Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.
If you’re at all like me, perpetually trying to find tools with all the right bells and whistles to work for both gaming and design, you’ve undoubtedly lost much of your life to lamenting graphics card performance. You’ve probably lost even more of it weighing the benefits of upgrading or building your own PC with the price. You need more than a busted computer that can barely handle a Zoom call, and worse, sounds like a lawn mower when you try to play Cyberpunk 2077. You need to not go bankrupt. I’ve got your fix. While a few names stick out in the graphics innovation market, few shine like Nvidia. And nothing shows how the company earned its reputation quite like the GeForce RTX 3080, a graphics card with an immense amount of power and some cutting-edge operative software, for what is really a game-changing price.
Games play beautifully, with no sacrifices on power.
You're likely tired of hearing gaming companies drone on about graphical feats. 4K, 8K, 120Hz, 60 fps...those are a lot of numbers and letters that mean maybe a game’ll look good, if it doesn't tank your computer or console in the process. The GeForce RTX 3080 won’t sacrifice a game's resolution or frame rate, bringing stunning performance that’s noticeable at 1440p but really starts to set in with 4K.
4K gaming is something of a touchy subject because of the assumption (based on fact) that better resolution dings frame rate and latency. While this may not be a dealbreaker for games like Minecraft or Flight Simulator, multiplayer games—especially those of a competitive nature—rely on split-second responses that give players every advantage over an opponent. The RTX 3080 doesn’t make you get sacrificial, due to its approach to gaming “It Boy” ray tracing and another rendering software called DLSS. Nvidia’s extremely efficient ray tracing allows light particles to interact with objects in a space—so a neon sign reflecting in a puddle, or a magic orb shining down a hall—in out-of-this-world detail without hurting frame rate. And DLSS, which many games are starting to hop on the bandwagon for, embeds learning AI in certain titles to actively balance graphics settings and power allocation, achieving gorgeous results. Both make this one of the most powerful graphics cards for 4K gaming out there.
It’s a workhorse for anyone in a creative design job.
I am not only Esquire’s resident tech and gaming nerd but also its lead motion designer, so I’m often working with animation and motion renders, along with dabbling in some light 3D modeling. While it may not be as heavy duty as, say, what Pixar or a game dev uses, Nvidia’s graphics card still sent me into shock. In apps like After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Maya, previews loaded quickly and accurately, camera and lighting tools were easier to use, and everything just generally operated faster. Of course, like a gaming PC, a workstation doesn't all come down to graphics cards—you need RAM and CPU—but this is one of the only graphics cards I’ve tried that really pushed performance in a work setting. (If that stressed you out even reading it, you could consider picking up a GeForce gaming laptop to give your RTX 3080 the royal treatment.) While most people will want it for their gaming rigs, the productivity angle speaks volumes to the thorough build and design of the RTX 3080.
It looks unconventional for good reason.
I’ve covered how the RTX 3080 is an absolute machine when it comes to gaming setups and workstations, but this GPU isn't done killing it there. Anyone who’s familiar with graphics cards will be immediately caught off guard by the look and structure of the RTX 3080, but there’s a really cool reason for that. The dual fan system on the card is unconventional to be sure, but it better disperses hot air than the standard form factor, which sees hot air ventilation pushed to one area of the computer. This way’s just more efficient, whether or not you can place the card right on a vent with your build.
Overall, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 blends software, hardware, and innovation in a graphics package like I've never seen before, for a price that is shockingly inexpensive. So whether you're trying to clap some noobs in Fortnite, edit videos, stream online, or get Cyberpunk to, at the bare minimum, work, there’s no other option for a graphics boost quite as refined or as powerful.
Photography and prop styling by Allie Holloway and Timothy Mulcare
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