18 RTX video cards tested

With the GeForce RTX series, Nvidia brought real innovation to the field of graphics cards for the first time in years. Today we are going to answer two questions: do you want one? And if so, which video card do you choose?

While we had to wait a long time for these new graphics cards, the market has been through more in the past two years than we thought possible. Mainly due to a huge demand for these products from cryptocurrency miners (Bitcoin, Ethereum etc.), video cards became much more expensive. A solid gaming PC wasn't cheap already, but with those price increases, that became unaffordable for many. Add to that the falling prices of Xboxes and Playstations, and PC gaming enthusiasts had plenty to complain about.

Until last September Nvidia released the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, with the latter in particular bringing a really big step in pure graphics computing power. Even at 4K, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti manages to stay above the magical 60 fps in most games, serious 4K gaming has become a reality for the first time and that is a wonderful achievement from Nvidia. Let's not forget that AMD has nothing to come close to this graphical frenzy, nor does the 4K experience on consoles come close.

High prices

Reason for PC gamers to put the lament aside for a while? Not quite, because with a price tag of 1,200 euros, the RTX 2080 Ti is nothing more than a very nice toy for the very affluent PC gaming elite. Then 800 euros for an RTX 2080 almost sounds like a bargain, but let's not fool anyone and say that that video card is actually in the same boat for only a marginally less select target group. The Nvidia RTX 2070 can be found – if you look carefully – for around 500 euros, making it the first video card of this new generation for the larger target group. In terms of performance, the RTX 2080 Ti stands alone, while the RTX 2080 averages around the performance point of the GTX 1080 Ti and the RTX 2070 falls roughly between the old GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti in terms of performance. That's not a huge step forward in that mid-range and gamers already equipped with such a powerful 10-series card will want to keep their hand on or near the cut.

Ray Tracing

To convince gamers to switch, Nvidia has a number of trump cards up its sleeve, with 'Ray Tracing' at the front of the line. Ray tracing is the technique in which an image is generated by tracking individual rays of light and simulating how they respond to each touch. An approach to how we see the world with our eyes. With these new GeForce RTX cards, Nvidia has added some new specialized 'RT cores' whose sole job is to do those ray-tracing calculations.

In theory, Nvidia can do something with it that we haven't seen in years: make a real step forward in terms of image quality. With this technique we could get unprecedented good reflections and atmosphere thanks to accurate lighting and shadows in games. While it's part of both the DirectX12 and Vulkan APIs, and in theory something we're going to see a lot more of, it does require game developers to do something with this technology. When it appeared at the launch of the RTX video cards that no game could actually do anything with ray-tracing, the criticism was only understandable.

At the time of writing this article, EA added ray-tracing support to Battlefield V, making it the first game to actually use it and our first hands-on experience. With ray-tracing (called DXR in the game) on, we do indeed see beautiful and accurate reflections. The image quality is phenomenal, especially in combination with an HDR monitor. If we storm through the beautiful Rotterdam map in that game on a big screen, we get a taste of next-gen gaming for the masses. The result may be real.

Not without worries

Still, there are concerns. Battlefield V on DirectX12, needed for ray tracing, is not yet as flawless as on DirectX11 and occasionally causes black screens. Also, the ray-tracing implementation does not seem perfect yet, so we sometimes see striking, unwanted light effects. And although the level of detail of DXR is adjustable, we see limited visual difference between Low and Ultra. And we should also note that the impact on performance is significant: 4K with HDR and ray-tracing is not feasible. Even for 1080p or 1440p gaming, you actually want the more expensive RTX 2080 Ti.

The reality is that real-time ray tracing is great, but we're just at the beginning. Our suspicion is that the feature in Battlefield V has been pushed a lot, just to show something and that we mainly have to wait for implementations in more games. Ray-tracing is certainly not a gimmick – movies have been using it for years – but we simply cannot conclude that you want to buy a new video card for it now.

deep learning

Nvidia's other big trick in the new video cards is the complete opposite of ray tracing. Deep Learning Anti-Aliasing or DLSS does not improve the image quality, but matches the image quality of existing anti-aliasing techniques in a much smarter way. Nvidia pre-tests and optimizes games that support DLSS using its gigantic neural network (AI for your games). GeForce RTX cards then render those games more smoothly at high image quality. The result is image quality of a high-resolution, highly anti-aliased image, but with a 25-50 percent higher frame rate than before. At the time of writing and more than two months after the release of the GeForce RTX cards, however, a real DLSS experience is still waiting. Some demos and benchmarks are promising, but we can only really get excited when we can see and experience it in real games.

Released too early?

