While the RTX 2080 Ti is undoubtedly the fastest consumer graphics card on the market, the RTX 2080 offers the same new technology at a much more palatable price and performance in the same region as the outgoing GPU champ, the GTX 1080 Ti. While Nvidia have focused on the possibilities of real-time ray tracing (the titular RTX) and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) when marketing its new cards, many games won’t add support for Nvidia’s latest and greatest technologies until months after launch. That’s why we’ve tested nine popular PC titles from the past few years to show you exactly the level of in-game performance you should expect from the RTX 2080 compared to its closest rivals.
While the focus of this article is on real performance numbers rather than the story of the card and how the tech actually works – see our GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review for that – we will also briefly examine DLSS performance as well. That’s because this new technique can allow for potentially massive performance gains on top of what the RTX series cards already provide, and DLSS support has already been confirmed for 28 titles. While the value of real-time ray tracing may be debatable, significantly higher frame-rates from DLSS could make RTX cards an essential upgrade for high-end PCs, compared to both past-gen GTX cards and AMD’s best alternatives.
In this article, we’ve tested the RTX 2080 against the RTX 2080 Ti and the two graphics cards they replace, the GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti. We’ve also tested AMD’s top graphics card, the Vega 64, although it’s nowhere near the RTX cards in price. We’ve performed the bulk of our testing at 4K, as the higher resolution better showcases the differences between these GPUs. Before you take a look at the results, it’s worth mentioning that the RTX cards are Founders Editions models which come factory-overclocked by Nvidia, while the previous generation of reference designs came at stock clocks.
The table above includes the Founders Edition figures, with the reference equivalents in parentheses.
Our testing results are shown using a unique Digital Foundry benchmarking system – as long as you’re viewing the desktop version of this page, anyway. A YouTube video will show you the scene that we tested each card on, with live frame-rate and frame time data embedded below.
The advantage of this added complexity is that you can use the controls to the right of the video to add or remove different cards and resolutions, letting you compare between just the cards you’re interested in – perhaps you’re trying to decide whether it’s worth upgrading your GTX 1080 for an RTX 2080, or maybe it’s a toss-up between the GTX 1080 Ti and the RTX 2080. With these controls, you decide what information to see.
Below the real-time telemetry, you can find quick summaries for the entire run, including the handy lowest one per cent and lowest five per cent figures which give you an idea of each card’s worst-case performance and overall stability. It’s worth remembering that to see these different figures, you need to mouse over the image. You can also click the chart to toggle between absolute figures and percentages.
Without further ado, let’s get into the results!
Our first game is the classic title Assassin’s Creed Unity, which was released in 2014 but remains a challenge even for modern GPUs at 4K and the ultra high preset that we’re using. The RTX 2080 offers near-identical performance to the GTX 1080 Ti at around 46fps, while the RTX 2080 Ti becomes the first card to squeak over the 60fps waterline. AMD’s highest-performing card, the Vega 64, only manages 30 frames per second at 4K by comparison. AMD hardware in general struggles with the game’s depth of field effect, explaining the wide variance in its run.
Our second test is Battlefield 1, which came out in 2016. There’s no dedicated benchmark here, so we’re using part of the War Stories mode which sets the player in a British tank racing across French no man’s land. While there are a few frame-time spikes thanks to randomised explosions throughout the run, the performance is representative. The RTX 2080 Ti is able to turn in a result 22 per cent faster than the RTX 2080, at more than 100fps, while the RTX 2080 makes do with 80fps, nearly 10 per cent better than last year’s GTX 1080 Ti. In last place, the Vega 64 and GTX 1080 still at least manage to eclipse the 60fps mark.
More than 11 years after the series debuted and five years since its latest iteration, running Crysis remains the shorthand for having an awesome gaming PC – and running it at 4K remains a legitimately challenging test. Even the RTX 2080 isn’t able to hit 60fps here, with only the RTX 2080 Ti surpassing the figure at 68fps. The RTX 2080 is poor by comparison, at just 52fps, about 27 per cent slower than the new fastest card on the market. The RTX 2080 also comes behind the GTX 1080 Ti, which just outperforms it at 54fps. This may indicate that newer games may perform better on the new cards, and older games may prove relatively more challenging – though few other 2013-era titles are as tough on hardware as Crysis!
