If you read our review of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition (opens in a new tab), our conclusion was that it’s an excellent graphics card ruined by an excessive price. The FE’s $1,200 / £1,269 / AU$2,219 price is simply out of the reach of mainstream gamers, and that’s before you consider premium-made partner cards that cost even more. Consoles look appealing to many.
But now as Radeon RX 7900 XT (opens in a new tab) and RX 7900 XTX (opens in a new tab) have launched, hopefully these prices are set to trend downwards. Probably not much, but at least they’re headed in the right direction. Thank god miners aren’t competing this time.
Zotac GeForce RTX 4080 Amp Extreme Airo is a long name for a big (and curvy!) card. It aims to beat the Founders Edition in every aspect, and claims to be faster, quieter, cooler and more feature-rich than the FE. At $1,399 / £1,319 / AU$2,349, it’s a step up in price – although unusually it’s most apparent in the US – and costs $199 more than the launch price of the FE. In the UK and Australia the price of Zotac is fairer at £50 or AU$130 more than the FE.
The Zotac Airo, like all other RTX 4080s, is built around the 4nm AD103 GPU, which has 9,728 of a possible 10,240 available cores. That leaves room for Nvidia to release an RTX 4080 Ti in the future. The AD103 gets a huge increase in L2 cache size, at 64MB vs. 5 MB on RTX 3080 (opens in a new tab). Add to that much improved support for ray tracing, the impressive DLSS 3 and a more than reasonable 320W TDP, and spec-wise the RTX 4080 looks very strong.
RTX 4080 AMP Extreme Airo Specs
GPU: Nvidia AD103-300-A1
Shader Entities: 9,728
Increase clock speed: 2565 MHz
Memory capacity: 16 GB GDDR6X
Memory speed: 22.4 Gbps
Outputs: 3x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1x HDMI 2.1
Power connectors: 1x 16-pin
Price: $1399| £1,319 | AU$2349
Other key specs include 16GB of 22.4Gbps GDDR6X memory over a 256-bit bus. It’s a step back from the RTX 3080, but look at the die size of the 4080, at 379mm² versus the whopping 628mm² of the 3080 and the other GA102 cards. Nvidia sure makes good money on the RTX 4080! And when it comes to performance per watt, the RTX 4080 is in a league of its own.
Zotac Amp Extreme Airo is currently Zotac’s top 4080 card, and sits above the Trinity. It comes with a boost clock of 2565MHz. Officially, it doesn’t seem like much overclocking above the FE’s 2505 MHz. Some top tier cards come with 2600MHz+ overclocks, but rated boost clocks mean little and you shouldn’t worry about it. In my testing, the Zotac was able to reach over 2800MHz during standard operation.
Many manufacturers have repurposed their 450W+ rated RTX 3090 Ti (opens in a new tab) or RTX 4090 (opens in a new tab) coolers for use with the RTX 4080 and it appears after taking a look at it. It is a large 3.5-slot card. The fan cover also has an unusual curved design. It features eye-catching RGB lighting along the length of the card, which can be controlled via Zotac’s Spectra RGB app.
It has a full cover metal back plate with another brand RGB element and personally I think it’s a great card.
Picture 1 of 4
Like all RTX 4080s, the card comes with a 12+4-pin 12VHPWR connector. In this case, it has a 3x 8-pin adapter, which delivers up to 450W. That’s more than enough juice to power the 320W Airo. At 320W, you wouldn’t think Zotac needed an extreme PCB, but as a sign that it’s built for higher TDP, the card has a 24-phase VRM with an additional three for memory. In particular, the memory is rated at 24 Gbps, more than the card’s 22.4 Gbps. So you should have some OC headroom on tap.
Other key features include an RGB header to control an external strip and dual BIOS with performance and quiet modes. A quick test revealed no difference, and given the overspec cooler, it’s recommended to leave it in the performance setting. Unusually, it is controlled by a button rather than a switch, with the change applied after a reboot.
Picture 1 of 2
The cooler is more of a traditional design, eschewing the use of a vapor chamber in favor of a traditional nine-heatpipe baseplate. As expected with such an abundance of a cooler, the heat generated by the AD103 GPU presents absolutely no problems. A peak temperature of just 62°C is excellent, while full system power consumption is also good, coming in below previous generation high end cards.
The Zotac uses just under 20W more power than the Founders Edition, but when you include all the RGB and an extra fan, it’s fine.
But the raw wattage figure doesn’t tell the true story. As the RTX 4080 dramatically outperforms the likes of the RTX 3080 Ti with less power; it’s the performance per watt that really stands out. Well done Nvidia!
Synthetic gaming performance
1440p gaming performance
4K gaming performance
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i9 12900K
Motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex
RAM: 2x 16 GB G.Skill Trident-Z DDR5-6000 C36
Storage: 2TB Seagate FireCuda 530
Cooling: Cooler Master PL360 Flux 360mm AIO
PSU: Corsair AX1000
The RTX 4080 delivers very good performance, and the Zotac Amp Extreme Airo is slightly better than the FE, but not dramatically so given the loosely defined way Nvidia cards amplify themselves.
Most of the games that struggled to break 60Hz at 4K can now do so, even with ray tracing effects enabled, and that’s before DLSS was enabled. Even in the most demanding titles, 1440p at high refresh rates is possible at the highest settings.
Despite its gigantic size, however, the Zotac card isn’t what you’d call quiet, although it’s no leaf blower either. Under heavy gaming loads, the card is audible, but in no way annoying in tone or volume.
That’s the threat of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX (opens in a new tab) also. If you look at our launch day review, you can see that it’s a decent enough competitor, although it can’t match the RTX 4080 in ray-traced games. If that’s unimportant to you, the XTX is well worth a look. The XT is neither here nor there and is not a threat to the RTX 4080 except for the lower price.
Zotac’s RTX 4080 Amp Extreme Airo is a true high-end contender. I think it’s a very nice card, especially if you’re a fan of RGB lighting. The curved cover may not appeal to everyone, but for me it’s a nice change from otherwise boxy designs.
My sample clocked to the highest level I’ve seen from the three RTX 4080s I’ve tested to date. It stays cool at all times – as expected given the giant cooler. The only issue, if you can call it that, is a noticeable fan level, which is really unnecessary when you’re dealing with top temperatures in the low 60s. It’s definitely not noisy though.
At $1399| £1,319 | AU$2,349, the card goes up against premium tier competitors like the MSI Suprim and Gigabyte Aorus. My experience so far is that MSI has the nose ahead by a whisker, but in the end it all comes down to price.
The Zotac RTX 4080 Amp Extreme Airo is a fast card, very well built, it looks great and it will deliver excellent performance on top of the high quality Nvidia feature set. But it needs some extra value on top too, although the same can be said of all RTX 4080s and all high-end cards in fact. Whether it’s an RTX 4080, RTX 4090 or RX 7900 XT/X, the prices are tough to swallow right now. Let’s hope 2023 brings some better news on that front.