I was a huge PC gamer back in my early teen years, but as life got busy, I pivoted to consoles, turning a bit of a blind eye to the PC space, but the start of 2020 and working from home brought me back to the PC side with the RTX 2080 Super. I was impressed at the time given we were at the end of a console generation with the PS4 and Xbox One, but honestly, to think about how far we’ve come since then in the PC tech in just a few shorts years with the newly launched RTX 4080 blows my mind, especially when comparing to what current-gen consoles offer.
This isn’t going to be the most technical RTX 4080 review that you read, but it is going to be an honest comparison by an average gamer who spends quite a bit of time in the PC space, but still spends most nights primarily gaming on the PS5 and Xbox Series. One thing is for certain now is that’s more likely to change than ever before with the RTX 4080 as the sheer power on offer here and just ease of use that comes with plugging this big boy in, is something I’ve never experienced in the PC space. The results were instantly impressive and continued to blow me away as I kept loading up each game, particularly with the advancements made by DLSS 3.
The RTX 4080 Founders Edition follows in the footsteps of the RTX 3000 series and is quite frankly still one of the sexiest pieces of tech I’ve ever come acros. Everything from the unboxing experience, to seeing the premium feeling metal materials on the actual card itself is just a really high-end experience that you don’t get elsewhere.
The RTX 4080 FE still has its two blower fan type design, although the fans are much, much bigger, which results in some extremely impressive thermals, but also a much, much bigger physical foot print. In comparison to the RTX 3080 FE, the 4080 FE is 20mm longer, 25mm wider and a whopping 23mm thicker, which doesn’t sound like lot but results in a thickness that is 50% more than the RTX 3080. This is absolutely a 3-slot GPU that is going to require a larger case to slot it into, which isn’t a bad thing, but just something to be aware of as it’s definitely noticeably larger than the 3080 FE, and your current setup will need to be taken into consideration. This is likely to be a little bit more of a non-issue with aftermarket cards.
Just like last year’s 3000 FE cards, NVIDIA has stuck with the tidy singular power cable that converts to 3x PCIe 8-pin cables to plug into your power supply. It now points upwards, which is a little better, but just like last year, does definitely take away from the really simplistic design of the card. I understand it’s not possible, but obviously I’d love the cords to be coming out the right side of the case to not take away from the design.
As far as ports go, it’s a very similar offering to last year’s models with three DP ports as well as one HDMI 2.1 port, so there’s really not shortage no matter how many devices you’re looking to plug into it.
DLSS 3 PERFORMANCE
If you’ve listened to my talking about tech on our podcast or read any other hardware reviews I’ve written, I couldn’t be a bigger fan of DLSS and what it has done for PC gaming. I want it everywhere as it just takes the stress out of worrying about frame rates and getting a smooth performance and that’s never been truer than what’s on offer with DLSS 3.
I’m not even going to try and pretend that I understand the full extent of the magic involved with DLSS 3, but basically, the 3 stands for three things: The brand new Frame Generation technology, Super Resolution (DLSS 2) as well as NVIDIA reflex. DLSS 3 is only available on the 4000 series cards thanks to the new ADA Lovelace architecture and the performance increase is instantly noticeable.
I don’t think it’d be unfair to say that the 3080 was a great entry point to 4K gaming, but it still felt like it wasn’t the fully realised experience in the sense that you couldn’t comfortably reach 4K 60FPS with absolutely every AAA game without having to compromise in certain areas, but with the 4080 and DLSS 3, not only is this a reality, but it goes far beyond that.
The greatest compliment that I can give the RTX 4080 is that it makes playing games on PC effortless. There wasn’t a single time during any of my testing where I felt like a game was stuttering, or that I needed to lower my settings, or turn off ray-tracing. It just worked, each and every time and felt like the ultimate 4K gaming experience.
Cyberpunk 2077 is still one of the great examples of stunning graphics within an open world and DLSS 3 allows you to stroll through the world in the way it was intended in full 4K with Psycho Ray-Tracing on. With DLSS 3, it runs at an extremely acceptable 92 FPS (with DLSS 3 set to balanced). Without DLSS 3, you’d be looking 29 FPS which means that DLSS 3 is providing more than 3x the performance, and that’s only going to improve with further improvements. With Cyberpunk 2077 running on the same settings on a 3080 using DLSS 2, we were able to achieve roughly 45 FPS, so it’s double the performance on a 4080 with DLSS 3.
