NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE Overclocking Banner Video Card and Title

Introduction

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition was launched on September 16th, 2020 as part of the RTX 30 series.  The Ampere architecture-based GeForce RTX 3080 FE was released with an MSRP of $699 and replaces the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER which were also launched at this same price point.  It also offers a nice upgrade from the GeForce GTX 10 series.

In our review, we found the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition actually performs faster than the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, which is in a completely higher price bracket.  With the GeForce RTX 3080 FE you can now get faster than GeForce RTX 2080 Ti performance at a price that is $500 less than the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE.

Can it get faster?  That’s the question we have today and something that we are going to answer in this overclocking article.  Today’s review article focuses completely on overclocking the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition and seeing how high it can overclock.  We will then test performance and compare it with performance at default and with a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE for reference.

NVIDIA’s Founders Edition

Before we begin our overclocking adventures, we must first point out how NVIDIA’s Founders Edition is different from this generation.  This round NVIDIA’s Founders Edition is a custom NVIDIA PCB, board, and heatsink/fan design based around the RTX 3080 GPU.  This is actually not the reference design.  NVIDIA has a separate reference design, with the standard shaped PCB, that it sends out to manufacturers.  This Founders Edition design is in fact unique to NVIDIA, and this is NVIDIA taking the reference design and basically making their own custom card like you would see manufactures like ASUS and MSI and GIGABYTE and EVGA do. 

That means that the overclocking potential and results of the NVIDIA Founders Edition is unique to the Founders Edition design.  Other add-in-board manufacturer designs could perform very differently when it comes to overclocking potential as their hardware components and cooling will all be different. 

Keep this in mind today as we look at overclocking.  The overclocking potential and performance we experience today is unique to the Founders Edition.  Now, that all said, remember that the Founders Edition has a boost clock set at 1710MHz and a memory clock of 19GHz.  Therefore, we will be looking towards overclocks that start from this baseline.  It has a unique fan design, a push/pull configuration, however, we are running in an open environment, so no worries there about it being able to take in enough cool air.

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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE Overclocking MSI Afterburner Default
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE Overclocking GPUz Default

The first thing to look at is how the video card operates at default settings.  GPUz shows that the Boost is 1710MHz and the lowest default clock is 1440MHz.  However, because of GPU Boost, the frequency should actually run above 1710MHz at default operation as best it can.  The memory is at 1188×16 which is 19GHz.  The default memory bandwidth is 760GB/s.

In our testing, the average GPU clock is 1837MHz while gaming on the GeForce RTX 3080 FE video card.  We have a graph below that will compare the default frequency with the overclocked frequency.  Right up front though the frequency was above 1710MHz at all times while gaming, so the boost is boosting beyond 1710MHz while gaming. 

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE Overclocking GPUz Sensor Data Default

According to GPUz senor results the top-end or maximum peak frequency the video card will hit while gaming is 1995MHz.  However, this is just a peak, not the actual average or real-time frequency while gaming.  We did note that with this new driver (version 456.71) the maximum peak frequency is lower (1995MHz) compared to the launch driver (version 456.16) which peaked at 2010MHz with that driver.  It seems the new driver, which changes the boost tables has in fact caused the maximum peak frequency to lower 15MHz on our Founders Edition.

Due to this fact, we re-tested all of our default performance with the new 456.71 driver plus all our overclocked data is on the 456.71 driver.  So, all of our RTX 3080 data in this article is up to date running on the latest driver and taking into account the new boost tables.  For the record, we saw no performance differences between the two drivers at default performance, so you do not have to worry about the driver lowering performance in games.

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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8 Comments

  1. Awesome article Brent!!!!!

    As you stated, it really isn’t all that beneficial to overclock the card for the gain that is achieved.

    It would also seem that the 3080FE does it’s job quite well at stock settings and outperforms the 2080Ti.

  2. 9% faster does put it in 3090 territory for performance, and +14% power also puts it in 3090 territory. Ampere seems to be prophetically named, as the performance hinges on how much juice you can push through the chip.
  3. When it was first announced, I hoped Ampere could be the next Pascal when overclocking. Getting high clocks and still being more power efficient than the past generation. Or maybe pull a Maxwell, having even higher clocks in spite of powerdraw but much better performance.

    Unfortunately its quite the opposite, kind of reminds me of Kepler; very little clocks, less performance and much more power.

    So don’t waste your time with OC on RTX3080.

    BTW apparently some people are getting great results with undervolting the RTX3080, you should give that a try.

  4. When it was first announced, I hoped Ampere could be the next Pascal when overclocking. Getting high clocks and still being more power efficient than the past generation. Or maybe pull a Maxwell, having even higher clocks in spite of powerdraw but much better performance.

    I definitely feel like Turing was this vs Pascal – especially since apart from the Raytracing, there wasn’t really much difference in rasterization / efficiency. Turing really was "Add Raytracing, throw in more cores, boost the power envelope, push these new cards out there at huge margins".

    But it does appear Ampere at least has some performance gains over Turing in that department.

    With respect to overclocking – I don’t see why anyone would be disappointed. Turbo algorithms are getting better, your getting more STOCK clocks out of these chips, it’s less of a lottery. Sure, it’s fun to sit there and tweak on clocks, and you can still do that if you really want – but better monitoring and good algorithms are taking a lot of the guesswork out and giving that to you out of the box. That’s even more true with CPUs, where overclocking is all but gone, and the boost algorithms are starting to do a better job than manual overclocks.

  5. I definitely feel like Turing was this vs Pascal – especially since apart from the Raytracing, there wasn’t really much difference in rasterization / efficiency. Turing really was "Add Raytracing, throw in more cores, boost the power envelope, push these new cards out there at huge margins".

    But it does appear Ampere at least has some performance gains over Turing in that department.

    With respect to overclocking – I don’t see why anyone would be disappointed. Turbo algorithms are getting better, your getting more STOCK clocks out of these chips, it’s less of a lottery. Sure, it’s fun to sit there and tweak on clocks, and you can still do that if you really want – but better monitoring and good algorithms are taking a lot of the guesswork out and giving that to you out of the box. That’s even more true with CPUs, where overclocking is all but gone, and the boost algorithms are starting to do a better job than manual overclocks.

    I agree that we do get better stock performance thanks to boost algorithms, but nvidia did market its cards as highly overclockable for quite some time even with boost clocks. IMO pascal was the best example because it was both highly overclockable and still required less power than Maxwell and anything AMD.

    To the very least, nvidia seems to have switched from that policy, not to mention the power efficiency. I recall that from maxwell on, Jensen promised ever increasing power efficiency. That 1.9x power efficiency increase is nowhere to be seen…

  6. 9% faster does put it in 3090 territory for performance, and +14% power also puts it in 3090 territory. Ampere seems to be prophetically named, as the performance hinges on how much juice you can push through the chip.

    Minus the memory difference, yes.

  7. When it was first announced, I hoped Ampere could be the next Pascal when overclocking. Getting high clocks and still being more power efficient than the past generation. Or maybe pull a Maxwell, having even higher clocks in spite of powerdraw but much better performance.

    Unfortunately its quite the opposite, kind of reminds me of Kepler; very little clocks, less performance and much more power.

    So don’t waste your time with OC on RTX3080.

    BTW apparently some people are getting great results with undervolting the RTX3080, you should give that a try.

    I honestly don’t care about overclocking headroom. If the video card is already close to its limit from the manufacturer then OC headroom shouldn’t matter. I’m buying the card for OOB performance. Any overclocking potential on top is just a bonus.

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