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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  • Bp_968 - Sunday, December 02, 2018 - link

    Even though the review is older and this comment is a few months old I just wanted to jump in and say "hah, look, eddman was right!" Now that the Titan RTX leaks are showing up. Lol. They didn't even wait for supply to stabilize on the 2080ti before dropping the titan.

    Plus, if the 2080 replaced the 1080ti then why is it more expensive and no faster? That would be a first even for Nvidia..
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    The model numbers aren't that significant. NVIDIA could just have easily released a 2080, a 2070, and a 2060 by putting different labels on the boxes of the 2080 Ti, the 2080, and the 2070 for instance. The Ti, the Titan, all of those are long standing marketing identities that buyers now automatically associate with a certain relative scale of performance among other GPUs of the same generation. NVIDIA can play upon buyer expectations by releasing various products to fill those expectations in the way that best advances the company's interest. Any company with enough brand recognition can easily do the same. Consider Intel's long-running i-series CPU numbering. The fact that something labeled as a Ti came out at a certain time isn't an example of technological development, but a way of meeting customer expectations in reflection of the MSRP. We would have balked much more at $1200 for the exact same product if it was labeled as a plain vanilla 2080 and the current vanilla 2080 was branded as a 2070. Instead, we say, "Well, the 2080 Ti is really expensive, but at least its a Ti so that makes it a little bit more reasonable." Reply
  • eddman - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Model numbers are significant in the way that they point out the models in the same successive line up. That's the entire point of them.

    I and a lot of people are not in this "we" you talk about. Again, nvidia themselves compare it to 1080 Ti every chance they get, so I do not see why I should in any way think its price is "reasonable".

    That's not how past generational leaps worked, even for 8800 GTX. We got massive performance gains AND usually new rendering features at similar MSRPs or maybe a bit higher. The difference this time is that AMD has left the building, for now.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    Don't misunderstand me. I'm not implying that the price is okay or that anyone should find it reasonable to stomach a $1200 MSRP for a mere graphics card. I also agree that part of the pricing problem is due to an absence of credible competition from AMD. I'm just arguing that the people in the NVIDIA marketing department may justify the price in part by slapping a Ti label on the box so consumers are less likely to balk during checkout. The reality is that we're getting a step sideways in performance for a noteworthy increase in TDP due to the addition of capabilities that may or may not actually add much value because said features are too demanding to play nicely at high resolutions and because there are not indications that the software side will move to take advantage of said features. At best, the addition of the hardware won't be very compelling until the next generation of GPUs after Turing when its likely that performance will pick up a bit.

    Then again, who am I to talk? I play PC games on a laptop with an HD 4000 infrequently and end up mostly gaming on my ancient dual core Kitkat era phone that I've been keeping as a cheap wireless mini tablet. To me, PC gaming became an overly pricey sink of my limited, single parent free time. I'd rather bank my spare money in something that yields interest over time than throw it into gaming hardware that's obsolete in a matter of a few years. That and my kids me to be both of their parents these days since that worthless ex of mine schlepped off to marry some woman in Canada. *grumble*
    Reply
  • tamalero - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    More like that they are pricing their high end cards like they are flagship cards.
    The 2080 Founders seems identical in price to a 1080TI. That is unacceptable. Specially when they are almost identical in performance (going slower in most games by a few small points).

    They(Nvidia) just want to clear the huge build up of PASCAL cards.. by charging insanity for those who are willing to claim to be "gamers" with money. period.
    Reply
  • tamalero - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    "You, like so many others don't get it. nVidia has re-worked their product lines. Didn't you notice how the Ti came out at the same time as the 2080?"
    What the hell does this has to do? Nothing for the consumer again.
    Reply
  • tamalero - Thursday, September 20, 2018 - link

    "Die size is not irrelevant to consumers because increased die size means increased cost to manufacture. Increased cost to manufacture means a pressure for higher prices. The question is what you get in return for those higher prices.
    "
    You're repeating the same.
    Die size means NOTHING to a consumer. It means something for the manufacturer because it costs THEM.
    If the die doesnt benefit anything at all (Fermi) compared to smaller dies that offer almost the same performance (Pascal). Why would the consumer have to pay MORE for LESS?

    New tech is nothing if there is nothing to show. And there is NOTHING to show right now.
    by the time raytracing becomes really viable, the new generation of cards will be out.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, September 21, 2018 - link

    This x1000. These cards are a necessary step towards getting the technology out there, but I'm thoroughly unconvinced that it is a good idea for anyone to buy them. The sacrifice in die area was too great, for far too little benefit. Given the strong indications that 1080p ~45fps is where real-time raytracing will be at right now, I just don't care. They sold me on high-resolution and high-framerate because those actually affect how much enjoyment I get from my games. I'm not interested in that rug being pulled from under my feet *and* paying damn near double price for the privilege. Reply
  • Morawka - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    Doesn't TSMC charge their customers by the wafer nowadays? Reply
  • PopinFRESH007 - Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - link

    how does that matter? Are you suggesting that magically makes the die size irrelevant? If you have a 300mm wafer and you double the die size, you also halve the number of die per wafer. This would also ignore yield. A larger die is more costly to produce because you get fewer die per wafer and increase the probability of having a defect within a die. Reply

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