Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 AMP
Aftermarket AIB meets RTX 2080
THIS IS GOING to be a tricky review. We looked at the Founders Edition last issue, and found it wanting, so far as generational upgrades are concerned. It’s an odd proposition, and not something we can wholeheartedly recommend; its main selling points—ray tracing and DLSS antialiasing—are unknown quantities at the time of writing, and even once the features are supported by Microsoft, we’ll probably still be waiting some time for more titles to enable them.
What you’re left with is a card that performs the same as a GTX 1080 Ti, but for $140 more. It’s a tough one to swallow. That’s not to say DLSS and ray tracing aren’t interesting concepts, though. Designing dedicated hardware on to which to offload antialiasing is a genius idea, and arguably the future of computing, once we start hitting the true limits of physics. Ray tracing, too, will inevitably be the next step in rendering high-fidelity titles. But, right now, both features require developers to implement them into their games ahead of time.
That’s a big problem. Hypothetically, let’s say the two cards (2080 and 2080 Ti) account for 2 percent of the dedicated GPU market after six months. A new PConly AAA title is about to be released. Of that 2 percent, only half likes the look of the game, and is interested in buying it. The developer will be asking, of that 1 percent, how many will buy it regardless of whether it has ray tracing or DLSS? So, is it worth investing time, effort, and money to support those two features, for a tiny percentage of the total sales? The answer: Probably not. And that’s a best-case scenario. With most developers working on console titles first—a market dominated by AMD right now, as far as graphics are concerned— those percentages drop even further.
The problem is accessibility—because the cards capable of ray tracing are so expensive, and the uptick in performance so low compared to last gen’s leap, the likelihood of either ray tracing or DLSS making it into the mainstream is nothing short of a pipe dream. We need a $220 RTX 2060, capable of driving ray-traced elements at 1080p, to make it a reality.
Enough about that—what about the card? What’s the difference between the Founders Edition and the AIBs? Not a lot, outside of the cooler. Zotac’s fan solution is exemplary, with individually controllable fans, and the middle fan spinning in reverse to allow for better air transfer. That said, the design could use a little more pizazz, especially as it costs $40 more than the Founders Edition. Performance-wise, it falls exactly where we’d expect, and we struggled to clock it any more than 40MHz higher on the core, even with the voltage unlocked.
Overall, Zotac’s RTX 2080 AMP is a bit disappointing. The cooling, although fantastic, isn’t enough to alleviate the pain of an additional $40 for something that looks quite basic in contrast to the FE, or even the 1080 Ti AMP. And performance is only what you’d expect. With the RTX series likely to be facing uptake problems, you’d be better off investing in a cheaper 1080 Ti. It performs the same, costs the same, and probably looks a darn sight better, too.