Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 vs Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080: which graphics card is the better buy?

Which graphics card should you be scouring the stock trackers for: the GeForce RTX 3070 or the GeForce RTX 3080?

RTX 3080 vs RTX 3070
(Image credit: Windows Central)

We think the GeForce RTX 3070 and GeForce RTX 3080 are  the very best graphics cards you can buy right now. They both deliver exceptional performance and enable you to push your PC really hard to deliver great graphics without sacrificing those all-important frame rates, and when you consider how powerful they are they’re very good value for money. Or at least, they are if you’re not paying through the nose for them. 

These are difficult times to buy the best graphics cards: Bitcoin miners, scalper bots and supply shortages have created a perfect storm that makes our favourite graphics cards extremely hard to find. But don’t despair, and definitely don’t buy from the bad guys: we’ve got an RTX 3080 stock tracker and an RTX 3070 stock tracker to help you find genuine cards for sensible prices. 

But which one should you buy? Spoiler: the RTX 3070 is the best graphics card for most people, but the 3080 is even more powerful.

Nvidia RTX 3080 vs RTX 3070

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 vs Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080: specifications

Both of these cards are Ampere architecture but there are key differences in their specifications. The RTX 3070 has a base clock speed of 1.5GHz, bootable to 1.73GHz, and it has 5,888 CUDA cores. The memory interface is 256-bit and in standard configuration it has 8GB of GDDR6 memory. Maximum resolution is 7,680 x 4,320 pixels, it can drive up to 4 monitors and it has three HDMI 2.1 ports and DisplayPort 1.4A. HDCP is 2.3. It requires 650W of power.

The RTX 3080 has a slightly slower clock speed – 1.44GHz bootable to 1.71GHz – but it has 8,704 CUDA cores, the memory interface is wider at 320-bit and standard configuration has 10GB of GDDR6X memory. The 3080 requires 750W of power.

In terms of performance, the 3080 is the more powerful graphics card: it’s overpowered if you’re gaming at QHD resolution but it’s perfect for 4K gaming and ray tracing. Just watch those power requirements: Nvidia recommends a 750W PSU for the 3080. The 3070 is capable of 4K gaming too, but the 3080 handles it effortlessly.

nVidia RTX 3070 vs RTX 3080

(Image credit: nVidia)

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 vs Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080: price and verdict

As you’d expect, the more powerful card costs more money. The GeForce RTX 3080 starts from $699 / £649 / AU$1,139, with the RTX 3070 starting at $499 / £469 / AU$809. Unfortunately we don’t think you’re going to see any dramatic discounts on these products until the stock issues are sorted, and we don’t expect that to happen this side of summer 2021.

So which card is the right one for you? If you’re looking to up your PC’s spec and you’re gaming at 1440p, the GeForce 3070 is the better buy: it delivers blistering QHD performance with excellent ray tracing and its DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology enables you to run at higher quality settings without losing frame rates. But if you’re 4K gaming or intend to go 4K in the not too distant future, the 3080 is considerably more powerful and better suited to the demands of UHD.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).