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From top to bottom, the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3080 has been radically improved to accommodate the impressive new NVIDIA Ampere architecture and to deliver the next wave of gaming performance innovation to the market. A fresh design and more metal surrounds a grouping of Axial-tech fans. Last gen's uniform fan layout has been usurped by a new rotation scheme and specialized roles for central and auxiliary fans. Below the blades, a larger, more impressive heatsink is ready for the most demanding thermal loads. The PCB has some new tricks up its sleeves, and even the backplate has received some performance-boosting changes. You've been waiting for the latest and greatest in graphics card design - and this is it.
ASUS Axial-tech fan design has been optimized for a new, larger heatsink that features more fins and surface area than last gen. The blade count has been increased on all three fans, with 13 on the center fan and 11 on the auxiliary fans. The barrier ring on the side fans has been slimmed down to allow for more lateral intake and to provide better airflow through the cooling array. The center fan's extra blades and full-height ring provide boosted static pressure to blast air directly onto the GPU heat spreader.
To bolster the specialized roles of the center and auxiliary fans, the rotational direction of the center fan is reversed. This reduces air turbulence inside the cooling array for another boost to overall thermal performance. The fans also shut off completely when card power consumption is low and the GPU temperature falls beneath 50 Celsius, keeping noise levels down when the system is under a light load.
To get heat up off the die and into the heatsink array to benefit from the new fan design requires special attention. ASUS uses a manufacturing process that polishes the surface of the heat spreader to improve smoothness at the microscopic level. The extra flatness allows for better contact with the die for improved thermal transfer.
The heat spreader draws heat up into heatpipes that carry it through a fin stack that fills a large 2.9-slot footprint. Increasing the heatsink size compared to the last generation provides more thermal headroom to account for the new high-performance chipset.
Top-shelf capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs are selected to effortlessly deliver hundreds of watts at a millisecond's notice. The Super Alloy Power II parts are soldered to the PCB using ASUS’ advanced Auto-Extreme automated manufacturing process. Smooth joints on the rear of the PCB and the elimination of human errors ensures each graphics card meets ASUS’ rigorous specifications.
The rear of the ROG Strix graphics card sports two PWM FanConnect headers that provide additional DIY flexibility. Chassis fans can be directly attached to the GPU and tuned with a curve that is based on CPU or GPU temperature, providing extra intake or exhaust for demanding 3D tasks.
In addition to under-the-hood design changes, the ROG Strix features a new face with metal accents that mirror the design aesthetic of ROG and ROG Strix motherboards. Mixing surface textures and materials make a statement when vertically mounted and lit by chassis LEDs. For those who prefer a sleeker, more subtle look, the grayscale colorway allows it to seamlessly blend into the build.
It's cooler out back
Flipping the card around reveals more design improvements. A wide backplate vent and shortened PCB allows hot air to escape towards chassis exhaust fans instead of being recycled by the GPU's circulating cooler design. A GPU bracket provides extra stability to the critical connection between die and heat spreader. The I/O bracket is made from stainless steel to protect ports and provide a more secure mount. A conveniently placed Dual Bios switch allows quick selection between "performance" and "quiet" mode for basic customization of the card's default behavior without software.
Careful attention has been paid to the front of the GPU, as it's the most visible part of the card in typical configurations. A new addressable RGB element can be customized with Armory Crate to create a uniform look along with other ROG components. To fulfill the power demands of the GeForce RTX 3080, two 8-pin power connectors are present, along with an onboard circuit that monitors PSU rail voltage. The circuit is fast enough to catch any transients that result in the rail voltage dropping too low. If that happens, a red LED will light up to indicate a power supply issue. The Strix's reinforced metal frame is also visible here, adding a literal layer of durability.
GPU Tweak II
The ASUS GPU Tweak II utility takes graphics card tuning to the next level. It allows you to tweak critical parameters including GPU core clocks, memory frequency, and voltage settings, with the option to monitor everything in real-time through a customizable on-screen display. Advanced fan control is also included along with many more features to help you get the most out of your graphics card.
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