Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC Review

It’s been a long time coming for Overclockers.com, but we’ve finally managed to get our hands on an RTX 3080. For this review, Asus was kind enough to send the ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC along for testing. This version of the RTX 3080 includes a massive ~3 slot cooler to help keep this 320W+ monster running cool and quiet as well as more robust VRMs and slightly higher out of the box clock speeds.

Our ROG Strix proved itself in our testing easily beating out the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition, though it does use quite a bit more power and takes up a lot more space on the motherboard. With its three fans and large heatsink, it was also surprisingly quiet during tests and an extended gaming session. Read on to see more details about the card and its performance below.

Specifications and Features

Nvidia RTX 3000 Series Specifications
Model RTX 3090 Strix RTX 3080 RTX 3080 RTX 3070
Architecture Ampere
(GA102)
Ampere
(GA102)
Ampere
(GA102)
Ampere
(GA104)
Manufacturing  Samsung 8 nm Samsung 8 nm Samsung 8 nm Samsung 8 nm
CUDA Cores 10,496 8,704 8,704 5,888
RT Cores 82 68 68 46
Tensor Cores
(2nd Gen)
328 272 272 184
Texture Units
(3rd Gen)
328 272 272 184
ROPs 96 88 88 64
L2 Cache 6 MB 5 MB 5 MB 4 MB
Base Clock 1,400 MHz 1,440 MHz 1,440 MHz 1,500 MHz
Boost Clock 1,700 MHz 1,740 MHz
(OC Mode)
1,710 MHz 1,730 MHz
Memory 24 GB
GDDR6X
10 GB
GDDR6X
10 GB
GDDR6X
8 GB
GDDR6
Memory Speed 935.8 GBps 760 GBps 760 GBps 512 GBps
Memory Bus 384-bit 320-bit 320-bit 256-bit
Supplementary
Power
2x PCIe 8-pin 3x PCIe 8-pin 2x PCIe 8-pin 1x PCIe 8-pin
Standard Display
Connectors 
HDMI 2.1
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
2x HDMI (2.1)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
HDMI (2.1)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
HDMI (2.1)
3x DisplayPort (1.4a)
Max Resolution 8K (7680 x 4320) 8K (7680 x 4320) 8K (7680 x 4320) 8K (7680 x 4320)
TDP 350 W 320 W+ 320 W 220 W
Release Date 09/24/2020 09/17/2020 09/17/2020 10/28/2020
MSRP $1,499 $849 $699 $499

 

Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC

The Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC hails from a long line of ROG Strix video cards that are built with more robust power delivery, cooling capacity, and enough RGB LED lighting elements to show it all off. The latest ROG Strix, based on Nvidia’s new Ampere architecture (MSI 3090 Review for Comparison Here), brings all of that to the table and more. The back of the card uses a wide backplate vent and along with the shortened PCB allows warmed air to move towards your case’s exhaust fans with ease. Additionally, it helps with VRM and PCB cooling via thermal pads. A dual BIOS switch found on the top by the RGB elements allows for a quick swap between “performance” and “quiet” modes for the fans.

The new setup uses a massive 2.9 slot heatsink to disperse the 320W+ loads with a whopping seven heat pipes that meander through the huge fin array moving the heat from the surface of the polished heat spreader distributing the load throughout. Air is moved through the heatsink via three axial fans – where Asus has increased the blade count to a total of 13 on the center and 11 on the auxiliary fans. The axial style fans also use a smaller barrier ring than previous generations which is said to allow for more lateral intake and provide increased airflow through the array. The center fan’s additional blades, full-height barrier ring, and blade count increase static pressure pushing air directly onto the GPU heat spreader.

Additionally, the center fan spins clockwise, the opposite of the two auxiliary fans. This configuration is said to reduce airflow turbulence inside of the cooling array for increased performance. The large heatsink and other cooling innovations, according to Asus, results in lower fan speeds and increases the performance threshold for achieving a sub-55 degree GPU temperature where the fans shut off completely. Our card had no issues idling with the fans off (except in multi-monitor setups where the fans spun constantly, inaudible).

