Card Layout and Photos
So I always do a card rundown, but in the past, the Founders Edition and reference cards have been mostly the same with just the exterior design changing from time to time. With the 700 series, Nvidia introduced the all-metal construction that they first used with the dual GPU GTX 690 to their high-end reference cards. That same design stayed with the GTX 980 and GTX 970 only with the letters being filled in and later the all black Titan Black design. Now the 10 series of cards did bring in a new design with its tessellated shape but it was still basically the same design only with a larger heatsink. The GTX 1060 Founders Edition brought the metal shroud to the cheaper cards as well. But now with the 20 Series of cards, Nvidia has completely changed things up, dropping the blower design altogether for a more aftermarket design with dual fans.
The new design does still feature an all metal construction, and that alone is one of the main reasons I have been loving the reference and Founders Editions for a while now. They feel solid in your hands, nothing flexes and really they look like they were designed with the PCB where a lot of the aftermarket designs look like they just bolted the same cooler on another GPU and sometimes they do that. The new design is actually heavier than the GTX 1080 was and this might be the best looking card yet in my opinion. I love the clean look, it does remind me of a few of the older EVGA designs only with a metal shroud and it also reminds me a little of my all time favorite card design, the HD7970 from XFX. The RTX 2080 Ti branding is in chrome just like before, but it is now in between the two fans, not at the end.
The back of the RTX 2080 Ti FE also has the RTX 2080 Ti branding and I like this decision. The 10 Series had this as well but you couldn’t see it at all and frankly this is the most visible part of the video card when installing in most cases. I’m a little unsure of the silver used though, but it does help the black branding stand out. These aren’t going to blend in with the dark all black builds like the past designs did with the black backplate. But pairing this up with one of the silver MSI motherboards would look killer.
So the two fans on the front of the card are more than just doubling up the fans. The old design had a thick fan that didn’t blow down, it would pull air in and blow it across the card. This new design has two fans blowing down through the heatsink, over the vapor chamber that covers the entire card and through a few small holes in that to get to the PCB itself. This design means that no longer is the Founders Edition sealed at the top and bottom. So from the bottom, you can see the heatsink that runs the length of the card. The end is now sealed and still has mounting points for case or server brackets. Then the top is open as well. So most of the air from the fans will come out the top and bottom, with a little making it out the rear I/O. This also means all of the heat from this card will end up inside your case, so make sure your case has the airflow to deal with that. The top and the bottom of the card do have the long V-shaped design that the other generations had, only now it connects the metal around both fans.
So I mentioned that some airflow will go out of the rear I/O, but as you can see there won’t be too much. For dropping the DVI connection they still didn’t really fill the space with much other than including the Nvidia logo now. The PCI bracket is now fully blacked out, not a black chrome and it looks awesome! Black makes sense it should better blend in with most cases now. For connections, you get three full-sized DisplayPort 1.4a with a max resolution of 8k at 60Hz. There is an HDMI connection but the whitepaper didn’t mention what generation. Then there is a Type-C connection. That is the one that should stand out the most to people, we finally have video cards with Type-C output! The Type-C connection also supports VirtualLink, a new open standard for VR headsets that can allow power, display, and data all through one cable. This is huge because currently you need all three connections and a hub to get everything to work, cutting it down to one plug could make VR more usable and portable.
This is a better look at the V-shaped design that I was talking about before that carried over from the past cards. Then there is also the logo up on top. It is a little different this time with it being Geforce RTX, not GTX. It is also not green with the lighting off anymore, they went with a clear transparent plastic not the semi-transparent rubber with green on top. Sadly at least currently the logo only lights up in green, I have heard that there are RGB lights under the logo though and a controller built in. I don’t know if Nvidia did this to get the perfect green or if they are leaving the option open for in the future to change the logo to other colors. I hope RGB is coming, I’ve been requesting it for the past few generations. Not because I don’t like the green, it does look good. But matching the logo to your build rather than just turning it off would be nice!
So with that 260-watt TDP dual power plugs wasn’t a surprise. The RTX 2080 Ti FE uses two 8-pin power connections where the GTX 1080 Ti only required an 8-pin and a 6-pin. The plugs are flipped around the traditional way, not the notched PCB way that aftermarket cards have been doing to get even more heatsink in around the plugs. In fact, you can see that the heatsink baseplate goes around them, leaving a nice gap.
So the new fans are a pushdown design, I already mentioned that. So they look different than in the past, but Nvidia did keep those metal center caps to keep things feeling like home. The fans are also much larger and with 13 blades they are a lot denser than some of the aftermarket card fans. They remind me a lot of the Asus Strix cooler fans though.
So then we have the new x8 Nvlink that replaced the HB SLI bridge. You can see that the pin density is significantly higher and the connection is a lot wider as well. I love that for the Founders Edition Nvidia did also include a matching metal cover that keeps the clean look when you aren’t running multiple cards.
I grabbed our GTX 1080 Ti for some comparison shots as well and you can see just how different the new cooler design is. They are the same length but I did notice the RTX 2080 Ti is a mm or two taller when they were next to each other.