The Nvidia RTX 4080 12GB is currently the cheapest graphics card in the GeForce RTX 4000 series to be formally announced by the company, alongside the more expensive RTX 4080 16GB and the RTX 4090. While you’d be forgiven for presuming that the only difference between the two RTX 4080 models is the amount of VRAM that each has, it appears that one card packs more performance and beefier specs than the other.
Taking a look at the ‘Performance’ section on Nvidia’s official product page for the RTX 4080, the 12GB model falls behind its 16GB counterpart in all three benchmarks to varying degrees. While both graphics cards are more or less neck and neck while running Microsoft Flight Simulator, there’s a noticeable difference in frame rate in games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Warhammer 40,000: Darktide.
It’s only when consulting the RTX 4080 specifications table that the reasons for this difference in performance becomes clear. The 12GB card not only boasts less GDDR6X VRAM than the 16GB model, but substantially fewer CUDA cores and a more narrow memory bus too. We’ll need to see how these disparities affect frame rates outside these benchmarks provided by Nvidia when we get hands on with the GeForce GPU, but we’ll likely see similar trends in our own results.
To further confuse things, it appears that the RTX 4080 12GB will only be available from AIB partners, with the RTX 4080 16GB being the only one to receive the Founders Edition treatment. That said, either pixel pusher could be the best graphics card for your system, depending on your budget and needs.
If the RTX 4000 series remains too rich for your blood, though, the RTX 4070 or RTX 4060 could be the way to go, but there’s no sign of when Nvidia will announce these cards just yet. For those of you who simply can’t wait that long, the AMD RDNA 3 release date is scheduled to fall on November 3, if you don’t mind slotting a Radeon card into your rig.