Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Review

The Turing generation has finally arrived, and the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti promises gamers ray tracing and 4K at 60 frames per second

Verdict

The ultimate GPU for 4K gaming, but its best features are yet to come

Pros

  • Capable of 60fps in 4K with the majority of games
  • Future-proofed with exciting features such as ray tracing
  • Super-overclockable
  • Keeps cool and quiet all of the time

Cons

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Ray tracing and DLSS support unavailable at launch

Key Features

  • Review Price: £1099
  • New Turing architecture
  • 11 GB GDDR6
  • 4352 CUDA cores
  • 1350MHz base clock speed
  • 10 Giga Rays

What is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti?

New generations of graphics cards usually just offer improved clock speeds, allowing gamers to crank up the resolution and see a smoother performance with higher frame rates. The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti and the rest of the new Turing range, however, have greater ambitions. They feature all-new technology that could revolutionise video game visuals.

Ray tracing and Deep Learning Super-Sampling take the headlines here, with the former offering more realistic lighting effects and the latter using artificial intelligence to render high-quality images. If Nvidia’s tech demos are anything to go by, these new features combined allow for some seriously impressive results.

While all three of Nvidia’s new graphics cards are capable of running such tech, the RTX 2080 Ti boasts the best specs of them all. If you want the best possible performance for ray tracing and DLSS, the RTX 2080 Ti is the card to buy.

Unsurprisingly, the RTX 2080 Ti is also the best consumer graphics cards for all-round performance. While the Pascal cards – the previous Nvidia generation – were capable of running games at 4K, the new Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is capable of playing some of the most notoriously demanding games at 60fps in Ultra HD. This will mean that not only will you be able to play the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider with jaw-dropping detail, but it will also ensure it runs smoothly with next to no judder or stuttering.

There’s no question that the RTX 2080 Ti is the most powerful consumer graphics card that you can buy right now. If you’re on old rig, looking to make the jump to 4K and above AAA gaming the RTX 2080 Ti is the best option available. But, until more games that take advantage of its next generation features start hitting the market, it’s a bit of a tougher sell for people already on Nvidia’s 10-series cards.

Related: Best Graphics Card 2018

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Specs and technology

With 18.9 billion transistors crammed inside, the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is the second largest GeForce GPU ever created.

Embracing the new Turing architecture, Nvidia’s new cards are not only built to be more efficient, but are also sporting fresh features that have never featured in previous iterations of Nvidia’s graphics cards. All of the new Turing cards have a Turing SM, Tensor Core and RT Core, with each component’s specs differing between the three Turing GPUs.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

The RTX 2080 Ti boasts the best specs of these cards, with the Tensor Core engine flaunting a 114 TFLOPS AI engine and the RT Core capable of producing 10 Giga Rays/sec of ray tracing acceleration. That’s a lot of migraine-inducing numbers, but all you really need to know is that these specs mean that the RTX 2080 Ti card is the best option for the new ray tracing and DLSS graphics technologies.

The Turing cards have also had a couple of architectural tweaks that have resulted in improved bandwidth compared to the Pascal predecessors. While the GTX 1080 Ti has a memory bandwidth of 484GB/s, the RTX 2080 Ti has made a huge leap to 616GB/s. You also get 11GB of 14Gbps GDDR6 RAM here, which is a big reason why the 2080 Ti is capable of reaching the required speeds for 4K gaming.

There’s also been a noticeable increase of CUDA Cores, which are your main allies for improving performance. While the GTX 1080 Ti has 3584 CUDA Cores, the RTX 2080 Ti has a staggering tally of 4352. Predictably, there’s also been an increase for Boost Clock speeds from 1582MHz to 1635MHz.

All of these beefier specs of course mean a greater power draw, although there’s only a 10W increase from the GTX 1080 Ti, with the RTX 2080 Ti’s power draw coming in at 260W.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Meanwhile, SLI is once again supported by Nvidia’s latest range of graphics card if you have the Nvidia NVLink, but game support is limited at the time of writing. 

In terms of ports, the RTX 2080 Ti has everything you need to be fully future-proofed, including HDMI, a DisplayPort and USB Type C. These are especially important for virtual reality, with the DisplayPort required for the HTC Vive Pro and USB Type-C touted as the future go-to connectivity option for upcoming VR headsets.

Related: Best Gaming PC 2018

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Ray tracing

Perhaps the most exciting feature the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti has to offer, ray tracing is a rendering technology that realistically simulates the lighting of a scene and its objects.

Ray tracing isn’t actually a new technology – it’s been used for years in film. Nvidia is, however, the first company that has managed to use ray tracing in real time, and it’s that ‘real time’ part which is obviously a necessity for video games.  

