Nvidia only just revealed the GeForce RTX 3050 and RTX 3090 Ti during its CES 2022 keynote last week, but that wasn’t all the company had up its sleeve. On Tuesday morning, Nvidia quietly and surprisingly launched a new 12GB version of GeForce RTX 3080 that fixes our biggest (albeit minor) gripe with an otherwise stellar graphics card.
The 10GB of VRAM on the original RTX 3080 felt somewhat lacking right out of the gate, as games like Doom already chew up immense amounts of memory with every graphics knob cranked at 4K resolution. It probably wouldn’t be something you’d have to worry about in most games soon, but the new version’s 12GB of GDDR6X completely alleviates any potential concerns. Nvidia also expanded the memory bus width in this model from 320-bit to 384-bit, which helps boost overall memory bandwidth to 912GB/s, up from 760GB/s in the original.
Nvidia also tweaked the GPU configuration of the new 12GB RTX 3080, bumping the CUDA graphics core count from 8704 in the original to 8960 now. That, combined with the upgraded memory, should make the 12GB RTX 3080 just a wee bit faster than the original, though we would’ve preferred that Nvidia gave this card a slightly different name (like RTX 3080 Super) given the small-but-key GPU tweaks.
Don’t bother trying to hunt down a Founders Edition version of this graphics card. Nvidia told PCWorld to contact board vendors (like EVGA, Asus, MSI, et cetera) for more product information—including pricing. Yes, Nvidia didn’t even slap an official MSRP on this bad boy. Gulp. The original 10GB version ostensibly retailed for $700 but is currently impossible to find in traditional stores, and is going for $1,500 to $2000-plus on Ebay depending on the model. Thanks to the ongoing GPU shortage, don’t expect this upgrade to come cheap.
Update: Yep, these aren’t cheap. EVGA’s standard 10GB RTX 3080 XC Ultra Gaming model costs $840 on the company’s website. The 12GB RTX 3080 XC Ultra Gaming costs $1,250—a $410 markup, and even more than the non-Ultra version of the step-up RTX 3080 Ti XC Gaming, which costs $1210. Well, if any of them were in stock, that is. Considering that mining desirability is largely driven by memory bandwidth, that isn’t really surprising, even if it’s a bit disheartening.
Still, more GPUs is better than fewer GPUs. You might not have noticed the 12GB RTX 3080’s launch if you weren’t paying close attention—Nvidia didn’t release any announcements or blog posts, it only quietly updated the RTX 3080 family’s spec page and slipped mention of the GPU into its new driver release notes—but it’s here. We’ll try to get our hands on one for testing.