Nvidia's RTX 3080 is in the test rig right now but I can't take my eyes off its white LEDs

(Image credit: Nvidia)

The thing that really stands out to me, now I've had the new Nvidia RTX 3080 Founders Edition out of its packaging, is the fact it uses white LEDs and not Nvidia green. We're so used to that GeForce logo screaming green, but the new Nvidia Ampere reference design has gone for a far more neutral white look.

I'm not allowed to talk about performance yet, so can't really say whether the new Ampere card's actual pixel-pushing prowess is also something that stands out from my time testing the RTX 3080. And I'm not allowed to show pictures of my card powered on, just in case that blows the whole case wide open.

But those blazing white lights, shown in the RTX 30-series sizzle reel, are a major change from the traditional green GeForce beacon normally beaming out of the side of your chassis from an Nvidia card. And a welcome one too.

Yes, I'm here talking aesthetics when all you really want to know is, do those RTX 2080 Ti pasting performance promises play out? But hear me out. 

I've had to eat a fair bit of humble pie since getting my hands on the RTX 3080 Founders Edition; it's honestly quite a stunning bit of industrial engineering. And it's definitely grown on me.

When I first saw the early leaked images of the shroud I was most definitely not onboard. It looked too chunky, almost too Fisher Price, Baby's First Graphics Card for my tastes. But now it's actually here in front of me. I think it's actually the most grown-up reference card design I've ever seen from any GPU maker.

Certainly compared to some of the more 'extra' RTX 30-series designs we've seen from the board partners so far.

The super-solid metal frame of the Founders card makes it a seriously weighty beast, but it also lends both straight edges and soft curves to the outline too. It's a unit (though not as much as the beastly RTX 3090 seems to be), but the tight, enclosed shroud stops it from looking vast. In fact it's only a shade longer than a Founders Edition RTX 20-series cooler design.

On looks alone, I think Nvidia's latest reference card would be the one I'd want in my gaming rig. And thanks to that shining white light it's more likely to fit in with the overall look of our gaming PCs too.

I'm not the only one who colour coordinates their PC, right? At the moment the Nvidia green LEDs of the Titan X sat in my machine are very much at odds with the hot pink aesthetic of my rig. The lighting strips of the Lian Li DK-04 desk, the blazing UNI FAN SL120 fidget spinners, and the motherboard underlighting of the Asus Maximus XII Extreme are all fighting against that GeForce glow.

The multiple white LEDs also brighten up what is otherwise a very dark card. The brushed aluminium frame is the only contrast for the jet-black cooling fins arrayed across the rest of the RTX 3080's cooler.

That's all we can really talk about for now, but we'll have our full performance review for your delectation soon...

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.