Nvidia ‘frees up’ RTX 4080 GPU (12GB) due to ‘confusing’ name

Nvidia will “launch” 12 GB model of its RTX 4080 graphics card, the company announced Friday. The news comes just weeks after the company unveiled the product as part of the a new line of GPUs. In a short blog post, Nvidia didn’t provide much context for the decision beyond saying that the card was “not properly named.”

Nvidia announced two – well, technically three – new GPUs in late September, RTX 4090 and RTX 4080. There will be two versions of the latter, Nvidia said: one with 16GB of video memory and the other with 12GB.

Based on that, one might think that RAM would be the only difference between the two RTX 4080 variants. However, that is not the case – the GPUs have significantly different specifications. The 16GB model has 9,728 CUDA cores, up more than 26% from the 12GB card’s 7,680 cores. And while both models have GDDR6X memory, the RAM in the 12 GB variant is slower, with lower memory bandwidth. As we include it in Nvidia’s 40-series GPU announcement article, it’s probably better to consider the 12GB model “as an entry-level RTX 4080 closer to the RTX 4070.5” than the true high-powered RTX 4080.

“Having two GPUs with the 4080 designation is confusing,” Nvidia admitted Friday.

The two RTX 4080 models are priced according to their specifications – the 16GB version will start at $1,199, while the 12GB model will start at $899. Nvidia’s decision to pull out the cheaper card leaves only two extremely expensive GPUs in the company’s 40-series lineup: the RTX 4090, which launched earlier this week, starts at $1,599. It’s hard to swallow that the hefty price tag of these new graphics cards has PC gamers expressing anxiety about being able to afford them.

The future of the 12 GB RTX 4080 is still unclear; all Nvidia says is the company will “decode” it. (While we’re here, it’s worth noting that neither of the RTX 4080 models are actually out yet – both are scheduled for November.

“Inactive” could mean Nvidia will suspend the 12GB card. It’s also possible that Nvidia will just rebrand this GPU in a way that feels more representative of its specifications. The company probably already has plans for lower-powered 40-series graphics cards in the future – the RTX 4070, RTX 4060, etc – so perhaps this one could join that development somewhere.

Polygon has reached out to Nvidia for more context on its decision and clarification on the future of the 12 GB RTX 4080. We will update this article with any information we receive.


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