Its been a while since we did our last round-up of the RTX 2080 Ti range so we’re going to use this opportunity to update our recommendations for the current 2080 Ti AIB cards. We’re going to focus on best value RTX 2080 Ti, best feature card, best cooling solutions, best looks and more. Not every implementation is the same; they actually differ by a lot and its very easy to make a bad design for such a high end and demanding video card. Manufacturers have usually used their most extreme cooling solution on the RTX 2080 Ti and thus inflated the price over reference. We’re here to see who has been the cleverest in making the best cards out there.
Custom cooling solutions have been made specifically for this card; from fat 3 slot cards to 3 large cooler designs and water blocks, the manufacturers have done them all in order to tame the RTX 2080 Ti beast and help it clock higher for more performance. Specs are not the end of the discussion though, real-world performance and testing being key in order to fairly compare these implementations.
We did our homework and research in order for you to pick the best RTX 2080 Ti card that suits your budget and performance needs best. We’ll first show the specs of these AIB cards and a rough approximation of gaming and cooling performance; then, we’ll get rather in-depth with these RTX 2080 Ti AIB variants in order to point out their selling points. The links to buy are available throughout the article. Let’s get into this, starting with the following summary!
Best RTX 2080 Ti Cards – Our Recommendations
|RTX 2080 Ti Card||Core Clock||Boost Clock||Length||External Power||Cooling||Performance||Current Retail Price|
|Zotac RTX 2080 Ti AMP Extreme||1545 MHz||1815 MHz||324 mm||2 x 8-pin||★★★★★||★★★★★||$1500|
|MSI RTX 2080 Ti GAMING X TRIO||1350 MHz||1755 MHz||324 mm||2 x 8-pin & 1 x 6-pin||★★★★★||★★★★★||$1250|
|EVGA RTX 2080Ti FTW3 ULTRA GAMING||1350 MHz||1755 MHz||302 mm||2 x 8-pin||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||$1500|
|Asus RTX 2080 Ti ROG Strix Gaming OC||1350 MHz||1770 MHz||305 mm||2 x 8-pin||★★★★★||★★★★☆||$1280|
|Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Ti AORUS XTREME||1350 MHz||1770 MHz||290 mm||2 x 8-pin||★★★★★||★★★★☆||$1300|
These five RTX 2080 Ti aftermarket cards have been selected from the entire stack because they are popular choices among the enthusiast community. But are they really that good or you’re only buying the manufacturer name? That’s what we’re about to find out in the next few sections and look at RTX 2080 Ti board quality, cooling, performance, acoustics and overclocking.
Best Performance RTX 2080 Ti Card
Best performance out of the box: The Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 Ti AMP Extreme
This card, the Zotac RTX 2080 Ti AMP Extreme, is a small powerhouse of an RTX 2080 Ti; its been heavily factory tuned with an 1815 MHz boost clock that it can actually sustain out of the box. The memory has also received a bump in frequency and the design is neither subtle nor very tacky and it will surely appeal to a large audience. With its dark design, the powered-on cooler looks amazing and is definitely the star of your build. Its RGB aesthetics are funky while the LED inclusion has been done subtly; they can be configured and controlled in many ways through the Firestorm software that comes bundled with the card.
While some backplates may be poorly designed and trap heat instead of helping, Zotac’s has vents that help with this issue found in other cards. Its aesthetic is appealing and also acts as a shield against other component damage. Overall, this RTX 2080 Ti has been masterfully detailed in order to provide a premium feel to it; this of course, reflects in the price.
Its also been tweaked big time and while not the coolest at stock, averaging around 75 degrees Celsius when on heavy load, the card definitely has the legs for overclocking support and it will not get out of control when pushed hard. This is due to how the factory fan curves have been set. We hoped for this product to be more silent though but we cannot say anything bad about the performance. RTX 2080 Ti AIB cards with a TU102 die will consume around 265-270 W at full stress but the Zotac will create a 300-310 W power draw, most likely due to how its tweaked for performance out of the factory.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can run this safely with a 550W PSU. Wattage spikes may occur and your PSU and other components won’t like that; thus, the minimum PSU wattage we’ll recommend is 650W because you should always aim to double up your biggest consumer in the case since PSUs are most efficient when around 50-60% load. This card is a highly tweakable one as it has clock speed and memory headroom so if you plan on pushing this GPU, we recommend getting an 85 W Platinum PSU in order to have enough reserve. Single-digit performance improvements can be obtained but those can easily add as much as 150 W of additional power to your peak power consumption. With increased power limiter, you’ll be able to see 2 GHz+ boost frequencies and 16.3 Gbps memory running stable.
