The ultimate GPU for 4K gaming, while ray tracing support gives gamers an exciting peek into the future
- Capable of 60fps in 4K with the majority of games
- Future-proofed with exciting features such as ray tracing
- Keeps cool and quiet all of the time
- Incredibly expensive
- Ray tracing and DLSS support unavailable at launch
- 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 only 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 graphics cards, however, have greater ambitions. They feature all-new technology that could revolutionise video game visuals.
Ray tracing and Deep Learning Super-Sampling (DLSS) take the headlines here, with the former offering more realistic lighting effects and the latter using artificial intelligence to render high-quality images more efficiently. While all four of Nvidia’s new 20 Series graphics cards are capable of delivering both of theses – and older cards will support ray tracing to varying degrees later in the year – the RTX 2080 Ti boasts the best specs of them all.
If you want the ultimate performance for ray tracing and DLSS, the RTX 2080 Ti is undoubtedly the best consumer 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.
Since initially publishing my review last October, subsequent Nvidia Game Ready driver updates have been rolled out, to the point where first person shooters Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus now support ray tracing and DLSS. More titles will support these features in the future, but right now, it’s these two games that are flying the ray tracing flag.
But even when you don’t consider that, 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 using an old rig and 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.
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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, DLSS enables gamers to enjoy ray tracing without having to suffer a big frame rate dip. With the recent patches allowing support for both Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus, I’ve been able to test out both features and see what impact they have on performance. Here’s how I’ve got on:
With DirectX Raytracing (DXR) activated on Battlefield 5, I noticed subtle yet remarkable improvements to the visuals, particularly in the snow-drenched landscapes in the story mission Nordlys. Reflections of mountains, buildings and trees can be seen on the surface of a frozen lake for example, making the scene feel more immersive, dynamic and realistic.
Even indoors, away from the reflective ice and glistening campfires, ray tracing helps to improve the environment. A cabinet’s glass door now displays a reflection so clear that it could come in handy for spotting stealthy enemies. Photo frames hanging up on the wall also benefited from the technology, as sunlight bounced off the glass and gave it a significantly more realistic appearance.
All of these visual effects are subtle, sure, but they genuinely do help to add even more polish to an already beautiful world. The only issue? Activating DXR means that you’ll take a significant hit to your frame rate, as the technology is so intensive that the GPU has to work extra hard to render it.
Activating DXR while playing Battlefield 5 in Full HD saw a huge drop from 130fps to 80fps. That’s a significant decrease, although it could be argued that this is still a plenty enough frames for a super-smooth performance. It’s a bigger issue if you wish to play in 4K though, as the Alien Aurora – despite its enormous might – could only manage 45fps when playing Battlefield 5 with DXR set to Ultra.
|DXR OFF||DXR set to Ultra|
|Battlefield V (Full HD)||130fps||80fps|
|Battlefield V (4K)||60fps||45fps|
But while this fall in frame rates was a genuine concern initially, the release of DLSS might just have resolved that issue already. The Nvidia GeForce Game Ready 418.91 drivers update has finally released, improving frame rate performance by helping the GPU run more efficiently. For the exact figures on how DLSS improved performance, check out the DLSS section below.
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Confirmed games to feature ray tracing
As well as Battlefield V, Nvidia has wrangled a decent list of games to support the RTX 2080 Ti’s ray tracing capabilities. These games include Shadow of the Tomb Raider 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
- MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries
- Metro Exodus
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Project DH
More games are expected to follow this list throughout 2019, with Bioware’s Anthem rumoured to be the next to follow Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus.
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Deep learning super-sampling (DLSS)
Perhaps not as sexy as ray tracing, DLSS is still a 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.
DLSS becomes even more important given the hit to performance that ray tracing brings. I benchmarked Metro Exodus with and without DLSS while ray tracing was enabled to discover what extent Nvidia’s new technology had on performance. The results were very impressive.
With ray tracing set to ‘High’ and the resolution set to 4K, I saw frame rates average to a miserable 35fps. For a first-person shooter, this isn’t an ideal performance. However, once I activated DLSS, frame rates suddenly jumped up to a very respectable 55fps. That’s an astonishing improvement of 20fps, which really does make a massive difference.
|DLSS off||DLSS on|
|Metro Exodus (4K + ray tracing)||35fps||55fps|
I’ve only been able to do one benchmark test for DLSS so far, so I wouldn’t take these results as final. That said, these initial results really are promising and could completely wipe out any concerns of ray tracing being a performance sponge.
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Confirmed games to feature DLSS
Just like ray tracing, the only major concern with DLSS is the lack of games currently supporting the technology. Currently, only Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus have DLSS enabled. There are plenty more games confirmed to have DLSS in the future though. The complete can be seen below:
- Ark: Survival Evolved
- Darksiders 3
- Final Fantasy XV
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Hitman 2
- Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries
- Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale
- Overkill’s The Walking Dead
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- We Happy Few
Once more games confirm support for DLSS I’ll be sure to update this review.
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti – Performance and benchmarks
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:
- Motherboard: Asus Prime Z370
- Processor: Intel Core i7-8700K (not overclocked)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2666MHz, 16GB DDR4
- Cooler: Corsair H60 liquid cooler
- PSU: Corsair CX750M
- SSD: Samsung 850 EVO
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Note that I will shortly be updating our benchmark results with the Intel Core i9-9900K, which I will also use to test the RTX 2080 and RTX 2070. Bear in mind though, that my initial testing has seen little to no difference in frame rates when upgrading from an Intel Core i7-8700K to the i9-9900K. The above setup is perfectly adequate to get the most out of the RTX 2080 Ti.
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.
In the near-future, I will also be adding the benchmark results for Nvidia’s RTX 2080, so you know which of the new Turing cards is the best for you.
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.
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.
|Fire Strike Ultra|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, unless DXR is activated, what maniac is going to spend over a grand on a graphics card when they’re still using a HD monitor?
Incredibly expensive, but 60fps at 4K and oodles of future-proofing make the RTX 2080 Ti a worthwhile investment.