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Ray Tracing

Not only does this game-changing lighting effect make environments look more realistic, but it also creates more authentic shadows and reflections. This was shown off in Nvidia’s Star Wars demo, as shiny Stormtrooper armour was made to look more convincing with dazzling reflections and glossy finishes.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test ray tracing for myself to see if it works in real time as well as Nvidia claims. That’s because ray tracing support is yet to roll out for video games, with Nvidia waiting for Microsoft’s DirectX Raytracing software to release later this year. Once we do get to see real-time ray tracing in action, I’ll update this review.

On more positive news, Nvidia has already wrangled a decent list of games to support the RTX 2080 Ti’s ray tracing capabilities. These games include Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus. With such high-profile developers already on board, it’s likely we’ll see plenty more arrive in the future. The full list of compatible titles can be seen below:

  • Assetto Corsa Competizione
  • Atomic Heart
  • Battlefield V
  • Control
  • Enlisted
  • MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
  • Metro Exodus
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Justice
  • JX3
  • Project DH

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Deep learning super-sampling

Perhaps not as sexy as ray tracing, DLSS still looks to be a potentially significant feature for the Turing graphics cards and a noticeable upgrade on super-sampling and multisample anti-aliasing (MSAA).

By using DLSS, the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti can use artificial intelligence to help create an image that’s similar in quality to that which you’d produce with traditional rendering methods. So what’s the point then? Well, this method actually saves on the GPU’s performance power, helping the GPU run more efficiently, resulting in smoother video.

Like ray tracing, I’m still waiting for an update before I can test how much of an impact DLSS has on video game visuals, but Nvidia suggests that DLSS is easy to integrate into video games and should see the list of compatible games grow rapidly. So far, 25 titles support the technology. The most noticeable of them include:

Once DLSS support arrives for the RTX 2080 Ti and I’ve had time to put it to the test, I’ll update this review with my findings.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Performance and benchmarks

Testing methodology

I benchmarked the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti on Trusted Reviews’ test rig, which has been built to match the specs of a standard gaming computer. The featured components are listed below:

Graphics cards for comparison

If you’re going to be investing in a Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti GPU, there’s a decent chance you’ll be upgrading from a Pascal generation graphics card. With that in mind, I decided to compare its benchmark scores to the GTX 1080 Ti and GTX 1080 to discover the extent of the upgrade.

These are all official Founders Edition graphics cards manufactured by Nvidia, and should therefore act a baseline for third-party alternatives.

  • Founders Edition Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
  • Founders Edition Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti vs GTX 1080 Ti and GTX 1080 – Benchmarks

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is one of the latest high-profile games to be released, and one of the most technically demanding titles out there. With detailed environments and realistic lighting and weather effects, even the most powerful GPUs will have a hard time running this Lara Croft entry at its optimum settings. 

The GTX 2080 Ti is the first consumer graphics card I’ve seen that’s capable of running Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 60 frames per seconds in 4K with graphic settings maxed out. On average, the GTX 2080 Ti’s average FPS benchmark was just shy of the much-desired 60fps, coming in at 57fps instead. That’s 30% better than what the GTX 1080 Ti achieved. Those who are obsessive with frame rates will be happy with the super-smooth performance here.

At Full HD, however, the difference in frame rate is significantly less substantial, with only a 6% improvement separating the 2080 Ti and 1080 Ti. Considering these benchmarks come in as high as 110fps and 104fps respectively, you’re highly unlikely to notice a difference in visual fidelity. So if you’re yet to invest in a 4K monitor, the RTX 2080 Ti isn’t really worth the outlay here.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Putting the most pressure on the RTX 2080 in our testing was Ghost Recon Wildlands. That’s hardly a surprise given the massive open world it has to offer. There are few games that are as technically demanding as Wildlands, so the fact that the the RTX 2080 Ti can handle it in 4K at over 30fps suggests that this graphics card should cope with any other 4K titles you throw its way.

Disappointingly, the RTX 2080 Ti missed out on 60fps in Ultra HD, as it was only able to run Wildlands at 46fps (on average) with graphics cranked up to the highest setting. That’s nothing to be ashamed of since the GTX 1080 Ti was only capable of hitting 37fps and the GTX 1080 30fps, but I have to admit I was hoping for a tad more oomph.

Again, when it comes to Full HD (1920×1080) there’s only a marginal 3% increase from the GTX 1080 Ti to the RTX 2080 Ti, further strengthening the case that there’s little point in upgrading to the Turing GPUs if you’re still playing in HD.

Dirt Rally

While the above two titles are two of the most graphically demanding games available, I decided to test the GTX 2080 with a slightly older game that won’t abuse the GPU like a slap-happy jockey. Dirt Rally seems the perfect choice since it was released in 2015 and is a good standard for current video games.

