Review Roundup: Nvidia’s RTX Family Delivers Incredible Performance, Lousy Value

Today, Nvidia launched its new RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 GPUs and there are a few different ways to look at the overall results now coming in from multiple sites. We’ll have our own review of the cards in the not-too-distant future. But with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti now in-market, has Nvidia delivered on its hype?

That’s going to depend entirely on the price bracket you play in. But in my opinion, based on the reviews that have come in thus far, no, it hasn’t.

Before fanboys sharpen their knives, hear me out. There is no denying that the RTX 2080 Ti, in particular, is a damn fast GPU. It’s fast before you talk about capabilities like DLSS. It’s damn powerful. If the GTX 1080 Ti looked like a 4K GPU in 2017, well, the RTX 2080 Ti blows the doors off it in 2018. There is no arguing whether the new RTX 2080 Ti is fast or not. It is. And if you’ve got $ 1,200 to drop on a new GPU, then you are cordially invited to go nuts with this new, ultra-fast, crazy-expensive hardware.

Uh. But what if you don’t?

They’re well below $ 500 now. Oops. Wrong card.

You know why Nvidia launched the RTX 2080 Ti today? Because they need that halo part to impact everyone’s opinion of the product stack. Because, without the 2080 TiSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce, the only thing the RTX 2080 offers today is slightly-better-than-GTX-1080-Ti performance for a $ 100 price increase. Our prediction that the GTX 1080 Ti would be the appropriate point of comparison for the RTX 2080 has proven correct.

We’re supposed to show you this one. It’s a “great value” if by “great value” you mean “Not a great value.”

So, yes. If you can afford a $ 1,200 GPU, you too can enjoy some incredible performance. If you can’t, you’re out of this game. And to that end, while reviews are full of praise for the visual effects potentially offered by DLSS and ray tracing, the actual conclusions of reviews are peppered with comments like this:

Ars Technica: “I’m not exactly sure how to feel about the current state of the RTX 2080 and the RTX 2080 Ti. $ 1,200 is a lot of money to guarantee locked 4K/60fps performance at near-highest settings in your favorite PC games, while the wait and additional cost of the RTX 2080 feels like a lot to ask for when the above benchmarks tell us that the 1080 Ti still pretty much packs the same punch.”

Tom’s Hardware: “But we fancy ourselves advocates for enthusiasts, and we still can’t recommend placing $ 1200 on the altar of progress to create an audience for game developers to target. If you choose to buy GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, do so for its performance today, not based on the potential of its halo feature.”

All of the strong praise, all of the recommendations come in for the 2080 Ti. The RTX 2080? Oh that’s…. well, I mean, it’s here. Sure, it costs more than a 1080 Ti, and sure it doesn’t really offer much in the way of performance improvements. But it’s here. And it has all these future features! Let’s let the Verge and PCMag say it, since they reviewed the cards:

The Verge: “Based on our testing, Nvidia’s big promise of 4K gaming at 60fps with the RTX 2080 is one that simply doesn’t hold up right now.”

No, it doesn’t. Because Nvidia presaged that messaging on the enablement of features like DLSS, which it rolled out with two game demos and no current support in any shipping titles. And ExtremeTech does not and will never recommend buying hardware on the basis of future promised features, regardless of which company it comes from. We never recommended you buy an AMD GPU because of future hoped-for performance in Mantle and DirectX 12, and we’ll never recommend you buy an Nvidia card on the strength of zero ray tracing titles in market, two game demos with DLSS, and a lot of promised future support.

Here’s PCMag:

PCMag“Nvidia’s marketing materials played up the RTX 2080 hitting 60fps or greater in many popular titles but didn’t disclose the settings. Across six games tested that were released in the last three years, PC Labs saw an average of 56fps at 4K, the lowest coming from Shadow of the Tomb Raider (45fps). That’s using the maximum in-game presets for the benchmarks, mind you. Impressive performance from a single GPU, but it emphasizes that you still may have to fiddle with the visual-quality sliders to get consistent 60fps-plus performance at 4K…

[T]he $ 100 extra you’re paying for the RTX 2080 Founders Edition may not be money well spent unless you plan to take advantage of the Founders Edition’s overclocking-focused feature set and boost its performance further.” (Emphasis added).

As for features like DLSS or ray tracing, you know what the value of a promise of future support is worth? Just about nothing. Not literally nothing, no, but it’s not something I’d put weight on. It’s certainly not a reason to make a purchasing decision.

This is why you may recall seeing stories in the past few months about Nvidia’s new draconian NDA, its crackdown on GPU sampling, and its control of the entire review process. All GPU launches are tightly orchestrated affairs. But this one was tighter than most, because Nvidia needs gamers to treat the RTX 2080 Ti as the realistic entrance point for this kind of performance rather than an overpriced geegaw that only a handful of gamers can possibly afford. It’s aspirational marketing at its finest and it’s cynical as hell.

If you are one of the handful of well-heeled gamers who can afford a GPU like the RTX 2080 Ti, we sincerely wish you a great deal of enjoyment. It is, hands down, unquestionably the fastest GPU you can buy today. Just keep in mind that you’re paying an enormous premium because Nvidia is in a position to charge one.

As for the RTX 2080, what Nvidia has delivered today is a GPU that’s $ 100 more than the previous top-end 1080 Ti, performs nearly identically against it, but comes with a lot of unproven promises behind it that will, supposedly, one day justify its price. This is a song and dance we’ve heard before. We heard it with tessellation and DirectX 11. We heard it with PhysX. We’ve heard it time and time again, and every single time, by the time the new feature is ever adopted — if it ever is — the prices on the GPUs that feature it have come down to the point that the people who paid a premium for the capability got screwed out of ever really taking advantage of it. We recommend keeping that in mind when you consider how much value you’ll ever likely extract from ray tracing or DLSS.

Nvidia has done an incredible job launching new features that, as of today, literally not one title can take advantage of. The company has done amazing work pulling a bait-and-switch by promising performance for the RTX 2080 that you’ll need an RTX 2080 Ti to get. If you love paying Nvidia a lot of money, you’re going to love the 2080 Ti. Otherwise, your best bet is to hope that AMD or Intel put something into market in the next 12-18 months to convince Nvidia that it doesn’t have a license to treat gamers like the apples you feed into a cider press. Because with no competition in the market, hey, they’ve got the unilateral right to dictate market pricing. Based on this launch, we can see exactly how Nvidia wants to use that position.

Happy gaming.

Now Read: Nvidia Claims Turing Much Faster Than Pascal By Deliberately Comparing the Wrong Cards, Nvidia Will Keep Pascal GPUs on Store Shelves After RTX Launches, and New Data Proves RTX 2080 Only Slightly Faster Than GTX 1080 Ti

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