EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra Gaming Video Card Review

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Next up in our tour of the new Turing GPUs, is an EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra Gaming. Their XC line of cards in the RTX 2080 series includes a dual fan cooler mounted to a robust heatsink and an overclock from the factory. Also in their lineup is the FTW3 Ultra. This card uses a three fan cooling solution and is the most overclocked fro EVGA. The XC Ultra Gaming this review is about is one of those dual fan solutions and the 2nd fastest in their 2080 lineup. We’ll test the EVGA RTX 2080 against the Founders Edition and the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio card we recently reviewed to see how it performs and how it places itself in the market.

Specifications

Below is a specifications table with the EVGA RTX 2080 UC Ultra Gaming along with the 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070 specifications. The biggest takeaway here for the EVGA card is the boost clock being raised 15 MHz over the FE RTX 2080. Outside of that, the rest of the specifications remain the same as far as memory speed (and amount) and the base clock. In this case, the UC Ultra Gaming card also uses the same PCB and power delivery as the FE.

Turing Specifications
GPU Model EVGA RTX 2080 Ultra XC Gaming RTX 2080 Ti RTX 2080 RTX 2070
Architecture Turing
CUDA Cores 2944 4352 2944 2304
Tensor Cores 368 544  368  288
RT Cores 48 68 48 36
GPU Base Clock (MHz)
Reference / Founders Ed.
1515 1350 / 1350 1515 1410
GPU Boost Clock (MHz)
Reference / Founders Ed.
1815 (~1920 Actual) 1545 / 1635  1800 1620 / 1710
Frame Buffer Memory Size and Type 8 GB GDDR6 11 GB GDDR6  8 GB GDDR6
Memory Interface 256-bit 352-bit 256-bit
Memory Clock (Data Rate) 14 Gbps 14 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 448 616 448 448
ROPs 64 88 64 64
Texture Units 245 272 245 144
Texture Fillrate (Gigatexels /sec) 334 420.2 / 444.7 314.6 / 331.2 233.3 / 246.2
GigaRays /sec 8 GR/s 10 GR/s 8 GR/s 6 GR/s
Compute (TFLOPs) 10.1 13.4 10.1 7.5
L2 Cache Size 4 MB 6 MB 4 MB
TDP* (Watts)
Reference / Founders Ed.
210 W 250 / 260 W 215 / 225 W 175 / 185 W
Transistor Count (Billions) 13.6 18.6 13.6 10.6
Die Size (mm²) 545 754 545 445
Manufacturing Process 12 nm FinFet
Price – MSRP (Reference / Founders) $849 (Newegg) $999 / $1199 $699 / $799 N/A

GPUz

Our gratuitous shot of GPUz confirms what we are seeing from the specifications table. After talking with the creator of GPUz, he noted that the program uses the base clock to calculate the Texture Fillrate versus NVIDIA that uses the boost clock instead. We are not sure which is right or wrong, however, it makes sense to me to follow the NVIDIA values in this case. Typically, the actual running clock speed is well over the base boost clock anyway. That and other board partners report the same as NVIDIA. We also found out at this time, there are no plans to add the Tensor or Ray Tracing core count – perhaps in time it may make it to the advanced tab though. A bit curious of a choice considering this application is there to list specifications, regardless if it is a new feature.

GPUz v2.11

Features

EVGA touts the UC lineup is new and completely redesigned from the ground up. This includes their first ever use of Hydro Dynamic Bearing (HDB) fans said to offer lower noise and a longer lifespan. The design includes new fan blades, rotation direction, and hub design also intended to improve volume levels and efficiency. The XC lineup offers users a variety of cooling technologies with the XC (non-Ultra) Gaming card running two slots wide and using a different heatsink and fans, with the UC Ultra is thicker at 2.75 slots allowing for better airflow and air pressure. In addition, the taller fan hub allows for a bigger fan blade EVGA says are specifically designed for the thicker heatsink to apply more force with less noise.

