What happens when you take the monstrous GeForce RTX 3080, add more VRAM, a better memory bus, and bump up the CUDA cores by 17%? You get a 3080 Ti. But what if that’s not enough either, and you want a graphics card that is pumping with performance-enhancing drugs? That’s how you end up buying an RTX 3090. So there’s no doubt that the 3090 is a superior video card, but is it the right choice for you? Do you even need that kind of processing power? We wanted to know too, and we wrote down our findings in this in-depth Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti vs 3090 comparison article. Go on and read it!
3080 Ti vs 3090 – Quick Comparison
With the 3080 Ti and the 3090, we’re looking at the top-end of the GPU spectrum, as these two cards are highly coveted and just as unavailable due to stock issues, silicon shortage, logistics problems, scalpers, and more. The only way you can get your hands on either one of these babies is by paying through your nose or waiting for a lottery-based system to pull up your number on NewEgg or official Nvidia channels.
Taking a closer look at the cards themselves, the 3080 Ti, as the name suggests, is a step up from the 3080, which is a monstrous 4K gaming GPU, to begin with. Nvidia took the 3080, increased the number of CUDA cores, and worked their magic on the memory bus, leading to a clear bump in frame rate and a 10% increase in overall performance while running benchmarks.
If gaming at max settings is your thing, look no further than the RTX 3090. Launched at the end of September 2020, the 3090 is the second-best graphic card that money can buy, with the top spot going to its newer, cooler brother — the recently launched 3090 Ti. The 3090 is built for games that have not been released yet because it can take on anything you throw its way with laughable ease. Whether you plan to use it for 3D modeling or video rendering, or infinite hours of 4K gaming, the 3090 will take it on with great enthusiasm. The card claims to be 8K ready, and we believe it — the release of this card firmly put arch-rival AMD in its place.
Interestingly, the 3080 Ti almost matches the 3090 when it comes to CUDA cores. What else does it match, though? Let’s take a look at the specs in the table below.
|Specs||RTX 3080 Ti||RTX 3090|
|Dimensions||285 mm x 112 mm x 40 mm||336 mm x 140 mm x 61 mm|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6X||24GB GDDR6X|
|Base clock||1365 MHz||1395 MHz|
|Boost clock||1665 MHz||1695 MHz|
|Memory clock||19 Gbps||19.5 Gbps|
|Memory bandwidth||912.4 GB/s||936.2 GB/s|
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
- Noise-free operation even under heavy workload
- Is clearly superior to the 3080
- Top-notch performance in 4K gaming
- Much more expensive than the RTX 3080
- As power-hungry as the 3090
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
- The best that money can buy when it comes to consumer-grade graphic cards
- Can handle 8K gaming as well
- Relatively quiet and excellent cooling
- Extremely expensive and difficult to find
- Physically very large, may not fit easily into cases
- Takes up three slots on the motherboard
3080 Ti vs 3090: Key Specifications
Both the 3080 Ti and the 3090 are built on Nvidia’s Ampere architecture, moving away from the Turing architecture that Nvidia used earlier. The GPU consists of Graphics Processing Clusters, Texture Processing Clusters, Streaming Multiprocessors, Raster Operators, and memory controllers, with the streaming processors further split up into CUDA cores, RT cores, Tensor cores, Texture mapping units, and more.
If that sounds like a lot of jargon, we’ve explained it better in the sections below! All you need to know is that both the 3080 Ti and the 3090 share the same Ampere architecture, making this round a tie!
If you like going deeper with technical specs and architecture and want to learn more about RTX cards, you’ll love this article we wrote about the differences between GTX and RTX cards.
Clock Speeds & Overclocking
The clock speeds of the 3080 Ti and the 3090 are not wildly different, as the 3080 measures 1365MHz at base, whereas the 3090 puts up 1395 MHz. Boosted, these numbers go up to 1665 MHz and 1695 MHz officially, but once again, reading user reviews online tells that some people have been able to keep the 3090 at 2 GHz stable.
It is tricky because there are temperature and power limits, but with some experimentation, you should be able to get some pretty impressive overclocked numbers out of your 3090. Remember that a lot of this is luck since different cards put up different numbers. In comparison, the 3080 Ti seems to hit some impressive overclocking numbers but not quite on the same level as the 3090. This round goes to the 3090!
In the same vein, here’s a great article we wrote about overclocking and the role of GDDR6 in boosting speeds.
This section is interesting because when it comes to CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) cores, the 3080 Ti almost matches the 3090 as it packs 10,240 compared to the 10,490 cores inside the 3090. While it may be an oversimplification to say that the number of cores equals superior performance, there is a strong link. And thanks to having 250 more CUDA cores, the 3090 wins this section!
VRAM & Memory Specs
When it comes to VRAM, the RTX 3090 flexes hard with its 24GB GDDR6X RAM specs, compared to the 12GB GDDR6X RAM that the 3080 Ti puts up. This is also why it’s so easy for the 3090 to take on high-resolution gaming and memory-heavy tasks such as rendering and working on 3D animation. In real-world scenarios, however, 24GB of VRAM is a bit unnecessary.
