Nvidia has been the go-to GPU manufacturer for at least the last decade, so how do two of their GPUs a generation apart stand up to each other. Is the RTX 3000 series lightyears ahead of the RTX 2000 series?  I hope to dive deep into that with this comparison, specifically looking at the RTX 2080-Ti and the RTX 3090 as our two test subjects.

Both of these cards, being RTX, benefit from Ray tracing, but only the 3090 has the power of DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). In this day and age, buying a generation behind doesn’t necessarily mean saving money. Thanks to the GPU shortage that we are still dealing with. So which card should you build your new PC with or upgrade your old one? 

Nvidia RTX 3090
The Nvidia RTX 3090 boasts 24GB of G6X memory.

Nvidia RTX 2080-Ti vs RTX 3090: Side-by-Side Comparison

RTX 2080-TiRTX 3090
Release Date:9/27/20189/17/2020
Original MSRP: $999$1,499
Boost Clock/ Base Clock:1.54GHz/1.35GHz1.69GHz/1.39GHz
VRAM:11GB GDDR624GB GDDR6X
Memory Speed:14Gps19.5Gbps
TDP:260W350W
NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
  • NVIDIA TURING GeForce RTX graphics cards are powered by the Turing GPU architecture and the all-new RTX platform. This gives you up to 6X the performance of previous-generation graphics cards and brings the power of real-time ray tracing and AI to games.
  • THE WORLD’S FIRST RAY TRACING GAMING GRAPHICS CARD When it comes to next-gen gaming, it’s all about realism. GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is light years ahead of other cards, delivering truly unique real-time ray-tracing technologies for cutting-edge, hyper-realistic graphics.
  • REINVENTING DESIGN The factory overclocked GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card features a next-gen 13-phase power supply for maximum overclocking and dual-axial 13-blade fans coupled with a new vapor chamber for ultra-cool and quiet performance.

Nvidia RTX 2080-Ti vs 3090: What’s the Difference?

Gaming

So, what can actually be improved in two years and 10 days? Let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks between these two cards. To make this fairer, we will be looking at these games in 1440p instead of 4K

Bar chart with the results of gaming benchmark test for the RTX 2080-TI and RTX 3090.

Considering that all these games came out in 2020, two years after the RTX 2080-Ti was released, these results are quite impressive. Although the RTX 3090 handily beat out the RTX 2080-Ti in every game besides Microsoft Flight Simulator, which every GPU seems to struggle with, all these games are playable.

The RTX 3090 does have support for DLLS, or Deep Learning Super Sampling, which allows it to boost performance by 30%-50% without losing quality. There might be a future update where the RTX 2080-Ti will get access to DLLS, but with how proprietary Nvidia has been lately, I have my doubts about that. 

It is hard to make a call solely on gaming performance, so let us look at some more tests before a decision is made. 

3D Rendering Benchmark

3D rendering and creative applications are one of Nvidia’s strong suits, especially as of late. Let’s see how these two generations stack up against each other. For this test, we will be using Blender’s benchmark tool, which does three renders and then combines the results into one average score.

Bar chart with the results of Blender benchmark test for the RTX 2080-TI and RTX 3090.

This is where the RTX 2080-Ti starts to show its age. The RTX 3090 beat it by almost double the score here. Of course, both of these cards can take advantage of their ray tracing abilities and use the Optix renderer to improve performance, but the RTX 3090 takes that advantage and runs with it. 

If you want to build a new powerhouse of a creative workstation, look no further than the RTX 3090. A more recent generation will also help future-proof your machine for a little longer. Even though future proof doesn’t really mean anything anymore. 

3DMark Benchmark Test

The first two tests were real-world benchmarks, but for this last performance result, we will be taking a look at a simulated stress test using 3DMark’s Time spy. I will be taking these results from 3DMark’s leaderboards with PCs that have only one card in the system. 

Winning this test doesn’t necessarily mean that one card is better, but it shows how well the GPU can handle stress under a heavy load.  

Bar chart with the results of 3DMark's benchmark test for the RTX 2080-TI and RTX 3090.

This is another score where the RTX 3090 runs away a bit. This is a testament to how Nvidia has been able to control how well their cards run under a heavy load, considering that both GPUs have around the same clock speed. Although this is an excellent test to always look at when considering a new card, I wouldn’t use it as the end all be all. 

