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RTX 3070 vs 3080: Which NVIDIA GPU is Best for Gaming?

RTX 3070 vs 3080

When it comes to GPUs, NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 graphics cards are about as high-end as you can get without spending an arm and a leg. The RTX 3070 straddles the middle and high end of the market, while the RTX 3080 sits comfortably in the high end.

Both cards can run modern triple-A titles very well across all resolutions. The RTX 3080 is decidedly more powerful than the 3070, which is why it costs more, but the 3070 is no slouch.

Despite the RTX 3070 being no slouch, moving up to the 3080 gives a significant performance increase. This is because the two cards are radically different, having entirely different GPUs and memory configurations.

It’s obvious that the 3080 beats the 3070 in raw performance, but the question is whether this difference justifies its extra cost.

RTX 3070 vs 3080: Main Differences

The RTX 3070 and 3080 were the first two cards to launch from NVIDIA’s 30-seires, hitting the market in September 2020.

They’re very different graphics cards. The RTX 3070 straddles the boundary between the midrange and high-end of the market, while the RTX 3080 is strictly a high-end card.

The 3080 uses a higher-end GPU than the 3070—the same one that’s found in the RTX 3080 Ti and the flagship RTX 3090. This GPU difference gives the 3080 a hefty helping of extra frame-churning graphics processing cores.

The RTX 3080 also has more memory than the 3070, and this memory is faster, too.

The story is slightly more complicated than this, though, because there are actually two versions of the RTX 3080.

RTX 3080 10GB vs 12GB

The first version of the RTX 3080 had 10GB of GDDR6X RAM. But in January 2022—more than one year after the first version launched—NVIDIA launched a 12GB version of the 3080.

The main difference between the two cards is this extra 2GB of VRAM. But there are a couple of other differences, too. The 12GB version hosts an additional 256 CUDA Cores, 8 Tensor Cores, and 2 RT Cores. Strangely, its base clock is also 180MHz slower than the 10GB version.

For the average gamer, however, there’s little practical difference between the RTX 3080 10GB and RTX 3080 12GB. Games tend to perform marginally better on the 12GB card, placing its performance between the original 3080 10GB and the 3080 Ti, but the difference is small.

If you can find a 12GB version for the same price as—or within, say $50 of—the 10GB version, it’s probably worth opting for the 12GB one. But it’s not worth spending a whole load extra for the 12GB version.

Price

The RTX 3070 has an MSRP of $499.99, and the RTX 3080 has an MSRP of $699.99—$200 more than its sibling. This means that the RTX 3070 is almost 30% cheaper than the 3080 10GB at MSRP.

In practice, thanks to the tail end of the global GPU shortage, these cards are usually retail for a fair amount more than their MSRPs imply. Currently, RTX 3070s can be found most often retailing for $570-650, and RTX 3080s can usually be found retailing for $760-900, depending on the AIB model in question.

The 12GB version of the RTX 3080 was never given an MSRP because NVIDIA never made a Founders Edition version of the card. As such, pricing for this card comes down to the different AIB manufacturers. You’ll most likely find these cards retailing for $770-1,000.

While the GPU shortage is reportedly nearing its end, prices can still fluctuate, so keep your eye out for good deals online.

Specs

RTX 3070 RTX 3080 10GB RTX 3080 12GB
GPU GA104 GA102 GA102
CUDA Cores 5,888 8,704 8,960
Tensor Cores 184 272 280
RT Cores 46 68 70
Stream Multiprocessors 46 68 70
Memory 8GB GDDR6 10GB GDDR6X 12GB GDDR6X
Memory speed 14GT/s 19GT/s 19GT/s
Memory bandwidth 448GB/s 760GB/s 912.4GB/s
Clock speed (base/boost) 1.5GHz / 1.73.GHz 1.44GHz / 1.71GHz 1.26GHz / 1.71GHz
Power connector 1x 12-pin 1x 12-pin 1x 12-pin
TDP 220W 320W 350W

The RTX 3070 and 3080 are two very different cards. The RTX 3080 uses the high-end GA102 GPU that’s found in the 3080 Ti and 3090, while the RTX 3070 uses the less powerful GA104 GPU that’s found in the RTX 3060 Ti.

This difference in GPU gives the RTX 3080 a whopping 2,816 extra CUDA Cores—the 3070 has 33% fewer CUDA Cores than the 3080. CUDA Cores are one of the main drivers for game performance, so you can expect this to be a large factor in this card’s real-world performance. The 3080 also has 24 more RT Cores and 88 more Tensor Cores.

On the memory front, the 3080 has 2GB extra memory, but more importantly this is GDDR6X memory that’s substantially quicker than the RTX 3070’s GDDR6 memory. In practice, this equates to an extra 5GT/s (gigatransfers per second). The 3080’s extra 312GB/s bandwidth is all thanks to its 320-bit memory bus versus the 3070’s 256-bit bus.

The two cards’ clock speeds are roughly the same, with the RTX 3070 having a slightly higher base clock. But the clock speed that really matters for gaming—the boost clock—is roughly the same on both cards at 1.71GHz and 1.73GHz.

The RTX 3080 12GB is, for all intents and purposes, a slightly beefier version of the original RTX 3080. It has 2GB extra memory, and a scattering of extra CUDA, Tensor, and RT Cores (and, curiously, a lower base clock—although actual clock speeds will vary between specific AIB models). But these differences are peanuts when compared to the differences between the 3070 and 3080.

Performance

Differences in game performance between RTX 3070 and 3080 graphics cards differs depending on which resolution you’re gaming at.

