Built on their brand new Ampere architecture, NVIDIA’s popular RTX 3000 series is finally here and appears to have already exceeded expectations.
As always, there are several versions of the card from different AIB partners. We will find out which company has the best RTX 3080 graphics card.
Despite the new naming convention, NVIDIA is promoting the RTX 3080 as its flagship, which places the RTX 3090 firmly in the ‘enthusiast’ category. Reviews have largely confirmed the rumors and leaks prior to the release, and we can confidently say that the RTX 3080 is a perfect choice for a new graphics card.
Although the RTX 3090 is more powerful, we consider a roughly 15% margin over the RTX 3080 to be nowhere near acceptable when the staggering $800 price increase is taken into consideration.
We’re also happy to report that the RTX 3080 is now much more readily available despite some availability issues at launch.
Furthermore, the driver problems have also been ironed out to an extent. Right now, getting an RTX 3080 is probably the best gaming choice you can make. Yes, that includes getting a next-gen console.
Before we get started, it’s important to point out that NVIDIA’s fan-on-each-side design will be exclusive to its Founders Edition cards. This means the cards you read about today had to use an alternative design. In most cases, this has been the 3-fan design, a tried and tested method for GPU cooling.
With that out of the way, here is our guide for choosing the best RTX 3080 graphics card in 2023.
Let’s jump right into it!
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- Low fan noise
- Temperature control
- Good performance per dollar
- Low clock speed
- Inferior quality to other third-party cards
About The Card
First up, we have an RTX 3080 GPU from Zotac. Unlike its edition of the RTX 2080, this one is almost identical to the Founders Edition version of the RTX 3080.
In terms of size, it is not as large as the other AIB cards, but it still can’t be called small. It will still have the now-familiar overhang in the ATX cases.
This is not the only way it differs from the other RTX 3080 cards. It only has two 8-pin power connectors, while the Founders Edition comes with NVIDIA’s new 12-pin standard.
Even so, Trinity is very similar to the Founders Edition, both in terms of price and power requirement.
Like the FE (and a few other RTX 3080 cards), Trinity has three DisplayPorts 1.4a and one HDMI 2.1 slot. Some more expensive cards will have two HDMI 2.1 slots, but Trinity’s one will serve just fine at the MSRP.
Zotac used its IceStorm 2.0 cooler for this card, and this is probably the reason why its version performs better in the cooling department. The 3-fan design, along with a new heat pipe layout, have outperformed the FE card. Given how NVIDIA touted its new fan design, this is a massive win for Zotac.
This is an MSRP card, which means NVIDIA’s suggested $699 price tag will be respected. It retained NVIDIA’s default clock, so this card won’t outperform OC variations. However, given the performance boosts of those cards and their pricing, Trinity is more than a good solution at the default price.
Primarily due to Zotac’s IceStorm 2.0 cooler, Trinity is among the top performers temperature-wise.
Remember when we said that Trinity is similar to the Founders Edition? That’s true, for the most part, but where it counts the most, in performance, Trinity outperforms NVIDIA’s card, if only by a slight margin. Of course, it’s still a notch below some of the more expensive RTX 3080 cards, but it’s still a good card.
However, the results of benchmarks vary, not only from the other hardware components but also from the benchmarking tool, so take them with a grain of salt.
What’s clearer is the temperature benchmark. Trinity outperforms the FE, but both still significantly lag behind cards such as MSI’s Gaming X Trio or ASUS’ TUF Gaming. Another area where Trinity impresses is the sound, or rather the lack of it. Compared to the FE or TUF, it’s noticeably quieter.
However, the coolest part of this card, appropriately, is the cooler. Zotac is boasting about the ability to individually control the three fans, but unless you’re really into controlling the airflow, this won’t do much for you. Still, it’s nice to have the option, and you may find it useful when trying to overclock it.
- Superb performance
- Lots of room for overclocking
- Great cooling solution
- Fan noise
About The Card
As expected, ASUS came out with a ROG Strix variant, as well as the OC version, which we’ll discuss here. This has been a staple of AIB cards for a while, and with good reason. The sheer clock performance is enough to make any would-be pro gamer salivate, but is it worth the additional cost?
