The only reason you would buy a next generation graphics card is if you demand pure excellence in games or creative performance. That much is true. But where is the value for either section of the market? This article will explore which graphics card you should choose from the "mid" range of NVIDIA's latest cards - the RTX 4080 and the new RTX 4070 Ti.
Not all heroes wear capes
In a hail of controversy, the unlaunched 12GB RTX 4080 by NVIDIA gets a new moniker and a much more palatable price tag as the new RTX 4070 Ti. Amidst the photos of people lining up "around the block" on their website, NVIDIA also told us the RTX 4080 16GB would be ready to delight gamers everywhere come November. The launch did indeed happen, and the MSRP price tag was a tough pill to swallow for those with mid-tier budgets at £1,199.
The RTX 4070 Ti, of course, has become the unlikely hero of the story, with an MSRP of £799, and plenty of bang for your buck, with comparable benchmarks that teeter around the RTX 3090 Ti mark. All this for about half the price of the previous generation, dust gathering goliath.
About the RTX 3090 Ti
The previous generation RTX 3090 Ti is still priced at an insanely high £1,200 or more with most online retailers, and has sadly become the pariah that many thought it would be, incapable of matching the AMD 7000 series offerings (and drawing neck and neck with their 6900/6950 XT cards).
Back in March, Reddit did not greet the 3090 Ti launch with much fanfare:
Many RTX 3090s and Ti versions sit helplessly on shelves waiting for the final axe to come down, alongside a large chunk of other high-end graphics cards that just did not sell as well as NVIDIA had hoped.
What actually happened is recession-worn gamers flocked to buy mid-ranged cards, which performed admirably in the current gaming landscape. NVIDIA were in fact architects of their own demise; by releasing the ever solid RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti and making it such a good card, and then releasing next generation cards that pushed down the price of these mid-tier 30-series GPUs. Add in the crypto crash and lack of GPU support for miners, and you have a recipe for overstocks and discounts.
Sales of the RTX 3090, RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 were good, of course, but the overwhelming majority of PC gamers are still packing hardware that came out a few years ago according to Steam Data for December 2022:
By the numbers, 28 million players logged in to their Steam accounts on January 2nd 2023, which means there could easily be over 1.6 million daily active gamers still sporting a GTX 1650 - a GPU from 2020. The keen eyed among you will also note the number of RTX 3060 users crept up for the second straight month, growing by 0.47%.
You have to scroll quite a distance down the page to find the RTX 3090, though:
Nevertheless, CCL, along with many retailers, saw a peak in sales for the RTX 40-series in December 2022, as the high-end gamers out there still clamber over themselves to buy these powerhouses to experience the best NVIDIA has got to offer. It will, therefore, be interesting to see what the above table looks like come end of January 2023. Are we going to be seeing the largest adoption of next-gen technology in 2023?
Aside from the expected bad press that came from the unlaunch, the YouTube thought leaders on PC gaming certainly had plenty to say about the RTX 4070 Ti. Respected channel, JayzTwoCents, released a video entitled "NVIDIA... why do you hate gamers so much?" and let loose on NVIDIA's claims that the 4070 Ti is a "3090 killer". The subsequent benchmarks showed that the 3090 Ti did in fact come out on top against the 4070 Ti, across 3D Mark and gaming tests.
This is all well and good, but if we're talking about value and price vs performance, then for the marginal gains over the 4070 Ti, the RTX 3090 Ti is very poor value for money, the 40-series card being almost half the price of the older card with many retailers. At 4K, the marginality is almost negligible, and no doubt speaks to the memory bandwidth and extra memory that the 4070 Ti possesses, as Jay pointed out.
Jay left the video on a rather sombre note, saying he couldn't give buying advice on the "cheaper" 4070 Ti, when inflation and the economy are already gnawing at everyone's bank balance. If you have the bank balance to purchase either an RTX 4080 or a 4070 Ti, however, this is not a concern you're likely to have.
No specs please, we're bored...
Normally, with a head to head like this, we would bombard this section of the article with specifications and technical commentary that aims to inform and educate. However, as these cards have had more press than Harry and Megan in recent months, it seems superfluous at best. If you absolutely need to see them, you can find them here, at the foot of this article.
Instead, we're going to focus on what these cards actually mean to gamers and creators. What are we seeing in terms of value and price/performance for the RTX 4080 16GB and the RTX 4070 Ti 12GB cards? How do they stack up in independent, real world benchmark tests? Is it worth paying the extra chunk for the RTX 4080? This article will hopefully answer your questions, with a head to head comparison across the board.
RTX 4080 vs RTX 4070 Ti
For enthusiasts, high-end gamers and creators, these two graphics card muscle a lot of the competition out of the running, with AMD just barely able to cope with their RDNA 3 offerings. That's not to say the Radeon 7900 XTX, 7900 XT, 6950 XT and 6900 XT graphics cards are limp in any way, but they can't match the the NVIDIA cards at the bleeding edge of 4K across all titles. As always, AMD have their strengths in a few titles, and the new 7000-series do take the lead in framerates over the 4080 and the 4070 Ti in certain games.
