Table of Contents
Under the microscope today is the AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme. It not only sports a custom PCB and beefy power delivery but also includes one of the coolest RGB LED implementations we’ve seen. The Xtreme uses the Windforce 3 Stack cooling including three fans with each fan integrating a single RGB LED on one fan blade. This location for the LED with the fan spinning makes it look like a continuous circle of light around each of the fans and is highly customizable. We’ll dig down and see how it performs as well as look at the lighting and its seemingly endless options for tweaking.
Below we have a table of high-level specifications. Being an RTX 2080, it has 2944 CUDA cores, 368 Tensor cores, and 48 RT cores. The base clock comes in at 1515 MHz which is the same as the Founders Edition (FE) cards. The cards base boost clock is 1890 MHz which is above FE speeds. The 8GB of GDDR6 memory comes at 14.14 Gbps (1785 MHz) and sits on a 256-bit bus. The clock speeds are higher than we have seen previously. In fact, this is the first RTX card we have seen with overclocked memory from the box in the first place.
|AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme Specifications
|GPU Base Clock
|GPU Boost Clock
|1890 MHz (1965 MHz actual)
|Memory Clock (Data Rate)
|14.14 Gbps (1785 MHz)
|Texture Fillrate (Gigatexels /sec)
|L2 Cache Size
|3x DisplayPort, 3x HDMI, 1x USB Type-C
|$879.99 (Newegg), $879.99 (Amazon)
Below we have an image of GPU v.2.14.0 confirming the specifications listed in the table above. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
As far as features go, the flagship AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme looks to have a lot going for it on this front. Along with the cool RGB LEDs on the fan blades (one RBG LED for each fan, three total), the three 100 mm double ball bearing fans use the Windforce Stack 3x cooling system. With this configuration, the two outside fan blades overlap the middle fan a which helps get air where it needs to go. The inside fan spins in the opposite direction of the outer fans which GIGABYTE says reduces the turbulent airflow created by three fans. In addition, the fans also provide semi-passive cooling and will remain powered off while the GPU is in a low load or low power game. The top of the card has an LED fan indicator to provide an instant display of the fan status.
The heatsink itself has angled fins with unequal heights which channels the airflow through the fins which not only enlarges the contact area but is said to result in lower noise levels and better cooling capacity. Composite heat pipes are used snaking their way through the fin array to the base of the heatsink where it makes direct contact with the GPU core. The pipe also covers VRAM though a baseplate so it is able to be cooled as well.
NVIDIA’s Founders Edition (FE) cards use an 8+2 power phase design to drive the cards, while AORUS steps it up here on the Xtreme utilizing a 12+2 phase design that allows the MOSFETs to operate at lower temperatures. There are also two LEDs on the 8-pin PCIe power connectors to show the user if the card is receiving the proper power. If the light is on, the power cable is disconnected. If it is off, the power is stable, blinking means abnormal power supply.
GIGABYTE has also included an “aerospace-grade” PCB coating to protect the card from dust, insects, dropped screws, drill shavings, and abrasions. The coating is said to be moisture resistant as well as protecting the boards from environmental contaminants such as salt spray, humidity, and corrosion.
Retail Packaging and Accessories
When we opened up the package from the GIGABYTE team, we were greeted by a typical retail package. The front of this particular model from AORUS has their gaming falcon symbol prominently across the front along with some information on what is inside along with its RGB ecosystem (RGB Fusion), and noting a 4-year warranty which is a year longer than other board/card partners. Flipping the box around, the back side covers a few of the features mentioned above along with some high-level specifications.
Inside the box is another flip open box which contains the GPU along with any includes accessories. The GPU rests snug in form fitting foam to protect it from the rigors of shipping. The AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme includes a driver disk, I/O guide, quick guide, AORUS metal sticker, and a great value-add item with the AORUS VGA holder. The latter is a strut designed to support the heavy card and prevent it from sagging due to weight.
Meet the GIGABYTE RTX 2080 Xtreme
Pictured above, the AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Xtreme has a unique design on the fan shroud with the AORUS bird sitting in the middle backlit by an RGB LED. The black fan frame uses an open concept allowing for plenty of airflow across the three 100 mm fans. The card is pretty big occupying 2.5 slots in width with a height a bit taller than typical boards. The card measures in at 290 x 134.31 x 59.9 mm. Outside of the space it occupies, its biggest draw outside has got to be the RGB LED located at the end of each fan blade. That along with using the RGB Fusion software to control it makes for a pretty cool light show that really only feels limited by imagination.
Outside of the LEDs on the fan blades, the top of the card is also illuminated in two spots. The first is the AORUS naming, with the second the “NO FAN” wording towards the back of the card by the power leads. Other RGB lighting can be found on the back with the large AORUS bird lit up as well.
Overall the card looks good and should fit into most any theme users would come up with.
A Closer Look
Getting a little closer to the card, the first area we look at is are the outputs. Normally, this would be a pretty boring section, however, this card is unique in that instead of having the typical configuration of 2x DP / 1x HDMI / 1x USB Type-C, this card has 3x DP and 3x HDMI (2.0b) plus the USB Type-C port. The additional two HDMI ports allow users to have greater flexibility when connecting to the displays. Users can choose from 3x HDMI + 1x DP + 1x USB-C or 3x DP + 1x HDMI + 1x USB-C without using adapters.
