Nvidia GeForce All the details on specs, pricing, release date, and more for Nvidia’s next-gen RTX graphics cards and the Turing architecture.
Nvidia will launch its next-generation GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards on September 20, starting with the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, followed by the RTX 2070 in October. These will use the new Turing architecture, which boasts more cores than the previous generation Pascal architecture, along with significant updates that should deliver more performance per core. Also included are new technologies to enable real-time ray tracing in games, and deep learning Tensor cores.
There’s a lot to cover, and Nvidia is rightly calling this the most significant generational upgrade to its GPU since the first CUDA cores in 2006. Turing promises better performance than existing GPUs, and has the potential to fundamentally change what we expect from graphics. Here’s everything you need to know about the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, and RTX 2070, the Turing architecture, pricing, specs, and more.
Pricing and release dates for the GeForce RTX series
Nvidia has only announced three GeForce RTX models so far. We don’t know when or even if lower tier cards will exist. Most likely, but they may not arrive until 2019. Here are the launch dates and prices so far:
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition: $1,199, September 20
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Reference: $999, September 20?
- GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition: $799, September 20
- GeForce RTX 2080 Reference: $699, September 20?
- GeForce RTX 2070 Founders Edition: $599, ‘October’
- GeForce RTX 2070 Reference: $499, ‘October’?
It’s not all good news for the RTX 20-series, as pricing for all three classes of GPU has increased substantially. Call it a lack of competition (AMD’s GPUs already struggle to compete against the 10-series parts), or the cryptocurrency bubble bursting (there are reportedly a lot of 10-series graphics cards left to sell), or just plain greed. The bottom line is that launch prices on the Founders Edition cards are up to 50 percent higher than the outgoing 10-series parts.
Pre-orders are available, and while we don’t generally recommend buying expensive hardware before independent reviews have been published, many places offering pre-orders are currently sold out. What’s worse is we don’t even know if the lower ‘reference’ prices will be seen at launch, or if they’re merely recommendations. Based on past experience, we expect Founders Edition and factory overclocked cards priced similarly to the FE to be the main option for the first month or two.
The RTX 2070 launch date hasn’t been firmly set by Nvidia yet, with only a statement of October 2018. Given the likely demand for the higher end 2080 parts, we anticipate late October. Again, prices will probably be higher for the first month or two. Then again, with Black Friday and the holiday shopping season going on, we might get a few surprises.
GeForce RTX specifications
Nvidia unveiled many core details of the Turing architecture at SIGGRAPH, and followed up by announcing the below specs for the GeForce RTX graphics cards. After much speculation, we now know what to expect. Mostly.
The number of CUDA cores in each model has increased by 15-20 percent across the line, though clockspeeds have dropped slightly as well. In theoretical TFLOPS (that’s trillions of floating-point operations per second), the GeForce RTX cards are 14-19 percent faster than the GTX 10-series.
Nvidia equips all the new models with 14 GT/s GDDR6, improving bandwidth by anywhere from 27 percent (RTX 2080 Ti) to as much as 75 percent (RTX 2070). That’s assuming there aren’t any other tweaks to the memory subsystem, like the improved compression technologies and tiled rendering in Pascal.
Along with faster cores and memory, the Turing architecture adds Tensor cores for deep learning and RT cores for real-time ray tracing. Both have the potential to dramatically change what we can expect from future games in terms of graphics.
Turing architecture and performance expectations
Nvidia has reworked the SMs (streaming multiprocessors) and trimmed things down from 128 CUDA cores per SM to 64 CUDA cores. The Pascal GP100 and Volta GV100 also use 64 CUDA cores per SM, so Nvidia has now standardized on a new ratio of CUDA cores per SM. Each SM now includes eight Tensor cores and an unspecified number of RT cores, plus texturing units (which we assume to be half as many as in Pascal). The SM is the fundamental building block for Turing, and can be replicated as needed.
For traditional games, the CUDA cores are the heart of the Turing architecture. Nvidia has made at least one big change relative to Pascal, with each SM able to simultaneously issue both floating-point (FP) and integer (INT) operations—and likely Tensor and RT operations as well. Nvidia said this makes the new CUDA cores “1.5 times faster” than the previous generation.
That might be marketing, but Nvidia’s preview benchmarks suggest an average performance increase of around 50 percent for the RTX 2080 over the GTX 1080. Combined with the increase in CUDA core counts and the higher bandwidth of GDDR6, in GPU-limited benchmarks it’s not unreasonable to expect 50-75 percent more performance from the GeForce RTX models compared to the previous generation parts.
All Turing GPUs announced so far will be manufactured using TSMC’s 12nm FinFET process. The TU102 used in the RTX 2080 Ti has 18.6 billion transistors and measures 754mm2. That’s a huge chip, far larger than the GP102 used in the GTX 1080 Ti (471mm2 and 11.8 billion transistors) and only slightly smaller than the Volta GV100. While the full TU102 has up to 72 SMs and a 384-bit GDDR6 interface, the RTX 2080 Ti disables four SMs and one of the 32-bit GDDR6 channels. That leaves room for a future RTX Titan, naturally.
TSMC’s 12nm process is a refinement of the existing 16nm process, perhaps more marketing than a true die shrink. Optimizations to the process technology help improve clockspeeds, chip density, and power use—the holy trinity of faster, smaller, and cooler running chips. TSMC’s 12nm FinFET process is also mature at this point, with good yields, allowing Nvidia to create such large GPU designs.
Looking forward, TSMC is readying its 7nm process for full production, and we should see it in a limited fashion by the end of the year (eg, for AMD’s Vega 7nm professional GPUs). Don’t be surprised if late 2019 sees the introduction of a die shrink of Turing, bringing sizes down to more manageable levels.
Which GeForce RTX card should I buy?
With the cards all currently unreleased and untested, purchasing any GeForce RTX currently remains impossible. Based on what we’ve seen so far and looking at the Founders Edition cards, we recommend waiting at least another month if not more to see how performance and pricing shake out.
However, if you’ve watched the videos showing real-time ray tracing and can’t stand the thought of going another minute without the improved shadows and reflections it provides, we recommend going all-in and buying the RTX 2080 Ti. Most demonstrations of ray tracing have been running at 1080p, and even then framerates are clearly dipping below 60fps on a regular basis. Further optimizations can only help, but you’ll almost certainly want every ounce of performance available to get the most out of the feature.
Nvidia’s Turing architecture and the GeForce RTX line of graphics cards have the potential to completely change what we expect from our GPUs. Nvidia took its already excellent Pascal GPU and found ways to make it even more efficient, then tossed in the kitchen sink by way of the RT cores and Tensor cores. The demonstrations of real-time ray tracing are extremely impressive on a technical level, and multiple developers commented that using the RTX features freed up a lot of artist time and make the process of level design much easier.
Should you jump on the GeForce RTX bandwagon? If you’re a gaming enthusiast, or simply have deep pockets, the new graphics cards look to raise the bar both on performance and features. We’re extremely excited to see the next generation of games that put these cards to good use. But we also play and enjoy a lot of games that don’t even attempt to include cutting edge graphics.
The best reason to buy a new graphics card is when your existing graphics card is no longer doing its job adequately. For some, that will be when games can’t run at 30fps and 1080p at low to medium quality, while others have been wanting a GPU that can ‘guarantee’ 60fps or higher at 4k for years. And when you find it’s time to upgrade, check our best graphics card guide for advice on which GPU is right for your needs.