The point of this article, however, is to compare the NVIDIA offerings, as these are the only cards that provide you with smooth 4K visuals, next-generation Ray Tracing, new DLSS 3 features and integrations such as NVIDIA Studio. This is probably why you're reading this in the first place.
Best GPU for gamers
Naturally, our attention moves swiftly to the largest sector for NVIDIA - gamers who want the very best out of their games. Playing games as the developers intended and maxing out as many settings as possible, in the hope of reaching gamer nirvana.
Benchmarks - RTX 4080 vs RTX 4070 Ti
In benchmarks, the RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 Ti are evenly matched at the top end, and there's very little in squabbling over 10 - 30 FPS here and there. I am yet to find someone who can see the difference between 145 and 155 FPS. It's the law of diminishing returns.
Credit - Hardware Unboxed
For more visually striking, demanding titles at 4K, however, you will see the RTX 4080 nose ahead - but this won't actually warrant upgrading to a 165Hz gaming monitor from a 144Hz one. You see, at 4K, the sweet spot for refresh rates is between 60Hz and 144Hz. So, its best not to get hung up on the highest framerates when you're talking high resolution. If you're gaming at 1080p and 1440p, then you'll be very happy with the extremely high framerates from top titles - and could consider upgrading your gaming monitor to hit those sky high numbers. This is especially true for those into Esports or competitive gaming, where every frame counts.
Below we have comparisons for each of the graphics cards at 1440p and 4K, and the beefy RTX 4090 as a benchmark for the top line. We've also included some Ray Tracing Ultra results for F1 2022 (which is enabled by default at Ultra), Marvel's Spider-Man: Remastered, and Cyberpunk 2077.
| || || ||RTX 4080 ||RTX 4070 Ti ||RTX 4090 |
|Game title ||Resolution ||Graphics Quality ||Framerate ||Framerate ||Framerate |
|Watch Dogs: Legion ||1440p ||Very High ||154 ||146 ||160 |
|Watch Dogs: Legion ||4K ||Very High ||110 ||89 ||141 |
|The Callisto Protocol ||1440p ||Ultra ||154 ||122 ||194 |
|The Callisto Protocol ||4K ||Ultra ||115 ||80 ||160 |
|Assassin's Creed Valhalla ||1440p ||Very High ||161 ||141 ||183 |
|Assassin's Creed Valhalla ||4K ||Very High ||100 ||85 ||116 |
|F1 2022 (RT On) ||1440p ||RT Ultra ||123 ||100 ||162 |
|F1 2022 (RT On) ||4K ||RT Ultra ||64 ||52 ||88 |
|Dying Light 2 Stay Human ||1440p ||High ||151 ||114 ||192 |
|Dying Light 2 Stay Human ||4K ||High ||78 ||59 ||104 |
|Marvel's Spider-Man: |
Remastered (RT On)
|1440p ||RT Ultra ||105 ||105 ||- |
|Cyberpunk 2077 ||1440p ||RT Ultra ||61 ||51 ||- |
Which GPU is best for gamers - RTX 4080 or RTX 4070 Ti?
It is worth noting that most games are unable to fully take advantage of the RTX 40-series, as it is so new. It will be a few Game Ready drivers down the line before we truly see what the GPUs are made of - so expect to see increased framerates in the months to come. The RTX 4090 will often be CPU limited, and the above results are using an AMD Ryzen 5800X3D processor, which still saw a 100 FPS limitation on the Spider-Man game due to a weird glitch at the time of going to press.
DirectStorage - more performance for Windows 11 users
For Microsoft Windows users, DirectStorage is now fully supported by Windows 11, so you can expect faster load times and higher framerates when using the technology with SSD storage. With less load on the CPU, this frees up headroom for game processing, which is huge for all types of gamers. You'll also see games loading twice as fast over SATA SSD and 10x faster than HDD, for starters. All we're waiting for now are developers to implement changes and updates, and to use DirectStorage APIs in new games. This will be proven very soon with the release of Forspoken, an upcoming action RPG by Luminous Productions and published by Square Enix. Forspoken will be one of the fastest-loading games ever on PC thanks to DirectStorage which can enable load speeds of 1.7 seconds on an M2 SSD as opposed to 19.9 seconds on a regular HDD.
Price vs performance
The price vs performance of the 16GB RTX 4080 is definitely there if you like your games in 4K and at around the usual 100 FPS on a 144Hz 4K gaming monitor. For Esports and competitive gaming, the RTX 4080 is for the pros and the aspiring professionals out there, certainly, capable of hitting >500 FPS at 1080p maxed out on any Esports title you can throw at it. However, the 12GB RTX 4070 Ti is our pick for Esports, competitive and 1080p gamers who care about framerates - the value for money is so much better.
For an all round gaming powerhouse, the overclocked versions of the 4070 Ti are great price vs performance, as you can expect to play a wide variety of casual, AAA and variety games at Ultra settings with excellent results, in both 1440p and 4K.