The new heatsink design includes RGB LEDs on top (away from PCIe slot) which illuminates the top half of the card. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if the product was working properly without LEDs on the bottom, but perhaps this is my OCD kicking in needing a “balance” of sorts. To that, customization of this card does not end there. The card features changeable trim options in black, white, and red in order to better match the PC’s theme. The cards do not come with the trim kit but is free upon registering the card. The red trim is pictured below, while the white is what users will get out of the box.

Retail Packaging and Accessories

EVGA, like NVIDIA, stepped up their retail packaging game and is using premium packaging similar to the NVIDIA boxes. The difference here is the vertical orientation as well as the imaging on the outside compared to the NVIDIA boxes which were horizontal and had basic NVIDIA markings and color. The overall team green color makes its way here then EVGA takes over displaying a picture of the card itself along with the model marking (XC Ultra) to show what is inside. The back of the packing has features and specifications on it as well as some of the basic NVIDIA features as well.

As far as accessories, users receive an EVGA badge, a DVI to HDMI adapter, and an installation guide.

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Meet the EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 UC Ultra Gaming

EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra Gaming

The XC Ultra Gaming card comes out of the box showing off its mostly transparent heatsink chassis with the new HDB fans taking up the most space on the front. The PCB is jet black along with those fans as well as having a tinted heatsink cover. Overall, the 2.75 slot design looks good, and offers a pretty theme-agnostic appearance. Combined with the RGB LEDs and trim pieces, the card will blend in well with most any themed PCs.

We are able to get a good look at the changeable trim inserts here which, on top, diffuses the RGB LED color, and on the bottom, just looks good. Again, my OCD is twitching here that there isn’t a matching LED on the bottom which would send more uniform color throughout the card instead of lighting up the logo on top. For those who do not like LEDs or a lot of them, the card is a good mix as they are not a lot on here as well as being able to shut off and change brightness level (through Precision X1).

   

Flipping the card around we are able to see the massive heatsink and fan setup is 2.75 slots on XC Ultra. If that takes up too much space, grab the other XC models which are 2 slot size cards. The back of the GPU has a machined backplate which has vents on it for style as well as for heat dissipation. The backplate uses thermal pads on hot spots (VRM and Memory) to aid in cooling.

A Closer Look

In this section, we take a closer look at the cards including outputs, power lead requirements, a look at the PCB and heatsink base, and power delivery section as well as some of the IC’s used to drive the card.

Outputs, 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI, 1x USB Type-C

1x 6-pin and 1x 8-pin PCIe Required

The XC Ultra sports three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and one USB Type-C as outputs. Power requirements on this card come in the form of 1x 8-Pin and 1x 6-Pin PCIe power connector for the 210 W card. This configuration can send up to 300 W to the card while in specification, plenty of power for the card.

After taking off the heatsink, we expose the PCB to see the same design as the FE cards. In this case, the EVGA RTX 2080 UC Ultra Gaming uses an 8+2 phase setup. With NVIDIA reference/FE cards stepping up their game, this will not be a concern for overclocking and will allow the GPU and memory to receive clean power for best results.

Micron GDDR6

OnSemiconductor MOSFETs

8+2 Phase Power Delivery

Above we are able to see a close up of the Micron GDDR6 Memory IC (D9WCW) as well as some of the OnSemiconductor power bits that make up the 8+2 phase VRM. Controlling things is a uP512P voltage regulator that is configurable up to 8 channels.

Below is a photo of the card and its RGB LEDs sitting on the test system. We can see the top mounted LEDs light up the logo and give the card a nice glow that isn’t too bright.

In the MSI review, we noted that card was MUCH larger than the reference model sticking out well past the top and end of the card. The EVGA XC Ultra, however (pictured below with an FE RTX 2080), is similar in height and length but is thicker, 2.75 slots thick to be exact, than the FE model. Just be sure you have the slot space on the board and in the case and owners should be fine.

