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V-Ray GPU Rendering - NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Performance

Written on September 17, 2020 by William George
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TL;DR: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Performance in V-Ray

Is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 good to use in V-Ray Next? That is a hard question to answer directly because it depends greatly on your situation. If you are operating on a budget, or only have room for a single video card in your workstation, then the GeForce RTX 3080 is a great GPU for rendering in V-Ray. It has the best single-card performance we've yet tested (though it is certain to be outdone by the RTX 3090 later this month) and 25% more video memory than previous-gen models at the same price point.

As good as that sounds, though, if you are someone who built workstations with three or four powerful video cards stacked inside to give you the fastest rendering times possible... that may not be an option with the RTX 3080 & 3090, at least not at this time. Unless single-fan, rear-exhausting cooler versions come out it will be hard to put even two of these GPUs in a single system, and while the price:performance ratio of the RTX 3080 is undeniable the raw performance of two RTX 2080 Ti cards (which were produced in single-fan variants) will still outpace it by a fair margin... not to mention three or four of those, which we routinely built into a single tower or rackmount workstation. Only time will tell if we are ever going to be able to offer that density of RTX 30 Series cards in a PC.

V-Ray GPU Rendering Performance Review for NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB

Introduction

On September 1st, NVIDIA launched the new GeForce RTX 30 Series, touting major advancements in performance and efficiency. While gaming is almost always this media focus during these kinds of launches, professional applications like Chaos Group's V-Ray should also see some significant per-card improvements as well.

There is a downside to this product launch for GPU-based rendering, though: the new cooler design that NVIDIA has introduced on their Founders Edition RTX 3000-series cards is even worse for multi-card configurations than the last generation. If third-party card manufacturers are able to produce RTX 3080 and 3090 cards with rear-exhaust coolers then things will still be okay, but if not then per-system performance in GPU rendering will be much lower despite the speed of a single card being higher.

If you want to see the full specs for the new GeForce RTX 3070, 3080, and 3090 cards, we recommend checking out NVIDIA's page for the new RTX 30 Series cards. But at a glance, here are what we consider to be the most important specs:

VRAM CUDA Cores Boost Clock Power MSRP
RTX 2070 Super 8GB 2,560 1.77 GHz 215W $499
RTX 3070 8GB 5,888 1.70 GHz 220W $499
RTX 2080 Super 8GB 3,072 1.65 GHz 250W $699
RTX 3080 10GB 8,704 1.71 GHz 320W $699
RTX 2080 Ti 11GB 4,352 1.55 GHz 250W $1,199
RTX 3090 24GB 10,496 1.73 GHz 350W $1,499
Titan RTX 24GB 4,608 1.77 GHz 280W $2,499

While specs don't always line up with real-world performance, it is a great sign that NVIDIA has roughly doubled the number of CUDA cores compared to the GeForce RTX 20 Series cards at similar price points. At the top-end of the new line, NVIDIA appears to have also combined the roles of the previous-gen RTX 2080 Ti and Titan RTX into the new RTX 3090. It has as much VRAM as the Titan did, but for $1,000 less - putting it in the same ballpark as the 2080 Ti, but with more than double the memory and CUDA cores.

Since only the GeForce RTX 3080 is fully launched at this point (the RTX 3090 is set to launch on Sept 24th, and the RTX 3070 sometime in October) we, unfortunately, will only be able to examine the RTX 3080 at this time. However, we are very interested in how the RTX 3070 and 3090 will perform, and when we are able to test those cards we will post follow-up articles with their results.

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Test Setup

Listed below is the specifications of the system we used for our V-Ray testing:

*All the latest drivers, OS updates, BIOS, and firmware applied as of August 31st, 2020

To test each video card, we used two versions of Chaos Group's V-Ray benchmark: the older V-Ray Benchmark 1.0.8 and the newer V-Ray Next Benchmark 4.10.06. These tests were run twice on each GPU, with the best result being included in the graphs below.

If you wish to compare performance to your existing system, you can download the V-Ray Next Benchmark directly from Chaos Group (free account required). They also maintain a database of results that you can reference and contribute to.

Benchmark Results

Here are charts showing the performance of the new GeForce RTX 3080 compared to the other video cards we tested:

Performance Analysis

The raw performance of the new GeForce RTX 3080 is fantastic in V-Ray! It is faster than anything in the RTX 20 Series was, and more than twice as fast as the RTX 2080 Super for the same price. Combined with a 25% increase in VRAM, that massive increase in rendering speed makes it a fantastic value...

... if you only need or want one video card. But that is where the problem lies for the RTX 30 Series cards: GPU based rendering scales very well across multiple graphics cards, but this generation is not built in a way that is friendly to operate multi-GPU configurations. The Founders Edition cards that NVIDIA showed off at their launch event appear particularly ill-suited to this, as one of the fans on them blows hot air directly up - which would mean heat from a lower card going directly into the cooling system of the card above it. Even the triple fan GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING OC 10G from Gigabyte that we did this testing on passes through some heat from one of the fans directly upward, and the heat from the rest of the fans simply circulates back into the chassis. We've looked at how this sort of approach to cooling does not work well in multi-card systems before.

