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Level Up: 8K isn’t a reason to buy the Nvidia 30-series, PS5 or Xbox Series X

Nvidia’s finally lifted the lid on its hotly anticipated “Ampere” 30-series graphics cards, and boy do they look impressive.

The cards look like the biggest upgrade to Nvidia’s PC gaming lineup since it launched its stellar Pascal series many moons ago. The Pascal cards cemented its place as the first company to offer true 4K gaming at 60fps.

Which is why it’s no surprise, like Pascal, it’s using the same marketing strategy to push the new flagship RTX 3090. Specifically it’s claiming the 3090 will be the first card on the market to support 8k gaming at 60fps.

For non-techies this is a pretty bold claim considering the older RTX 2080 Ti couldn’t always manage this on some demanding triple-As in 4K with ray tracing turned on.

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Nvidia Ampere

But, while I’m truly excited about the cards, I can’t help but think Nvidia, like many other tech companies, may have jumped the gun a little on selling 8K as the card’s biggest perk for a couple of reasons.

First, because 8K is not mainstream in the slightest. 8K gaming TVs and monitors are still a very rare and expensive luxury. This is why, if you check out the Trusted Reviews Awards 2020 best 8K TV shortlist, you’ll only find two entries, both from Samsung.

Sure LG’s announced “the first” 30-series-ready TVs – which is kinda funny as only a few months ago it was throwing shade at Samsung over 8K, claiming OLED and HDR are more important – but the fact is they cost an arm and a leg and won’t be mainstream any time soon.

Then there’s the fact that, even if you remortgage your house and get one, plus a £1000-plus RTX 3090, most games don’t have 8K textures, so you won’t even see the benefit unless you’re lucky enough to find a third party community mod with them. So at best the mention of 8K is a positive for future proofing the hardware.

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PS5

Being fair this isn’t a direct attack against Nvidia. Pretty much every tech company is doing the same thing with 8K. Sony and Microsoft were both quick to highlight the next gen PS5 and Xbox Series X feature 8K support, thanks to their use of the new HDMI 2.1 standard – though be warned their specs will only handle this for video playback, not actual gameplay.

It’s just another sign that companies and Nvidia, are jumping the gun trying to sell a technology that’s not ready and, at the moment, not understood by consumers. It’s a familiar story that’s still debatably going on with HDR, with no company agreeing on a standard or easy way to communicate the benefits to regular buyers.

As a result I can’t help but wish Nvidia had spent a little more time focusing on what’s actually exciting about the new cards for the mass market. Specifically, how much better they’ll be playing games at the resolutions people actually game in – 4K, 1440p and 1080p.

Here the confirmed 30-series cards are seriously enticing bits of kit featuring higher clock speeds, new RT Cores, third-generation Tensor cores and upgraded GDDR6X. These all offer more tangible benefits to buyers doing things like offering radically improved ray tracing, more efficient DLSS and generally faster gaming speeds.

It’s these factors, not 8K, that have me salivating to get my hands on the 30-series.

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