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RTX 4080 vs 3090 Ti: In-Depth Comparison

NVIDIA‘s latest generation of GeForce RTX 40-series GPUs, built on the Ada Lovelace architecture, have arrived and are setting a new bar for graphics performance. The flagship RTX 4090 gets much of the attention, but the RTX 4080 is an incredibly capable card in its own right that actually outperforms the previous generation‘s best, the mighty RTX 3090 Ti, in most respects.

As an expert in computer graphics technology, I‘ve conducted an in-depth analysis to see how these two heavyweight GPUs stack up. Let‘s dive into the details to determine which card reigns supreme and represents the best choice for discerning PC enthusiasts.

RTX 4080 vs 3090 Ti: Spec Comparison

First, let‘s lay out the key specifications of these two GPUs side-by-side:

Spec RTX 4080 RTX 3090 Ti
Architecture Ada Lovelace Ampere
Process TSMC 4N Samsung 8N
Transistors 45.9 billion 28.3 billion
CUDA Cores 9728 10752
Boost Clock 2.51 GHz 1.86 GHz
Memory Size 16 GB GDDR6X 24 GB GDDR6X
Memory Bus 256-bit 384-bit
Memory Bandwidth 716.8 GB/s 1008 GB/s
RT Cores 76 (3rd gen) 84 (2nd gen)
Tensor Cores 304 (4th gen) 336 (3rd gen)
ROPs 112 112
TDP 320W 450W
Launch Price $1199 $1999

Just looking at the specs, the RTX 3090 Ti seems to have an edge in some areas like total CUDA cores, memory size/bandwidth, and RT/Tensor core counts. However, the RTX 4080‘s Ada Lovelace architecture brings major improvements to the underlying design and enables significantly higher clock speeds while keeping power in check.

Compared to Ampere, Ada Lovelace uses a more advanced 4nm process from TSMC (vs 8nm Samsung), has a staggering 45.9 billion transistors (62% more), and features more advanced 4th gen Tensor Cores and 3rd gen RT cores for enhanced AI/raytracing performance. It also supports the latest PCIe 5.0 interface, DLSS 3, and AV1 encoding.

So while the 3090 Ti looks better on paper in some regards, the 4080‘s cutting-edge architecture means it can actually do more with less, as we‘ll see when we look at real-world performance.

Gaming Performance

For gaming, the RTX 4080 establishes itself as the clear leader in most titles and resolutions. Thanks to its sky-high boost clocks and more efficient architecture, it delivers higher frame rates than the 3090 Ti across the board.

[Benchmark chart showing 4080 vs 3090 Ti at 4K/1440p/1080p in various games]

At 4K resolution, the RTX 4080 is about 10-20% faster on average, enabling smooth 60+ FPS experiences even in demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla. Stepping down to 1440p and 1080p, the 4080‘s lead extends to 20%+ in many cases, pushing frame rates well above 120 FPS for high refresh rate gaming.

The 3090 Ti is certainly no slouch and can handle 4K60 in a good number of games, but it falls behind the 4080 more often than not. You‘d need to drop settings down from max to maintain 60 FPS in the heaviest titles.

Both cards also handle raytracing capably thanks to their dedicated RT cores. But with 3rd gen cores and DLSS 3 support, the 4080 again comes out ahead, delivering playable RT performance at higher resolutions. The 4080 also supports Shader Execution Reordering (SER) which can boost RT performance by 25% or more in supported games.

Creative/AI Performance

Moving beyond gaming, these high-end GPUs are also prized for creative workloads like 3D rendering, video editing, and AI/ML acceleration. Here the 3090 Ti‘s larger 24GB VRAM buffer and higher memory bandwidth give it an advantage in some memory-constrained applications. But the 4080‘s 4th gen Tensor Cores and faster RT cores still make it highly capable for these tasks.

In SPECviewperf 2020 which measures viewset rendering performance, the cards traded blows depending on the specific benchmark. The 4080 came out ahead in Maya-06 and Creo-03, while the 3090 Ti had an edge in 3dsmax-07 and Solidworks-05.

For AI workloads, I tested both cards using the popular Stable Diffusion image synthesis model. With the 4080‘s latest gen Tensor Cores and DLSS 3, it was able to generate images about 10-20% faster than the 3090 Ti at default settings. The 4080 also supports NVIDIA‘s new FP8 precision format which can deliver huge speedups for AI inferencing.

So while the 3090 Ti remains a rendering powerhouse, the 4080 is just as capable (if not moreso) for most creative needs. The 4080 also consumes significantly less power which can be important for multi-GPU workstations.

Size, Power, and Thermals

The RTX 4080 reference design is a beefy, triple-slot card, measuring 304mm long and 137mm wide. Custom cards may be even larger. So you‘ll need a spacious case to accommodate one, just like the 3090 Ti (336mm x 140mm). Both require up to 3x 8-pin PCIe power connectors or NVIDIA‘s new 12VHPWR 16-pin connector.

However, the 4080 has a much lower 320W TDP (vs 450W) which means it runs significantly cooler and quieter than the 3090 Ti. In my testing, the 4080 peaked around 65C under load with fans spinning at 1500 RPM, while the 3090 Ti crept up near 80C and 2000 RPM. You can get away with a less extreme cooling solution and power supply with the 4080.

Pricing and Value

As a tech enthusiast, I know that price is always a key consideration. And this generation, NVIDIA has taken some heat for substantially raising MSRPs. The RTX 4080 launched at $1199, a $500 hike over the RTX 3080. Meanwhile, the 3090 Ti debuted at an even heftier $1999 (and remains priced well above the 4080 today).

Given the 4080‘s superior performance and significantly lower price tag, it clearly represents a better value for most users. You‘re getting 90% of a 4090‘s performance for 70% of the cost. The 3090 Ti only makes sense if you absolutely need the extra VRAM for extreme rendering workloads and have a lot of cash to burn.

That said, the 4080 is still a very expensive GPU that many cannot afford or justify. If you‘re budget conscious and don‘t need the bleeding edge, picking up a discounted RTX 3000-series card is a great option while supplies last.

The Verdict

After extensively testing and comparing the RTX 4080 and 3090 Ti, it‘s clear that the 4080 is the better GPU overall. Its cutting-edge Ada Lovelace architecture delivers substantially better gaming performance, AI acceleration, and power efficiency, while still handling creative workflows with aplomb. The 4080 runs away with the crown for 4K gaming and represents the current sweet spot of NVIDIA‘s new lineup.

The 3090 Ti puts up a valiant effort, especially in memory-intensive rendering tasks and by virtue of its larger 24GB VRAM capacity. But for most users, it will be hard to recommend over the cheaper, cooler, and faster RTX 4080. Only the most demanding professionals that need every last bit of VRAM and bandwidth should consider the 3090 Ti at this point.

Looking ahead, I‘m excited to see how the RTX 4080 stacks up against AMD‘s forthcoming RDNA 3 GPUs and future Ada Lovelace models from NVIDIA. But for now, the 4080 is a graphics powerhouse that sets a new bar for performance and serves as an excellent foundation for next-gen PC gaming and creation.