 

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. 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
Motherboard ASRock X370 Taichi
CPU Intel i7 8700K @ 4.7 GHz / 4.3 GHz Cache
CPU Cooler EVGA CLC 240
Memory 2×8 GB G.Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL15-15-15-35
SSD Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS + Applications)
Power Supply EVGA 750W G3
Video Card EVGA RTX 2080 UC Ultra Gaming (411.63 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

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.

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.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy

The EVGA RTX UC Ultra Gaming card with its factory overclock shows negligible differences in this testing. The real difference between these cards, because of how boost 4.0 works out of the box) is mostly going to be found in the heatsink and power delivery for the cards. The difference in both is less than 0.5% in both benchmarks.

Gaming Benchmarks

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 as many of these are DX12 games.

Sadly, we will not be able to test some of the DLSS features as we are having issues with downloading the file (working with NVIDIA to get it sorted). Ray Tracing will also not be tested here as none of the titles out that we have, currently support the technology. In the future, SoTR will have it along with many other titles so we will circle back when appropriate. As of the time of this writing, Windows now supports Ray Tracing API, and we are waiting for games to be patched and released at this point.

World of Tanks: enCore and F1 2018

In World of Tanks: enCore, the EVGA RTX 2080 runs a touch faster than both the MSI 2080 Gaming X Trio and the FE RTX 2080 pushing out a whopping 231 FPS during this benchmark. The other RTX 2080s ran 228 FPS. F1 2018 shows a similar story with the EVGA card running around 3.5% faster than the FE RTX 280 achieving 162 FPS average. It was also three FPS faster than the factory overclocked MSI as well.

Far Cry 5 and Tom Clancy’s, The Division

Moving on to Far Cry 5, here the EVGA card ran 4 FPS faster than the FE and two FPS faster than the also overclocked MSI running 137 FPS. This translates to a 3% increase over the FE and a negligible difference with the overclocked 2080. Tom Clancy’s The Division shows little difference between the cards here with all three RTX 2080s within 1 FPS of each other. The EVGA pushed out 130 FPS on average.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy XV

The Shadow of the Tomb Raider results have all three cards within two FPS of each other with the EVGA RTX 2080 UC Ultra Gaming averaging 122 FPS here. In our Final Fantasy XV benchmark, the EVGA RTX 2080 hit 1123 FPS average with the others both running 111 FPS. Not really a difference there.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Our Ashes of the Singluarity: Escalation test showed a two FPS difference here between the cards with the EVGA running 85 FPS and the other RTX 2080s running 82.7 and 83.1 FPS – a 2.4% difference.

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).

2560×1440

Taking a look at our higher resolution results, I threw in all the RTX 2080s we have reviewed so far to see if there was a difference out of the box. To be blunt, there was nothing discernible here either. That said, the EVGA RTX 2080 UC Ultra Gaming (any 2080) is able to easily pass the magic 60 FPS at this resolution using the games highest settings.

4K UHD

Jumping up to 4K UHD resolution, we are able to see at these settings, the RTX 2080s are able to pass the 60 FPS mark in three of six titles. Not bad for “ultra” type settings, but still not quite 2080 Ti where it does it with aplomb across the board. Here again, we are not seeing a big difference in performance between our tested cards. It is all going to depend on how cool the cards are kept and how the user decides to overclock and mess with the fan curve.

Overclocking

Overclocking using the EVGA RTX 2080 UC Ultra was as simple as any other. For the overclocked testing above, I used the OC Scanner in the EVGA Precision X1 utility to figure out a ballpark core speed (+96), backed it down one notch from that (+88), set the memory to +810 and ended up with 1603 Mhz base clock, 1903 MHz boost (2020 MHz actual), and 1952 MHz on the GDDR6. This was a rock solid overclock and between all of our games, was a 4.7% increase at 1920x1080p. Bump that resolution up to 4K, that we see better scaling at 5.9% over stock.

