Date: July 31, 2019
Author(s): Rob Williams
The third card in NVIDIA’s new SUPER lineup has landed, becoming the new top-end offering of the bunch (but still sitting far enough behind the 2080 Ti). We’re taking a look at NVIDIA’s newest $699 graphics card offering across a range of games at three resolutions: 1080p, 1440p, and ultrawide.
A couple of weeks ago, NVIDIA released the first two GPUs as part of its ‘SUPER’ series, the 2060 and 2070. Each card offered nice boosts over their original respective counterparts, with the 2060 in particular feeling like a significant upgrade thanks in part to its additional 33% framebuffer boost.
We’re running behind on some content, including this review. NVIDIA released its GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER last week, and as of today, availability online is fair. Sadly, we’re not finding any SUPER graphics cards online right now sold at their respective SRPs, because all of those cards are out-of-stock.
If you’re to buy a SUPER card today, chances are that you’ll be splurging a bit extra on a third-party card, which at least comes with the trade-off of what could be better cooling, better overclocking capabilities, and / or boosted blocks out-of-the-box. Before you pull the trigger on any SUPER, though, you should visit NVIDIA’s own shop and see if Founder Editions are in stock, since those are guaranteed to adhere to SRP. And, if none are, you’ll be shown some vendor alternatives.
Of all three SUPERs, the 2080 is arguably the least-exciting, partly because the GPU is so fast to begin with – NVIDIA didn’t have a ton of room to work with, lest it accidentally eat into 2080 Ti territory. While the 2060 and 2070 SUPERs may be a bit more impressive compared to their original versions, the 2080 SUPER is at least delivering its performance boost for the same cost.
And speaking of cost, and specs, here’s a helpful table:
|NVIDIA’s GeForce Gaming GPU Lineup|
|Cores||Base MHz||Peak FP32||Memory||Bandwidth||TDP||SRP|
|TITAN RTX||4608||1770||16.3 TFLOPS||24GB 1||672 GB/s||280W||$1,199|
|RTX 2080 Ti||4352||1350||13.4 TFLOPS||11GB 1||616 GB/s||250W||$999|
|RTX 2080 SUPER||3072||1650||11.1 TFLOPS||8GB 1||496 GB/s||250W||$699|
|RTX 2080||2944||1515||10.0 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||215W||$699|
|RTX 2070 SUPER||2560||1605||9.1 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||215W||$499|
|RTX 2070||2304||1410||7.4 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||175W||$499|
|RTX 2060 SUPER||2176||1470||7.2 TFLOPS||8GB 1||448 GB/s||175W||$399|
|RTX 2060||1920||1680||6.4 TFLOPS||6GB 1||336 GB/s||160W||$349|
|GTX 1660 Ti||1536||1500||5.5 TFLOPS||6GB 1||288 GB/s||120W||$279|
|GTX 1660||1408||1530||5 TFLOPS||6GB 1||192 GB/s||120W||$279|
|GTX 1650||896||1485||3 TFLOPS||4GB 1||128 GB/s||75W||$279|
|TITAN Xp||3840||1405||12.1 TFLOPS||12GB 2||548 GB/s||250W||$1,199|
|GTX 1080 Ti||3584||1480||11.3 TFLOPS||11GB 2||484 GB/s||250W||$699|
|GTX 1080||2560||1733||8.8 TFLOPS||8GB 2||320 GB/s||180W||$499|
|GTX 1070 Ti||2432||1607||8.1 TFLOPS||8GB 3||256 GB/s||180W||$449|
|GTX 1070||1920||1506||6.4 TFLOPS||8GB 3||256 GB/s||150W||$379|
|GTX 1060||1280||1700||4.3 TFLOPS||6GB 3||192 GB/s||120W||$299|
|GTX 1050 Ti||768||1392||2.1 TFLOPS||4GB 3||112 GB/s||75W||$139|
|GTX 1050||640||1455||1.8 TFLOPS||2GB 3||112 GB/s||75W||$109|
|Notes||1 GDDR6; 2 GDDR5X; 3 GDDR5; 4 HBM2|
Architecture: GTX & TITAN = Pascal; RTX = Turing
Compared to the original RTX 2080, the 2080 SUPER adds 128 CUDA cores and a bit of extra clock speed to hit 11.1 TFLOPS single-precision performance, up from 10.0 TFLOPS of the original 2080. At the same time, memory bandwidth has seen a ~10% boost, and so has the TDP, which moves from 215W to 250W.
NVIDIA’s RTX SUPER series exists for a couple of reasons, and only one of them has to do with countering AMD’s Navi launch, which reached almost unparalleled levels of hype leading up to it. “Kicker” products such as these SUPERs are not new, but the SUPER moniker is. With this refresh, NVIDIA is able to talk about all that’s happened since the release of the RTX series last fall.
