Comparing Nvidia’s Impressive New GPUs to PS5 and Xbox Series X

Comparing Nvidia’s Impressive New GPUs to PS5 and Xbox Series X

It’s a big year for gaming hardware. Nvidia’s new graphics cards are finally here, AMD has its own lineup on the way, and the Xbox Series X is launching in November, with the PlayStation 5 around the same time (probably). So if you’re looking to upgrade your gaming gear, you have a major choice to make. But if Nvidia’s new graphics cards are any indication of where PC gaming is headed, consoles won’t be gaining a performance edge over their more expensive competition anytime soon.There’s still a lot we don’t know about all the hardware coming out this year, but Nvidia’s confirmed specs give us a lot more to go on. The new flagship Ampere GPU, the GeForce RTX 3080, looks like a pretty big step forward from its last generation – at least, if Nvidia’s marketing material is to be believed (and it should always be taken with a grain of salt until independent benchmarks can verify the claims). Not only does the RTX 3080 crank up the raw shader performance, it also boasts improved ray tracing and tensor-based AI. Couple that with 10GB of fast GDDR6X memory, and Nvidia claims it has twice the relative performance of the RTX 2080, able to hit 4K 60fps with RTX on – albeit with the assistance of DLSS, Nvidia’s AI tech that helps boost frame rates in graphically-intensive workloads. If more games start supporting real-time ray tracing (Nvidia says “hundreds” are in development), the technology might actually become worthwhile with the RTX 3080, which launches on September 17.

That performance comes at a cost, though: at $699 (give or take, depending on the variant you buy), it’s priced similar to the RTX 2080 when it launched in 2018, though that’s still nearly double the price of your typical console. Granted, we don’t know how much the PS5 and Xbox Series X will cost just yet, but if they’re anywhere near what we’ve seen in previous generations, your wallet will take a noticeably bigger hit for the latest and greatest in PC gaming. And that’s before you even shell out for a CPU and motherboard, if you need them.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-Series Reveal

The slightly more affordable RTX 3070, available in October, also boosts performance over its predecessor, with Nvidia claiming it to be on par or faster than the RTX 2080 Ti – the previous reigning champ of consumer GPUs. At $499, this card should be able to handle high-refresh gaming at 1440p with ray tracing, according to Nvidia, though if you’d rather keep RTX off, you might be able to get closer to 60fps at 4K. Last but certainly not least, Nvidia introduced the RTX 3090, available on September 24, taking the place of previous Titan graphics cards. This beast of a card comes with the top-tier compute performance you’d expect, boasting 24GB of GDDR6X memory, an enormous cooler, and a $1,499 price tag to match – but hey, if you’ve got the money to afford the giant 8K TV Nvidia wants you to play on, what’s another $1,500 for a graphics card?

Comparing these cards to the next generation of consoles isn’t easy, given the sparse details we still have about the PS5 and Xbox Series X – not to mention the still-upcoming AMD RDNA 2 architecture, which will be used in both consoles. That’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges, and with so many details still under wraps, it’s like the oranges are wearing invisibility cloaks.We do know, however, that Nvidia is boasting 30 shader teraflops of compute power on the RTX 3080, and 20 shader teraflops on the RTX 3070 – with “shader teraflops” being a measure of compute power that doesn’t include the separate RT and tensor cores, used for ray tracing and AI computations, respectively. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are advertising 10.28 and 12 teraflops, respectively, numbers that also don’t include the extra ray tracing hardware we know both consoles will have. Still, that’s a pretty huge gap, especially considering the PS5 will downclock from that ideal value when power consumption is at its limit – though we don’t know how often it’ll need to do so. Those values also don’t take into account the fact that the consoles are using an APU rather than a separate CPU – which means they’ll have to share resources in a way Nvidia’s dedicated GPUs won’t.

Keep in mind that, as we’ve said before, teraflops are a very imperfect point of comparison, particularly between different architectures, like Nvidia’s Ampere and the upcoming consoles’ AMD RDNA 2. So while we can’t simply say that the RTX 3080 has three times the real-world performance of the PS5, it’s pretty clear that these GPUs aren’t giving consoles a leg up, and PC gaming will likely continue to offer more power than Sony and Microsoft’s dedicated machines – provided you have the cash to burn. Even if the consoles hit 4K at 60fps like Nvidia’s RTX 3080, both solutions will likely be using upscaling tricks like DLSS to reach those benchmarks. In the end, the difference could come down to how well the various hardware solutions handle things like ray tracing, upscaling, and other AI-based rendering – one solution’s 4K 60fps could still look different than another’s.

Plus, raw power is only one part of the equation. You’ll also have to consider exclusive games, multiplayer platforms, and your preferred control scheme (I’m absolute garbage at first-person shooters without a mouse and keyboard). Plus, consoles and PC gamers have deviated in how they use the power afforded to them. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, for example, aimed for 4K at 30 frames per second in most games – but many PC users, including myself, find higher frame rates (like 144Hz) to be more beneficial than higher pixel counts. If you’re still on the fence between a PC upgrade or a shiny new console, keep waiting – not only are Nvidia’s midrange Ampere GPUs still on the horizon, but we have AMD’s new cards coming soon as well, and there’s only so much all these marketing numbers can truly tell you about how a game runs. It’s better to see that fidelity and framerate in the flesh to know which move is right for you.

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