Fitting the pattern nicely, it was the 4K test that saw the greatest performance difference between the RTX 2080 Ti and the rest of the graphics cards. The RTX 2080 Ti saw an average frame rate of 117fps, which was a 24% increase from the GTX 1080 Ti’s score and a whopping 52% jump from the GTX 1080.

I bet you know what’s coming up for our Full HD test. Yup, there wasn’t really a noticeable difference between the graphic cards’ benchmarks. Plus, since these figures were all higher than 130fps, the human eye probably couldn’t even detect any further frame rate improvements.

Ashes of the Singularity (DirectX 12 mode)

The final game I tested was Ashes of the Singularity. Given it’s a strategy game with lots of onscreen action, I thought it would be a good title to challenge the RTX 2080 Ti.

Hitting the frame rate sweet spot with a benchmark score of 65fps in Ultra HD, the RTX 2080 Ti saw a performance boost of 23% when compared to the GTX 1080 Ti and a 41% improvement over the GTX 1080 Ti.

With so much action happening at once, those ultra-smooth frame rates could be very useful for massive real-time strategy games in 4K.

3DMark

Fire Strike Ultra
2080 Ti 8047
1080 Ti 6646
1080 5080

Topping off the tests, I ran 3DMark’s Fire Strike Ultra benchmark programme. This software is really useful for spitting out benchmark scores that can then be compared against different hardware setups due to its widespread popularity and use.

The RTX 2080 Ti churned out a very impressive 8047, which is significantly higher than both the 1080 Ti and 1080 benchmark scores of 6646 and 5080 respectively. The RTX 2080 Ti is easily the most powerful graphics card that I’ve ever tested.

Virtual Reality

I haven’t had the chance to test the RTX 2080 Ti with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or HTC Vive Pro just yet. Once I’ve had the opportunity to do so, I’ll be sure to update this review.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Performance conclusions

The RTX 2080 Ti is the most powerful graphics card I’ve ever tested – the benchmark scores prove that. The extra £430 that you need to spend on the RTX 2080 Ti over the GTX 1080 Ti gives you a 25% frame boost on average. 

This means that, while Nvidia’s previous Pascal generation of GPUs often struggled to run 4K games with maxed out graphic settings at 60fps, the RTX 2080 Ti hits that mark in all the games I tested bar Ghost Recon: Wildlands. If you want the smoothest possible experience while playing games in Ultra HD, then then RTX 2080 Ti is the card to go for.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

However, if you intend on sticking to HD gaming then buying a RTX 2080 Ti is overkill. The difference between the RTX 2080 Ti and GTX 1080 Ti’s performance when the resolution is set to 1920 x 1080 is barely noticeable. The older, cheaper, still on sale, GTX 1060 and GTX 1050 Ti also play most games at this resolution.

Related: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti Review

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Overclocking, heat and power consumption

The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti is a mighty piece of tech, and so you’ll want to make sure you have a PSU that can handle its power. While running the Fire Strike Ultra benchmark software without overclocks, the GPU had a peak power consumption of 392W.

That’s a noticeable jump from the GTX 1080 Ti figure of 361W, so make sure you’ve got the right hardware if you’re looking to upgrade. Although if you’re got a beefier processor installed, you might want to double-check your rig’s power consumption to see it doesn’t surpass that figure.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Want to squeeze every drop of power out of the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti? Then you’ll probably want to overclock the thing.

With the Unigine Heaven benchmark programme running on a loop in Ultra HD, I managed to achieve a 220MHz GPU  overclock in under an hour. Unigine started to crash once I attempted to push the GPU overclock further. Strangely, I encountered no issues cranking up the memory overclock so high, and could have potentially pushed it even more, but I was restricted by time constraints.

After overclocking the RTX 2080 Ti, I was able to achieve clock speed of up to 2000MHz, and eke out a frame rate boost of 9fps. That was seriously impressive. Even more remarkable, the temperature rarely surpassed 75°C thanks to the dual-fan system so I didn’t need to worry about the test rig going up in flames. In fact, the graphics card was very quiet throughout both the benchmarking and overclocking testing.

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Should I buy the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti?

If money is of little concern and you fancy the most powerful graphics card available, then the 2080 Ti is the card to go for. For the most intensive games available, the RTX 2080 Ti sees enough of a performance increase to justify the upgrade.

Nvidia’s flagship GPU should be able to run the majority of video games at 60fps in 4K with all the graphics setting cranked to the max, which is a feat previous graphics card have struggled to match. It’s also future-proofed thanks to the addition of ray tracing and DLSS technologies.

HD gaming is a different story. If you just want to play basic games at 1080p there are cheaper cards available that can do the job. But let’s be real, what maniac is going to spend over a grand on a graphics card when they’re still using a HD monitor?

Verdict

Incredibly expensive, but 60fps at 4K and oodles of future-proofing make the RTX 2080 Ti a worthwhile investment.

Score


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