Now is the best time to get started with PC gaming. The high-end graphics cards are cheaper than the last generation. The release of new consoles means that AAA games will finally harness all of that graphical power. And most importantly, the PC ecosystem has never been so robust and consumer-friendly.
The question is, “How much should you spend?”
The RTX 3080 is the goldilocks entry in the latest line of graphics cards from Nvidia. At $ 699, it’s more powerful and more expensive than the RTX 3070, but less powerful and much cheaper than the RTX 3090.
If all these letters and numbers read like alphabet soup, all you need to know is this: the RTX 3080 is powerful enough to effectively run any modern video game with maximum visual settings at 4K and a frame rate of 60 frames per second. This graphics card makes the most of any brand new television or monitor.
Yes, the latest Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 also technically play 4K video games at high frame rates. However, don̵
For example, I’ve used the extra power of the RTX 3080 to power a variety of novel functions.
- I’ve toured the clouds of Microsoft Flight Simulator at maximum settings on my ultrawide monitor.
- I shot the new one Marvel’s Avenger into a demolition simulator that uses graphical options that fill the screen with debris after each hit with the fists or blows of the Hulk from Ms. Marvel.
- I’ve revisited a few old favorite games like Red faction: guerrillasand increase their frame rates to an absurd 144 frames per second – the maximum speed of my monitor.
- Like even newer games control I’ve seen totally unnecessary increases in performance beyond 60 frames per second with all settings maxed, including ray tracing, which creates the reflections, “Oh wow, this is the future of video game graphics” on any shimmering surface. Do I have to see my character’s reflection in every pane of glass? No i like Yes!
Of course, all of the above games can be played without these functions and on much less powerful and less expensive hardware. In fact, without these features, they are appealing and will run on a gaming PC from four years ago. The RTX 3080 is undoubtedly a “desired” graphics card, not a “required” graphics card. If you’re looking for expensive hardware that should play AAA games at high settings for many years to come, I can’t recommend it enough.
As a fan of raw spectacle, I love to be obsessed with the little details that a large graphics card like the 3080 can provide. It feeds my habit of freezing the latest games and floating through virtual worlds on impromptu adventures in video game photography.
But if all you need is a means to get into video games, what then?
Whatever you can afford, my central point is. PC gaming has never been better and it would be a shame for anyone who loves this hobby to miss out on it. At No Escape, Adam Clark recently wrote a helpful guide to mid- and low-budget PC games. Clark goes through the questions to answer before investing in PC parts, and then shares communities that can help you get the most of your money.
If you are on a tight budget, I personally recommend older generations of hardware from the last few years, which should play modern games in serviceable settings and sometimes approach what we will see from the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles. But more importantly, they bring you into the PC ecosystem.
That’s the real reason now is the perfect time to get into PC gaming. The newest hardware is sauce, which makes an already fantastic method of playing video games even better. PC games provide access and choice. You can buy games on Steam or GOG, or the Epic Games Store. You can try out small indie games on itch.io or support indie PC developers on Patreon. You can get tons of games for cheap (often for a good cause) through Humble Bundle. You can subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, try 100+ PC games, and stream many on Android devices through xCloud. I expect every Xbox to appear exclusively on PC. And I’m not surprised if PlayStation exclusives eventually hit PC as well, as we’ve seen before Death stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn.
For many people, dividing up the difference may be a preferred option. In October, Nvidia will also be offering the aforementioned RTX 3070, which the company says will be more powerful than its previous top-end graphics card, the RTX 2080 Ti, at a fraction of the cost. I used an RTX 2080 Ti last year. It was wonderfully powerful and did every job I set myself. It cost a disgusting $ 1,200, however. The 3070 is priced at $ 499.
Both the RTX 3080 and the 3070 offer the fancy new features from Nvidia, such as the aforementioned ray tracing along with DLSS. This is how my buddy Tom Warren describes DLSS in his more technical test of the RTX 3080 at The Verge:
Nvidia’s DLSS technology uses neural networks and AI supercomputers to analyze games and sharpen or clean up images at lower resolutions. In simple terms, DLSS allows a game to render at a lower resolution and use Nvidia’s image reconstruction technology to scale the image and make it look as good as native 4K or better.
Basically, you can “fake” high resolutions with DLSS without requiring the required performance from your graphics card. So the new RTX cards are not only more powerful, they also offer a method of creating beautiful images with lower power consumption. These features don’t just add a few extra frames per second. in the Metro ExodusWith the RTX 3080 I was able to determine that my frame rate almost doubled with activated DLSS. Not every game has such a dramatic boost, but the difference in games was as consistently noticeable and cheap Minecraft, Fourteen days, and control. We’ll have to wait and see if the 3070 shows similar improvements, but the first signs are promising.
To be clear, not every game offers the ability to use these features, but they will become more common with the next generation of titles. This autumn, Cyberpunk 2077, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold Warand other games will use the features.
The RTX 3080 (and the cheaper RTX 3070) do something I loved about the launches of new video game consoles: big generational visual improvements. My games looked like overnight betteras if they were delivered to me from the future.
That’s why I recommend the RTX 30 series cards if you want something cheaper than the RTX 3080 but want to get the most out of new games over the next few years – even if it means waiting for the RTX 3070 next month. For newbies (and even most current PC gamers), the graphics card will feel like a generation leap.
Previously, this type of improvement was prohibitive, leaving consumers to invest more than $ 1,000 in the high-end graphics cards. The new Nvidia cards are different. They make the future available in the present.
In the past decade, PC gaming has become the “one-stop shop” for the medium, giving gamers the freedom to buy and play games. As I said above, now is the time for anyone to get into PC gaming. If you have the funds, the RTX 3080 is an ideal entry point.
The RTX 3080 is now available. The GPU was tested on the tester’s PC with an Intel i9-9900K CPU, 24 GB of RAM, and a variety of storage options, including SATA and NVMe SSDs. The reviewer used a retail RTX 3080 provided by Nvidia. Vox Media maintains partner partnerships. These do not affect the editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find For more information on Polygon’s ethical policy, see here.