Power is supplied by two 8-pin PCIe power connections. When properly plugged in, the LEDs on the back of the PCB by the connectors should be OFF. If they are on or flashing, there may be a problem with them being plugged in properly or another power issue.
Taking the heatsink and backplates off we are able to see just how different the PCB is when comparing it to an FE based RTX 2080. The power bits immediately jump out of the picture with its 12+2 phase setup. We are also able to see the Micron RAM used on this sample. Below we can see close-ups of the hardware used. In this case, there are ON Semiconductor FDMF3170 MOSFETs and a UPI UP9512P PWM controller (two of them).
Below is an image of the card on the test bench along with some images of the fan LEDs. Truth be told, these images do not do it justice. This implementation, if you like RGB LEDs, is really one of the coolest around.
Test System and Benchmark Methods
Our test system is based on the latest mainstream Intel platform, Z370, and uses the i7-8700K 6c/12t CPU. The CPU is overclocked to 4.7 GHz on all cores/threads with cache set to 4.3 GHz. The clock speeds used provides a good base to minimize any limitations the CPU may have on our titles, particularly when using the lower resolutions, and should be attainable with a good air cooler or better. The DRAM is in a 2×8 GB configuration at 3200 MHz with CL15-15-15-35-2T timings which is a middle of the road option that balances performance and cost.
|Test System Components
|ASRock X370 Taichi
|Intel i7 8700K @ 4.7 GHz / 4.3 GHz Cache
|EVGA CLC 240
|2×8 GB G.Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL15-15-15-35
|Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS + Applications)
|EVGA 750W G3
|AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 Xtreme (416.94 drivers)
Thanks goes out to EVGA for providing the CLC 240 CPU Cooler and 750 W G3 Power Supply to cool and power the system, G.Skill for the Trident Z DRAM, and Toshiba OCZ for the 480 GB TR200 SSDs storage running the OS, benchmarks, and games. With our partners helping out, we are able to build matching test systems to mitigate any differences found between using different hardware. This allows for multiple reviewers in different locations to use the same test system and compare results without additional variables.
Below are the tests we run with a brief description of the settings. We have made some significant changes since the last update adding a few new titles and dropping some of the older games. More details can be found in the GPU Testing Procedure article which we have updated with our latest benchmarks.
- UL 3DMark Time Spy – Default settings
- UL 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) – Default settings
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider – DX12, “Highest” preset (will add RTX when it has been patched)
- The Division – DX12, Ultra preset, VSync Off
- Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation – DX12, Crazy preset, GPU focused
- Far Cry 5 – Ultra defaults
- F1 2018 – Very High defaults, TAA, and x16 AF, Australia track, show FPS counter
- World of Tanks: Encore Benchmark – Ultra defaults
- Final Fantasy XV Benchmark – High defaults
Our first set of benchmarks hail from Underwriters Laboratories who acquired Futuremark back in 2014. Earlier in 2018, a rebrand occurred and since that time, Futuremark is now UL. The benchmarks have not changed, just the name. We chose to stick with 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy as these tests give users a good idea of performance on modern titles.
3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) is a DX11-based test which UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games. This benchmark runs at 1920×1080. 3DMark Time Spy is a DX12 benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs. It supports new API features such as asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, multi-threading, and runs at 2560×1440 resolution.
We can see above from our synthetic benchmarks that all four cards are within 1% of each other which for all intents and purposes can be deemed within the margin of error. Even though each card has a different set of clock speeds, due to how the boost works relying on temperature (and other things) each card can vary depending on its environment. We did see solid gains of around 7% when overclocking.
Moving on to the gaming benchmarks, we have updated our testing suite to bring more modern titles into the mix. Gone are GTA V, Crysis 3, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, which were replaced with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, World of Tanks: enCore benchmark, F1 2018, Final Fantasy XV benchmark, and Far Cry 5. We kept The Division and Ashes of the Singularity (though we updated to AOTS: Escalation). The games should provide a good view of the overall performance of the card. Many of these are DX12 games.
We will not test DLSS features in FF XV as the benchmark itself is a bit flawed. Ray Tracing will also not be tested here even though BF V and Windows have now been updated to support it. In the future, SoTR will have it along with many other titles so we will circle back when appropriate.
In our first set of gaming tests, World of Tanks: enCore has the AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme running slightly faster in this test by a few FPS reaching 234 FPS at this resolution. F1 2018 shares the same story with the AORUS offering running a couple FPS quicker than the other cards. That said, I highly doubt anyone will notice this small difference with such high FPS in the first place.
In Far Cry 5, the AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme reached 135 FPS average out of the box which is right in the middle of the pack compared to the other RTX 2080s we have looked at. The Division shows a slightly different story running a few FPS slower than previous cards. This could be caused by a driver difference in this title.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider has this card reaching 119 FPS average, just a couple of FPS lower here than others, but nothing that will be noticeable outside of benchmarks. Our FF XV testing shows the card reaching 114 FPS which is a few FPS higher than the others, but again, not something noticeable.
