ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition Review — ASUS may have dropped the ball on this one
ASUS redesigned the cooler for the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, with bigger fans, a thicker heatsink and an overall more aggressive design with a generous dollop of ARGB on the side as well. They also overengineered the power delivery, with three 8-pin power connectors and a 370W TGP limit by default. Does it mean that this will be one of the fastest GeForce RTX 3080 we have seen? Maybe...
3+1 Year Warranty
+ Newly redesigned shroud looks amazing, but might be polarizing to long-time ROG fans
+ Sturdy looking design with a mix of plastic and metal
+ ARGB lighting on the side looks great in standard GPU installations
+ Power LED warning system is nifty for troubleshooting
+ Good performance at all the way up to 4K
- Draws more power than most of the RTX 3080 cards in the market
- Runs rather warm
- Relatively low boost clocks despite high boost clocks from the factory
- Fans are audible at stock
We have checked out the excellent ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, and it was definitely a great card. However if you desire an even beefier and even more premium design, there’s the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, which is an absolute behemoth of a graphics card. Bigger fans, a thicker heatsink and an overall sturdier build means better cooling potential and also a higher price tag, but better cooling is usually worth paying more for. But hey, let’s get straight into it and see if that’s the case.
ASUS’ reused most of the graphics from their last-gen ROG Strix cards, with the exception of the image of the card itself, which is of course significantly different from ASUS’ last-gen cards.
A similar layout is also visible on the back, and you get a barrage of information and KSPs of the card over here.
In the box, you get a Thank You card, a trading card, a quick user guide, a faceplate that you can use to change the aesthetic of your ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, as well as a small metal ruler, to measure the massive increase in the size of your e-peen with this card.
ASUS totally revamped the design for the Ampere generation, for better or worse. The fans are enlarged by 1cm in diameter, and we are now looking at three 100mm fans, instead of the 90mm ones in the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 20 series cards. The center fan also rotates in the opposite direction to reduce turbulence in the airflow going into the massive heatsink.
Design wise, I do think that the overall look is going to be quite polarizing, with silver metal bits zig-zagging across the the black plastic shroud as well as in the centers of the fans. The overall design looks appreciably more aggressive, which might excite some fans, or turn off those who preferred the more subtle aesthetics of the last-gen cards.
I did complain quite a bit about the lack of RGB on the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 20 series cards, and it seems that ASUS took those comments to heart. This generation has an entire ARGB strip along the side of the card. The ROG logo here and the large GeForce RTX faceplate makes the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition look absolutely stunning, even if you install the card in a standard orientation, which is not something that many brands can claim to be able to offer.
We also see a brace running in between the PCB and the fan shroud, which will prevent sag from ever becoming an issue with the card. Overall, in combination with the thick ARGB strip, it means that the space for hot air to exhaust out the side is actually quite narrow, and that might actually impact cooling, despite the thicker cooler.
The backplate here is also very beefy, with grooves in them to possibly increase the surface area, on top of making it look really aggressive. There are also more silver metal bits here, just to keep the black-silver theme going. And of course, there’s a large cutout towards the rear end of the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, which is an ongoing theme with all the recent Ampere cards.
ASUS made the PCIe bracket out of stainless steel, which they have found to be advantageous over their previous designs that used steel. Steel is steel, and steel can oxidize in certain adverse conditions, despite ASUS’ best efforts at coating them. I have never encountered any issues, but hey, if you did, this will be perfect for you.
Over on the other end of the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, we see a thicker portion of the GPU brace, as well as the two screw holes that are present on every GeForce RTX 30 series card we have looked at. There’s also ROG branding here, although I doubt anyone will ever see it once it is installed in a case.
Remember the ROG faceplate that was included in the box? Well, this is where you are supposed to put it. ASUS applied some adhesive on the back of the plate allowing you to stick it in place securely. I guess the only reason why you wouldn’t want it applied is if you think that small corner of airflow is going to affect your temperatures (which it won’t) but aside from that, it is a nice touch to add the ROG logo to the backside of the card.
Since we are on the topic of customization, let’s talk about the RGB as well. This is probably ASUS’ most bespoke implementation of RGB lighting, with about a third of the entire thickness of the card being lit up. The fans also glow up a bit thanks to the RGB strip, giving you a bit more color in your life even if you decide to mount the card in a vertical GPU orientation.
