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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 12GB Specifications

The GeForce RTX 3080 12GB is a rather curious card — you can see how it stacks up in our GPU performance hierarchy. It first appeared without any fanfare, right as the cryptocurrency bubble was starting to burst. Nvidia never released its own version of the 3080 12GB, stating that it was a GPU model requested by its AIC (add-in card) partners. Whether that's true or not, no one may know, but we do know how things played out.

Nvidia didn't give an official MSRP for the RTX 3080 12GB, which mean AIC vendors could set their own prices. It also meant Nvidia wouldn't be beholden to an MSRP set back in 2020 before the cryptocurrency boom caused GPU prices to skyrocket. At launch, these were very nearly the same as the RTX 3080 Ti. Specifications meanwhile end up being a blend of what you get from the existing RTX 3080 (10GB) and the 3080 Ti.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 12GB Specifications
Process TechnologySamsung 8N
Transistors (Billion)28.3
Die size (mm^2)628.4
Streaming Multiprocessors70
GPU Cores (Shaders)8960
Tensor Cores280
RT Cores70
Boost Clock (MHz)1845
VRAM Speed (Gbps)19
VRAM Bus Width384
L2 Cache6
Render Outputs96
Texture Mapping Units280
FP32 TFLOPS (Single-Precision)33.1
FP16 TFLOPS (Sparsity)132 (264)
Bandwidth (GB/s)912
Total Board Power (Watts)320
Launch DateJanuary 11, 2022
Launch Price~$1,000

The 3080 12GB has 70 SMs enabled, compared to 80 on the 3080 Ti and 68 on the 3080 10GB. More importantly, perhaps, it has all twelve GDDR6X channels enabled. That means users get 20% more VRAM, along with 20% more memory bandwidth. Given AMD's push to put more VRAM in its RX 6000-series GPUs, some viewed this as a way to close the gap between the 3080 and the RX 6800 XT.

Of course there's more to the story than just the raw specs. Miners seem to have acquired quite a few 3080 12GB cards — this despite the use of a new LHR (Lite Hash Rate) limiter. We can only assume the biggest mining groups already had software that would circumvent Nvidia's LHR, and unlocked mining performance would have been effectively as good as the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090.

The 3080 12GB also filled a gap in new product launches for Nvidia, as the at-the-time new RTX 3050 marked the end of the line for RTX 30-series products. RTX 3090 Ti was "coming soon" but would cost even more money, the future RTX 40-series was a long way off, and Nvidia likely had plenty of chips with twelve fully functional memory controllers that had too many defective SMs to qualify as 3080 Ti or higher GPUs.

At present, the RTX 3080 12GB tends to be a bit overpriced. The cheapest one goes for $809 on Amazon at the time of writing, over $100 more than the cheapest RTX 3080 10GB at $699. It's also about $165 less than the cheapest RTX 3080 Ti at $975. The problem is that all of these cards are currently overpriced!

Last year, paying under $1,000 for any of these GPUs was virtually unheard of, but now there's a reported glut of 3080 and 3090 graphics cards waiting to be sold. We also have the new RTX 4090 at $1,599, with the RTX 4080 slated to launch on November 16 at $1,199. Both will offer significantly more performance and a bunch of extra new features like DLSS3 Frame Generation, and the RTX 4070 will probably land in January at a price of $599 or less.

If you love the idea of an RTX 30-series card with 12GB VRAM, try to wait until you can pick one up for $500 or less. That might mean going through eBay, but at least you won't be paying way too much money for technology that's over two years old!

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