NVIDIA RTX 4080 12GB vs 16GB
The latest and greatest NVIDIA cards have been announced, promising more power, vast improvements in performance with DLSS 3 and more. If you're in the market for one you might have noticed the 4080 comes in two versions - one with 12GB memory, and one with 16GB.
This isn't inherently unusual, NVIDIA regularly releases graphics cards with the same designation (in this case 4080) with slightly differing specifications - however, look more closely and you'll find the difference between the two 4080 cards is bigger than you might anticipate, and in no way limited to VRAM.
RTX 4080 CUDA Cores
The curious case of RTX 4080 16GB vs 12GB starts with counting the CUDA Cores - it's clear from the specifications NVIDIA have posted that RTX 4080 12GB is quite a bit shorter on cores than its bigger brother, and while it would be overly simplistic to judge based on this information alone, it does give us some indication of the relative performance of the two cards.
But wait, there's more
We also know these two next-gen graphics cards don't actually use the same GPU, with RTX 4080 16GB using an AD103 chip while RTX 4080 12GB uses an AD104. What does that mean? A smaller die size, and in turn less transistors, less tensor cores, less RT cores, smaller L2 cache, and a narrower memory bus width. So definitely not just a decrease in VRAM, then.
NVIDIA's initial benchmarks begin to tell the story, with a noticable difference in performance in two out of three of the tested titles results were published for:
Since then we've seen further benchmarks released for Microsoft Flight Simulator, A Plague Tale: Requiem and F1 22, comparing a broader stack of RTX cards from 4090 all the way down to 2060, both with and without DLSS. This is where we really see a picture start to form as to what we can expect from their relative performance for 4K gaming.
From these new benchmarks we can see DLSS 3 is carrying the RTX 4080 12GB - without it performance drops behind the RTX 3090 Ti, while the RTX 4080 16GB is for the most part well clear of both last generation's powerhouse and it's 4080 12GB counterpart both with and without DLSS.
If you're shopping for an RTX 4080, the card you choose is going to depend largely on your budget and objectives. Speaking practically and keeping in perspective that both are powerful next-gen cards, you're not likely to run into too much trouble playing top titles for quite some time on either option, particularly if you're not gaming in 4K.
However, with the latest benchmarks showing 4080 16GB performing up to 30% better, if you want the authentic RTX 4080 experience and your budget allows it, both the specifications and the available benchmarks of the RTX 4080 16GB with its extra CUDA Cores and memory make a compelling case for it as the true heir to the RTX '80 title.
Pricing & Availability
Both GeForce RTX 4080 cards are expected to release in November, starting at £1,269 for a GeForce RTX 4080 16GB, and £949 for the RTX 4080 12GB.
When that time rolls around, you'll be able to find RTX 4080 12GB and 16GB in our graphics card section here.