Asus uses Super Alloy Power II parts including premium capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs designed specifically for the rigors of this 320W+ video card. As far as the capacitor issue on the back of the card that was said to cause issues, the ROG Strix uses a full MLCC capacitor design with the Strix line choosing to forgo any POSCAP/SP-CAP use in their highest tiered cards. Power is provided to our ROG Strix 3080 OC via three 8-pin PCIe power connections. Combined with the PCIe slot, the card is capable of using up to 525 W while being in spec. Since the power limit is set much lower, that potential won’t be used, but it can be more than the 375W two 8-pin PCIe connectors and the slot provides.

On the software side, Asus has updated its GPU Tweak II software to work with the Ampere-based video cards. You get monitoring and overclocking capabilities (core, memory, voltage, power limits, fan control, etc) with the software. RGB lighting control is handled through the Armory Crate. ​

AXIAL-TECH UPGRADES

Our Axial-tech fan design has been optimized for a new, larger heatsink that features more fins and surface area than last gen. The blade count has been increased on all three fans, with 13 on the center fan and 11 on the auxiliary fans. The barrier ring on the side fans has been slimmed down to allow for more lateral intake and to provide better airflow through the cooling array. The center fan’s extra blades and full-height ring provide boosted static pressure to blast air directly onto the GPU heat spreader.

NEW DIRECTIONS
To bolster the specialized roles of the center and auxiliary fans, the rotational direction of the center fan has been reversed. This reduces airflow turbulence inside of the cooling array for another boost to the card’s overall thermal performance. The sum of the ROG Strix’s cooling innovations results in lower fan speeds and raises the performance threshold for achieving a sub-55 degree GPU temp, at which point the fans can shut off completely. Builders seeking quiet performance will be pleased.

MAXCONTACT

To get heat up off the die and into the heatsink array to benefit from the new fan design requires special attention. We use a manufacturing process that polishes the surface of the heat spreader to improve smoothness at the microscopic level. The extra flatness allows for better contact with the die for improved thermal transfer.

2.9-SLOT DESIGN

The heat spreader draws heat up into heatpipes that carry it through a fin stack that fills a large 2.9-slot footprint. Increasing the heatsink size compared to the last generation provides more thermal headroom to account for the new high-performance chipset.

PREMIUM COMPONENTS

Top-shelf capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs are selected to effortlessly deliver hundreds of watts at a millisecond’s notice. The Super Allot Power II parts are soldered to the PCB using our advanced Auto-Extreme automated manufacturing process. Smooth joints on the rear of the PCB and the elimination of human errors ensures each graphics card meets our rigorous specifications.

FANCONNECT II

The rear of the ROG Strix graphics card sports two PWM FanConnect headers that provide additional DIY flexibility. Chassis fans can be directly attached to the GPU and tuned with a curve that is based on CPU or GPU temperature, providing extra intake or exhaust for demanding 3D tasks.

FRESH SHROUD

In addition to under-the-hood design changes, the ROG Strix features a new face with metal accents that mirror the design aesthetic of ROG and ROG Strix motherboards. Mixing surface textures and materials make a statement when vertically mounted and lit by chassis LEDs. For those who prefer a sleeker, more subtle look, the greyscale colorway allows it to seamlessly blend into the build.

GPU TWEAK II

The ASUS GPU Tweak II utility takes graphics card tuning to the next level. It allows you to tweak critical parameters including GPU core clocks, memory frequency, and voltage settings, with the option to monitor everything in real-time through a customizable on-screen display. Advanced fan control is also included along with many more features to help you get the most out of your graphics card.

 

Retail Packaging and Accessories

The Asus retail packaging hasn’t changed much with the Ampere-based video cards. We still see the large RGB Asus ROG symbol, an image of the card, and name listed prominently on the front along with the GeForce RTX moniker from Nvidia. The back of the box lists some features and specifications including details on the I/O and other information.

Inside the box, the card sits snug in form-fitting foam with additional protection glued on to the top of the box. The included accessories consist of a driver disk (found below the card) along with two Velcro strips typically used for cable management. Unlike the MSI RTX 3090 GXT, this doesn’t come with a GPU support strut to hold the large 2.9 slot card.

Meet the Asus RTX 3080 ROG Strix

Looking at the card for the first time, we’re greeted by three large 95 mm fans spanning the entire length of the card. The shroud surrounding the fans is black and grey and, to this reviewer, is improved over the Turing-based ROG Strix design. Across the top is an RGB strip with bright and saturated colors shining through the multi-lined design. The card is theme agnostic and should fit in with most build themes.