The first thing you’ll notice about the RTX 3080 ROG Strix OC is its size. It’s absolutely massive, and you could easily mistake it for an RTX 3090. The usual 3-fan design and the physical BIOS switch on the card itself are present, with ‘Performance’ and ‘Quiet’ modes available. It’s worth saying that there isn’t much difference between these two modes in terms of performance, but the different sound levels will be much more noticeable.
The card has two HDMI 2.1 ports and three DisplayPorts, which was probably expected as well.
In comparison to the previous generation’s ROG Strix card, which was pretty big in its own right, this model is significantly larger. This might have been expected due to the RTX 3080’s massive performance upgrade. Needless to say, it’s bigger than the Founders Edition, but it’s worth pointing out that, although it technically only needs two slots, this is a 3-slot card.
As you might have assumed, this card also has three 8-pin power connectors, which are necessary for the power required to overclock this card properly.
If you’re looking for the best RTX 3080 graphics card, this is probably the card to look at. ASUS’ ROG Strix version has always held a high place in the AIB rankings and this generation’s edition is no different. However, there are some drawbacks.
First and foremost, we need to talk about price. As there are currently not many RTX 3080 cards in general, it’s only a matter of time before the current course of over-inflated prices goes down. Even when that happens, the ROG Strix OC will likely remain expensive, with some speculating a price premium of as much as $150.
As far as performance is concerned, this is the best-performing graphics card available outside of the RTX 3090 space. The 1935 MHz clock is nearly 200 MHz more than the base RTX 3080 FE and other MSRP cards. That alone should be a good indicator of its ability.
The great cooling solution leaves a lot of headroom for overclocking, which is highly recommended if you’re looking to get the best for your money.
The drawback of this 4K 60FPS experience is the fan noise. When running overclocked, the fans can get really loud, but, for now, that will have to be accepted as the price of performance.
- Excellent performance
- Nearly silent
- Graphene backplate
- No BIOS switch for different modes
- Graphene backplate
About The Card
Like any third-party RTX 3080 graphics card, MSI’s Gaming X Trio is a 3-slot card, so be prepared.
MSI made an interesting choice with the backplate as they opted for graphene instead of the usual aluminum.
Although MSI boasts that this solution is “4 times stronger and 20 times more efficient in heat dissipation” than a plastic backplate, this is a marketing trick, as it doesn’t mention aluminum backplates, which are the industry standard.
It seems this is just a mixture of graphene and plastic. Nothing too impressive.
There is a single HDMI 2.1 port on this card, with the standard three DisplayPort 1.4a ports. Although there are cards that offer two HDMI slots, this is unlikely to be an issue for most gamers.
According to MSI’s website, this card is measured at 323 x 140 x 56mm (12.7 x 5.5 x 2.2 inches) and weighs 1565 g (3.45 lbs), which puts it among the largest RTX 3080 cards.
We have to commend MSI for recognizing that their GPU weighs as much as a laptop and including an additional support bracket so it wouldn’t sag inside your case. The only drawback is that this does occupy an additional PCIe slot.
Unlike the previously discussed ASUS RTX 3080 ROG Strix OC, this card doesn’t have a physical BIOS switch option. This might not be necessary, as the cards with this option perform pretty much the same regardless of the switch.
The fan noise and heating department did show improvements, but that was about all. However, if you have proper case ventilation, you shouldn’t be too concerned about this.
Firstly, we have to talk about the quietness of this card. Among the third-party RTX 3080 cards, which are generally already pretty quiet, the Gaming X Trio is noticeably the quietest. It doesn’t increase RPM until necessary, and, as a result, the fans are nearly silent and can only be heard when you press your ear to the case.
The additional 8-pin connector can provide the Gaming X Trio with a solid power boost which translates nicely into a performance boost. The 1815Mhz boost clock is a solid improvement from MSRP cards, and the numbers support this.
Compared to the FE card, the Gaming X Trio is able to provide anywhere between 2-4% more frames. Although this number might not seem significant, when you consider that, in theory, these cards are supposed to perform equally, you get a much clearer picture.
Although this is technically a factory-overclocked card, there still is some headroom for additional manual overclocking of both the GPU and the memory. However, this doesn’t yield any impressive results, and we can’t recommend doing it.
