what are the differences between the two Nvidia graphics cards?

With its GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, Nvidia has struck a big blow in the graphics card market. Both models perform exceptionally well for their price when compared to the RTX 2000s of the previous year. This is clearly not the generation that AMD is going to be able to catch up with on Nvidia. But a question arises: between the RTX 3080 and the RTX 3070, which one to choose? Elements of answer in our comparison.

In the fall of 2020, Nvidia launched its new generation of graphics cards: the GeForce RTX 3000, with Ampere architecture and engraving fineness of 8 nm. Accompanying the RTX 3090, more designed for professionals than individuals and gamers, the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 caused a sensation for their incredible value for money compared to the American manufacturer’s GPUs released the previous year. More affordable while offering superior performance, the RTX 3080 and 3070 are likely to feature many new PC configurations this year, with AMD once again appearing to be lagging behind in the GPU market.

But between the GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, which one to choose? Is the performance boost brought by the RTX 3080 worth the price difference compared to the RTX 3070? It will depend a lot on your needs, your desires, and the screen you are playing on.

GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 Datasheet

To get a general idea of ​​the differences between the RTX 3080 and the RTX 3070, let’s start by looking at the technical specifications of the two graphics cards.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
GPU (architecture) Ampere GA104-300 Ampere GA102-200 Ampere GA102-300
Engraving fineness 8nm 8nm 8nm
CUDA hearts 5888 8704 10496
Shader Flops 20 TFLOPS 30 TFLOPS 36 TFLOPS
Tensor Flops 163 TOPs 238 TOPs 285 TOPs
GDDR memory 8 GB GDDR6 10 GB GDDR6X 24 G0 GDDR6X
Memory bus 256-bit 320-bit 384-bit
Memory speed 16 Gbps 19 Gbps 19.5 Gbps
Memory bandwidth 512 GB / s 760 GB / s 936 GB / s
Price 519 euros 719 euros 1549 euros
Release date October 2020 September 17, 2020 September 24, 2020

We quickly realize that on paper, the RTX 3080 is superior in almost all levels to the RTX 3070: 30 TFLOPS against 20 TFLOPS, 10 GB GDDR6X of memory against 8 GB GDDR6, a larger volume of computing units intended for ray-tracing… If the RTX 3070 is doing very well, the RTX 3080 is a real monster. But beyond the technical sheet, how do these differences materialize in real conditions of use?

Comparison between the GeForce RTX 3080 and the GeForce RTX 3070

For this comparison between the two graphics cards, we rely on the results obtained and the impressions felt from our test of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. For the RTX 3070, we did not have the opportunity to perform a good test. and due form. But our friends at Tom’s Guide have published an excellent review of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 which we are relying on here.

rtx 3080 vs rtx 3070
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

It should be noted that it is the Founder’s Edition of the two graphics cards that are mentioned in this review, ie the base models produced by Nvidia. These are rare and are the cheapest versions. There are also custom versions of the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, which benefit more or less from new features. More expensive, they are customized by other manufacturers (Asus, MSI, GigaByte). Custom graphics cards deliver roughly the same performance as Founder’s Editions, but there may be some differences in design, size, cooling system, and even power consumption.

GeForce RTX 3080 vs GeForce RTX 3070: what are the performance differences?

Nvidia’s two graphics card models have the same features and software options. The famous ray-tracing is supported in both cases, as is DLSS 2.1 (Deep Learning Super Sampling), the latter allowing the GPU to calculate the graphics rendering in a lower quality than that of the image to free up resources then leave artificial intelligence, boosted by deep learning, complete the “information holes” in order to display the game in the desired definition. Simply put, DLSS is an alternative to more traditional upscaling techniques and contributes significantly to the excellent performance of compatible Nvidia graphics cards.

Thanks to DLSS technology, among other things, even Nvidia’s “entry-level” products behave very well. But of course, the differences in hardware still materialize in performance differences between the models. But at what point? This is what we’ll see next for each of the three most popular image definitions: 1080p, 1440p, and 4K.