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation shows this card averaging 82.2 FPS which also has it in the middle of the other RTX 2080’s we’ve tested.
Overall, performance was solid with it leading, following, or mixing right in with the other cards. No concerns here.
2560×1440 and 4K UHD Results
Below are the higher resolution results starting with 2560×1440 and the gaining in popularity 3840×2160 (4K UHD). These resolutions are more fitting for the cards we are testing as the 1080p results with these cards can have a ceiling on them from the CPU (even at 4.7 GHz).
Stepping up the resolution to something a bit more appropriate for the card, we can see in the 2560×1440 results that users will be hard pressed to find a difference between all RTX 2080s we have tested. FPS here is WELL over 60 FPS average and in some titles well over 100 FPS. It is a plenty capable card for 2560×1440 gaming, even high Hz gaming in some titles.
Our 4K UHD results show the card flirting with 60 FPS average or higher five of the 7 titles we tested with only SOTR and FF XV bench falling well below that threshold. With some sacrifices, 60 FPS across more titles is possible.
Overclocking was easy breezy as it is on most cards these days. Starting off, I let the EVGA XI Precision program scan the card and see what it comes up with for the core. In this case, it gives us a +39 value which worked without issue. The memory I set at +700 out of the gate which is a fairly conservative overclock as most cards we used managed to reach 1000+. But this is a daily driving clock and it should be stable (it was).
When pushing the limits, I was able to work out a +84 on the core which yielded running clocks of around 2070 MHz. The memory clocks topped out around +726 or 1949 MHz which is pretty low compared to other cards. Obviously, your mileage may vary and each card will overclock differently due to the quality of its silicon. Even with the voltage cranked, the power limit (a max of 127%) still had some headroom to go.
GIGABYTE/AORUS includes their own software for monitoring and tweaking its systems named AORUS Engine. This software allows users to manipulate their card from the clocks, voltage, and power limit for overclocking, and also allows fan control via profiles or custom curves.
Controlling the RGB illumination is RGB Fusion. It includes 13 different preset lighting patterns along with the ability to adjust each. The software and fans are HIGHLY customizable and one of the coolest (to me) and most flexible we have seen on a GPU so far. Impressive to say the least.
Some improvements we would like to see in this software is that it comes up quicker. On the test system, it takes nearly 10 seconds to come up. And, oddly, when I would bring up AORUS Engine, even though RGB Fusion was installed, the software would install it again. After it installed I was unable to control the RGB LEDs at all without uninstalling and reinstalling the software by itself. Perhaps this is just a one-off though. GIGABYTE just had me make sure the latest was installed and it all worked at that point.
Temperatures and Power Use
We test power consumption by running through the game benchmarks of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and F1 2018 at both stock speeds, and while overclocked. We monitor temperatures throughout this testing with the peak temperature what is listed in the data below. In order to more accurately simulate real gaming conditions, the benchmarks are extended (time) to allow the card to settle.
Temperatures on the AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme hit a peak of 77 °C. This is a couple of degrees cooler than the FE we tested with the fans subjectively being around as loud. Once these fans hit 65% or so, we were easily able to hear them over a couple of system and CPU fans on the test bench. We cannot quantify it, but it was one of the louder cards out of those we have tested.
As far as power consumption goes, the card was in the ballpark of the other cards peaking at 418W at the wall while gaming. This is a bit higher than the rest of the cards, but nothing out of line. AORUS recommends a 650W power supply with this card.
The AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme purports to be the flagship RTX 2080 SKU and fits that description quite nicely. The video card uses a large 2.5 slot cooler with a heat pipe equipped heat sink along with three 100 mm fans to keep things cool. Also on the cooling solution are the unique implementation of RGB LEDs, one on each fan blade, to create a really cool visual when the card’s fans are active. The seemingly endless options for configuration only add more value to the card. And if bling isn’t a feature that is needed, all RGB LED lighting can be disabled. So it is a win-win on the appearance perspective.
The performance was also spot on with the card waffling between being every so slightly faster and ever so slightly slower depending on the title. It really feels like although these cards have higher boost bins, it seems temperatures and the environment play a role in making sure the cards reach their potential.
On the cost front, the AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme is priced at $879.99 at both Newegg and Amazon.com. This places the card right next to an ASUS ROG Strix RTX 2080 at $870, a Zotac card for $860, EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming for $900. So for the high-end card that it is, she fits right in. When comparing it to the other cards, it shares the fastest clocks with the ASUS, but, overall, has a better RGB LED implementation. If a user would like to save $20, they can grab the non-Xtreme version of this card for $859.99. About the only drawback on the card versus others is potential fan noise. While it isn’t loud or overpowering, when it gets ramped up a bit, it was louder than I have come to expect for these cards.
Overall, the card performs well, looks good, has ample overclocking headroom on the power limit, and is priced well considering the cards place in the product stack. If a user is looking for a great performing card and some great RGB LED bling, look no further than the AORUS RTX 2080 Xtreme.
Joe Shields (Earthdog)