2018 release Far Cry 5 replaces 2016’s Far Cry Primal in our benchmarks. The RTX 2080 Ti is at the top of the pile once again, with an average result of 75fps, while the RTX 2080 sits 23 per cent back at 58fps. However, that’s still enough to moderately outpace the GTX 1080 Ti, which manages only 56fps in the same test.
Ghost Recon Wildlands remains the most challenging benchmark we have, thanks to its shattering ultra detail preset and a tough but fair integrated benchmark. Even the RTX 2080 Ti isn’t capable of pushing 60fps at 4K here, turning in just 47fps on average, while the RTX 2080 manages 39, one frame per second more than the GTX 1080 Ti. That’s still in range of a G-Sync monitor and there are still nice-looking presets at high and very high, so achieving a playable result at 4K should still be eminently possible even on the smaller RTX card.
2016 release Rise of The Tomb Raider is a good test of relative performance between GPUs, although the title’s actual gameplay is significantly more demanding. Here, the GTX 1080 Ti outpaces the RTX 2080 for the second time so far out of six tests, although the margin is just two per cent and both cards are able to reach 60fps. Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 Ti is a good 20 per cent ahead with an average score of 80fps; even its lowest one per cent score is still over 60fps.
Next up we have another new benchmark, 2018 release Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which is a better indicator of in-game performance. Here, only the RTX 2080 Ti manages to turn in an average result about 60fps at 4K, at least with the challenging settings that we’ve selected on this occasion. The RTX 2080 comes 21 per cent behind the RTX 2080 Ti, but nearly 10 per cent above the GTX 1080 Ti. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the RTX 2080’s results could be further improved with DLSS, which we’ll look at in more detail later on in this piece.
We couldn’t test a graphics card without having a good old run through Novi on the back of our favourite gaming steed. We’re talking of course about The Witcher 3, which was released in 2015 and remains a challenging test at 4K. The RTX 2080 Ti unsurprisingly takes home the top prize with an average frame-rate of 77fps, compared to 59fps for the RTX 2080. The GTX 1080 Ti comes close to 60fps as well, at around 56fps. However, the GTX 1080 and Vega 64 still manage tolerable scores around 45fps, allowing them to reach 60fps through a little settings tweakery.
Our third and final new game is Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which was originally released in October 2017. We tested a level from the campaign that sees BJ astride the Panzerhund in New Orleans using the uber preset, giving the game a good opportunity to test our graphics hardware. Here the RTX 2080 Ti holds a 22 per cent lead over the RTX 2080, which in turn is 15 per cent ahead of the GTX 1080 Ti.
We’ll finish our RTX 2080 benchmarks with a demonstration of the new DLSS tech in a special demo of Final Fantasy 15. You can see our full RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review for a more in-depth discussion of DLSS, but essentially it works like this: a lower-resolution image is rendered, then upscaled by an efficient deep learning algorithm which has been trained on tonnes of high-res images of game graphics. This allows the RTX hardware to deliver a final image that looks about the same or better at a fraction of the usual performance cost, ultimately allowing for higher frame-rates compared to more standard anti-aliasing methods. You can see from the benchmark below that enabling DLSS delivers dramatically higher performance. The RTX 2080 result is nearly 40 per cent higher, and we see similar advantages for the RTX 2080 Ti. Combined with the significant gap in raw hardware performance between the two card generations, the Final Fantasy 15 demo shows an 80 per cent leap between the GTX 1080 and RTX 2080 with DLSS enabled – impressive stuff!
With that, our benchmark archive for the RTX 2080 comes to an end.
For more on the RTX 2080 and its bigger brother, check out our full GeForce RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti review which goes into more detail about the new tech and the cards’ performance.
Now that you’ve seen the benchmarks for one card, why not check out see which GPUs we recommend? Click through to see Digital Foundry’s updated selections for the best graphics cards and for the best gaming monitors of 2018.