to be eye-opening. And certainly not ‘£1000 eye-opening’. However, there’s more to the RTX range.

It features the Tensor core hardware previously only seen in the far more expensive $10,000 Tesla V100 and $3000 Titan V cards. This, combined with the new Turing SM and RT Core, is what makes the Turing generation interesting.

This new hardware provides AI-assisted real-time ray tracing. The RT Core handles the ray tracing, and the Tensor core is designed for denoising, which would be used to make graphics look sharper and cleaner in games.

Nvidia says you’ll get up to 6x performance in this field with a Turing card.

What this means in practice is we’ll see games developers start to implement more advanced reflection and shadow effects. The trailer for the RTX optimised version of Battlefield V shows off these effects best.

Battlefield V uses the Frostbite engine. Unreal Engine 4 also showed off the effects of real-time ray tracing to incredible effect back in March:

The GTX 1080 Ti won’t be unable to create these effects, but the performance hit for such advanced graphical effects will be greater. As long as developers fully buy into these ideas, RTX cards could offer quite a distinct appeal.

However, in terms of getting modern games to run well, the GTX 1080 Ti still has plenty of life remaining. We found it can play demanding games at 60fps – not just at 4K but a 5K resolution too. And with more modest improvements in the number of CUDA cores and RAM speed, some of you may still want to consider the older card if the price drops are appealing enough.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti – Early verdict

On paper the Turing’s upgrades sound awesome, but until we test them they remain an unknown quantity, though they do look awesome on paper. If the RTX 2080 Ti delivers on even a fraction of Nvidia’s claims it’ll be a fantastic card that’ll play AAA games for years to come. But, with cost of the last remaining GTX 1080 Ti’s rapidly plummeting and it still offering top notch 4K performance, it could be a better option for buyers looking to save a few pennies.

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