GeForce RTX 3080 vs GeForce RTX 3070 at 1080p

rtx 3080 benchmark
Very greedy, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lowers the average fps of the RTX 3080

The two graphics cards run in Full HD 1080p definition. On average on recent AAA games, we were able to measure in this quality a frame rate of 146.6 fps for the RTX 3070 and 163.2 fps for the RTX 3080, i.e. a difference of 11.3%. Logically, the gap narrows on the less greedy games, while the RTX 3080 takes off on particularly energy-hungry titles, especially if ray-tracing is activated. But the conclusion is clear: if you plan to play on a monitor limited to 1080p, the RTX 3070 is more than sufficient and the RTX 3080 seems to be too expensive an investment to play in these conditions.

GeForce RTX 3080 vs GeForce RTX 3070 at 1440p

rtx 3080 benchmark
Very greedy, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lowers the average fps of the RTX 3080

Quad HD is a compromise of definition between 1080p and 4K which is very popular with gamers, because it allows to benefit from good picture quality as well as high fps for a price much more contained than in 4K. 1440p and 144Hz monitors have become standard in gaming screens in recent years, and that’s why we expected the RTX 3080 and 3070 to see QHD results around the corner. Here again, we are witnessing truly impressive performances with an average of 127.6 fps on average over a selection of games for the RTX 3070, compared to 147.6 fps for the RTX 3080. A 15.7% performance gap. Here again, the GeForce RTX 3070 seems sufficient in most cases. But if you’re used to playing the most demanding productions or not necessarily very well optimized, the RTX 3080 can begin to consider itself. Especially if you invest in the optics of not changing your graphics card for more than three years.

GeForce RTX 3080 vs GeForce RTX 3070 in 4K

rtx 3080 benchmark
Very greedy, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey lowers the average fps of the RTX 3080

Will the RTX 3070 stay that close to the RTX 3080 on Ultra HD? With an average of 93.2 fps, she is clearly competent. But the power of the RTX 3080 is starting to really weigh in in this 4K gaming situation. This one obtains an average of 114.1 fps. This is 22.4% more than the RTX 3070. If you’re playing on a 4K TV or monitor, then it becomes worthwhile to go for the RTX 3080, even if the RTX 3070 is far from ridiculous. In 4K, the RTX 3080 should also prove itself even more to its long-term advantage with future title releases.

The GeForce RTX 3070 consumes less than the GeForce RTX 3080

In addition to being an affordable gateway to the next generation of Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics cards directly in price, the 3070 also costs less in power consumption. Compared to its performance, the RTX 3070 is perhaps the most impressive graphics card on the market in terms of energy efficiency. The TDP (thermal envelope) of the GPU is announced at 220 W by NVIDIA and measurements confirm that this threshold is never exceeded. On average in Full HD, we are below 200 W. In QHD, we barely exceed the 200 W threshold. In 4K, the RTX 3070 logically needs more energy and is found around 215 W.

rtx 3080 vs rtx 3070
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

The RTX 3080 is much more greedy with its TDP of 320 W. More powerful and equipped with a very sophisticated cooling system, but energy consuming, it consumes on average only 280 W for gaming in Full HD. That’s more than the RTX 3070 in 4K. In QHD, we are close to 300 W of consumption, and we even slightly exceed the 320 W announced by Nvidia when we run a game in 4K (again, this is an average measured on a panel of ‘ten games).

As a result of the races, it is ultimately the RTX 3070 which offers the best performance / consumption ratio, and quite far. If you relate the watts required to the number of images per second displayed, this is what you get (the lower the number, the lower the consumption, the lower the electricity bill):

  • Full HD: 1.32 for the GeForce RTX 3070 versus 1.72 for the GeForce RTX 3080, or 30.3% more energy efficiency for the RTX 3070.
  • Quad HD: 1.60 for the GeForce RTX 3070 compared to 2.02 for the GeForce RTX 3080, or 26.2% more energy efficiency for the RTX 3070.
  • 4K: 2.31 for the GeForce RTX 3070 compared to 2.82 for the GeForce RTX 3080, or 22% more energy efficiency for the RTX 3070.

