There’s been no bigger time for graphics cards in recent memory thanks to the huge generation leap that the Nvidia RTX 3000 series GPUs have brought. The RTX 3080 more specifically, offers up incredible performance vs price allowing you to run AAA games on top settings easily now, and into the future.
In this article, we’re going to be going through the top five GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs so you’re fully informed of all the features so you can decide for yourself which one to pick up for your PC.
How We Picked
Choosing the best Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics cards is no mean feat but we’ve managed it by looking at some standout areas in which we think separate the better GPUs from the more weaker offerings. Some of these criteria included cooling, incorporated technology, and aesthetics as we believe these are the key aspects people look for in a graphics card. Moreover, we all know the power of the RTX 3080s and at this current time, the best are all pretty much on a level playing field, so choosing to look at these other areas will mean you’re not only getting a better overall graphics cards, you’re getting even more value for money.
Best Nvidia RTX 3080 Graphics Card in 2021
TRI FROZR 2 cooling
MSI has been and still is known for creating top tier Nvidia graphics cards both in terms of cooling as those extra features that improve their card’s overall capabilities. Their RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio 10Gis another triumph, bolstering the already great cooling while also keeping the aesthetics we all know and love.
Let’s first talk about those stellar cooling properties. The MSI Gaming X Trio utilizes the TRI FROZR 2 cooling system coupled with newly designed TORX FAN 4.0 blades which combine to create extremely efficient thermal dissipation, keeping your 3080 cool even under intense stress. It doesn’t stop there though. Thanks to the cleverly designed thermal pipes, they provide maximum contact, spreading any heat across the whole of the heatsink thus again, aiding optimal operating temperatures.
However, in terms of size, this 3080 is a beast coming in at 323 x 140 x 56mm as well as taking up 3 PCI slots making it the biggest in MSI’s Gaming Trio catalog. This, in turn, means you’re going to need a spacious case to be able to fit a card of this size in, putting Mini ITX builds firmly off the menu. On the flip side though, MSI knows that it’s big so have included a rigid anti-bending strap, hopefully putting your mind at ease that your shiny new GPU won’t be warping.
The only other slight annoyance is the fact that it requires three 8-pin connectors, a trait that other cards don’t possess. But, what this does do is give you the ability to put more power into the card and ultimately, increase performance through extensive overclocking that it’s capable of.
All in all, there’s no disputing how good the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio 10G really is. It has fantastic cooling yet still has the looks to fit right into an aesthetically pleasing build. This is why we’ve given this RTX 3080 GPU our Editor’s Choice and why you should probably grab one if you’re in the market for a 3080 graphics card.
Silent fan mode
Not as aesthetically pleasing as MSI’s take
Another top-performing series of GPUs comes from EVGA this time and their XC3 Ultra Gaming line. Like MSI, with their RTX 3080 variant, they’ve further improved the cooling design, allowing for the heat generated from the sheer power of the graphics card to dissipate with ease. This is done through the clever incorporation of airflow pockets within the heatsink, allowing the air to move freer, especially when the card is being put in intensive situations. Moreover, thanks to the new 180-degree heat pipes increasing their contract area, heat dissipation has been fully optimized. All of these new inclusions will pretty much guarantee that your EVGA RTX 3080 won’t be overheating any time soon even when playing especially graphically intensive AAA games.
While keeping your new RTX 3080 cool is good and all, what about those noise outputs? Well, EVGA has thought of that, leaving your ears thanking you. The new fans that have been used are packed with new modes and features that allow for a variety of benefits. First, there’s a silent, 0DB mode which essentially does exactly what it says on the tin, aims to keep fan noises to an absolute minimum. This translates to impressive noise reduction, especially over the previous iterations of EVGA graphics cards even with the power of the RTX 3080.
Finally, let’s talk aesthetics. Yes, it doesn’t look as slick as the 2080 or 2080Ti due to it’s size and the more blocky nature, but it does still offer a nicely designed body overall. Moreover, there’s an RGB lit EVGA logo on the card itself which many will find to be a satisfying edition, particularly if you’ve got a gaming PC full of RGB lighting anyway.
Overall, we all know of the RTX 3080’s power but thanks to the tweaks in both design and cooling methods, the EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 Ultra Gaming is certainly a stellar option. If you do choose to pick one of these up, you’ll be impressed by those additions to the fans coupled with how quiet it really is when those modes are selected. That’s why the XC3 Ultra Gaming takes the second spot on our best RTX 3080 list.
New thermal tech
Smaller than other variants
Other’s look more appealing
The RTX 3080 in general offers fantastic value vs performance but if you’re looking to squeeze even more value out of these new Nvidia cards, look no further than the ASUS TUF Gaming OC model.
