When Nvidia announced that it was going to include real-time ray tracing on its next generation of Turing graphics cards, many people though the company was indulging in a spot of marketing excess. But that all changed when CEO Jensen Huang showed real-time ray-tracing of a mock Star Wars scene to a slack-jawed audience at GTC in 2018. For the first time, people could watch light behaving in a realistic way rendered in front of their eyes, something that wasn’t possible until now.
RTX 2080 Specs
The RTX 2080 falls just under the RTX 2080ti and above the RTX 2070, providing a familiar naming convention to the previous generation of Pascal-based GPUS, the GTX 1080ti, GTX 1080, and the GTX 1070. The observant among you, however, will have noticed something: the change from GTX to RTX.
Nvidia has used the GTX moniker on its high-end GPUS for more than a decade, so to see the company change tack in such an obvious way should tell gamers that the new crop of graphics cards is exceptional and work exceptionally well with workstations.
The RTX 2080 Founders Edition blows away its predecessor on the specs front. The card offers a boost clock of 1,800MHz and a memory speed of 14 Gbps, demolishing the GTX 1080’s 10 Gbps. The main differences, however, come in the form of an increase in the number of stream processors from 2,560 to 2,944 made possible by the shrinking of die technology, and an increase in the texture units from 104 to 184.
The RTX 2080 also includes an updated form of the company’s classic SLI (scalable link interface) technology via a system called NV Link. The connector, designed for multi-card setups and test benches, offers more than 50 times the transfer bandwidth of the old technology. Gamers who want to game at 8K or higher can join two of their cards together via NVlink for a superior gaming experience.
The technical specs are great to ogle, but what most buyers care about is how it performs compared to the previous generation in real-world gaming applications. Synthetic benchmarks put the RTX 2080 head to head with the last generation’s flagship model (excluding Titan), the GTX 1080ti. In-game, however, the RTX 2080 appears to perform better and trounces the GTX 1080.
In Middle Earth: Shadow of War at 4K, Tech Radar says that the RTX 2080 will deliver 59 frames per second at max settings, while the GTX 1080 will give you 40 - a 50 per cent generation-on-generation improvement. In Total War: Warhammer, at 4K, the GTX 1080 gives you 27 frames per second, while the RTX delivers a respectable 37, ahead of the previous generation GTX 1080ti on 36.
We could continue with the examples, but you get the picture. Nvidia’s latest GPU finally gives gamers what they want: graphics cards that can run triple-A titles at high frame rates at 4K.
Nvidia clearly wants to push ray tracing. It’s been a kind of holy grail for graphics card manufacturers ever since it was demonstrated in principle over a decade ago. But gamers are going to have to wait, just as they have for HDR, for real-world applications to emerge. Yes, there are demos available where you can watch your RTX 2080 doing the seemingly impossible and create realistic lighting effects in real time, but no games you can buy currently support the feature.
Is The RTX 2080 Another Nvidia Winner?
Right now, it looks as if Nvidia can do no wrong. Not only is the company in a strong financial position, but it keeps churning out high-end graphics cards with little response from the competition. Nvidia seems to be able to be the first to market every time, and its RTX series is no exception.
The RTX 2080 gives mainstream gamers more than enough performance. If you’re running a 1080p display, then you’ll get blistering-fast gaming, even on the highest refresh-rate monitors. Likewise, the RTX 2080 is an excellent card for those running 144Hz 1440p gaming monitors and will be able to delivery buttery smooth performance at native resolutions, even at the highest settings.
Few gamers are running 4K monitors with refresh rates above 60Hz, but for those who want the finest of gaming experiences now and in the future when monitors do finally become widely available, it’s hard to argue with the RTX 2080 as a prudent choice. The card will deliver high-refresh rates at 4K with some minor tuning of in-game settings.
Overall, the response to the RTX 2080 in terms of performance is overwhelmingly positive.