Final Words

Bringing this review to a close, we've seen it all and yet we have more to see. Here's what we know right now. NVIDIA has once again aimed for the top and reached it, securing the performance crown for another presumably long stint. Or arguably extending the current reign, but either way, on terms of traditional performance the new GeForce RTX 20 series further extends NVIDIA's performance lead.

By the numbers, then, in out-of-the-box game performance the reference RTX 2080 Ti is around 32% faster than the GTX 1080 Ti at 4K gaming. With Founders Edition specifications (a 10W higher TDP and 90MHz boost clock increase) the lead grows to 37%, which doesn't fundamentally change the matchup but isn't a meaningless increase.

Moving on to the RTX 2080, what we see in our numbers is a 35% performance improvement over the GTX 1080 at 4K, moving up to 40% with Founders Edition specifications. In absolute terms, this actually puts it on very similar footing to the GTX 1080 Ti, with the RTX 2080 pulling ahead, but only by 8% or so. So the two cards aren't equals in performance, but by video card standrads they're incredibly close, especially as that level of difference is where factory overclocked cards can equal their silicon superiors. It's also around the level where we expect that cards might 'trade blows', and in fact this does happen in Ashes of the Singularity and GTA V. As a point of comparison, we saw the GTX 1080 Ti at launch come in around 32% faster than the GTX 1080 at 4K.

Meaning that, in other words, the RTX 2080 has GTX 1080 Ti tier conventional performance, mildly faster by single % in our games at 4K. Naturally, under workloads that take advantage of RT Cores or Tensor Cores, the lead would increase, though right now there’s no way of translating that into a robust real world measurement.

So generationally-speaking, the GeForce RTX 2080 represents a much smaller performance gain than the GTX 1080's 71% performance uplift over the GTX 980. In fact, it's in area of about half that, with the RTX 2080 Founders Edition bringing 40% more performance and reference with 35% more performance over the GTX 1080. Looking further back, the GTX 980's uplift over previous generations can be divvied up in a few ways, but compared to the GTX 680 it brought a similar 75% gain.

But the performance hasn't come for free in terms of energy efficiency, which was one of Maxwell's hallmark strengths. TDPs have been increased across the x80 Ti/x80/x70 board, and the consequence is greater power consumption. The RTX 2080 features power draw at the wall slightly more than the GTX 1080 Ti's draw, while the RTX 2080 Ti's system consumption leaps by more than 60W to reach near-Vega 64 power draw at the wall.

Putting aside those who will always purchase the most performant card on the market, regardless of value proposition, most gamers will want to know: "Is it worth the price?" Unfortunately, we don't have enough information to really say - and neither does anyone else, except NVIDIA and their partner developers. This is because the RT Cores, tensor cores, Turing shader features, and the supporting software are all built into the price. But NVIDIA's key features - such as real time ray tracing and DLSS - aren't being utilized by any games right at launch. In fact, it's not very clear at all when those games might arrive, because NVIDIA ultimately is reliant on developers here.

Even when they do arrive, we can at least assume that enabling real time ray tracing will incur a performance hit. Based on the hands-on and comparing performance in the demos, which we were not able to analyze and investigate in time for publication, it seems that DLSS plays a huge part in halving the input costs. In the Star Wars Reflections demo, we measured the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition managing around a 14.7fps average at 4K and 31.4fps average at 1440p when rendering the real time ray traced scene. With DLSS enabled, it jumps to 33.8 and 57.2fps.

So where does that leave things? For traditional performance, both RTX cards line up with current NVIDIA offerings, giving a straightforward point-of-reference for gamers. The observed performance delta between the RTX 2080 Founders Edition and GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition is at a level achievable by the Titan Xp or overclocked custom GTX 1080 Ti’s. Meanwhile, NVIDIA mentioned that the RTX 2080 Ti should be equal to or faster than the Titan V, and while we currently do not have the card on hand to confirm this, the performance difference from when we did review that card is in-line with NVIDIA's statements.

The easier takeaway is that these cards would not be a good buy for GTX 1080 Ti owners, as the RTX 2080 would be a sidegrade and the RTX 2080 Ti would be offering 37% more performance for $1200, a performance difference akin upgrading to a GTX 1080 Ti from a GTX 1080. For prospective buyers in general, it largely depends on how long the GTX 1080 Ti will be on shelves, because as it stands, the RTX 2080 is around $90 more expensive and less likely to be in stock. Looking to the RTX 2080 Ti, diminishing returns start to kick in, where paying 43% or 50% more gets you 27-28% more performance.

The benefits of the new hardware cannot be captured in our standard benchmarks alone. The DXR ecosystem is in its adolescence, if not infancy. Of course, NVIDIA is hardly a passive player in this. The GeForce RTX initiative is a key inflection point in NVIDIA's new push to change and mold computer graphics and gaming, and it's highly unlikely that anything about this launch wasn't completely deliberate. There was a conscious decision to launch the cards now, basically as soon as was practically possible. Even waiting a month might align with a few DXR and DLSS supporting games out at launch, though at the cost of missing the prime holiday window.

Taking a step back, we should highlight NVIDIA's technological achievement here: real time ray tracing in games. Even with all the caveats and potentially significant performance costs, not only was the feat achieved but implemented, and not with proofs-of-concept but with full-fledged AA and AAA games. Today is a milestone from a purely academic view of computer graphics.

