Card Layout and Photos
So beyond the architecture changes and the new name, the RTX 2080 is also sporting a completely new look. Nvidia dropped their traditional blower design and went with a new dual fan design that looks a lot more like an aftermarket card than an Nvidia card. This was partially because of the extra cooling needs of the RTX 2080 Ti, but there were also a lot of people who thought the Founders Edition cards selling at a premium was crazy, but with a high-quality cooler that is also a higher performance cooler would that change some of those minds? Personally, I have been a fan of the Nvidia cooler designs for a while now, anything from the GTX 780 on because of the heavy-duty metal design. It is something I look for in aftermarket cards as well, but you don’t see it as often. I also prefer a blower cooler design in some situations, namely small form factor builds where it is best to blow the heat out. The problem has been that aftermarket two and three fan designs have been significantly better in cooling for a while now. So I get the move. The new look still has an all-metal design, in fact, I would go as far as to say this is a lot better looking than the old Nvidia cards. If you like a simpler cleaner look you will think so especially. While the entire cooler is metal, Nvidia went with a machined aluminum look around the fans and on the fan center caps. Then on the ends a painted silver. In the middle, there is a big black section. This is where they moved the branding, the RTX 2080 logo is there in the same font as before and still in chrome.
So the new fans are a pushdown design, I already mentioned that. So they look different than in the past, but Nvidia did keep those metal center caps to keep things feeling like home. The fans are also much larger and with 13 blades they are a lot denser than some of the aftermarket card fans. They remind me a lot of the Asus Strix cooler fans though.
So the top edge of the new cooler design is one of the most important parts. This is because in most builds you really only see this edge and the backplate depending on how tight things are. Well, Nvidia kept things familiar with the wide V shape that goes around their branding. This same design was used on the last few Founders Edition and reference cards. They did extend the shape out farther though. From the top, you see a lot more black heatsink than the silver as well. But the big news here is the GeForce RTX logo. Obviously, the GTX was replaced with the RTX. But the logo itself is backlit in green where in the past Nvidia always used white rubber with green painted on the end for the branding. So when off the green still showed, but the transparent letters now look much better if you opt to turn off the lighting. Speaking of the lighting, the rumor is that Nvidia used RGB lights and a controller behind here. That might be just to get the perfect green, but it does make you wonder if they might open up the option to change the color later. I sure hope they do!
Also up on the top edge, down towards the end of the card are the power connections. The RTX 2080 Founders Edition has a TDP of 225 watts, this is well above the 180-watt TDP of the original GTX 1080 that only used one 8-pin connection on the Founders Edition card. So no surprise here that Nvidia went with two connections. Unlike the RTX 2080 Ti though, they only went with an 8-pin plus 6-pin combination, not dual 8-pins. But what is interesting here is how they used an 8-pin connection with the two spots filled to fill in the gap rather than having a PCB designed to move the 6-pin over.
Moving around the edges of the card, the biggest thing here is the new dual fan design drops the blower design that we are used to seeing with Founders Edition and reference cards. This means thinner fans that blow down towards the PCB, not across the PCB. So from the top and bottom views, you can see that the heatsink now runs the full length of the card and under it, there is a vapor chamber to help spread out the heat from the hotspots. It also means that most of the airflow now comes out of the top and bottom of this card, pushing that warm air into your case, not out the back like before. This isn’t any different than past aftermarket cards, but for small form factor builds it is especially a concern. Thankfully there will be aftermarket blower cards. But keep in mind the extra airflow needed when picking out your case.
So the backplate on the RTX 2080 has the same grooved design that the GTX 1080 cards had. They even put the product name on the back just like this, only there is no GeForce this time around. But the big difference here is the new silver color for the entire backplate. In the past, the backplate has always been black, except a few of the Sapphire cards. That is because more PC cases are black and it all blends in better. So this new silver color is going to be polarizing, it looks great with the logo in black. But it's not going to blend in most builds, unless you go with one of those silver motherboards from MSI.
So where you would normally find the SLI bridge there are a few things going on here. For starters, with the new RTX cards, Nvidia dropped the HB SLI bridge that launched with the 10 Series and they are going with their Nvlink connection that was used with Pascal server focused cards. It offers a huge performance jump. This is important because it now has the bandwidth to be able to transfer data for 8k surround (multiple-monitors). That means you can now hook up displays to your second GPU as well, in the past, it all had to be hooked up to the primary to get the SLI performance. The second thing is for those of you who can’t afford two cards and a $79 Nvlink bridge you get a nice metal cover that matches the cards backplate to cover the connection. This is MUCH better than the basic plastic covers that most cards get and it blends in and looks good.
So I love the new completely blacked out PCI bracket. In the past, they used a tinted chrome bracket that looked darker in photographs but looked chrome in person. The all-black design is a going to look great in more cases as they mostly use black PCI bracket inserts already. With the new cooler design, less ventilation was needed back here so Nvidia also slipped in their logo, there is still a little bit of ventilation around the bottom ports. Speaking of ports, what connection options do you get. Well the RTX 2080 has the same connections as the RTX 2080 Ti. You get three DisplayPort 1.4a connections that support up to 8k at 60Hz, so high refresh rate monitors at 4k and below won’t be a problem. You have one HDMI connection. Then the fancy new connection is the same Type-C that you might have seen on your phone or even powering your laptop. Nvidia, working with other companies has included a VirtualLink connection that uses Type-C. This will be able to provide power, display, and data to a VR headset through one cable. This will make VR much easier to hook up, right now it is a mess of cables.
Of course, I had to get a few shots of the RTX 2080 Ti and the RTX 2080 together. Both cards share the exact same cooler design with the exception of the model name on the plate between the fans. So there isn’t anything to compare between them. But if you decided to pick up two cards and an Nvlink connection the new dual fan cooler does look good as a pair.