To compare these differences, we can look to online comparisons that show us 3070 vs 3080 benchmarks, such as ones from PCGamer, TechRadar, and TechSpot, (as well as a video benchmark from Testing Games). We can then average out these results and come to some firm conclusions.

1080p

As you’d expect, at 1080p resolution both the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 perform exceptionally well. If you’re only gaming at 1080p, it’s difficult to recommend the 3080 over the 3070 given its (theoretically) 30% higher price tag—unless you’re playing at very high refresh rates.

Both cards should get you above 100fps in the vast majority of modern triple-A games while playing at max settings at 1080p resolution. They should also get you over 70fps in even the most demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077.

Of course, if budgeting is of little concern to you, then the 3080 is a better pick. In benchmarks it tends to perform about 10% better than the 3070. But at such a low resolution the framerates become so high in most games that the difference is imperceptible, anyway.

Furthermore, the elephant in the room here is the RTX 3060 Ti. Costing $100 less than the RTX 3070 at MSRP, with the RTX 3060 Ti you’re getting a card that performs almost as well as the 3070 does at 1080p, making it a superb value offering at this resolution.

Also Read: RTX 3060 Ti vs 3070: Which GPU Should You Get?

But if you’re really set on either a 3070 or a 3080, the 3070 is undoubtedly better value for 1080p gaming given the slim framerate deltas between the two cards. And if money is no concern, you probably already knew you’d be going for the 3080, anyway.

1440p

Comparing the 3070 vs 3080 for 1440p gaming is where we see the RTX 3080 pull significantly ahead of the RTX 3070.

Benchmarks show the RTX 3080 netting an average framerate that’s about 20% higher than the 3070’s when gaming at max settings at 1440p. In other words, on average, if a game runs at 80fps on a 3070, you can bet it’ll run at 100fps on a 3080—though this will always be game dependent, of course.

This 20% improvement doesn’t track directly onto its 30% extra cost, but you can never expect direct price-performance tracking once you get up to the high-end. If you want high-end performance you’ve got to pay a little extra for it relative to its performance.

A 20% increase above the 3070 in framerates—plus much more, in some games—for 30% extra cost makes the 3080 great value at this end of the graphics card market.

Both cards should surpass 120fps and even 144fps in many modern titles, but in more graphically intensive ones the 3080 will get you closer to those high refresh rates while the 3070 will often trail at, say, 80fps vs the 3080’s 100 fps. Of course, if you’re only gaming at 60Hz, either card will do the job.

Monitor Recommendations:

4K

At 4K resolution, the RTX 3080 beats the RTX 3070 hands down—even more so than at 1440p.

In fact, when gaming at 4K the average framerate differential between the 3080 and 3070 comes close to matching the price differential. The RTX 3080 tends to net framerates about 25-30% higher than the RTX 3070 when gaming at 4K resolution at max settings.

Both cards should get you above 100fps in some modern triple-A titles at 4K, of course, and both will get you over 60fps in a great many more. But at this resolution and these settings, many modern triple-A games will sit just below 60fps with a 3070, while the same games will sit above 60fps and even sometimes above 75fps with the 3080.

Thus, for a better guarantee of hitting that all-important 60fps or 75fps threshold, the 3080 takes the trophy at 4K.

Monitor Recommendations:

Ray Tracing

The RTX 3080 has a substantial number more RT Cores than the RTX 3070, so it’s no surprise that it beats the 3070 quite handily at ray tracing.

The 3080, on average, should trace rays about 30% quicker than the 3070. This means that, with ray tracing enabled in-game, you’ll likely see a bigger framerate difference between the two cards—pushing the 3080’s framerates from, say, 20% better up to, say, 30% better than the 3070’s.

The RTX 3070 is still great at ray tracing, however, and with DLSS enabled you likely won’t notice too much of a frame drop by enabling it.

NVIDIA RTX 3080 vs 3070: Which GPU is Best for Gaming?

NVIDIA’s RTX 3080 and 3070 graphics cards are both great choices for pushing into high-end PC gaming territory.

Unfortunately for the 3070, the 3080 is just such a great value offering that it’s difficult to recommend the 3070 over it. Wedged between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3080, the RTX 3070 sits between a rock and a hard place.

The 3070 might arguably make sense to buy for 1080p gaming, but when you factor in that the RTX 3060 Ti performs almost as well as the 3070 does for $100 cheaper at MSRP, it becomes a difficult sell.

The one situation in which buying an RTX 3070 might make sense is if you’re gaming at 1440p on a 60Hz or 75Hz monitor. In this case, the 3070 should get you above 75fps in most games where the 3060 Ti might occasionally struggle to do so, and you’ll save the extra $200 that a 3080 would cost at MSRP.

In all other cases, though, the RTX 3080 is a better value buy. At 1440p and 4K resolutions the 3080 pulls ahead of the 3070 by a 20-30% margin, and it has more—and faster—memory to boot, which is great for longevity.

One final thing to note is that the 12GB version of the RTX 3080 performs only marginally better than the original 10GB version, sitting somewhere between the 3080 10GB and the 3080 Ti. If it doesn’t cost much more than the 3080 10GB then it makes sense to go with the 12GB version, but you won’t notice any drastic difference by sticking with the 10GB one.

Also Read:

Jacob Fox

Jacob's been tinkering with computer hardware for over a decade, and he's written hardware articles for various PC gaming websites. Outside of the wonderful world of PC hardware, he's currently undertaking a PhD in philosophy, with a focus on topics surrounding the meaning of life.

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