Admittedly, even today, RTX isn’t ubiquitous in gaming, but when is the last time a new major API released that had immediate support industry-wide within the first year? We can’t help but think back to AGEIA’s PhysX, which was seriously cool at the time, but desperately lacked content.
All told, we’re actually pretty impressed with how quickly RTX has caught on, since it’s not exactly a small detail in affected games. While some games use RTX’s features to better effect than others, developers seem to be catching onto how to maximize its impact, because when ray tracing harms performance as much as it does, it’s nice to get genuine enhancements in return.
At the moment, released games with RTX include Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, Battlefield V, and of course, Quake II RTX. At E3, a handful of new titles were added to the forthcoming list, including Control, Watch Dogs Legion, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, and perhaps most impressively, Cyberpunk 2077.
Ray tracing is just part of RTX; Tensor cores and AI/deep-learning is another. That has limited use in gaming right now, though titles that utilize NVIDIA’s DLSS (deep-learning super-sampling) will take advantage of it. We have a lot of benchmarking on our plates, but we’re still eager to expand into deep-learning testing more in the future.
Since the 2080 SUPER isn’t a hard product to figure out, we can jump right into a look at its performance – but not before a quick look at our test rig and suite.
|Techgage Gaming GPU Test PC|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-9900K (3.6GHz Base, 5.0GHz Turbo, 8C/16T)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING|
CPU tested with BIOS 1005 (April 10, 2019)
|Memory||G.SKILL TridentZ (F4-3400C16-8GSXW) 8GB x 2|
Operates at DDR4-3200 14-14-14 (1.35V)
|AMD Graphics||AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (8GB; July 4 Beta Driver)|
AMD Radeon RX 5700 (8GB; July 4 Beta Driver)
AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 (8GB; Radeon 19.6.3)
AMD Radeon RX 590 (8GB; Radeon 19.6.3)
|NVIDIA Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11GB; GeForce 431.56)|
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER (8GB; GeForce 431.56)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB; GeForce 431.56)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER (8GB; GeForce 430.86)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER (8GB; GeForce 430.86)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 (8GB; GeForce 430.86)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB; GeForce 430.86)
|Storage||Kingston SSDNow V310 960GB (SATA 6Gbps)|
|Power Supply||Corsair RM650x (650W)|
|Chassis||NZXT S340 Elite Mid-tower|
|Cooling||Corsair Hydro H100i V2 AIO Liquid Cooler (240mm)|
|Et cetera||Windows 10 Pro (64-bit; build 18362)|
All of the GPUs have been tested with modern drivers, and with an up-to-date Windows 10 (1903). Our operating system is kept clean and optimized as possible to reduce benchmark interference, ensuring accurate results. V-Sync, G-SYNC, and FreeSync are disabled at the monitor and driver level. Both Intel’s chipset driver and Management Engine (ME) are updated to the latest versions.
A total of ten games are included in our current test suite. Recent additions include Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for some super-high FPS eSports testing, as well as the new F1 2019, Metro Exodus, The Division 2, and Total War: Three Kingdoms. Meanwhile, Battlefield V, Far Cry 5, Monster Hunter: World, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and the usual assortment of synthetics make a return in our updated suite.
Here’s the full list of tested synthetic benchmarks, games, and developer allegiances:
As with our last few GPU reviews, this one includes a blend of DX11 and 12 games, but doesn’t tackle Vulkan. We had planned to use Rage 2 until an update broke the game on our system, and moving to World War Z proved fruitless, as well. When we get back to a full suite retest, we’ll slip one of those in, provided they stop giving us so many issues. If World War Z was here, it would even out the vendor favoritism better, since it’s an AMD sponsored title.
Note: You can download all of the tested setting images at once here (ZIP, 7MB).
On the ray tracing side, we planned to use Battlefield V until activation DRM stepped in. We then tried to use Metro Exodus‘ external benchmark tool, but it would crash before the content could open, which is the same issue we had at its launch. Suffice to say, this article lacks certain results we wanted to get in, but there are many more to help make up for it. And with that, let’s get right to it, starting with Drmfield V.
In truth, the RTX 2080 SUPER is a powerful enough card to be considered a true 4K option, but because we hadn’t tested 4K resolution on any of the previous cards, we’ve skipped over that resolution for now. With the resolutions we did test, we’re not seeing significant gains from the SUPER, but again, the SRP remains the same, so whatever boost comes included is technically delivered for free.
For offline play, the 2080 SUPER has no problem handling BFV, giving us 90 FPS at the ultrawide resolution, which is quite attractive given we’re using maxed-out detail levels. That of course doesn’t include RTX, which will force the game to run at a lower resolution to attain playable frame rates. We’re planning to dive more into RTX performance at a later date.
