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RTX 3080 Ti vs 3090 – is the flagship price it now?


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Right at the top end of Nvidia’s GPU selection, you can find the RTX 3080 Ti vs 3090 battle. The top range of the selection has some eye-watering prices, but not without a great bit of tech built inside them. Each of them competes for the best graphics card podium.

During the original launch, it was the RTX 3090 that took the flagship lead of this generation. Then the 3080 Ti was launched nearly a year later to bridge the gap between the top end and bring the price down. Now we take a look at which is actually worth your money and which is better for the high price.

ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Trinity 12GB

Zotac GAMING GeFOrce RTX 3080 Ti Trinity 12GB min

Pros

One of the cheapest RTX 3080 Ti AIBs you will find

Improved cooling solution compared to the Founder’s Edition

Cons

The RTX 3080 Ti is a prohibitively expensive GPU

Not the quietest on offer

Less powerful than other RTX 3080 Ti AIBs

Large size vs Founder’s Edition

Zotac Logo

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Trinity

Zotac RTX 3090

Pros

New 11-blade fan for increased airflow

Freeze fan stop technology

Architecture

We first take a look at the graphics processor in the two GPUs. In the case of the 3080 ti vs 3090, they are both based on the GA102 variant. Based on the Ampere architecture the 3090 uses the 300 variant compared to the 225 used by the 3080 Ti. 

Which also means they are built on the same process. Utilizing the Samsung 8nm process to build a 628mm2 die. With the same die and process, it means the differences come from the rest of the build and the core differences. 

Specifications

RTX 3080 Ti RTX 3090
GPU GA102-225-A1 GA102-300-A1
Shaders 10240 10496
RT Cores 80 82
TMUs 320 328
Memory 12GB GDDR6X 24GB GDDR6X
Base clock 1365MHz 1395MHz
Boost clock 1665MHz 1695MHz
Memory clock 19 Gbps 19.5 Gbps
Card bus PCIe 4.0 x16 PCIe 4.0 x16
Memory bandwidth 912.4 GB/s 936.2 GB/s
TDP 350W 350W

In most cases, the two GPUs are very close to each other in what they’re built with. However, as expected the 3090 does take the lead in some of the specs so we take a look at what that means.

VRAM

The video memory is one of the key distinguishers between the two cards. VRAM is important as a frame buffer and storing texture maps. Which becomes especially important at higher resolutions with higher pixel counts. So for high-resolution multimonitor setups, more VRAM is crucial.

In the case of 3080 Ti vs 3090, the 3090 does have double the capacity of the Ti card. With 24GB it’s the highest of any consumer card so a massive advantage in any high memory situation.

However, for most users, 12GB is plenty enough. Especially since it is the same spec memory being used. With GDDR6X both cards have very similar throughput of 19 and 19.5 Gbps. So nothing is left behind about capacity when picking between the two.

RTX3080TI 3

Core counts

Many cores make up the chip die itself. Each of these has a different responsibility in terms of calculation and graphics production. Being from the same manufacturer there aren’t architectural differences to worry about. Just the count itself will change and there isn’t a lot of difference between the two.

There is a 2.5% difference on all the cores so there is likely to be only a slight difference between the performance of them. The few more cores the 3090 has are unlikely to give it the extra power it might need to lead.

Shaders, TMUs, and RT cores have their own responsibilities. Shaders focus on the shadows and shading, texture mappers are responsible for 3d mapping the bitmaps. With the ray-tracing cores working on the real-time lighting creating great scenes. So can the 2.5% advantage give the 3090 that much more performance?

Clock speeds

Clock speeds are responsible for how quickly the graphics instructions are processed by a GPU. It is a factor of the silicon crystal and how quickly it can cycle and process those graphics effectively. There is a factory clock given to the cars but it’s not unusual to overclock them to be faster, especially with effective cooling systems.

Comparing the 3080 Ti vs 3090 factory clock speeds there isn’t a lot of difference between them. Another 2% advantage of the 3090, with a 1395MHz base clock and a 1695MHz boost clock. Gaining a slight advantage in another area but not as much as you might expect.

Asus RTX 3080 12GB 12

TDP

Thermal design power is how much energy the GPU will expel as heat under maximum load. Consideration for the cooling solution and energy usage of the card itself. In this case, both cards have the same amount, with a 350W TDP. Meaning they have the same heating and usage capabilities.

3080 Ti vs 3090 Performance

3dmark gives us a graphics performance benchmark comparing the two GPUs. In their graphics score, the 3090 gets 19,949 whilst the 3080 Ti follows behind with 19,615. With 300 points between the two, the 3090 doesn’t outperform the Ti significantly. 

In other performance benchmarks, the RTX 3090 outperforms the RTX 3080 Ti by just 1%. With the close-knit specs, it’s unsurprising the performance difference is insignificant. With the VRAM advantage not giving the performance increase in real use scenarios.

Asus RTX 3080 12GB 16

Price comparison

The launch price for the 3080 Ti was set to $1,199, compared to the $1,499 of the 3090. With the $300 difference buying you the extra VRAM and slight performance. The price difference is a potential swaying point for many users.

Although still as of now, GPUs are expensive. Even though they are trending to lower prices closer toward MSRP you’re still unlikely to find them close to that. So looking at the market, you can find a Ti for $1,550 minimum and $2,140 for a 3090. The large difference between the two is a big consideration when picking between the two.

Gigabyte Logo

Gigabyte RTX 3080 Ti Gaming OC 12G

Gigabyte RTX 3080 Ti Gaming OC 12G 1

Pros

Moderate out-the-box overclock

Greater expected lifespan vs FE

Moderately expensive compared to other RTX 3080 Ti AIBs

Cons

The RTX 3080 Ti is a prohibitively expensive GPU

Large size vs Founder’s Edition

Less aesthetically pleasing than the Founder’s Edition

Would have liked to have seen a higher overclock

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio 24G

MSI RTX 3090 Gmaing Trio X

Pros

One of the most attractive RTX 3090s

Cons

On the higher end of the 3090 price spectrum

Conclusion

Overall, the choice isn’t hard when comparing the RTX 3080 Ti vs 3090. Not only is the 3080 much cheaper, but you will also barely notice the difference in performance day-to-day. The only real reason for the 3090 is if you require all that extra video memory. Or you can always wait to see what the next generation of RTX 4000 series cards will bring.

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