If you’re going for a super-high-end GPU that can pretty much-run anything, then the RTX 2080 is almost certainly the card you need. Not only is it pretty powerful (especially the RTX 2080 Ti), it’s also future proof with Nvidia’s support of ray-tracing technology.
Of course, actually going about buying a specific model of RTX 2080 can be pretty difficult, especially considering the dozen or so manufacturers that make graphics cards. This is even more annoying because these cards start at around $700 and can go up to double that. So you really need to do your research before moving forward with a purchase.
Thankfully, I’ve put in all the hard work for you, and pick nice selections of RTX 2080s for a variety of needs, as ultimately the specific use case is going to be the deciding factor.
Best Choice: ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 2080 AMP
Pros & Cons
- Better than Nvidia Founder’s Edition
- Controllable lighting
- Great price
- Pretty big
- Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
- Speed: 1830 MHz
- Ports: 3 x 1.4 DP, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, USB type-c
ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 2080 AMP Review
If you’re familiar with the Founder’s Edition of GPUs Nvidia released with every new graphics card, then you’ll be pretty familiar with this little ditty, although that last part is a bit of a misnomer.
Taking the traditional founder’s edition and sprucing it up, Zotac has added a ton of extra cooling on top of what’s already there. Unfortunately, this has the side-effect of making it bigger overall, but that’s not too much of an issue when you’re going for top-of-the-line gear. At 12.13 x 4.45 x 2.24 inches, it’s gonna cover a second expansion slot, so be aware that you’re losing a slot when you buy this GPU (although again, not the end of the world).
Continuing with the cooling slant, Zotec has removed the vapor chamber and instead has replaced it with a traditional plate set-up, lower its weight by a considerable 110 grams. There’s also a pretty hefty backplate now to tie everything together and give the card a bit more rigidity, which is very much appreciated.
Of course, even with all this extra metal, the real king of cooling is the three 90mm fans that keep running even at idle, although only at about 1,000 RPMs, so you won’t hear it.
Given all that cooling, the performance is pretty good, with a boosted clock of 1830MHz, which is 30MHz higher than the founders’ edition. Aside from that, everything is the same with the founders’ edition, including the 2944 CUDA cores and the 8 Gigabytes of GDDR6 memory.
One final thing to touch on is the spectral lighting the Zotac has added, so if you’re a big fan of lighting up your case, then this is a perfect fit for you. The only real downside to the whole GPU is that Zotac employs plastic shrouds and covers, and they do feel a little cheap, but otherwise it’s good on the whole.
Premium Pick: ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Super Advanced
Pros & Cons
- Great temperature performance
- Not loud at all
- Lots of control options
- Is a bit pricey
- Certainly larger than your average GPU
- Capacity: 8G GDDR6
- Speed: 1860 MHz
- Ports: 2 x 1.4 DP, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, USB type-c
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Super Advanced Review
If you’re going for the really top end, then you can’t go wrong with an RTX 2080 Super. Even more so, you similarly can’t go wrong with an ASUS ROG Strix build, and this one certainly packs a massive punch.
Much like the Zotac card, this one puts a massive amount of emphasis on cooling. Aside from a 2.7-slot, massive heatsink, with tubes running all over the place, Asus uses their new Axiel-Tech fans which offer much better and targeted performance. Even with 3 fans and excellent air dispersion, the card is guaranteed to be quiet since the fans only really spool up when they’re needed.
All this great cooling supports two sets of clocks in ‘Game Mode’ or ‘OC Mode’. Game Mode puts your base clock at 1650MHz and boosts them up to 1860Mhz, which is pretty impressive. Even more impressive is OC mode, with a base clock of 1680Mhz and a boost up to 1890Mhz, a full 30Mhz over Game Mod, and you’ll likely run it at OC mode most of the time.
Really though, there’s enough headroom there in terms of cooling to do your own overclocking tinkering, and you can probably push a bit more performance out of it.