At 1080p, the 2080 SUPER has enough power to deliver 144Hz gameplay. Bumping the resolution to 1440p doesn’t change a whole lot, with the card now peaking at 123 FPS. Clearly, the performance with F1 is so good, you’d owe it to yourself to get a high-refresh rate monitor if it’s one of your primary games, since it will look truly buttery smooth. Even at the ultrawide resolution, there’s enough performance to hit 100Hz.
For the most part, we’re seeing the 2080 SUPER deliver a similar gap over the original 2080 Founders Edition as that card leads over the 2070 SUPER. We’re not exactly being “wowed” so far with 2~4% performance increases, but again, it’s a little hard to complain when the new SUPER costs as much as the non-SUPER.
Either way, Far Cry 5 isn’t the most graphically intensive game going, despite the fact that it looks really good. Even at the ultrawide resolution of 3440×1440, the 2080 SUPER manages to deliver over 90 FPS. More than ever, it feels like if you have a high-end GPU, you should really be thinking about greater than 60Hz monitors.
The Metro series is one of the most grueling on PC hardware. We saw it with Metro 2033, again with Last Light, and now with Exodus. Even at 1080p, if you want to use high detail settings, you will need a powerful GPU. The 2080 SUPER gains 4 FPS over the original 2080 FE, hitting 82 FPS at 1080p. Even the ultrawide resolution delivers 54 FPS with this GPU.
We’re using the built-in benchmark for testing with this game, though we may slip into manual testing in the future, once we find an appropriate level, since the minimums here don’t look so hot. That’s especially true at the ultrawide res, with drops hitting around 30 FPS.
With as hard as this game is on GPUs, Exodus could very well act as a benchmark for years.
One thing that’s been fairly clear up to this point is that the 2080 Ti isn’t taking it easy on the rest of the pack. While the 2080 SUPER is a truly fast GPU, it still falls behind the 2080 Ti a fair bit in most cases. This probably explains why there’s not a bigger gain with SUPER than there is, else we’d eat into the Ti territory a little bit. Performance aside, the Ti also offers more VRAM, and additional RT / Tensor cores for those accelerated workloads.
In Monster Hunter World, the RTX 2080 SUPER hit 82 FPS at the ultrawide resolution, jumping 6 FPS ahead of the 2080 FE. At 1440p, it easily hits 100 FPS, with its minimums not falling too far behind that. Not too shabby considering high detail levels are used, along with the high-res texture pack.
Once again, the 2080 Ti proves that it’s the top dog, pulling well ahead of the 2080 SUPER in all of these resolutions. Granted, whether or not that boost is worth the extra $300 is going to vary from person to person, but again, that card also offers a bigger framebuffer, so NVIDIA is doing a decent enough job of segmenting its current lineup.
In truth, 1080p is such a modest resolution for a card like the 2080 SUPER, it could have been skipped over in favor of 4K testing. But with so much other testing going on right now, we had to skip that for now. Ultimately, what we’re seeing is strong performance from the 2080S at all resolutions.
The Division 2 is quite a bit meatier than some of the other games in this lineup, with our 2080 SUPER hitting just over 60 FPS at 3440×1440, and 80 FPS at 1440p. Like many games featured here, if the top-end graphics settings prove to be too much, there are many options you can fiddle with to improve the situation. Unfortunately, you have to double-check that your new settings actually applied before playing, as we’ve had the game reset our changes on us on multiple occasions (scripts to re-import graphics settings help a lot with our sanity during testing).
Total War is a well-regarded strategy series that also happens to be great when acting as a GPU benchmark. Many of the games in this series simply bog modern rigs down at high-end settings, and really, Three Kingdoms is no different. That said, the developers made it a point to focus on optimization with this game, but because the game is so graphically rich, you still need a powerful system if you want to eke as much detail out of the game as possible.
Three Kingdoms might actually be our most grueling test, with the 2080 Ti barely passing 60 FPS at ultrawide, and the 2080 SUPER falling about 10 FPS behind that. The 2080S delivers very well at 1080p and 1440p, exceeding 60 FPS in the latter, and coming close to it for minimums. At top detail, older GPUs really begin to show their age.
Some games in our test suite are great for punishing GPUs, but CS: GO isn’t one of them. This game gives the impression that it’d run well on a toaster, which bodes well for those looking to hit super-high frame rates. We’re talking 200+, not just 144Hz. At 1080p and 1440p, all of the tested GPUs hit at least 144 FPS, with most exceeding 200 quite easily. There seems to be a clear bottleneck here, with the Source engine itself likely to be the cause (eg: Siege can go above 300 FPS), since the Intel 9900K we tested with is currently one of the best gaming CPU on the market.