But as we alluded to in the Turing architecture deep dive, graphics engineers and developers, and the consumers that purchase the fruits of their labor, are all playing different roles in pursuing the real time ray tracing dream. So NVIDIA needs a strong buy-in from the consumers, while the developers might need much less convincing. Ultimately, gamers can't be blamed for wanting to game with their cards, and on that level they will have to think long and hard about paying extra to buy graphics hardware that is priced extra with features that aren't yet applicable to real-world gaming, and yet only provides performance comparable to previous generation video cards.

 

 

Power, Temperature, and Noise
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  • Hixbot - Friday, September 21, 2018 - link

    I'm not sure how midrange 2070/2060 cards will sell if they're not a significant value in performance/price compared to 1070/1060 cards. If AMD offer no competition, Nvidia should still compete with itself Reply
  • Wwhat - Saturday, September 22, 2018 - link

    It's interesting that every comment I've seen says a similar thing and that nobody thinks of uses outside of gaming.
    I would think that for real raytracers and Adobe's graphics and video software for instance the tensor and RT cores would be very interesting.
    I wonder though if open source software will be able to successfully use that new hardware or that Nvidia is too closed for it to get the advantages you might expect.
    And apart from raytracers and such there is also the software science students use too.
    And with the interest in AI currently by students and developers it might also be an interesting offering.
    Although that again relies on Nvidia playing ball a bit.
    Reply
  • michaelrw - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    "where paying 43% or 50% more gets you 27-28% more performance"
    1080 Ti can be bought in the $600 range, wheres the 2080 Ti is $1200 .. so I'd say thats more than 43-50% price increase..at a minimum we're talking a 71% increase, at worst 100% (Launch MSRP for 1080 Ti was $699)
    Reply
  • V900 - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Which is the wrong way of looking at it.

    NVIDIA didn’t just increase the price for shit and giggles, the Turing GPUs are much more expensive to fab, since you’re talking about almost 20 BILLION transistors squeezed into a few hundred mm2.

    Regardless: Comparing the 2080 with the 1080, and claiming there is a 70% price increase, is a bogus logic in the first place, since the 2080 brings a number of things to the table that the 1080 isn’t even capable of.

    Find me a 1080ti with DLSS and that is also capable of raytracing, and then we can compare prices and figure out if there’s a price increase or not.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    In brings it to the table..on paper more like it. You literally listed the two things that are not really shown AT ALL. Reply
  • mscsniperx - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    No, actually YOUR logic is bogus. Find me a DLSS or Raytracing game to bench.. You can't. There is a reason for that. Raytracing will require a Massive FPS hit, Nvidia knows this and is delaying you from seeing that as damage control. Reply
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    There are no ray tracing games because the technology is new, not because NVIDIA is "delaying them". As far as DLSS, I think those games will appear faster than ray tracing. Reply
  • Andrew LB - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Coming soon:

    Darksiders III from Gunfire Games / THQ Nordic
    Deliver Us The Moon: Fortuna from KeokeN Interactive
    Fear The Wolves from Vostok Games / Focus Home Interactive
    Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice from Ninja Theory
    KINETIK from Hero Machine Studios
    Outpost Zero from Symmetric Games / tinyBuild Games
    Overkill's The Walking Dead from Overkill Software / Starbreeze Studios
    SCUM from Gamepires / Devolver Digital
    Stormdivers from Housemarque
    Ark: Survival Evolved from Studio Wildcard
    Atomic Heart from Mundfish
    Dauntless from Phoenix Labs
    Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition from Square Enix
    Fractured Lands from Unbroken Studios
    Hitman 2 from IO Interactive / Warner Bros.
    Islands of Nyne from Define Human Studios
    Justice from NetEase
    JX3 from Kingsoft
    Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries from Piranha Games
    PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from PUBG Corp.
    Remnant: From The Ashes from Arc Games
    Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass from Croteam / Devolver Digital
    Shadow of the Tomb Raider from Square Enix / Eidos-Montréal / Crystal Dynamics / Nixxes
    The Forge Arena from Freezing Raccoon Studios
    We Happy Few from Compulsion Games / Gearbox

    Funny how the same people who praised AMD for being the first to bring full DX12 support yet only 15 games in the first two years used it, are the same people sh*tting on nVidia for bringing a far more revolutionary technology that's going to be in far more games in a shorter time span.
    Reply
  • jordanclock - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Considering AMD was the first to bring support to an API that all GPUs could have support for, DLSS is not a comparison. DLSS is an Nvidia-only feature and Nvidia couldn't manage to have even ONE game on launch day with DLSS. Reply
  • Manch - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    AMD spawned Mantle which then turned into Vulcan. Also pushed MS to dev DX12 as it was in both their interests. These APIs can be used by all.

    DLSS while potentially very cool, is as Jordan said proprietary. Like hair works and other crap ot will get light support but devs when it comes to feature sets will spend most of their effort building to common ground. With consoles being AMD GPU based, guess where that will be.

    If will be interesting how AMD will ultimatley respond. Ie gsync/freesync CUDA/OpenCL, etc.

    As Nvidia has stated, these features are designed to work with how current game engines already function so they dont (the devs) have to reinvent the wheel. Ultimately this meanz the integration wont be very deep at least not for awhile.

    For consumers the end goal is always better graphics at the same price point when new releases happen.

    Not that these are bad cards, just expensove and two very key features are unavailable, and that sucks. Hopefully the situation will change sooner rather than later.
    Reply

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