Putting performance aside, I’d be remiss to not mention how awesome this graphics card looks. The reinforcing plates add a hefty look to it, and the backplate has a really cool design (even though you’re not likely to see it often). Add to that the Auror Sync RGB, and you get a flashy little number that you’d be proud to have installed inside your PC.
All in all, if you’re looking for the best GPU on the market, this is going to come in second to the RTX Titan (which itself costs a few thousand bucks). The cooling is off the hook, with great performance and enough headroom to add your own OC. On top of that, the card looks great and if you already have other Asus gear, it’s going to sync up really well.
Best Value: ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super Twin Fan
Pros & Cons
- Reasonably priced
- Lots of Display ports for multi-screen setups
- Underpowered compared to other RTX 2080s
- Doesn’t look that pretty
- Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
- Speed: 8GB GDDR6
- Ports: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0B
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super Twin Fan Review
Of course, if you want to save yourself a bit of money that could otherwise go to the RAM or HDDs/SSDs, Zotac offers a more budget-friendly GPU option for the RTX 2080.
In terms of the downgrade in price, you can probably guess where it’s taken out of considering what we’ve covered in the article so far, and that’s cooling. As you can see, this design has two fans, rather than the traditional three, so you aren’t getting as much cooling. Couple that with the rather smaller heatsink, and you’re looking at a GPU that isn’t going to be breaking any records soon.
This is evidenced by the boosted clock of 1770 MHz, which is significantly lower than the previous cards we’ve looked that. Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s no headroom for some extra overclocking, so don’t take that number as a hard figure. That being said, you should know that with fewer fans comes more fan . . . time, as in the fans are always running even at idle.
I’m sure you’re probably worried about the noise then, but thankfully the card runs relatively quiet. At idle the fans are likely going to be going at 1,000 RPMs or so, which isn’t too bad, but they will be audible under stress. Keep in mind that a lot of that depends also on your case and how your setup is, so a little bit of desk feng shui might be in order.
Other than that though, the card is pretty similar to the other RTX in and outside of Zotec’s range. It uses a reference design, so it’s pretty much exactly the same as Nvidia’s founder’s edition, with the main difference being the cowling and heat sink. Speaking of the cowling, it doesn’t look that snazzy, and the RGB is pretty bland and only on their logo, so if you’re interested in that, you’re out of luck.
All in all, it’s a pretty good budget RTX 2080 if you want to save some dosh and don’t care so much about the lighting or the looks.
Best AIO Cooling: EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 FTW3 Ultra Hybrid Gaming
Pros & Cons
- Water cooling
- Quiet sound profile
- Can be unstable with too much custom overclocking
- Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
- Speed: 1860 MHz
- Ports: 3 x 1.4 DP, 1 x HDMI 2.2, USB type-c
EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 FTW3 Ultra Hybrid Gaming Review
Now, if you’re looking for some top-tier performance, you’re gonna need some kind of cooling solution, and EVGA are well known for their awesome AiO card variants.
You might be wondering right now what the ‘hybrid’ in the name is for, and that’s because unlike other cooling solutions, this one cools both the GPU chip and the VRAM. It’s an interesting cooling solution which certainly adds quite a bit of headroom to overclocking. That’s made even easier with EVGA’s utility software that allows you to tinker around above the 30MHz of overclocking that the card comes with.
Connected to the card you’ll notice the other part of the AiO, which is a 120mm fan and radiator combo. Thankfully, it’s quite a powerful combination, so even at load you aren’t going to hear much from it, especially if you’re blasting a bunch of music. Of course, going with this solution you have to keep in mind that you need a free 120mm fan mount, so be sure you have one of those.
In terms of size, the card doesn’t stop at the fan and radiator, with the card itself being considerably thick at around 5.5 inches, easily covering two expansion slots and a little more.