2040 MHz Core (actual), and 2000 MHz (8000 GDDR6) Memory.

For pushing the limits, we were able to run +96 on the core (1619 MHz base / 1919 MHz Boost – 2040 MHz actual) and got the memory to 2006 MHz (8024 MHz effective). Much more than this and we saw throttling (power limit) and/or artifacting of some sort.

The latest edition of EVGA’s Precision X1 is pictured below. At the time of this writing, the Precision X1 software is the only one that officially supports the Turing based video cards fully. It incorporates the NVIDIA OC Scanner and works well with all RTX video cards we have tested so far.  The software is able to adjust the fans manually or set custom curves, core voltage, and overclock the cards manually. It also has an OSD function to have data on screen such as GPU temperature, load, core speed, and more. It is able to control the RGB LEDs and sync them with supported motherboards/lighting. Right now, Precision is THE tool to have when using a Turing based GPU.

EVGA Precision X1

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

Temperatures with the EVGA card and its large cooler and thick fans proved to be a quiet experience and one that leads to pretty cool temperatures overall. In our testing, we saw peaks of 68 °C while overclocked and 66 °C at stock speeds which is a pretty good showing. Noise levels on the fans at any speed were quiet and didn’t take away from a speaker game experience even with the card around four feet away. The fans don’t make themselves known until the 50-60% range. While under 60 °C the fans remain off which makes the card silent when perusing the desktop or doing light work. One thing to note though is the fans make a slight, but noticeable, noise when spinning up, but seeing as how this doesn’t translate when running, it isn’t a big deal.

Power Consumption

Power consumption proved to be in the ballpark with the others reaching a peak here of 394 W while overclocked and 388 W when running stock speeds which matched the others well. EVGA lists this card as 210 W, below even the reference model on their website, but that may be a typo considering the reference card is 215 W and this comes in clocked higher. Still, it’s around 40 W less than a 1080 Ti and similar performance. A quality 550-650 W power supply would be plenty for most systems, including overclocking.

Conclusion

The EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra brings to the table a large heatsink and dual fan cooling solution to support its factory overclock and keep things cool. The cooling system remains off under idle conditions and light loads making desktop type work completely silent. Performance on the card mixed in with the others as the difference between clock speeds was not that much. As mentioned earlier, the biggest difference between these cards so far is the heatsink/fan combination used, and perhaps a modified PCB and power delivery area underneath. The card overclocked well topping out at over 2000 MHz on the core and 8000 MHz with the GDDR6 even with using the (more than) capable reference setup of 8+2 power phases.

Pricing on the EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra is $849.99 on Newegg ($848 on Amazon). This place it in direct competition with the MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio ($849 at Newegg) we reviewed, a Gigabyte Aorus RTX 2080 ($859.99 at Newegg), a PNY RTX 2080 XLR8 Gaming ($849.99 at Newegg), and a blower style ASUS Turbo RTX 2080 ($839.99 at Newegg). Of these, the MSI card is the highest clocked card out of the box and sports that huge cooler and oversized PCB. It is a solid choice, but only if one has the room to fit the card. The ASUS card is blower style and uses reference clocks, similar to the PNY card which has its own aftermarket cooling and uses reference clock speeds. There are all kinds of crazy offers on Newegg with these cards, most seeing power supplies as free add-ons.

So where does that leave us? Overall the EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra Gaming is solid all around card to build a gaming system on. The cooling solution provides plenty of headroom for keeping the card cool and quiet during normal operation. When overclocked the cooler responded well and still kept the card cool without the fans ramping up to fast and becoming a part of the auditory experience. The price of $849.99 is seemingly the sweet spot for these card partners and the RTX 2080 so that falls in line as well. If one is looking for a good non-FE RTX 2080 with custom cooling, the EVGA RTX 2080 XC Ultra gaming should be on the shortlist.

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Joe Shields (Earthdog)

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