Should it somehow turn out that multiple cards of this type are actually able to be cooled effectively in the same system, there is still the issue of card spacing to deal with: a least one slot would be needed between cards for airflow to the fans, preventing the stacking of 3-4 GPUs that we are accustomed to from blower-style cards in past generations. And if that were solved by video card OEMs putting out cooling system variants that exhaust heat out the back of the computer, there would still be the issue of increased power consumption on these cards. NVIDIA's specs show the GeForce RTX 3080 drawing up to 70W more per card than the previous 2080 Super & 2080 Ti, and the RTX 3090 is slated for 100W more. Multiple cards like that would strain today's largest PC power supplies.

Is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Good for V-Ray?

This is a hard question to answer directly because it depends greatly on your situation. If you are operating on a budget, or only have room for a single video card in your workstation, then the GeForce RTX 3080 is a great GPU for rendering in V-Ray. It has the best single-card performance we've yet tested (though it is certain to be outdone by the RTX 3090 later this month) and 25% more video memory than previous-gen models at the same price point.

As good as that sounds, though, if you are someone who built workstations with three or four powerful video cards stacked inside to give you the fastest rendering times possible... that may not be an option with the RTX 3080 & 3090, at least not at this time. Unless single-fan, rear-exhausting cooler versions come out it will be hard to put even two of these GPUs in a single system, and while the price:performance ratio of the RTX 3080 is undeniable the raw performance of two RTX 2080 Ti cards (which were produced in single-fan variants) will still outpace it by a fair margin... not to mention three or four of those, which we routinely built into a single tower or rackmount workstation. Only time will tell if we are ever going to be able to offer that density of RTX 30 Series cards in a PC.

As always, please keep in mind that these results are strictly for GPU-based rendering in V-Ray. If you have performance concerns for other applications in your workflow, we highly recommend checking out our Hardware Articles (you can filter by "Video Card") for the latest information on how a wide range of programs perform with various GPUs, CPUs, and other hardware.

GPU Rendering Workstations

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Tags: Hardware Acceleration, NVIDIA, RTX 2060 SUPER, RTX 2070 SUPER, RTX 2080 SUPER, RTX 2080 Ti, Titan RTX, RTX 3080, V-Ray, GPU Acceleration, GPU, Render, Rendering, Video Card, GTX 1080 Ti, Chaos, Group
Tavo Ortiz

Also something to note, Nvlink was removed in these new RTX 3070 and RTX 3080, making multi GPU configurations even less friendly. This is a really big and bad hit to GPU rendering in my opinion, because even 10GB or RAM is nothing by today standards in you want to work with scenes with more geometry and detail.
RTX 3090 might offer a solution to this, but the price is going to be prohibitive for many, and given that these are more power hungry they will output more heat making it harder to build a multi GPU system.

Posted on 2020-09-18 19:47:02

I think NVIDIA wants to "encourage" people who are doing higher-end rendering to move toward the Quadro series, which tend to still offer rear-exhaust cooler and more VRAM... but at a much higher price :/

Posted on 2020-09-18 19:58:03
Tavo Ortiz

Yeah, I think that's what they are doing. BTW great review! Im really anxious to see your reviews on the RTX 3090 and the new Zen 3 :)

Posted on 2020-09-18 22:17:52
Kevin

Right now, we are looking to upgrade to a 3090 for our next build along with a 24 or 32 core Threadripper (might wait for the Zen 3 TRs to come out). These benchmarks are very promising so far!

The "innovative" cooler design on the 3090 is a bit worrying as well since it also blows that hot air directly up into the CPU heatsink if using an air cooler with tower design. Would be interested in how that affects CPU thermals compared to, say, a liquid AIO cooler with the radiator mounted on the front of the case with intake fans pulling cool air through.

Thanks for the great article!

Posted on 2020-09-22 15:56:36
NBNA

Will we be able to use 2x 0r 3x 3080 video cards for Vray Rendering (not games) ? Thinking of using Liquid cooling or Hydro versions when they come out.

Posted on 2020-10-14 16:38:40

I fully expect multiple RTX 30-series cards to be doable for rendering, but the big issues to deal with will be cooling and power usage. For cooling, I think with enough chassis airflow it is likely that two Founders Edition 3080 (and maybe even 3090) cards could be used in a single system... but to go beyond two, I think blower-style cards will be necessary. With those, I believe three 3080 / 3090 cards will be viable. Four would be ideal, as we've been able to do with past generations of cards (the 2080 and 2080 Ti were particularly popular in sets of four)... but at that point the problem becomes power draw. These cards are rated for up to 350W, and some of the reviews I've seen indicate that they can go even higher. Just looking at 350W, though, four of those cards would be 1400W *just for the GPUs*. The biggest power supplies we can use here in the US are 1600W, leaving only 200W for the whole rest of the system. That may end up being a limiting factor, but we will have to wait and see.

Posted on 2020-10-14 16:43:06