Flipping the card over, a backplate covers the entire PCB while the heatsink sticks out a couple of inches further. This configuration allows for warmed air to go up through the card and, in theory, more easily exit the chassis.

 

A Closer Look

Zooming in on the I/O area, we’re presented with three DisplayPort (v1.4) ports and two HDMI (2.0b) ports. The maximum digital resolution is a whopping 7680×4320 (8K). The I/O plate has large vents to let some of the heated air escape directly out of the chassis. Power is fed to the card through three 8-pin PCIe connectors.

Removing the heatsink reveals a beast of a PCB sporting a total of 22 phases for the Vcore and GDDR6X memory. Asus divides this up into an 18/4 configuration which is managed by two Monolithic Power System MP2888A 10-phase controllers. The controllers feed 18 Texas Instruments 60A MOSFETs for the GPU core (On Semiconductor parts for the vRAM). Both the vRAM and VRMs make direct contact with the heatsink for the best cooling potential.

Below is a closeup of the power bits, Micron GDDR6X, and the GA102-300-A1 DIE and control ICs.


GPU-Z and the Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC on the test bench…

As you can see from the GPU-Z shot above, the Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC has a stock operating clock of 1440 MHz with a 1905 MHz Boost. The full boost speed from this sample peaked at 2085 MHz settling around 1950 MHz or so during testing. Below is a picture of the card on the test bench showing off its size and RGB prowess.

 

Test System and Benchmark Methods

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme, EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi
CPU Intel i9-10900K @ stock
CPU Cooler EVGA CLC 240
Memory 2×8 GB G.Skill Royal 3600 MHz CL16-16-16-36
SSD Gigabyte Aorus 2 TB NVMe Gen4 (OS + Applications)
Power Supply EVGA 750W G3
Video Card Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC @ Stock, Nvidia 456.38 Win10 64-bit WHQL drivers

Our test system is based on the latest mainstream Intel z490 platform and uses the i9-10900K 10/20t CPU. The CPU is overclocked to 4.9 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 3600 MHz with CL16-16-16-36-2T timings, a middle of the road option balancing performance and cost.

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. Below is a quick summary for easy reference.

  • UL 3DMark Time Spy – Default settings
  • UL 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) – Default settings
  • UL 3DMark Port Royal – Default Settings (Ray Tracing capable cards only)
  • Unigine Superposition – Performance, 1080p High
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – DX12, “Highest” preset (will add RTX when it has been patched)
  • The Division 2 – DX12, Ultra preset, VSync Off
  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – Ultra High preset, VSync Off
  • Far Cry New Dawn – Ultra defaults
  • F1 2020 – DX12, Very High defaults, TAA, and x16 AF, Australia track, do not show FPS counter
  • Metro: Exodus – DX12, Ultra defaults

Synthetic Benchmarks

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. We’ve also added 3DMark Port Royal which is the first Ray Tracing benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs and graphics cards with Microsoft DirectX Raytracing capabilities.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) is a DX11-based test that runs at 1080p resolution. UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games. 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.


In our synthetic tests, the Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC performs well falling in line nicely between the MSI RTX 3090 GXT and a Founder’s Edition RTX 2080 Ti. In Time Spy and Unigine Superpostion, we saw ~20% performance increase from the 2080 Ti to our 3080 while Fire Strike (Extreme) was a bit higher, around 22%. The Port Royal test showed the largest increase approaching 25%.

Gaming Benchmarks

For gaming benchmarks, we have updated our testing suite to bring more modern titles into the mix. Gone are Battlefield V, F1 2018, Far Cry 5, AOTS:e, and World of Tanks, which were replaced with Metro Exodus, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, F1 2020, and Far Cry: New Dawn. We kept The Division 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The games should provide a good view of the overall performance of the card. Many of these are DX12 games.

1080p (1920×1080) Results

For the most part, the gaming benchmarks show our RTX 3080 running behind the mighty RTX 3090 and well ahead of the RTX 2080 Ti. Far Cry New Dawn and a couple of other titles were closer than many would imagine but this is due to the “low” resolution and the fact that these games are mostly CPU limited. As the resolution goes up and the balance shifts more to the GPU we’ll see performance fall more along the lines that we expected. That said, the 3080 isn’t really meant for 1080p gaming, save for those looking to drive a 240 Hz monitor.