Thermal and Power Consumption 

Both of these cards can handle their own when it comes to thermals, but the RTX 2080-Ti definitely has an advantage here, being slightly underpowered. In a closed bench system, the RTX 2080-Ti gets up to 80℃, but that is not thermal throttling, whereas the RTX 3090 has been known to throttle in some cases. There is a bunch of discussion about replacing the thermal pads on your RTX 3090 to get more performance. I recommend it, unless you are comfortable opening up electronics to avoid that, so you don’t end up with a $1,500 brick.

Regarding power consumption, the RTX 208-Ti is the greener choice. The TDP of the RTX 2080-Ti is 260W, and the RTX 3090 is 350W. TDP is another one of those theoretical numbers the manufacturers like to throw around, but the main concern for PC builders is what power supply you should get. It is recommended that a PC with an RTX 3090 use an 800W PSU, and the RTX 2080-Ti requires around 750W. So while there is not a vast difference between these two numbers, the 3000 lineup is known for having power spikes that can take a lesser power supply. 

NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
  • NVIDIA TURING GeForce RTX graphics cards are powered by the Turing GPU architecture and the all-new RTX platform. This gives you up to 6X the performance of previous-generation graphics cards and brings the power of real-time ray tracing and AI to games.
  • THE WORLD’S FIRST RAY TRACING GAMING GRAPHICS CARD When it comes to next-gen gaming, it’s all about realism. GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is light years ahead of other cards, delivering truly unique real-time ray-tracing technologies for cutting-edge, hyper-realistic graphics.
  • REINVENTING DESIGN The factory overclocked GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card features a next-gen 13-phase power supply for maximum overclocking and dual-axial 13-blade fans coupled with a new vapor chamber for ultra-cool and quiet performance.

RTX 2080-Ti vs RTX 3090: Four Must-Know Facts

  • The RTX 3090 has support for DLSS, and the RTX 2080-Ti does not currently have support but might have a future update where it can.
  • 4K gaming will be more comfortable with the RTX 3090. If you are looking at 1440p or below gaming, the RTX 2080-Ti will fit right into the space. 
  • The RTX 2080-Ti and the RTX 3090 were released almost exactly two years apart to the day.
  • Creative uses like 3D rendering benefit a vast amount from the newer architecture of the RTX 3090. 

Who One Should You Choose?

Both of these cards have made it through the tests and, for the most part, with flying colors. There comes a time, though, when we can’t just look at numbers all day and actually need to make a decision. So which one of these cards should be your next GPU?

For gaming, these are both powerhouses of their time. It just so happens that the day for the RTX 2080-Ti in 1440p and above was about two years ago. It is the RTX 3090’s time to shine and be the “God of GPUs” for at least a few years. As much as it sucks, a better budget card is the RTX 3060 because they are still producing it, making it cheaper with a little better performance in modern games. 

For creative programs, again, the newer architecture of the RTX 3090 is a beast and blows the RTX 2080-Ti out of the water. That being said, if you are looking for a machine that can do some light editing, the RTX 2080-Ti might be your GPU and save a few bucks. 

Final Thoughts

Numbers-wise, the RTX 3090 beats out the RTX 2080-Ti easily in all of our tests, but that doesn’t mean you should throw it away if you already have one. Even though it looks like we are coming out from the GPU shortage mostly unscarred, for a while, you were one of the lucky ones if you had an RTX 2080-Ti. People were paying  $1,000 for a GTX 960, and I don’t want to go back to that reality. So, if you are looking at buying a brand new GPU, the RTX 3090 will be the better overall option between the two. But if you long for the days when the RTX 2080-Ti was on top and still have one, don’t give it up unless you really need to. It is worth holding onto until the prices start dropping to normal for these GPUs. 

Last update on 2022-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Nvidia RTX 2080-Ti vs 3090: Full Comparison with Price, Specs, And More FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is a 3090 better than a 2080 TI?

The RTX 3090 is better than the RTX 2080-Ti specs-wise and in most benchmarks. But if you are looking for a slightly more environmentally friendly card, the RTX 2080-Ti is the way to go.

How much do the Nvidia RTX 2080-Ti and the 3090 cost

The RTX 2080-Ti costs around $800, and the RTX 3090 costs around $1500 or more nowadays.

When were the the Nvidia RTX 2080-Ti and the 3090 released?

The RTX 2080-Ti was released on September 27th, 2018, and the RTX 3090 was released on September 17th, 2020.

How much RAM does a 3090 need?

To not experience any bottlenecks it is recommended to use around 32GB-64GBs of RAM. I also recommend always using dual-channel memory and considering the speed when looking at RAM modules.

Will 3090 prices drop?

It is hard to say for certain at this point, but you can find some new cards from reputable sources for around $1,500 which isn’t too far from their original MSRP.

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