A Plague Tale: Requiem is another great example. The game looks phenomenal and was able to run at 120FPS in 4K utilising DLSS 3 in our testing, which was over 2x the performance that we saw without DLSS 3, which ran at 58 FPS. The performance is buttery smooth and almost unbelievable. Coming from the PS5 version, the different is honestly night and day.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was yet another fantastic example, which has been plagued with performance issues even with the 3090, but I was now able to soar through the sky at 143 FPS at 4K with DLSS 3, which was again almost 2.5x the performance that I saw with DLSS 3 turned off at 60 FPS.
Another game worth calling out is F1 2022 which saw more than a 2x increase at 153 FPS with DLSS 3 turned on which dropped to a still acceptable 70 FPS without it. Taking every corner felt very smooth without a single bit of slowdown.
Other games tested such as Bright Memory Infinite, Destroy All Humans 2, F.I.S.T and Loopmancer all saw similar improvements of 2-3x with DLSS 3 turned on and all comfortable saw frame rates of beyond 144FPS in 4K. NVIDIA has said that there are over 35 DLSS 3 games in development and I can only hope that’s just the beginning.
Even with these insane results, the RTX 4080 FE was always running smoothly quiet and barely broke out of the mid 50s temperature wise, only cracking 60 degrees twice in well over 50 tests ran. Comparing power usage to that of the 3080, its significant less too, which is impressive given the results.
DLSS 2 PERFORMANCE & AV1 ENCODING
Even games that haven’t yet been optimised for DLSS 3 still ran incredibly well with almost all of the game that I tested still almost achieving 144 FPS.
Modern Warfare 2 was one worth calling out with the campaign achieving 157 FPS with DLSS turned on and 108 FPS without. This is almost double that of the 3080 performance which sits at around 80 FPS.
This was similar for PlayStation’s first-party offering on PC with Death Stranding, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn all sitting around the 144 FPS mark or beyond in some cases.
Games such as Gears 5 and Gears Tactics both reached 134 FPS and 114 FPS respectively, which is roughly a 1.5-1.8x increase on what we saw with 3080 performance, but I suspect that once more games get the DLSS 3 treatment, the performance boosts will be less what we’re seeing here.
As far as the 4080 goes for creative individuals, I’ve got no doubt that if you’re rendering 3D models or 4K video, you’re going to have a fantastic time with this GPU. There’s also now dual AV1 video encoders on board which means that you can stream at higher resolutions with the likes of Discord.
IS THE 4080 WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION?
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that the RTX 4080 is going to provide the 4K experience that we’ve been waiting for over the last few years, but you’re definitely going to be paying a premium for it. Given the RTX 4080 FE is going to be $2,200 AUD (but won’t be available here), it’s only reasonable to expect that third-party cards will start at $2,400 AUD and beyond. This is double what you can currently get a 3080 for, so the question remains is the 4080 worth the price of admission?
That’s a tricky question to answer. The easy answer is that you won’t be disappointed for even a single moment with the RTX 4080, but If you’ve already got a 3080, this will be dependant on how you feel your performance has been this far. If you’ve got a 4K/144hz monitor, you’ll absolutely be taking advantage of those extra frames with an RTX 4080, but if you’ve only got a 4K/60Hz monitor, then you might be content with what you have, and the extra frames (and money) might be lost on you.
If you’re in the market for a new GPU and you’re tossing up between the two, that’s going to be a much harder decision. 3080 prices have gone down quite a lot, and aren’t fetching anywhere near the insane prices that we saw during the middle of covid, but then again, with the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 getting an RTX Overdrive mode, and there clearly being more boundaries that can be pushed, if you’re all-in on PC gaming, you might be better off future proofing with an RTX 4080 or waiting for the inevitable 4070/4070 Ti.
The NVIDIA RTX 4080 Founder's Edition hugely improves 4K gaming performance with better efficiency than ever before. The magic of DLSS 3 makes 4K/144FPS gaming a reality without any compromise, and brings forward a pain-free, effortless PC gaming experience.