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Why Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090 isn’t called 3080 Ti

Why Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090 isn’t called 3080 Ti


Two long years after the GeForce RTX 20-series kicked off real-time ray tracing and uncompromising 4K performance in earnest, Nvidia finally took the wraps off its hotly anticipated successors. The first GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs are damned impressive, culminating in the ferocious GeForce RTX 3090 with 24GB of cutting-edge GDDR6X memory and enough power to game on an 8K display (sometimes). But glancing over the launch lineup, one things sticks out: Why is there no GeForce RTX 3080 Ti? The RTX 2080 Ti was the heavy hitter in the 20-series lineup, after all.

Nvidia never talks about unannounced products, but there are several reasons to skip a high-end Ti out of the gate this generation, and a lot of it has to do with the competition. Big Navi and new consoles cometh, after all.

Let’s dig in.

Why GeForce RTX 3090 instead of 3080 Ti?

Debuting with a $1,500 GeForce RTX 3090 instead of a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti makes sense for two key reasons: It lets Nvidia continue to push graphics card pricing upward while establishing a hard-to-topple performance benchmark, and it leaves room to maneuver if AMD’s imminent RDNA 2-based “Big Navi” Radeon graphics cards come out with GPUs blazing. They’re scheduled to be revealed on October 28.

Let’s start with that first part. Nvidia’s machinations over the last few GPU generations make two things clear: It hates losing in performance benchmarks, and it likes making as much money as possible from its high-performance graphics cards. (Which is the entire reason for a business to exist!)

Witness how Nvidia endlessly held off launching the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti as a counter to Radeon Vega’s potential (and unrealized) threat, or how it launched the superfluous GeForce GTX 1070 Ti solely to take the Radeon Vega 56 down a peg in performance charts. Nvidia wants to win, full stop. And in a year with both Big Navi and the AMD-powered Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles launching, striking first with a monstrous GeForce RTX 3090 pitched towards “8K gaming” helps firmly establish Nvidia as the high-water mark for enthusiast-class gaming performance. Big Navi could pull a surprise upset, but it’s unlikely.

(And endowing the RTX 3090 with 24GB of memory gives it actual value as an almost-Titan for 3D artists and other creatives, while still leaving the door open for a proper Ampere Titan with Titan-quality software support in the future.)

geforce rtx 2080 ti long Brad Chacos/IDG

The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti cost a staggering $1,200 on arrival, but the GeForce RTX 3090 costs even more.

By pulling this card out with the long-dead xx90 classification, Nvidia can also keep prices high. The company faced fierce criticism and slow starting sales thanks to the higher prices established in the GeForce RTX 20-series, which pushed up costs for each GPU tier (the RTX 2070 and 2080 each cost $100 more than their predecessors) but offered the same traditional gaming performance in each price tier. The $700 GeForce RTX 2080 went toe-to-toe with the $700 GTX 1080 Ti outside of ray tracing tasks.





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