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Nvidia RTX 3080 12GB Is Here, and the Price Is Shocking

Nvidia RTX 3080 12GB Is Here, and the Price Is Shocking
Written by publishing team

Nvidia released a 12GB version of the RTX 3080 this morning. On Monday, we heard about the possibility of Nvidia releasing this card, but didn’t care much – after all, Nvidia had just announced two new graphics cards at CES, and it didn’t make sense to split an already beloved batch of GPUs.

But the 12GB RTX 3080 is here, at least in spirit. It’s a marginal upgrade from the base model, featuring 2GB of more GDDR6X video memory, a 3% increase in core count, and a 9% increase in power draw. It’s marginal as far as the promotions come, despite the price increase of about 50%.

We have a check on these types of products – independent reviews. But there aren’t any 12GB RTX 3080 reviews on launch day, which is the only day you’ll be able to get a card at an affordable price, and that’s a worrying sign for graphics cards in 2022.

Play the devil’s advocate

nvidia

The main question that tickles the back of my head, and I’m sure many of you, is: Why? Why is a one-and-a-half year old graphics card released a minor upgrade after two new graphics cards were announced at CES a week ago? Before getting to the launch disaster of the 12GB RTX 3080, it’s important to at least think about what Nvidia has been trying to achieve.

The lack of a GPU created a difficult situation for AMD and Nvidia. List price doesn’t really mean anything, hype is attracting huge numbers of for-profit customers, and paper launches are becoming the norm. I give credit to Nvidia here – don’t worry, there’s a lot of criticism coming – but it’s still important to understand this situation from an Nvidia perspective.

Nvidia hasn’t given a price list for the 12GB RTX 3080, which is a good thing. Additional panel partners (AIBs) such as MSI, EVGA and Gigabyte are the ones who ultimately bear the manufacturing cost, and while component prices are set at supply chain whim, list pricing only serves as an inaccurate marketing touchstone.

RTX 3070 Ti specs and price.
There was no official price list this time.

For the hype, it’s possible that Nvidia left the 12GB RTX 3080 out of the CES stage to deter some of the attention from the speculators. By releasing it silently, Hope seems to be attracting the attention of harmonious gamers who have been searching for graphics cards without broadcasting the release to a group of bots.

There are some possible justifications for how Nvidia might roll out the 12GB RTX 3080. But it doesn’t seem likely given the number of other issues with the launch of the 12GB RTX 3080.

Why There Are No 12GB RTX 3080 Reviews

Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I could twist my arms behind my back trying to justify how the Nvidia launched the 12GB RTX 3080, but Nvidia is hard to defend due to two main problems: Press didn’t have access to a driver for first-day reviews, and the pricing was limited. We’ve seen that it’s a lot more than what a 12GB RTX 3080 should cost.

Hardware Unboxed has shared that Nvidia will not provide a pre-launch press driver. Moore’s Law is Dead, a YouTube channel focused on GPU and CPU leaks, also shared that Nvidia hasn’t distributed the driver to anyone. I’ve reached out to Nvidia for clarification, and will update this story when I receive a response. But even without official permission, the lack of reviews for the first day indicates that no one could get to the driver.

There aren’t any 12GB RTX 3080 reviews, at least on launch day. Like the 12GB RTX 2060, Nvidia announced this new model with a driver release — on the same day that anyone with prior access to the card could download the driver. Bans, deadlines, and press drivers don’t matter, though: The catch is that no one knows how the 12GB RTX 3080 will perform on launch day, the only day for several months you’ll be able to get a reasonable price tag.

Erm, or at least a semi-reasonable price. That’s the other issue with the 12GB RTX 3080. Nvidia hasn’t given a price list, and the early signs aren’t promising. Take the EVGA 12GB RTX 3080 XC3 Ultra. The company has the card listed — of course, out of stock — for $1,249. That’s $40 more expensive than the same RTX 3080 Ti.

RTX 3080 Ti listing on the EVGA website.
The 12GB model is about $450 more expensive than the 10GB model.

Keep in mind that the RTX 3080 was originally launched as a $699 graphics card. While $1,249 might not seem so bad given the used prices of the 10GB RTX 3080 models, it’s quite insulting to charge such a high premium for such a marginal update. The GPU pricing crunch will go away, but the inflated list price of the 12GB RTX 3080 will remain.

A bad omen for 2022

Jeff Fisher presents the RTX 3090 Ti.
Nvidia is showing off the RTX 3090 Ti, which will probably be the most expensive graphics card you can buy in 2022.

Nvidia is not at its best start this year. After a hopeful presentation of budget GPUs at CES 2022, I’m disappointed with the release of the 12GB RTX 3080. Of course, I’m disappointed that few precious people will be able to secure a unit, but on top of that, I’m disappointed with the tone that Nvidia sets This year.

At the end of 2021, Nvidia launched a silent 12GB RTX 2060 launch — no big press release, no price list, no founding model. It made sense then for a last generation card that was never intended to capture the spotlight. For a new flagship, this kind of silent launch is disconcerting at best.

I’d like to play the devil’s advocate and say that Nvidia has quietly released the 12GB RTX 3080 to curb demand from speculators and bring manufacturing cost down to reality. But I can’t, given how wrong this launch is. Prices are much higher than they should be, even before speculators have had a chance to inflate them, and the limited number of reviews leads to a bewildering situation where no one clearly knows how the card will perform on launch day.

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