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 prove to be a bit of a stretch for some cards, but an Ampere-based RTX 3080 had no issues running either setting.

 

As you can see, the RTX 3080 handles these higher resolutions with ease and in most cases, close to or above that 144 Hz/FPS threshold. Even here we still see some CPU bottlenecks with the 3090 running so close. At 4K, we were still able to maintain over 60 FPS in all titles using our Ultra settings. Here we see the 3090 pulling away in most titles while the 3080 is significantly faster than the 2080 Ti. For those gamers running 2560×1440 resolution with high Hz monitors using Ultra settings (4K UHD 60 Hz+ too), you’ve found your card.

RTX and DLSS Testing

Below we did some testing in Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ray tracing (RTX) on at 1440p and 4K. As you can see, it did improve frame rates, but they were still below our previous results without ray tracing enabled. We’re able to see significant improvements in performance overall with the increase in RT cores.

 

Overclocking

For overclocking, we used MSI Afterburner 4.6.3 beta 2. Using the OC scanner in GPU Tweak, it presented us with a +64 on the core and we overclocked the Memory to +400. This adjustment changed our peak boost to 2145 MHz. We overclocked by simply raising the power limit to its maximum (in this case 121%) and fan speeds were left on auto. This gave us a slight performance boost at 1080p and a bit more at higher, more GPU-bound resolutions.

Overclocking Software

Asus uses an application called GPU Tweak II to control their graphics cards. Like other similar applications, you’re able to control a slew of functionality from the interface. This includes core and memory speeds, power limit and voltage, fan control, and more. The interface is simple and easy to use if looking a bit dated compared to other applications (MSI Afterburner and EVGA Precision X1). It is simple and easy to use – just how we like it.

Temperatures and Power Use

We test power consumption by running through the game benchmarks of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and F1 2020 at stock speeds and while overclocked. We monitor temperatures throughout this testing, with the peak temperature being what is listed in the data below. To more accurately simulate real gaming conditions, the benchmarks are extended (time) to allow the card to settle.

When we tested for temperatures, we switched the fan profile to performance and let the massive cooling solution do its thing. In the end, the card peaked at 66°C in F1 2020 at stock speeds and 68°C when overclocked. The fans started spinning above 55°C and were quiet throughout testing. In fact, they were barely audible over the four 120mm Yate Loons running around 800RPM. This is one of the better cooling solutions out there.

Power use on this 320 W+ card peaked at 575 W (system) overclocked and 552 W while at stock. A quality 750 W PSU will be sufficient for most setups including overclocking both CPU and GPU and still allowing for headroom and quiet operation.

Conclusion

Nvidia’s RTX 3080 proved itself as a real powerhouse easily eclipsing our previous generation RTX 2080 Ti by well over 20% in most tests (higher resolutions). Simply put, the card is great for 1080/240 Hz, 1440/144 Hz, or 4K/60 gaming using Ultra settings. The great thing about Ampere cards is the price. They cost considerably less than the previous generation flagship. RTX 3080’s Founders Edition, for example, is priced at $699. Our Asus ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC version has an MSRP of $849, though you’d be hard-pressed to find one in stock at that price. That mid $800 price point is right around other comparable cards such as the Gigabyte Aorus RTX 3080 ($850), EVGA RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra ($810), and MSI’s Gaming X Trio ($760) – (though soon we’ll see their flagship released, akin to the Lightning cards of the past, but under a different name).

The Asus card takes things a step or two further over the FE cards with more robust power delivery and Super Alloy II hardware, a higher power limit, and of course the monster cooling solution tasked to tame over 320W worth of power. The new cooler did a great job at keeping the card cool and being quiet while doing so. The card even has two 4-pin fan headers on the end for additional chassis cooling needs.

In time, we’ll be able to look at more RTX 3080 cards and compare them to get a better idea of how our Asus card stacks up against the rest, but so far, our ROG Strix RTX 3080 OC showed up and showed out in our tests performing well and doing so quietly. If you can find one of these in stock at a reasonable price, you won’t be sorry for making the purchase.

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– Joe Shields (Earthdog)

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