The new NVIDIA 3000 Series GPU – Gamer vs Designer

Antoine Bechara
Antoine Bechara
September 16, 2021

NVIDIA has finally revealed its new line-up of gaming GPUs: the RTX 3000 series cards. This series of cards are all powered by the company’s new Ampere architecture which promises a massive leap in performance. 

Ampere is the 2nd generation of NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX technology. It introduces a new raster+ray-tracing hybrid model, where much of the 3D scene is rendered by traditional raster graphics and only specific elements that benefit from ray-tracing are ray-traced. The card uses AI-based de-noising to minimise the number of required rays for ray-tracing. This involved development of new, purpose-built hardware, such as RT cores, CUDA cores and tensor cores, which work together to improve image quality and produce better looking games.

Besides the underlying GPU architecture, Nvidia has overhauled the core graphics card design, with a new cooling solution and circuit board all working together to improve the overall performance of this new series of GPU’s.

The designs of the new RTX 3000 series has also caused some talk, with the cards featuring dual fans, one on each side of the heat sink to optimise air flow and cooling as well as a streamlined, industrial looking case.

There are three cards so far in the new 3000 series line-up that have been confirmed, the RTX 3070, the RTX 3080 and the RTX 3090. There are rumours that a RTX 3060 will be announced towards the end of 2020, and some even fainter whispers of a RTX 3050 but not until 2021.  

As far as other versions, like ‘Super’ or ‘Ti’, there are only rumours that Nvidia will release those variants, but nothing is currently known around their specifications.

RTX 3070

First in the line-up is the RTX 3070, the cheapest and smallest of the new series.  While the marketing claims that this card beats the existing RTX 2080 Ti, there have yet been no solid benchmarks released.  

The released specifications are impressive, with the main GPU core now having 5888 CUDA cores and with higher clock speeds it should end up delivering better performance than the RTX 2080 Ti.  With the improvements to the RT and Tensor cores, the RTX 3070 should perform substantially better than the RTX 2080 Ti.  Memory speed is an area where the RTX 3070 card may not outperform the previous generation, as the 3070 stays with 14Gbps GDDR6, the same memory speed used in the RTX 20-series. However, the combination of more and faster, improved RT and Tensor cores should prove that this card is an upgrade of anything previously released.

RTX 3080

The middle child of the new series is the RTX 3080, which should be twice as fast as the RTX 2080 and come in around 25-30% faster than the RTX 3070.  With these specifications, the RTX 3080 is powerful enough to efficiently run every current video game with ultra visual settings at 4K with a 60 frames-per-second frame rate.  It has 10GB of VRAM, which doesn’t sound like a lot, especially compared with the RTX 3090’s mega 24GB of VRAM, but it’s enough to play all modern games on ultra at 4K.

RTX 3090

Then, at the top end is the RTX 3090.  With a triple slot cooler, it is bigger than the RTX 3080 and 3070, and more powerful. Raw computing power is 150% more than the RTX 2080 Ti for the CUDA and Tensor cores, and overall this beast of a card is performing at more than double the computational power on all the core metrics, and a bit more than 50% more memory bandwidth.  With 24GB of VRAM, this is Nvidia’s biggest and fastest GPU they have ever released, and it will have a price tag to match. 

Serious Gamer

The graphic card can be the most important element in your computer if you are truly serious about gaming.  When shopping for a new GPU, there are plenty of elements you need to take into account, including the CPU, what monitor you use, your power supply and even the case you are going to put it in. 

CPU: If you spend all your money on the top of the line graphics card and buy a basic processor, even if your benchmarks look great, this can negatively impact your gaming experience due to the low power CPU reducing the minimum frame rates for your games. 

Monitor Resolution: Check to see what your monitor supports, if you do not plan to upgrade and it supports 1080p then you can get a lower end card.  However, if you already own, or plan to upgrade to a monitor that supports 4K, then the new 3000 series can be an easy entry into the world of high-end card for high-end gaming graphics.  This also applies to refresh rate, any triple-digit refresh rate monitors would suit the new 3000 series. 

Power and Space: The 3000 series cards have a requirement for an 850W power supply.  This is often higher wattage than most people have, so you may need to budget for a bigger PSU to go along with your GPU.  Regarding the case, the current information looks like the RTX 3090 will be of a 3-slot design, while the 3080 and 3070 should be 2-slot designs, so ensure your case has the required space. 

Professional User

The primary concern of a professional user is stability and reliability. If you are building a computer for Graphic Design, running CAD software or video creation or editing, choosing the right graphics cards can be a key component to help your work.

Key components of choosing a GPU for your work computer include the CPU and what monitor or monitors you need it to support.  Other aspects of choosing a GPU are the power it would need and the space in the case.  

CPU: The more cores a CPU has, the more efficient it is.  For intensive 3D animation or 4K video, you want to look for the highest number of cores you can afford. Also keep in mind the brand can matter depending on the programs you run. If your applications take advantage of AMD’s superior cores / threads per dollar, you might want to get an AMD chip. But if you are using lightly threaded programs or Adobe products, Intel will perform better. 

Monitor Resolution: Monitors that support 4K resolution are perfect for the new 3000 series.  

Power and Space: Your graphics card purchase can be limited by the current size of your power supply and the case itself.  If you are thinking of buying one of the new 3000 series GPU’s for your professional work, you may need to upgrade your PSU to the required 850W power supply.  The size of the cards themselves are not a big change from existing 3 or 2 slot designs, so if your motherboard and case support this, the cards should fit inside the case. 

Once you have taken all the above into account, you can look at what you want from a graphics card.  For a solid, middle of the road option for 4K gaming, the RTX 3080 is going to be a solid choice.  The price point is reasonable, and it can easily render ultra-graphics on any modern game made so far.

If you are looking to support 1080p gaming, look to the RTX 3070.  At a cheaper price point, it makes more sense to get a slightly lower end graphics card if you do not need to support high resolution games or work.

For high-processing professionals, or gamers who have no price point issues, look at the RTX 3090.  Currently it is only clocking at 20% faster than the RTX 3080, but with the huge 24GB of VRAM, it’s perfect for the high-processing professional or gamer who wants to get every last inch of performance out of their rig.

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