Nvidia RTX 30 Series: Is It Overkill or a Breakthrough?
Nvidia RTX 30 series graphics cards are already a big deal. Maybe that’s even an understatement. From the moment CEO Jensen Huang unveiled Nvidia’s next-gen offerings, people have been losing their minds, and there’s a very good reason why. All of us expected an upgrade, but no one dreamed of such a large generational leap in performance.
If you recently purchased an RTX graphics card, you have a reason to be angry. The 2080 Ti — a flagship beast of a graphics card that currently costs well over a $1,000 — will now pale compared to even the weakest Nvidia RTX 30 series offering. In other words, the RTX 3070, priced at just $499, will outperform what many of us thought was peak GPU prowess (at least in the consumer market). Oh, how wrong we were for thinking so! The fact that Nvidia flipped the script and is planning to release a bevy of insanely powerful graphics cards (at fairly low prices) will benefit content creators, engineers, game developers, streamers, gamers, and everyone in between.
This is also the second iteration of the RTX line of products. When the RTX 20 series came out, it was more of a gimmick than anything else. Sure, more realistic reflections and shadows were nice and all, but who would notice such a minuscule visual upgrade in a game as action-packed as Battlefield V, for example? You’re not going to observe the puddle of water in the far corner of the map when you have bullets flying over your head.
However, this time around, Nvidia has made RTX a much more alluring feature — something that’s an added bonus to an already beastly GPU, rather than the main selling point. And needless to say, we’re all aboard the hype train.
The Future of Nvidia
Nvidia has announced three models, with each targeting a specific part of the market. The RTX 3070 is the “weakest” of the bunch. Yet, it’s powerful enough to chew through any triple A game you might throw its way. At just $499, you’re getting an insane amount of bang for your buck. Simply put, there’s nothing else on the market that’s as powerful at this price.
The 3080 will be Nvidia’s flagship model. According to official charts and spec sheets, it’s up to twice as strong as the RTX 2080. With 10GB of GDDR6X memory, it’s also equipped with a bit more headroom than the 3070. At $699, though, it’s not quite as an alluring option. Sure, it’s more powerful, but no one needs a stronger GPU than the 3070. If you want the absolute best for seven Benjamin Franklins, the 3080 is a great option that should future-proof you for a long time.
Finally, if you’re a power user who needs the most GPU prowess money can buy, go for the 3090. Nvidia didn’t use this branding in quite a long time, and the fact that they’re bringing it back now tells us they mean business. The 3090 is an absolute behemoth; it’s stronger than the RTX Titan and not by a minuscule margin. At $1,499, this GPU is aimed at 60 FPS 8K gaming. You’ve read that right. It has 24GB of GDDR6X memory and over ten thousand CUDA cores. If you’re someone who’s into video rendering, 3D modeling, or game development, you’re probably watering at the mouth right now.
It’s 50% faster than an RTX Titan and will require a beefy 750W power supply. That’s the bare minimum, but you’d be wise to go for a kilowatt to be safe. It’s a three-slot GPU with a brand-new design and cooling solution.
Overall, we’re talking about three insanely powerful GPUs sold for a fraction of the price everyone expected. In short, Nvidia has hit a home run, and there are surely more announcements coming our way over the next couple of weeks and months!
Why Such Low Prices?
Nvidia isn’t exactly known as a benevolent company that prices its products accordingly. They’ve almost always sold their graphics cards at quite a high margin. So why the change of heart? It’s a combination of two things. Firstly, they didn’t make a lot of money off of their previous Turing-based offerings. The RTX 20 series was overpriced in every way, shape, and form, and gamers knew it.
Secondly — and this is perhaps even more important — they need to compete with upcoming next-gen consoles. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will both be based on AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics. Nvidia doesn’t have anything to offer in that segment, and they need to make PC gaming as alluring as possible.
By the looks of it, they’ve succeeded admirably.
Let’s say you have some money saved up, and you’re itching to buy a new graphics card. What do you do? Well, buying an Nvidia GPU is never a bad idea. Sure, they’re often way too expensive, but you get your money’s worth performance-wise. They don’t run as hot as AMD’s cards, and they also have better driver support. If you’re looking to upgrade, buying an RTX 30 series GPU from Nvidia makes sense.
That said, AMD will be releasing their RDNA 2 series in a couple of months (manufactured on a 7nm process). They’ll supposedly also pack a punch. AMD also tends to price their products a bit more reasonably. Obviously, at this price point, any product will drill a hole in your wallet, but a $100 less (give or take) is nothing to scoff at. If you’re not in a hurry, you might as well wait a bit to see what AMD has in store. If, on the other hand, you want a new GPU as soon as possible, then go with Nvidia.
However, if you’re a budget-conscious buyer or just someone who doesn’t want to spend so much money on a graphics card, then the best course of action would be to wait things out a bit and then capitalize purchasing a used GPU on the aftermarket. The prices of used RTX 2060, 2070, and 2080 GPUs have started crumbling. They’re only going to go lower and lower as we move closer to the release of Ampere. The 3080 and 3090 will hit the market in September, with the 3070 coming a few weeks afterward. Some leaks have suggested that a 3060 will also be announced in a couple of months. Nothing is still official, but releasing a cheaper Ampere option makes a lot of sense, and it’s well within Nvidia’s M.O.
The Ampere series of GPUs is bound to leave a mark. They’ll cost a pretty penny, but they’ll offer insane value for the asking price. Granted, it’s not like gamers need all of this horsepower, but getting more performance per dollar is what consumers (or gamers, in this case) dream of. Nvidia is all about 8K and the future, but most of us still game on dusty old graphics cards that are way past their prime. Still, the fact that cutting edge technology will now be built right into the next generation of GPUs means we’ll see some of those benefits as well — sooner or later.
The Nvidia RTX 30 series is, by all means, a breakthrough because it’ll offer a ton of value for a very acceptable price. Ray-tracing, in short, will no longer be a luxury reserved for those with deep pockets. Furthermore, improved DLSS performance could revolutionize gaming going forward by allowing us to game at higher resolutions while maintaining stable frame rates at no easily perceptible loss in graphical fidelity. Finally, higher frame rates across the board mean that everyone will have a more enjoyable gaming experience, regardless if they’re into esports or narrative-driven, triple A masterpieces.