AS most serious PC gamers will tell you, getting the best graphics card you can is a must for a premium gaming experience – and the subject of this review certainly delivers that.
As part of a rebuild of my gaming rig with support from Asus, Nvidia and Intel, my system now has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founder’s Edition GPU in it courtesy of the team at Nividia – and it is the most powerful graphics card I’ve ever owned.
Let’s begin the review with the obligatory overview of the main technical specifications:
As you can see, there’s a lot to like here already – not least of all the 16GB VRAM, the third-gen Raytracing capabilities, multi-monitor support, and Nvidia DLSS capability.
The first item on the practical testing checklist was the 3DMark test, starting with Time Spy – which measures overall GPU performance (along with an element for CPU performance; which in this case is an Intel i9-13900KS).
The TimeSpy benchmark was an extremely impressive 26,425 and the Raytracing results in particular need to be highlighted; with a score of 17,796 in Port Royal – according to 3DMark, better than 92% of all other results it has recorded (not just for that GPU, for all of them).
One thing to keep in mind: These were “plug-and-play” results. I didn’t mess around with voltages or power curves or fan speeds or anything like that; I simply installed the card, downloaded the latest Nvidia Drivers and version of Nvidia GeForce experience, and started using the GPU.
Secondly, the review unit is a Founder’s Edition model, and the results from one of Nvidia’s partner manufacturers (eg Asus, GigaByte, MSI, Aorus, etc) may well be slightly different – especially if you know how to tweak the card’s settings to get even more of a performance boost out of things.
Of course, benchmark numbers are one thing, but what matters is practical experience when playing games, and the RTX 4080 continued to dazzle in that regard too.
The obvious choice to put the RTX 4080 through its paces was none other than CyberPunk: 2077; I cranked all the settings up as high as they would go (including “psycho” mode for Raytracing) and started playing.
The results were jaw-dropping; on an Alienware 3440×1440 screen connected via DisplayPort, I was getting roughly 100 frames per second and the game world came to life most impressively indeed. I didn’t think it was possible for the game’s visuals to look any better than they already did, but the RTX 4080 managed to provide an improvement over the excellent results I was getting from the RTX 3070 card I was previously using.
Next up for testing was Atomic Heart, which doesn’t have raytracing but is the most recent AAA-ish game in my PC library (and also has DLSS 3.0 support)
With the settings cranked up to “Atomic” (everything maxed out) and using the same Alienware 3440×1440 monitor, I was getting a consistent 240fps in the underground facilities (and sometimes significantly even higher than that) and about 160-180fps in the overworld. Even without RTX, the game looked amazing, and ran flawlessly (at least from a GPU performance perspective).
Other results (again, all at 3440×1440 resolution with all settings set to the maximum) included an average of 130 FPS in Red Dead Redemption II, 50-60 FPS in Rainbow Six: Extraction (without Nvidia DLSS or dynamic performance adjustment), and even Kerbal Space Program 2, which is still in Early Access and not properly optimised, was still running at between 60-100 FPS depending how much was happening on-screen and where the spacecraft was, astronomically speaking.
No matter what I was doing – benchmarking or gaming – the GPU temperatures never got above 71c, and the fan noise, while noticeable, wasn’t anywhere near the “jet aircraft taking off” level that I’ve experienced with some graphics cards working at full throttle under load.
While I have absolutely no issues with the card’s performance, I will note it is pretty chunky size-wise. It takes up two slots to begin with, and extends pretty much right across the motherboard. I was initially concerned it might not fit into my case, but it did – although cable management became something to be more aware of as I was connecting everything up to the motherboard.
The GPU also needs a minimum 750W power supply – not a problem in my build (I have a 1200W PSU in there because I’ve always figured it’s better to have too much power supply capacity than not enough), but definitely something to keep in mind if your PSU doesn’t have the sort of wattage capabilities that rival a split-cycle airconditioner.
In fact, the biggest drawback with the card is the price tag – around AUD$1750 at time of writing, assuming you can find one in stock.
Nvidia have never tried to pretend this is anything other than an enthusiasts card, and while it is a lot of money, the results are all there up on screen – and outstandingly so, too.
Yes, $1750 is a hefty sum – especially given the ongoing cost of living crisis – but the RTX 4080 is squarely aimed at people who want performance (particularly at 2K or 4K resolution) and don’t mind paying for the privilege.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that, as with many high-end gaming PC components, there’s an element of “buy once, cry once” at play. The RTX 3070 GPU I’ve previously been using has been running for hours and hours every day for the past three years without missing a beat or showing any signs of performance degradation or slowing down, and that was a more modestly priced card than the subject of this review.
I don’t want to describe this as an “investment” in the traditional sense of the term (because, as with most technology, its dollar value depreciates over time), but it is very much an investment in the future for your gaming PC – it’s almost certainly going to be capable of playing, at high resolution and with the settings cranked up, pretty much any game you’re like to yeet at it for the next few years.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU is an absolutely fantastic GPU card which has dramatically and noticeably improved my gaming experience; so I am confident in saying that if you are looking to make the leap to 2K or 4K gaming and want something that will handle nearly everything you’re likely to play, but don’t have the approximately AUD$3000 an RTX 4090 costs in your budget, you can’t go wrong with this.