Finally, this card is an extra $60 more than the MSRP of $699, which might be the biggest obstacle it needs to overcome. If you’re looking at the upper echelon of the RTX 3080 AIB cards, MSI’s Gaming X Trio is probably the card you should consider, as it has the best price-to-performance ratio in that range.
- Tremendous overclocking potential
- Excellent cooling solution
- Good clock out of the box
About The Card
The well-known NVIDIA partner EVGA comes through with another unique variant of NVIDIA’s flagship card: the EVGA RTX 3080 FTW3 ULTRA.
The first thing you’ll probably notice is the ‘wavy’ fan design, a continuation of EVGA’s alternate fan design that we also saw in the last generation of cards.
EVGA’s ICX technology has been its signature since the GTX 10 series and has been improved with each iteration. The three fans are able to automatically and individually adjust their RPM based on those ICX sensors and thus have more precise control over the heat.
Another essential part of EVGA’s cooling solution is the large copper block that covers both the memory and the GPU to provide easier heat dissipation.
Like most third-party RTX 3080 cards, this one will also occupy three slots in your case. If you’re worried about potential sagging issues, EVGA was kind enough to provide us with a support bracket to prevent those problems.
It also has three 8-pin power connectors, which give this card a power limit of 420W. This is good news for any would-be overclockers.
With the factory clock already being upped to 1800 Mhz, we can see that there is room to overclock this card. In fact, we won’t even suggest running this card at stock settings but rather going straight for the overclocking. The capability is there.
There is also the price tag. At $810, the FTW3 Ultra is one of the most expensive third-party RTX 3080 cards out there. Still, for true enthusiasts who don’t want to pay twice that price for the RTX 3090, this is a strong alternative.
The EVGA FTW3 Ultra RTX 3080 graphics card is one of the best choices out there if you’re not looking to splash the cash for the RTX 3090.
When it comes to overclocking, this is really going to come in handy, as temperature control is one of the key aspects of the process. With EVGA’s Precision XOC, you can manually or asynchronously control the fan speed and fine-tune the overclocking.
Due to the newness of the RTX 3080 graphics card in general, it was tough to find precise benchmarking performances for any of the AIB cards. Even so, compared to the ASUS ROG Strix OC we previously discussed, the FTW3 Ultra even managed to outperform it in some games.
- Great for overclocking
- Fan noise
About The Card
Gigabyte has produced yet another stellar NVIDIA card. Based on its looks alone, the Eagle is among the most unorthodox-looking RTX 3080 cards, but that doesn’t prevent it from being an excellent option.
The card comes overclocked out of the box, but there’s still room for more if that’s your cup of tea. Gigabyte used its Windforce 3X cooling system for this card, and it works extremely well, but, more importantly, it offers great support for overclocking.
The same system is responsible for good cooling numbers in benchmarks, but that performance comes at a price. The result of stronger cooling is often the dreaded fan noise, and Eagle has issues with that.
However, it’s worth remembering that if you’re playing with headphones or your case is a bit further from where you sit, you’re unlikely to notice the noise.
The beauty of this card is not in its looks but rather in the price. This is an MSRP card with excellent overclocking capability, so it’s more than worth picking up.
In terms of performance, for an MSRP card, it’s important to outperform the Founders Edition, and that is exactly what Eagle does. It has managed to distinguish itself from NVIDIA’s variant, both in terms of in-game performance and temperature. Additionally, Eagle manages to go blow-for-blow with some of the more expensive AIB cards, which is certainly a good sign.
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Which RTX 3080 Is For You?
The theme running throughout this guide is that most of these AIBs are an excellent choice for beginners and enthusiasts alike. Whether you go for MSI, Gigabyte, or Zotac, you won’t go wrong.
However, if you want the best of the best, you should consider the ASUS RTX 3080 STRIX. It does come at a premium price, but it is also the fastest and quietest of the bunch.
For those looking for the best price-to-performance ratio, the ZOTAC RTX 3080 Trinity is definitely the way to go.
Remember that MSI’s Gaming X Trio and Gigabyte’s Eagle are also great choices.