As for the performance, it’s pretty excellent at 1860MHz, and you can probably tease another 90MHz or so on top of the OC that comes out of the box. So potentially you could reach over 1900MHz, which is impressive. That being said, there may be some stability and framerate issues if you push it too far over, so be sure you know what you’re doing.
Overall, this is a great card if you’re looking for a water-cooled GPU. Excellent performance coupled with a quiet card means that you don’t have to compromise on either. Of course, it is a little bit big, but if you have enough space for an extra 120mm fan/radiator, you should have more than enough space to fit this beast.
RTX 2080 Buying Guide
Buying any graphics card is always a pretty momentous part of the build, as it’s essentially going to decide what games you’re ultimately going to be able to play at what settings. Don’t jump the gun too early though, as there are certain things you should consider before making a purchase. Even with cheaper GPUs costing less than $300, it’s important to take these things into account:
The thing that most people tend to trip over, the size of a graphics card can vary wildly, especially if you’re comparing two fans with three fan designs, making it longer.
Similarly, bigger heat sinks make the graphics card thicker and it could easily cover another expansion slot. Add on to that the fact that gaming PC cases come in all shapes and sizes, and you could potentially have a disaster on your hands.
So, my suggestion is to either buy the case first and measure for the GPU, or if you really have your eye on a specific GPU, then get that first and then a case to match. Similarly, if you’re going to have to give up an expansion slot, make sure that you won’t regret it down the line. Again, pay particular attention to the length of the card you want, I only needed to make that mistake once myself before learning (and yes, I had to return and replace the card at a loss).
Something that people tend to hear a lot these days is the word ‘overclocking’ because it sounds fancy and cool. Realistically, it just means that you’re optimizing the load on the GPU to balance out with the cooling . . . so that you don’t fry your card. This is something that manufacturers already do out the gate, and have been doing for years and years now.
Of course, you can also try your hand at overclocking as well, just be aware that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can brick your graphics card. If I were you, I’d probably tell you to practice on a card you don’t mind losing, especially since the dividends you’d get are minimal without additional cooling gear. Of course, if you have a working water-cooled PC, you probably know what you’re doing, so carry on McDuff!
This one isn’t so much an issue with modern and higher-end graphics cards like the RTX, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind. For example, do you want to run multiple screens? If so, which technology do you want to use, DP or HDMI? Maybe there are specific considerations like a VR headset which will be taking up one slot anyway.
You may have also noticed a Type-C USB port and wondering what that’s for. Well, you can use that to provide DisplayPort over USB-C, which is a pretty nifty tech.
RX 580 FAQs
Can the RTX 2080 Handle 4K?
Yes, you can run 4k at 60FPS on the RTX but you’re probably going to need the RTX 2080 Ti or the founder’s edition to do it. Considering either can run you past the $1,000 mark, you have to really consider whether that’s worth it to you. As for 4k at 144FPS, you should probably forget that, there’s not much way to do that now unless you tank graphical settings.
Is 2080 Super Better Than the 2080 Ti?
No, the RTX 2080 Ti is better by a reasonable margin. You can’t be surprised though, considering that it can cost a few hundred dollars more than the Super, you’d expect the Ti to have much better performance.
Is RTX better than GTX?
This is a bit of a difficult question to answer, but if you had a gun to my head, the answer would be yes. The RTX is very much future proof when it comes to ray-tracing (That’s what the R stands for), but in terms of performance, the mighty GTX 1080 and RTX 2080 are roughly the same, with RTX 2080 being much much more expensive. So ultimately, it depends on your budget and how long you plan to have the build.
As you can see, there’s a ton of great offerings in the RTX 2080 line, whether you want to go Super, double/triple-fan or even water cooling. Each has its benefits of course, and really the performance difference is not that much, so you’ll mostly base your decision on your needs. Lots of headroom for overclocking? Go for triple-fan. Want a quiet option that doesn’t require too much tinkering? Go for the EVGA AIO.