If you read our Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition review (opens in a new tab), our conclusion was that this is an excellent graphics card spoiled by an excessive price. The FE’s $1,200 / £1,269 / AU$2,219 price tag is simply beyond the range of mainstream gamers, and that’s before you consider the premium-tier partner cards that cost even more. Consoles seem attractive to many.
But now that the Radeon RX 7900 XT (opens in a new tab) and RX 7900 XTX (opens in a new tab) have been launched, let’s hope that these prices should follow a downward trend. Probably not many, but at least they’re going in the right direction. Thank goodness the miners aren’t competing this time around.
The 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, claiming to be faster, quieter, cooler, and more feature-rich than the FE. At $1,399 / £1,319 / AU$2,349, that’s a price hike – although it’s exceptionally most apparent in the US – costing $199 more than the FE’s launch price. In the UK and Australia, the Zotac is more fairly priced at £50 or AU$130 more than the FE.
The Zotac Airo, like every other RTX 4080, is built around the 4nm AD103 GPU, which has 9,728 cores out of a possible 10,240. This leaves room for Nvidia to release an RTX 4080 Ti in the future. The AD103 gets a huge increase in L2 cache size, to 64MB from the RTX 3080’s 5MB (opens in a new tab). Add to that improved ray tracing support, impressive DLSS 3, and a more than reasonable 320W TDP, and spec-wise the RTX 4080 looks very solid.
RTX 4080 AMP Extreme Airo Specs
Shader units: 9,728
Increase clock speed: 2565MHz
Memory capacity: 16 GB of GDDR6X memory
Memory speed: 22.4 Gbps
The exits: 3x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1x HDMI 2.1
Power connectors: 1x 16 pin
Price: $1,399| £1,319 | AU$2,349
Other key specs include 16GB of 22.4Gbps GDDR6X memory on a 256-bit bus. It’s a step down from the RTX 3080, but then look at the die size of the 4080, at 379mm² compared to the whopping 628mm² of the 3080 and other GA102 cards. Of course, Nvidia is making a lot of money with the RTX 4080! And when it comes to performance per watt, the RTX 4080 is one of a kind.
The Zotac Amp Extreme Airo is Zotac’s best 4080 board so far, sitting above the Trinity. It comes with a boost clock of 2,565 MHz. Officially, that doesn’t look like much of an overclock to the FE’s 2,505 MHz. Some higher tier cards come with 2600MHz+ overclocks, but nominal boost clocks mean little and you shouldn’t worry about them. In my testing, the Zotac was able to reach over 2800 MHz in default operation.
Many manufacturers have repurposed their 450W+ 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 shows after taking a look. It’s a big 3.5 slot card. The fan shroud also features an unusually curved design. It incorporates eye-catching RGB lighting along the full length of the board, which can be controlled via Zotac’s Spectra RGB app.
It has a full-coverage metal backplate with another branded RGB element and personally I think it’s a great card.
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Like all RTX 4080s, the card comes with a 12+4 pin 12VHPWR connector. In this case, it has a 3x 8-pin adapter, delivering up to 450W. That’s more than enough juice to power the Airo 320W. At 320W, you wouldn’t think Zotac needed an extreme PCB, but in a sign that it’s designed for higher TDP, the board features a 24-phase VRM with three more for memory. Notably, 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 for controlling an external band and dual BIOS with performance and quiet modes. A quick test revealed no difference, and given the oversized cooler, it’s recommended to leave it at the performance setting. Unusually, it is controlled by a button rather than a switch, with the change being applied after a reboot.
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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 a behemoth of a cooler, the heat generated by the AD103 GPU is absolutely no problem. A maximum temperature of just 62°C is excellent, while full system power consumption is also good, lower than previous generation high-end cards.
The Zotac uses just under 20W more than the Founders Edition, but when you factor in all the RGB and an extra fan, it’s fine.
But raw wattage doesn’t tell the truth. As the RTX 4080 significantly 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
CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
Motherboard : Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex
RAM: 2x 16GB G.Skill Trident-Z DDR5-6000 C36
Storage room: Seagate FireCuda 530 2TB Hard Drive
Cooling: Cooler Master PL360 Flux 360mm all-in-one
Power supply : Corsair AX1000
The RTX 4080 offers very good performance, and the Zotac Amp Extreme Airo is a bit better than the FE, but not dramatically given how loosely defined Nvidia cards are.
Most games that struggled to crack 60Hz at 4K can now do it, even with ray-tracing effects enabled, and that’s before enabling DLSS. Even in the most demanding titles, 1440p at high refresh rates with the highest settings is possible.
Despite its gigantic size, however, the Zotac board isn’t what you’d call quiet, though it’s not a leaf blower either. Under heavy gaming loads, the card is audible, but in no way bothersome in terms of tone or volume.
There is the threat of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX (opens in a new tab) too. If you look at our launch day review, you can see it’s a pretty decent contender, although it can’t match the RTX 4080 in ray-traced gaming. If that’s not important to you, the XTX is well worth a look. The XT is neither here nor there and is no threat to the RTX 4080 aside from its lower price.
Zotac’s RTX 4080 Amp Extreme Airo is a true high-end contender. I think it’s a really nice card, especially if you’re a fan of RGB lighting. Its curved fairing may not appeal to everyone, but for me it’s a nice change from otherwise boxy designs.
My sample clocked at the highest level I’ve seen of the three RTX 4080s I’ve tested to date. It stays cool at all times, as expected given its gargantuan cooler. Its only issue, if you can call it that, is a noticeable fan level, which is really useless when you’re dealing with peak temperatures in the 60s. It’s certainly not noisy though.
At $1,399 | £1,319 | AU$2,349, the card goes up against premium-tier competitors such as the MSI Suprim and Gigabyte Aorus. In my experience so far, the MSI is a hair’s breadth ahead, 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 great performance on top of the quality Nvidia feature set. But it also needs extra value, 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, prices are hard to swallow right now. Hopefully 2023 will bring better news on this front.