Why it matters: Some people who love the performance and silent humming noise of Noctua fans have been strapping them to their GPUs for years. For people who want to upgrade to an RTX 30 card, Asus and Noctua now have not one but two Noctua'd models.
Last year, Asus partnered with Noctua to produce a custom design for Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. The result was exactly what you'd expect — a graphics card with a beefy heatsink, a minimalistic shroud, and two of Noctua's best fans.
This week, the two companies revealed they've extended their partnership to make a GeForce RTX 3080 Noctua Edition graphics card. The move was likely in response to enthusiasts who have been asking the obvious question — why apply Noctua's expertise to a mid-range Ampere card but not any of its higher-end siblings?
The RTX 3080 is by no means the absolute best in performance terms — that title would go to the more power-hungry and expensive RTX 3090 Ti. However, it does come close, and now it can do so without sounding like a small jet engine. Like the RTX 3070 Noctua Edition, it comes with a pair of NF-A12x25 120mm fans and a larger heatsink than the Asus TUF model.
Noctua says the RTX 3080 was a bigger challenge than the RTX 3070 given the 340-watt power envelope (versus 290 watts in the case of the latter card). While it won't shave more than a few degrees Celsius during load for the GPU core, the biggest difference will be in the VRAM department where high-end Ampere cards tend to run quite hot. Noctua claims up to 14 degrees lower VRAM temperatures, but that will depend on what fan settings you use.
Where Noctua's fans shine the brightest is in having a lower noise signature than the typical fan setup on most graphics cards, including the relatively quiet Asus TUF models. The RTX 3080 Noctua Edition supposedly runs 4.5 dB(A) quieter on average, and almost 9 dB(A) quieter when fans run at maximum speed.
Otherwise, the specs of the Noctua'd card are unchanged from the TUF model — a GA102 GPU (8,704 CUDA cores) with a base clock of 1,440 MHz, boost clocks of 1,785 MHz (gaming mode), and 1,815 MHz (OC mode), paired with 10 gigabytes of GDDR6X running at 19 Gbps.
There are three disappointing facts about this new card. The first is that Asus has chosen to use the 10 gigabyte model of the RTX 3080 instead of the newer variant equipped with 12 gigabytes of GDDR6X memory. The company has yet to reveal the price of the RTX 3080 Noctua Edition, and it will only be available in limited quantities starting next month.