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 (GA102)
|Clocks||Base Clock: 1440MHz
Boost Clock: 1905MHz (+195MHz over FE)
|Cores||8704 CUDA Cores
272 Tensor Cores
68 RT Cores
|Display outputs||3 x DisplayPort 1.4a
2 x HDMI 2.1
|Power connector(s)||3 x 8-pin|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x16|
|Dimensions||31.85 x 14.01 x 5.78 cm
|CPU||Intel Core i9-10900K @ 5.1GHz|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE AORUS Z490 MASTER|
|Memory||2 x 8GB T-Force Xtreem ARGB 3600MHz CL14|
|Storage||120GB Kingston UV400 SATA SSD
1TB Kingston KC2500
960GB Kingston UV500 SATA SSD
|Power Supply||Cooler Master V1200 Platinum|
|GPU Driver||NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Drivers 457.51|
One thing to note about the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition is that while ASUS offers one of the highest boost clocks from the factory, it doesn’t really matter as NVIDIA’s GPUs regularly boost above the rated boost clock, depending on the power and thermal headroom available. And this will be evident in a little bit.
Superposition sees the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition just inch ahead of the ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition reviewed previously. Considering that it boasts significantly higher clocks from the factory, this is what we would expect to see.
However 3DMark Time Spy actually sees it fall behind the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition.
A similar scenario is seen in 3DMark Port Royal, where the ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition trumps the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, despite coming with a slightly lower boost clock from the factory.
At 4K, the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition storms through our 4K benchmark suite without breaking a sweat, although the newer games like Watch Dogs Legion, AC Valhalla and Godfall does see it break below the 60FPS barrier with all the visual candy turned up to the max. Still, this is your best bet for a good 4K gaming experience with DLSS turned on at the moment.
At 1440p, only Control and Watch Dogs Legion can see frame rates dip below 60FPS. Once DLSS is turned on, the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition starts pumping out very playable frame rates, with it even delivering frame rates that can take full advantage of your 144Hz high refresh rate monitors.
1080p is going to be quite silly for a graphics card like the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, as even the Core i9-10900K at 5.1GHz begins to bottleneck the GPU. If you want to game at 1080p, it would be advisable to just pick up a graphics card like the GeForce RTX 3070 or lower.
It is interesting to note that in pretty much every title, the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition is slower than the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition. But this might be attributed to the fact that we tested the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition on drivers that were reportedly unstable for many users. Those drivers allowed the cards to boost higher and deliver better performance, which led to the issues many people were facing.
It is worth noting that we didn’t face any issues in our testing with those drivers though. The driver update that improved stability also reportedly dropped performance, so that’s probably what we are seeing here, in combination to other factors. So the latest drivers available when we tested the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition probably allowed it to boost lower than what it would have been able to deliver on the old drivers we tested the TUF Gaming card on.
We can confirm that boost is probably not as aggressive on this card, although we can’t confirm if boost is lower with the latest drivers, because we didn’t receive this card back then. Here they run at 1915MHz on average. The ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition has as an advantage over all the previous GeForce RTX 3080 cards we tested, which is a higher power limit. Here, the card can draw up to 370W, but average clocks are actually lower than the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition, which posted an average of 1924MHz in the same test, while drawing around 336W.
The higher power draw also means higher thermals, and thus the fans are now working harder, spinning at an mildly audible 2009RPM. Even with the allegedly “improved” Axial-tech fans and higher fan speeds here, it still runs at up to 71°C, versus the sub 62°C temperatures we saw with the TUF Gaming cooler. So while the latest drivers may not have allowed the GPU to boost as aggressively, the thermal results we are seeing might have also impacted boost. As we have mentioned earlier, NVIDIA’s boost algorithm is also dependent on thermal headroom, so that might have also affected the overall performance here.
We did our testing in the “P Mode” which offered the more aggressive fan profile, and given our prior experience, the Q Mode should result in the GPU running even hotter and slower, although the fan should run slower and thus quieter. Priorities…
ASUS went out of their way to design the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition. Better fans, an all-new fan shroud design with a big ARGB strip on the side and also a thick 2.9-slot cooler. There’s also a fancy triple 8-pin power connector setup to better handle the higher power limit available on this card. All of that added to the cost of the card, making it one of the most expensive GeForce RTX 3080 cards in the market, but it seems all for naught.
The ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition runs hotter, and is apparently slower than a cheaper, less fancy card that ASUS themselves makes. For RM4699, it was already quite difficult to recommend in the first place, but considering what we are seeing here, it becomes impossible. It’s hotter, draws more power, while running slower. The last bit is probably due to the newer, more stable drivers, but still… Unless you really like the look of the ROG Strix card, or you plan on pushing the limit of the GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with the higher power limit under better cooling solutions, you would be better off with the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080.
I do believe that the two-piece cooler on the TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 cards made it possible for the seemingly lesser 2.7-slot cooler to deliver better cooling to the GPU, as the thermal output from the GDDR6X modules and part of the VRM is offloaded onto a separate heatsink. Also, the ARGB strip in addition to the GPU brace on the side of the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition may have resulted in poorer airflow out of the heatsink. I am no engineer, but that’s probably something for ASUS’ designers to ponder.
Our thanks to ASUS Malaysia for sending us the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 OC Edition.