Nvidia has consistently maintained its status as the lead creator of graphics cards, pioneering the transition to fancy lighting effects like ray tracing in games. Now that Nvidia’s officially announced its next-gen GPUs and the rumour mill is put to rest, we know just how much fancier its GPUs are going to get from here. In a virtual event this morning, Nvidia announced three new cards are coming just in time for the holidays: the RTX 3070, RTX 3080, and RTX 3090. And they are so beastly, I can’t even…
It was widely speculated that Nvidia’s Ampere architecture would be building blocks for the next generation of professional cards built for data centres and deep learning, which Nvidia confirmed back in May 2020. But the RTX 30-series cards will also be built on Ampere, which means that Turing architecture Nvidia introduced with its RTX 2000-series cards? Those are technically obsolete after just two years.
But after a series of stunning demos, today its hard to be upset about the speedy transition. If Nvidia delivers on the promise of today’s demonstrations, then this will finally be the ray tracing we’ve been waiting for. “This is our greatest generational leap ever,” CEO Jensen Huang said in today’s stream.
The RTX 30-series cards usher in a wealth of changes, most notably how powerful these cards will be compared to the soon-to-be previous generation. The RTX 3090 will have an ungodly 24 GB of memory, take up three slots in your case and hopefully not sound like a jet engine when at full throttle. It includes a “silencer” which is a “three-slot, dual-axial, flow-through design.” Bring your 1000W PSU or higher, especially if you want to pair this sucker with an Intel Core i9-1900K. You’re gonna need it.
The RTX 3080 will use 10 GB of GDDR6X memory with 760 Gbps bandwidth and is claimed to be twice as fast as the RTX 2080. The RTX 3070 card will have 8 GB of memory and is supposedly 60% faster than the RTX 2070. For comparison, the RTX 2080 Ti has 11 GB of memory and 616 Gbps of bandwidth. Both are geared towards owners of Nvidia’s superb 10-series of GPUs which were so good their users have been reluctant to upgrade. The RTX 3080 is expected to handler 4K at over 60 frames per second, while the RTX 3070 should handle 1440p super smoothly.
There’s a big bump in performance, so big that Nvidia claims the RTX 3090 will handle 8K gaming at 60 frames per second — the 20-series struggled with 4K at 60! This thing will likely play any ray tracing enabled game at 4K with a frame rate that could make angels cry. The RTX 3090 also pulls ahead of the Titan RTX in most specs (both cards have the same amount of memory), making this GPU the future must-have for extreme PC builds. The best of the best.
RTX 30-series cards will also be based on 7nm architecture, matching AMD’s current generation of graphics cards. At the moment, Nvidia has a serious upper hand over AMD, and if AMD is going to compete, it has to not only make ray tracing look as good as GeForce cards, but it has to hit the same frame rate benchmarks, something that it wasn’t necessarily able to do with its RX 5000-series.
Nvidia’s new cards will start at an MSRP of $2,429, $1,139, and $809, respectively. Shockingly cheap given the major leap in performance Nvidia claims. The $2,429 RTX 3090 is expected to ship September 24, the $1,139 RTX 3080 is expected to ship September 17, and the $809 RTX 3070 is expected to ship in October.
It will be interesting to see how the RTX 3080 and RTX 2080 Ti compare in particular, considering they are nearly identical in specs. How much of an advantage will the new Ampere architecture actually have over the Turing? A smaller transistor size in the newer generation will theoretically mean faster speeds, since the transistors are closer together, which but how much faster will it be (Nvidia claims twice as fast in some instances). I personally can’t wait to get my hands on the new cards to see.
There were a few things that temporarily held Nvidia back after its RTX 20-series release, like a severe lack of ray tracing compatible games and a higher barrier to entry for decent performance. But the company’s next generation of ray tracing cards won’t necessarily have those issues, with soon-to-be-released games like Cyberpunk 2077 getting the ray tracing treatment and a slew of already released ray tracing compatible games like Metro Exodus and Control…this is a good time to pick up an RTX graphics card if you haven’t already.
But what will happen to RTX 20-series? Will Nvidia stop producing them in the month leading up to the official release, as it did with its GTX 10-series? Where does this leave its GTX 16-series and how much of a price drop will both the GTX 16-series and RTX 20-series see after release of the RTX 30-series? Rumours have already pointed to production seriously slowing down or stopping altogether on the higher-end RTX 20-series cards, which could create a scarcity situation in the time leading up to the RTX 30-series cards release in a few weeks.
With these cards expected to launch this month stay tuned for reviews and answers — including just how much energy that big boy RTX 3090 will need. If Nvidia fulfils’ the promises made today AMD, and the upcoming generation of consoles, could be in trouble.