So two promising techniques, but also two that we are actually waiting for in order to make a real impression in practice. That will undoubtedly happen, but we should note that both techniques are simply not mature yet. We wonder why these products weren't released a little later, along with wider support in games. Expensive video cards have to rely on early adopters, but Nvidia's job is to offer those early adopters real added value – not just keep the promise that it will really happen. Nvidia therefore asks for extra patience from this most fanatical target group, but at the same time also asks for the top prize. That is not the most attractive proposition.

Reasons enough to buy one

Still, there are plenty of reasons to seriously consider these RTX cards, otherwise we obviously wouldn't have tested 18 of them in detail. Gamers who still game on older hardware, such as the 9-series (GTX 960 to 980 Ti), or on even older hardware (GTX 770 for example) can be assured of a huge performance gain with the new RTX cards. Any gaming PC three years or older won't come close to the performance that a 2018 gaming PC with a modern processor and GeForce RTX card will deliver. The more affordable RTX 2070 offers itself as an attractive, still reasonably affordable option, which leaves everything from that time behind.

And for gamers who want the very best right now? Whether you care about 4K gaming, or want to play WQHD (1440p) at high frame rates, apart from what ray-tracing and DLSS promise to offer in the coming months, there's simply nothing more powerful than the high-end models. in the GeForce RTX range. If you want the best, and you can afford it, you really want a GeForce RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Ti.

Three giants compete for one leg

If you want to buy an Nvidia GeForce card in the Netherlands, chances are you will end up with ASUS, Gigabyte or MSI. Together they control most of the market and are responsible for all eighteen cards in this test. Nvidia also sells the so-called Founder's Edition directly from its own website, but it has been known for years that you should consider it mainly out of a love for the unique aluminum design. The models we tested from Nvidia's board partners stay cooler and quieter, and are often cheaper too.

Animals of habit

All three manufacturers follow the classic good-better-best structure. At ASUS, the Turbo models are the entry-level models, the Dual models are the mid-range models, and the ROG Strix models are the impressive yet pricey toppers. Gigabyte has the Windforce as an entry-level model, the Gaming OC as an intermediate engine and the top model Aorus Xtreme. MSI complicates the story a bit with different names and designs depending on the exact chip. For example, the RTX 2070 Armor is an entry-level, but there is no RTX 2080 Ti Armor. In case you lose the overview: the price tags in the table make no mistake about it. There is no arguing with taste either, but we do notice that the cards are very similar. Monochrome seems to be the dominant color scheme of 2018, with RGB as the focus feature on almost every card. For fans of a white PC case, the MSI Armor and ASUS Dual cards stand out with lots of white details, and the all-white Gigabyte Gaming OC White goes a step further.

Just as traditional, these manufacturers are not very keen to have their entry-level models tested. Given the test results, we find that very unfortunate. Spending more for something you like, we understand, but objectively we can already say that the cheaper options in this test are actually excellent.


How do you tell the difference between a real luxury card and an entry-level video card? Because of the amount of RGB lighting of course! Bland, but reality. At ASUS we find RGB almost only in the most expensive ROG cards. And although MSI and Gigabyte have something of color lighting in the entry and middle segment, it is again the top models that really have a lot on them. The ASUS ROG card keeps RGB fairly tight and modest, MSI with its Gaming X Trio focuses on the idea that more RGB is better. Those who are not averse to really crazy RGB should check out the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme cards, because with RGB effects in the fans that is the most extravagant appearance.

The best GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Although the difference of one hundred euros between the cheapest and most expensive RTX 2080 Ti is a nice amount, that will not be a breaking point for someone who is already about to spend at least 1,300 euros on a new video card. That makes the choice for the more expensive alternatives not immediately obvious, because the two cheapest (1,299 euros) Gigabyte Gaming OC and MSI Duke, are hardly inferior to the top models of 1,399 euros. You will never feel the roughly 2 percent difference in benchmark performance between the slowest and the fastest in games, and these cards are also cool and quiet. The MSI Duke looks slightly more impressive and slightly more efficient than the Gigabyte, but the differences are minuscule. At the same price, we still give the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC our Editors' Tip for best value for money with the 2080 Ti, because of the extra year warranty; the most tangible difference between the two.

But the best? Up top are the ASUS ROG Strix, the MSI Gaming X Trio, and the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme. Those three are simply faster and visually more impressive. In terms of design, Gigabyte stands out the most: lighting in the fans themselves, separate covers on the card, everything to really stand out. Fans of extreme looks are generously provided and the extra year of warranty also counts here, but we must critically note that the choice has been made for 'form over function', and that the separate fans make the Aorus Xtreme both a bit louder and a bit warmer.

