On September 1, 2020, NVIDIA officially announced their new Ampere GeForce RTX 30 series video cards, with three specific SKUs being revealed. These include the RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070.
These cards are using Samsung’s 8nm manufacturing process and they support PCIe 4.0 and HDMI 2.1. They should be extremely effective for running Folding@Home.
GeForce RTX 3090
This is the actual flagship card (for now), with an MSRP of $1,499. It will be available on September 24, 2020. NVIDIA calls this their “BFGPU”, with NVIDIA Titan class performance. It has 24GB of new, faster GDDR6X VRAM, which is quite useful for some applications, and programs like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. This card has 10,496 CUDA cores, with 36 Shader-TFLOPS, 69 RT-TFLOPS, and 285 Tensor-TFLOPS.
GeForce RTX 3080
This is what NVIDIA called their “flagship” card, with an MSRP of $699.00. It will be available on September 17, 2020. NVIDIA claims that it has twice the performance of an GeForce RTX 2080.
It has 10GB of new, faster GDDR6X VRAM, which is also quite useful for some applications, and programs like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. This card has 8,704 CUDA cores, with 30 Shader-TFLOPS, 58 RT-TFLOPS, and 238 Tensor-TFLOPS.
GeForce RTX 3070
This is the “low-end” SKU from this initial release cycle, with an MSRP of $499.00. It will be available in October. NVIDIA claims that it is faster than an RTX 2080 Ti (which typically cost about $1,200.00). This card has 5,888 CUDA cores, with 20 Shader-TFLOPS, 40 RT-TFLOPS, 163 Tensor-TFLOPS and 8GB of somewhat slower GDDR6 VRAM.
BTW, Shader-TFLOPS is single-precision performance, RT-TFLOPS is ray tracing performance, and Tensor-TFLOPS is FP16 tensor performance.
If you compare some of the specifications (and pricing) between these three cards and the previous RTX 2080 Ti, you can see quite a jump. It also seems, at least to me, that the RTX 3080 is going to give you the most bang for the buck. It has the faster GDDR6X VRAM and its performance numbers are relatively close to the RTX 3090 for less than half the price.
Digital Foundry has a good video comparing the performance of an RTX 3080 to an RTX 2080 in several modern games, where they typically saw a 70-80% improvement.
Unlike the previous generation GeForce RTX 20 series, this new generation of video cards appears to be an actual significant jump in performance at lower prices. We should also see lower-priced SKUs being introduced later this year and into 2021. There are lots of rumors about an upcoming RTX 3080 with 20GB of VRAM and a possible RTX 3090 Ti.
Now we will have to see what AMD’s response will be when they release “Big NAVI” sometime later this year.
If you are happy with your current video card, then that is great! If you have an older, lower-end video card that you are not very happy with, then the RTX 30 series might be a compelling upgrade. If you want to upgrade, but you are more budget-constrained, there will probably be a quite a few used RTX 20 series and GTX 10 series video cards available for sale. I would try to avoid anything older than a GTX 10 series though.
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