Looking first at the fan design, ASUS has included their tried and tested Axial tech which essentially means that all three of the fans work in tandem to provide the cooling required from the powerful 3080. For these fans to have consistency and longevity, they also alleviate the benefits of dual ball fan bearings, proven to be far superior to that of sleeve bearings and other bearing types. Additionally, saving you power is the inclusion of a fan stop feature for when the GPU falls below 55 degrees, a handy added extra that also reduces the sound output of your PC.
In terms of heat dissipation, the TUF Gaming RTX 3080 doesn’t disappoint either with ASUS using a specially designed manufacturing process that allows for an improved surface smoothness of the heatspreader, even at a microscopic level. This, therefore, increases the contact, further increasing the thermal transfer and ultimately, all pointing towards a cooler graphics card overall.
Moving to the actual design of the GPU, it’s a 2.7 PCI slot variant which is large but also comes in as one of the smaller 3080s on the market, saving you a little extra room and allowing for a little more airflow overall. Moreover, the full aluminum body looks classy and should fit right into any sleek PC build, especially coupled with the subtle RGB lighting of the TUF Gaming logo.
Ice Storm 2.0 cooling
Lower boost clock
Finally, let’s take a look at an even more budget-friendly RTX 3080 – ZOTAC’s take on the new GPU.
First off, it’s large, but that’s down to the impressive aluminum fans that have gone into the graphics card, keeping it cool when under intense stress. This is the Ice Storm 2.0 tech which is incorporated into the triple fan approach that we’re so used to seeing with the RTX 3080 models. Moreover, it also has that stop-start technology that the more premium variants have which is a nice addition.
You’ll probably notice the chunky backplate that almost looks like the Founder’s Edition that Nvidia released themselves. While being big, it does allow for better airflow and as a secondary benefit, gives the card more rigidity and bolsters the reliability.
Finally, more on that design. It has aptly placed RGB lighting on the rear of the card, making it stand out from the majority of other RTX 3080s on the market as well as a secondary RGB area on the side of the GPU that illuminates the ZOTAC logo.
The Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 is a fantastic RTX 3080 graphics card that really shouldn’t be underestimated. It is on the large side and doesn’t really have the same impressive tech or sleek design that the more higher-priced cards do but, it does the job and it does it well, so definitely don’t turn your back on this GPU, especially considering the cost comparison.
Things To Consider
As stated in our individual takes on the GPUs we’ve listed, the RTX 3080 cards are a little on the large side, therefore, meaning you’ll definitely need to consider this when thinking about slotting it into a PC build. Likely, you should be able to fit one of these graphics cards into a mid-tower PC case but if you want a spacious build, a full-tower variant might be a better alternative.
Due to the graphical output of an RTX 3080, you know it’s likely to get hot. So, when on the search for your preferred choice, look out for that cooling improvement manufacturers have made over previous iterations of their GPU family. Companies like MSI and EVGA for example have quite clearly shown that the inclusions of new fan systems as well as heat dissipation tools were necessary and more importantly, work. But, this doesn’t always mean it’ll be icy cool so ensure you have a spacious case that provides excellent airflow to keep your 3080 GPU at optimal temperatures.
What power supply do you need for an RTX 3080?
With great graphics card performance comes huge power demand. Essentially, this means you’re going to need a pretty high watt PSU to make sure your PC has enough juice to cope with the additional load of an RTX 3080. As a baseline, most of the RTX 3080 graphics card variants are needing around 750W of power thus meaning you need to calculate the rest of your PC components to see if you need to purchase a higher capacity power supply.
If you do need to buy a new PSU, just make sure it has all the required cables. For example, the MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio uses a three 8-pin connector setup which hasn’t been seen before.
What motherboard do you need for an RTX 3080?
There are not many motherboards of today that won’t support a 3080 due to its PCIe x16 nature but, in our eyes, you’re probably going to want to pair your GPU up to a newer processor like the Ryzen 5000 series or a 10th gen Intel chip. Therefore, we’d recommend either the X470, X570, B450, or B550 for AMD CPUs and the Z490 for Intel processors as these will all be compatible with that newer technology.
In our eyes, all of these Nvidia RTX 3080 GPUs are great choices if you want to either dramatically improve your PC’s performance, or build a new PC on a constrained budget somewhat. However, you really can’t beat our best RTX 3080 choice – the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio 10G. It has everything you could ask for; great aesthetics, top tier cooling, and that MSI trademark quality you can trust. On the flip side though, if you are extremely budget-conscious, you can’t really go wrong with our budget ZOTAC pick. It lacks the finesse of the more expensive RTX 3080s but it performs well and still has some of the better features available today.