For 4K gaming, almost all of the GPUs here will hit or come close to 144Hz, but of course, if you want guaranteed 144Hz, you will want to opt for a GPU that has enough performance to ensure it.
Whereas CS: GO caps at around 235 FPS, Siege has no problems going much higher. At 1440p, the 2080 SUPER hits nearly 240 FPS, and exceeds 300 FPS at 1080p. At 4K, the strong performance continues, with the 2080 SUPER hitting 130 FPS.
Not every competitive gamer expects to hit such sky-high frame rates, so it’s at least nice to see that modest GPUs are still capable of delivering well over 60 FPS without an issue. That’s even the case at ultrawide, with the lowly RX 590 coming seriously close to 60 FPS. For latency-sensitive gameplay though, you’ll definitely want to go faster if you can.
According to UL’s 3DMark, the 2080 SUPER places just ahead of the 2080 FE (surprised?!). As has become a theme, NVIDIA has seriously strong advantages in the DX12-powered Time Spy, which almost all of the green team occupying the top-half of the graph. ]
For the most part, the scaling here is decent enough, and doesn’t detract much from our real-world testing. That is unless you’re only looking at Time Spy. We’re not seeing those same levels of gains with our real-world DX12 tests, but NVIDIA clearly has some good optimizations in place.
Similar to the DX12 Time Spy test in 3DMark, VRMark really loves NVIDIA’s Turing architecture just the same. Once again, the 2080S gains a suitable lead over the 2080, but more and more, we’re seeing that current RTX 2080 owners won’t have to feel buyer’s remorse. The differences between the two models is just not that stark.
We wrap up with Unigine’s Superposition, which largely shows us similar scaling to most of our other tests. The 2080 Ti once again proves that it’s the true king of the lineup. Overall, it’s offered a greaterst performance delta we’ve seen between cards, compared of course to the 2080 SUPER. As for the 2080S vs. 2080 FE, the differences are not too noticeable – but again, this is a “free” performance boost we’re dealing with.
With the third SUPER card benchmarked and its results tabulated, where does that leave us? Honestly, of all the SUPER cards, this one has the least reason to exist, as the performance gains over the Founders Edition are modest at best. The level of gain we did see is the kind of enhancement we’d expect to get from overclocking.
That said, NVIDIA wisely kept the 2080 SUPER’s pricing identical to the original, so there’s no room for complaining about minimal gains. Those who were planning to get a 2080 anyway will now get one that’s just a bit faster. And, if it’s important to you, the new mirror finish on the FE-style cooler is a cool aesthetic feature.
With its $699 price tag, the RTX 2080 SUPER is as high-end as you can go without breaking into the 2080 Ti territory. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to get the Radeon VII tested for this article, but based on current supply, it does seem like AMD has EOL’d the card. Its own website currently lists prices upwards of $1,000 from third-party sellers, and no longer has the card in stock itself. That’s a bit unfortunate, but not a surprise, given how minor the margins would have been on a card with 16GB of expensive HBM2 memory.
The RTX 2080 SUPER, like the original, is perfectly suitable for resolutions up to 4K, with the ultrawide 3440×1440 proving to be a great sweet spot. 1080p is a joke for a card like the 2080S, but 1440p is no problem, either. The card hit over 80 FPS at max detail in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at that resolution, and just over 100 FPS in Monster Hunter World at high detail and with the high-res texture pack.
We’d love to say something like, “It’d be nice if the card had more than 8GB of memory”, since 8GB is obviously a “sweet spot” now. Even the RTX 2060 SUPER has 8GB, so it would have been nice to see a bump with a card that costs 75% more. But that said, we can’t exactly call 8GB “weak”, and if you end up hitting a roadblock because of it, we’d love to hear about it.
With all three of its SUPERs, NVIDIA is taking care of the $400, $500, and now $700 price points, and all things considered, each one of these cards are priced according to what we’d expect, but the 2080S definitely carries a bit more of a premium over the others. The delta between the $999 2080 Ti and $699 2080 SUPER is much greater than the one between the $699 2080 SUPER and $499 2070 SUPER. However, we expect there to be some bitterness from early adopters that bought the non-Super cards, which is unfortunately a common occurrence in the tech sector.
Whatever your price point, NVIDIA has an answer, even if it’s the lower-tier non-RTX 1600 series GPUs. From AMD, the most modern competition comes from the RX 5700 XT series, which has no 2080S competitors, with the XT trailing the 2070 SUPER most often. More on offer from AMD would be great, but these are the choices we are currently given, and while it sucks to see only one company dominating the high-end, could you imagine how dull things would be if we didn’t even have that much?
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