Interestingly, the memory bus on both of these cards is 384 bits, which is the amount of data it can transfer in each clock cycle. Of course, clock speed makes a difference here, and the result is that the 3090 delivers data transfer speeds of 936.2 GB/s, whereas the 3080 Ti follows closely with 912.4 GB/s. Once again, the 3090 trumps the 3080 Ti.
Shaders, RT Cores, and TMUs
As we’ve already told you about the CUDA cores, which take on all the computational hard work and shading loads, the 3090 leads with its 10,490 cores compared to the 3080 Ti’s 10,240. How about RT cores, though? RT cores or Ray Tracing cores brought a lot of immersiveness to gaming visuals by taking on the way light is reflected and rendered in real-time during gameplay. The 3090 has 82 RT cores, whereas the 3080 Ti has 2 less, at 80.
As for Tensor cores, which manage all your deep learning magic and use artificial intelligence to carefully balance excellent game resolution along with the best frame rate possible, the 3090 again takes the lead with 328 Tensor cores, with the 3080 Ti nipping at its heels with 320 Tensor cores. The 3090 also packs 328 TMUs or texture mapping units, which take on the duties of bringing 3D graphic models to life on your screen. In comparison, the 3080 Ti has 320 TMUs.
Once again, we see the 3090 beat the 3080 Ti, but just barely!
Performance / Resolutions
The 3080 Ti built a strong reputation thanks to its ability to ace any 4K game that it took on, but the 3090 takes it one step further by being ready for 8K games whenever they make an appearance. As for benchmarks, the 3080 Ti does a terrific job of putting up numbers that are pretty close to what the 3090 delivers.
You may notice a difference in performance during virtual reality games or if you insist on 120fps at 4K resolution, but for the most part, you’ll be just as happy gaming with the 3080 Ti as you would with the 3090 under the hood of your CPU. That said, technically, the 3090 is superior in terms of performance and resolution.
The 3080 Ti and the 3090 both connect to the system using a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 interface, and both of these cards offer a single HDMI 2.1 output and three DisplayPort 1.4a outs. Also, note that the 3080 Ti is a dual-slot card, whereas the 3090 is a triple-slot card.
For fans of multi-GPU systems, the 3090 does support the quickly-disappearing SLI (Scalable Link Interface) technology. For those who may be unaware, SLI tech lets users combine and upgrade graphics performance by linking multiple Nvidia cards to a single CPU. The technology itself is useless for gamers, but it can be useful for those who are into multi-GPU rendering. The 3080 Ti does not support SLI. This round is a tie!
The TDP value of a card tells you how much to expect from your power bill for the month. Jokes aside, TDP stands for Thermal Design Power, and this rating tells you how much power the card consumes while operating. Both the 3080 Ti and the 3090 stand at 350W, which is relatively high from a general point of view. But that’s the price you gotta pay for excellent graphics! This round is a tie as well.
3080 Ti vs 3090: Standout Features
In our opinion, the 3090 is more suited for someone who needs an extremely high level of performance in real-time 3D rendering or virtual reality game development and to whom cost is not a factor. It really pushes the edge of what is considered consumer-grade and may not be necessary for your average gamer. There is no scenario where you would feel like you’re missing out if you own a 3080 Ti card while gaming. At least not yet! If you need further convincing about what’s required for a decent gaming rig, take a look at this comparison article we wrote about the 3070 Ti against the 3080.
But if you’re holding on to a blank check and want nothing but the best in life, then nothing can come between you and the 3090. Go ahead and get that bad boy and forget all about frame jitters, latency, tearing, and lag because those words will drop from your vocabulary forever! Or at least until 16K games make an appearance in a few years. But by then, the next generation of cards will be here, and we’re sure that they will outperform the 3090.
If you’d like to see how the 3080 Ti performed against the 3090 in games such as CYBERPUNK 2077, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Forza Horizon 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Battlefield V, here’s a great video review:
3080 Ti vs 3090: Pricing & Availability
While there is a very low chance of you being able to find either of these immensely popular cards, we do have good news — Nvidia has decided to take the issue of unavailability seriously, and so have the third-party manufacturers, so this dry spell should be ending soon enough. We did a quick search on Amazon and were able to find a couple of links with competitive pricing.
Lowest price for the RTX 3080 Ti on Amazon (Range: $1,300 – $1,500)
Lowest price for the RTX 3090 on Amazon (Range: $1,700 – $1,799)
Note that the MSRP for the 3080 Ti during its launch was $1,199 and the RTX 3090 made its debut with a price tag of $1499.
The 3090 won almost all the rounds in this Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti vs 3090 article, but we knew that it was unbeatable at the start. All said and done, we would recommend the RTX 3080 for a very simple reason — price to performance ratio. The 3080 Ti is almost identical to the 3090 in every way, except for the VRAM specs and a few cores, but the price difference is too much to justify, in our opinion. So unless you have a very specific need for more VRAM, the 3080 Ti will be more than sufficient. If you have any thoughts about our conclusion or regarding either of the cards, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!