We like this AMP Extreme and we can recommend it if you don’t care about price and availability, as it’s pretty hard to find at its MSRP. It may be hard to justify its price but there are many people who just want the best of the best and the Zotac 2080 Ti is a serious contender for that. The PCB layout and components scream quality, the cooler is great albeit with some rather average acoustic levels. Factory tweak of frequency is also great, being one of the highest of the bunch.
Best Overall RTX 2080 Ti Card
Best overall RTX 2080 Ti implementation: The MSI GAMING X TRIO
One of the best if not the best RTX 2080 Ti implementations with carefully thought-out board components, a hefty tuned experience out of the box, good acoustics and a decent price; these are the ingredients that make the MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio our highest recommendation. This card comes stock with a 40W higher TDP than that of the Founder’s Edition 2080 Ti and it allows the Gaming X Trio to peak at 300 W on stock settings under maximum load. We would recommend pairing this card with at least a 650W PSU in order to ensure a steady flow of current. What you should also keep in mind is its big size, the card easily occupying almost three PCIe slots. All of the cards lengths are displayed in the table at the beginning of the article so we recommend you check them before buying such a beefy and well-built card.
The Gaming X Trio offers good I/O connectors and certainly everything that most gamers need in the form of three Display Ports, one HDMI and one USB Type-C mainly for VR use. This combination is standard among many other RTX 2080 Tis but the aspect that differentiates it is the 2 x 8-pin + 1 x 6-pin power connector setup that can’t be found on other similarly priced cards; this bodes well for overclocking headroom and shows that MSI knows what they’re target audience is. This card is ideal for a multi-monitor setup.
The 1,350 MHz base clock may match Nvidia’s reference model but the boost clock is much higher and the nice thing is that this card is able to easily sustain it. The Gaming X Trio consumes 40 W more at stock as we mentioned earlier which explains the need for such a beefy cooling solution. This card can be pushed very hard though and remain relatively silent even at 2,050 MHz boost speeds which can’t be said about any other RTX 2080 Ti; this thing has not only the legs for overclocking but also a cleverly designed fan curve that needs little to no tweaking in order to function perfectly. The VRAM operates at a stock 14 GHz but can be further tweaked by the user in order to exceed 16 GHz; this, together with the 352-bit bus offers a bandwidth of 616 GB/s which also comes in helpful in many applications besides gaming.
Despite all of the things this card does right, it’s still an expensive product that may put some people off. Cheaper versions start at around $1,150 but at $1,250 this MSI RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio is an easier sell thanks to its incredible performance both out of the box and when pushed, good warranty, great acoustics and pleasing looks. Its the cheapest of the cards we’re reviewing today but it’s maybe the most well rounded in a stellar way. Whoever will choose this MSI model will be rewarded with the best GPU performance on the market paired with silent operation and attention-seeking RGB lighting; in short, fiercely delivering on its potential and price tag.
Best PCB RTX 2080 Ti Card
The best engineered PCB, the ASUS ROG Strix OC
When testing the STRIX implementation of the same RTX 2080 Ti die we can notice that the product performance is very close to that of the Founder’s Edition. The performance difference is marginal but the cooling solution is much better which allows this implementation of the RTX 2080 Ti to be easily overclocked to above 2,000 MHz clock speeds.
This card, the ASUS ROG RTX 2080 Ti Strix Gaming OC, has an incredibly small factory tweak applied probably to remain within TDP specs but don’t let that shy you away because this card has the best custom board specially made by ASUS for this TU102 die. VRMs are highly capable of sustained higher voltage and this makes it our top recommendation for a custom loop water cooling setup.
The looks are very familiar from ASUS as they have familiarized us with the same look in other cards as well but this implementation has gotten thicker and slightly longer in size in order to deal well with the thermal dissipation needed for this enthusiast class GPU. We are a bit worried that the back plate might trap heat that will warm up the PCB but its also there to protect and people are always asking for it; we can’t measure the efficacy of the back plate but lets hope that ASUS have internally tested it.