Between the MSI Gaming X Trio and the ROG Strix then? The ROG is slightly cooler, the MSI is slightly quieter. The MSI is slightly cheaper and visually impressive, but the unnecessary choice for 3 PCIe power connections makes it more difficult to combine with power supplies. In addition, we note that the ASUS has a handy 'quiet mode' (slightly quieter, slightly warmer) and is the only one that has its RGB synchronization well done. And for this kind of money, we expect every element of the experience to be right. The ROG Strix therefore takes the title Best Tested.

Small things make the difference

If we notice that the differences in speed, heat and sound are not extremely large, we shift our attention to price, appearance and details. MSI tries to keep its top model more affordable, while ASUS prefers to present itself with its (objectively) better RGB synchronization between different products. You can't see that in a table and it seems less tangible than a lower price, but it does offer real added value.

The added value of a steel leg to prevent video cards from sagging, as with the Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme, is another practical plus – although it is the extra year of warranty on those models that we are really pleased with.

The best GeForce RTX 2080

Because the RTX 2080 is a lot more economical than the RTX 2080 Ti, we see much smaller differences in the heat and noise production. Then we can remark that the Aorus Xtreme card is not the most efficient, but here the difference in practice is so small that you can best be guided by the appearance of the model. ASUS makes it very furious, because the surcharge of 150 euros above an entry-level RTX 2080 for their beautiful ROG Strix variant is very large.

That makes the cheaper RTX 2080 options objectively the most interesting. The MSI Gaming X Trio, MSI Duke, Gigabyte Gaming OC, and ASUS Dual are practically equivalent. The extra guarantee is again our Editors' tip in the Gigabyte Gaming OC. The profit goes to the MSI Gaming X Trio, which visually makes a real impression at that price point, unlike the somewhat understated Gigabyte Gaming OC. Not often do we see a physical beast of a card with so much RGB but cost a little more than the entry-level ones. The ASUS Dual is admittedly slightly more efficient, but more expensive and in this class we still weigh appearance.

The best GeForce RTX 2070

With the RTX 2070, we have to be critical about the significant price differences. 170 euros between the cheapest and the most expensive is not something a few percent performance difference and some feature differences can defend. At 699 euros, the RTX 2070 Aorus Xtreme and ROG Strix are so close to the RTX 2080 cards that we don't see why you don't go for the really much faster chip. The MSI RTX 2070 Gaming Z keeps the price under control, makes a great physical impression again and is an incredibly quiet card that will not burden even the most sensitive ears. In our view the best premium RTX 2070.

Still, it's the cheapest of the bunch that actually seems the most attractive when it comes to price-performance ratio. Where the Gigabyte Gaming OC scored very well with the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, the extra cost for an extra warranty with 70 euros (or 100 euros for the white color) above the MSI RTX 2070 Armor is very hefty, and the Armor is somewhat quieter and cooler. This MSI may be slightly slower, but that difference is not at all in proportion to the other differences, something that does affect the Gigabyte Windforce. In addition, it is a beautiful card to see, as long as the black-and-white combination fits into your system, and both the temperatures and the sound production are excellent. So if you're looking for a new video card without paying the top price, the MSI Armor is our Editor's Tip.


We will not soon forget the launch of the GeForce RTX cards. They are beautiful chips, but the high prices and the fact that Nvidia's two major focus features will not work at launch will continue to rumble. But as long as the power isn't answered by the only competitor, fans of high-end gaming PCs can't ignore the GeForce RTX cards.

Which card is wisdom then? Below the line, the differences in the table are limited. Modern graphics chips are efficient and the manufacturers are now very experienced in making efficient cooling solutions. We have to add a good deal of nuance to this and state that there are always small differences between chips, even if you buy the exact same version several times. Several tens of megahertz difference is no exception. We therefore primarily look at how efficient the cooling solution is, although those differences are not earth-shattering either.

Are the prices different at the time of your purchase, or do you have a specific preference for a different look? Then don't be afraid to deviate from our recommendations, because with the right price, none of these eighteen cards is a bad buy.

Test method

Many video cards boost their speed very high at the beginning of their workload. This makes them seem faster in traditional benchmarks – which only take a few minutes – while you do not benefit from this in daily use. We therefore look at the average performance between the 30th and 40th minute: what the clock speed is at that moment, how hot they get and how much noise they make at a distance of 50 centimeters.

We look at the consumption of the PC when only the video card is loaded and when the entire system is used intensively. We tested with an Intel Core i7-8700K, ASUS ROG Strix Z370-F Gaming, 16 GB Corsair DDR4, a Samsung 960 PRO SSD and a Seasonic Prime Titanium 850W power supply and measured the consumption 'on the wall'.

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