There is no picture, the RTX 3070 is the great champion of the performance / consumption ratio. As seen above, it becomes less and less comfortable with the RTX 3080 as the display quality increases. But it proves once again that the GPU performs incredibly well in Full HD and Quad HD.

RTX 3080 and 3070 are quiet and don’t get too hot

Of course, this data varies enormously depending on the ventilation of the case. On The Witcher 3 in 4K UHD – in particularly difficult conditions therefore – and despite a high energy consumption of 330 W, the RTX 3080 remains relatively silent: 38.8 dB. In the same situation, the GeForce RTX 3070 does even better with its 34.5 dB. We therefore hear less from the RTX 3070, but the volume figures are good in both cases.

rtx 3080 vs rtx 3070
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

This is very appreciable, especially since one could potentially fear that the new generation cooling system used by Nvidia on its latest graphics cards is synonymous with noise. And precisely, what about the heating? Despite a much higher consumption and better performance, the RTX seems to reach lower temperatures at the GPU level with 62.7 ° C on The Witcher 3 in 4K. It must be said that part of the energy consumption actually comes from the particularly advanced cooling system from which the graphics card benefits, including a low consumption / temperature ratio.

Still with the case closed and on The Witcher 3 in 4K, we see a heat of 66.3 ° C with the RTX 3070 at the GPU level (other areas of the graphics card are hotter). This is quite a decent value, higher than that of the RTX 3080, but the latter achieves such a result in return for more noise, you can’t have it all.

A bigger RTX 3080 than the RTX 3070, and that’s not trivial

rtx 3080 vs rtx 3070
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The design and connectivity are not to be neglected when choosing a graphics card. Of course, the differences between two graphics cards of the same generation and from the same manufacturer are slim, but there are still a few things to consider.

The RTX 3080 is equipped with a massive heat sink consisting of a large radiator, four heat pipes with hybrid vapor chamber running the length of the board, and two 85mm PWM fans, one on each side. Impressive equipment, well thought out and efficient for heat dissipation, but which inevitably takes up space. Consequence: the size of the RTX 3080 is far from negligible with its dimensions of 285 x 112 mm. For its part, the RTX is a little more compact and takes up less space in a tower with its 242 mm long and 112 mm deep. In both cases, you need two PCI slots (PCIe Gen4 16x interface for both) for installation, and of course enough space to let the graphics card breathe. You may need to change the case.

The video outputs are identical on each model: 3 DisplayPort 1.4a and 1 HDMI 2.1 socket. On Founders Editions, 1 x 12-pin power connectors have been preferred, but other configuration is possible on custom versions.

rtx 3080 vs rtx 3070
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or RTX 3070: which one to choose?

So what’s our verdict? Let’s start with the simplest. We recommend you look to the RTX 3080 if you’re playing in 4K, it offers much superior performance and will last for years at a high level. The RTX 3070 does well in 4K, but drops too many frames per second compared to its big sister and could suffer in future games.

In 1080p also the observation is clear. The RTX 3070 is very similar to the RTX 3080 at a lower price and for a much more controlled consumption. If you don’t think you will move towards QHD in the short or medium term, the RTX 3070 is more than sufficient. No need for an RTX 3080 for such uses, you will have peace of mind with the 3070 for many years in Ultra.

The question of QHD (1440p) is more open to debate. The RTX 3070 is doing very well with this definition and is largely sufficient for most users. The gain provided by the RTX 3080 is quite low, but it does exist, especially on titles that require a lot of resources or lack optimization. It will also hold up better in the long term for future titles that will be released. If you’re the type of person who swaps graphics cards regularly, the RTX 3070 seems like a good choice. If you want to keep your purchase for years to come, the RTX 3080 can be considered for the future.

Your choice may also be dictated by your budget. Nvidia has communicated a suggested price of 519 euros for the GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition and of 719 euros for the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition. But the reality is more complicated: these FEs are very difficult to find, especially at the advertised price. They are the subject of speculation and are bought by organizations which then attempt to resell them at a higher price. There is still the alternative of custom graphics cards, but then the price increases, and may even soar. The situation should settle down in spring 2021 with finally stocks for the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070.

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