I’ve compared Nvidia’s new RTX 3080 against the 3090 in games at 4K, 1440p, and in 1080p resolutions as well as content creator workloads to see what the differences are.
Let’s start with the spec differences, as you can probably guess based purely on the names, the 3090 is better in every aspect, but as a result it does require more power and it also costs more than twice as much as the 3080, so let’s find out if it’s worth it. This is the system that I’m using to test both Nvidia’s RTX 3080 Founders Edition, and MSI’s RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio. Both were tested with the same Windows and Nvidia updates, so let’s get into the results.
Starting out with Microsoft Flight Simulator, I’ve got the 3090 shown by the purple bars, and the 3080 below shown by the red bars. The three resolutions tested are on the left, starting from 1080p down the bottom, 1440p in the middle, and 4K towards the top. In this test there were only small differences at 1080p and 1440p, then at 4K the 3090 was 17% higher in average frame rate.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using the games benchmark tool. Again there’s less of a difference at 1080p, as these higher end GPUs are better utilized at higher resolutions. At 1080p the 3090 was only 4% faster, 12% faster at 1440p, then 20% faster at 4K.
Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode by running through the same mission on both graphics cards. Both were hitting the 200 FPS frame cap at 1080p, then interestingly at 1440p the 1% low from the 3080 was slightly higher, though the 3090 was 12% faster when it came to the average, then it was 16% faster at the highest 4K resolution.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games built in benchmark. Once more only minor differences at 1080p, the 3090 wasn’t even 4% ahead here, then at 4K the 3090 was 16% ahead of the 3080, so not really a worthwhile difference given it costs more than twice the amount of money.
For Control I’ll start with RTX off results. Unlike most of the other games tested, this one saw the largest gap between the 3080 and 3090 at 1080p, with the 3090 14% higher in average frame rate. The 3090 was then 17% faster at 1440p, and about the same at 4K, though the 1% low from the 3090 is now close to even the average from the 3080.
With RTX on and DLSS enabled the gap between the two is even smaller now. At 4K the 3090 was just 15% ahead of the 3080, but this is the lowest result out of all 11 games tested, so it seems that playing with RTX on still does quite well from either card.
I’ve tested Metro Exodus with the game's benchmark tool, and this test saw some of the biggest differences out of all 11 titles tested. The 3090 was 23% faster at 1440p and 26% faster at 4K, the largest improvement at these resolutions, though the 3080 is still well above 60 FPS at 4K high settings, so it’s not like it’s garbage or anything.
The differences aren’t looking that big in Death Stranding, in general most results were below average out of all games tested. Even at max settings the 3080 is still able to deliver above 100 FPS at 4K, the 3090 was around 16% faster though, but this was the second smallest difference at this resolution out of the 11 games we’re looking at. In The Witcher 3 the 3080 is still running the game flawlessly at max settings 4K, though the 3090 was 18% faster in average frame rate if you really are after best possible results. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, the 3080 was still above 60 FPS at 4K, which is quite good for this test at max settings, the 3090 was 16% ahead though, but yeah again for more than double the price that’s a tough ask.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare was tested in campaign mode. Again it was still playable at max settings 4K with the 3080, but the 3090 was 20% faster, the second best improvement out of the 11 games tested at this resolution.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested using the games benchmark tool with Vulkan. No major improvements here, pretty average differences and again still no problems at all running the test at 4K max settings on the 3080 even if you do have a high refresh 4K display.
At 1080p on average over all 11 games tested the 3090 was about 8% faster than the 3080. Battlefield V down the bottom shows basically no change as both GPUs were able to hit the max 200 FPS cap, but outside of this in general we’re not really seeing big differences.
At 1440p the 3090 was now almost 14% faster than the 3080 on average. As higher resolutions can typically make better use of the GPU we’re starting to get a better idea of what both of these cards are capable of. There was basically no difference in Microsoft’s flight simulator at the bottom of the graph, while Metro Exodus at the top saw the biggest change.
At 4K the 3090 is now 18% faster than the 3080 on average. Again Metro Exodus saw the biggest difference out of the 11 games tested, but in most games the performance boost from the 3090 isn’t exactly massive.
When we look at total system power draw from the wall, the PC with the 3090 installed was using 17.7% more power, while the game I’m testing, Control at 4K high settings, was reaching 17.5% higher average FPS, so a similar performance uplift relative to the additional power being consumed.
In terms of value, well the 3080 is the clear winner when considering cost per frame. That’s not really a surprise as the 3090 costs more than twice the price of the 3080 while delivering an 18% higher average frame rate in the games I’ve covered here. The 3090 isn’t exactly marketed as a gaming card, it’s more of a Titan class product, but at the same time it does perform better, it’s just probably not worth it for most people compared to spending much less on a 3080, at least as far as gaming goes.
It’s not all just about gaming though, let’s check out some compute and content creator workloads. I’ve tested DaVinci Resolve with the Puget Systems benchmark, and the RTX 3090 was scoring around 18% higher than the 3080, so similar to what we were seeing in many of the games earlier. In the V-Ray benchmark the 3090 was scoring 22% higher than the 3080. If you caught my comparisons with the 2080 Ti, both of these Ampere GPUs are offering huge gains over Turing based options from last generation in this test, but the difference here between them seems similar to what was seen in other workloads tested.
Blender was tested with the Open Data Benchmark with the BMW and Classroom tests, and again there’s a similar improvement on offer with the 3090, which was completing these rendering tasks 19% faster than the 3080.
The 3090 does of course have 140% more memory, so if you’re doing something that can actually take advantage of it that, like intense 3D modelling or something, then the 3090 could be worthwhile. For most people though, I don’t think the 3090 is worth more than 2x the cost, but that’s just what happens when you get to the top of a product stack, and hey if time is money then the 3090 could still be worth considering, or if you’ve got money and just want the best.
As mentioned for gaming though, I think the 3080 is the much better pick for the majority of people, especially given it destroys even the RTX 2080 Ti from last generation for best money. It’s just in a better sweet spot while the 3090 is more of a halo product.