Aesthetics are great with this card, starting with the ROG backplate design, the slick angles, dark matte materials, clean looking fans and glorious RGB give this card a great appeal and premium feel in many themed cases. There’s also a hard switch on the GPU itself if you want those lights to remain off during operation. Cooling is and should be great thanks to the beefy tri-fan cooler. In performance vBIOS mode, the card topped out at 63 degree Celsius during heavy gaming while Silent mode topped out at 73 degrees Celsius. The acoustics were good for the performance mode, topping at 40 dBA and impressive for the silent mode at 33 dBA which is class-leading. If we were to overclock this GPU past 2,000 though, the Performance vBIOS is needed and acoustics get in line with the other RTX 2080 Tis. Power consumption is in line with the other RTX 2080 Tis, maybe lesser at stock due to the conservative clock speed, at roughly 265 W.
This card gets beaten as the best RTX 2080 Ti by the MSI Gaming X Trio, only due to its steeper price and lack of some software features but its performance potential should not be neglected. This is why we’re recommending it for true tweakers that want to extract the most performance out of it or for those who just want to use its superior PCB in a custom water cooling loop.
Best Feature-set RTX 2080 Ti Cards
Honorable mentions of cards that are very closely matched: The EVGA FTW3 ULTRA GAMING & the Gigabyte AORUS XTREME
These two RTX 2080 Ti cards, the EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming and Gigabyte AORUS XTREME are average contenders in a league very close to our top pick, the MSI Gaming X Trio. For example, the Gigabyte model has an amazing cooling setup and binned TU102 dies that allow you to push it to even 2,100 MHz clock speeds but the card rapidly starts to become loud over normal operation. Don’t get us wrong, the performance is great but for people who seek silent usage, this card is not for them as Gigabyte has probably failed to tweak the fan curves very well. Manually tuning will absorb some of the unwanted acoustics but at the expense of higher die temperatures.
On the other hand, the EVGA comes with one of the best warranties and slightly overclocked out of the box. Most people will agree that its the ugliest out of all mentioned RTX 2080 Tis but that doesn’t matter if the performance is great. The thing that’s pulling down this card is price and availability; we currently couldn’t find a model that retails under $1,500 with no price gouging so we can’t recommend this to our readers. If this card can be found around the $1,250 price range it does put up a very good fight with the other cards with similar performance metrics and more silent operation than the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme model.
These two cards are getting mentions thanks to their good feature sets; for example, the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme has better I/O than other RTX 2080 Tis and subjectively one of the best aesthetics and lighting while EVGA is known for great customer support and their RTX 2080 Ti Ultra version has much room for overclocking while remaining silent. Despite these, they’re being pulled down in value by their current retail prices; the situation might change and we cannot afford not to mention such worthy competitors in the RTX 2080 Ti lineup.
This concludes our journey to find the most capable RTX 2080 Tis on the market. It’s a card that has been on the market for some time as the top consumer GPU and manufacturers had good incentive to perfect their products in order to compete well in this segment. We have ranked some great cards such as the gorgeous and fast out of the box Zotac AMP Extreme, the well rounded and seriously capable MSI Gaming X Trio (our top pick) or the best PCB design for enthusiast water cooling, the ASUS STRIX version. Honorable mentions have been awarded to EVGA and Gigabyte for their competent implementations for the RTX 2080 Ti.
We need you to read this article as a good base reference because the ranking can seriously change based on price and availability in your area. If these cards are well discounted under the prices we’ve shown in the table above then they might suddenly become the best RTX 2080 Ti that you can get. Keep in mind to pair any of these with at least a 650W power supply unit in order to allow the card to function properly at stock and an 850 W unit if you’re interested in tweaking every little bit of your card for your liking; this is because of power consumption spikes and ranges a lot when talking about such a powerful card.
We at PremiumBuilds are doing the research and provide you with a good understanding of the products we review in order for you to go ahead and just buy your desired GPU. If you’re further interested in information, let this be a healthy knowledge base for your product research. Nvidia will soon launch their RTX 3000 series cards so stay tuned for information on those, retail deals on their 2000 series GPUs and on future articles from us where we’ll cover popular subjects such as the one above.