Nvidia 'unlaunches' the unwanted RTX 4080 12GB

Nvidia RTX 4080 Founders Edition
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia is taking a step back and "unlaunching" the RTX 4080 12GB. The company had intended to release two RTX 4080 graphics cards next month, the RTX 4080 12GB and the RTX 4080 16GB, with entirely different specs, but it has now decided against releasing the lower-spec card.

"The RTX 4080 12GB is a fantastic graphics card, but it’s not named right. Having two GPUs with the 4080 designation is confusing," Nvidia says in a surprisingly concise blog post.

"So, we’re pressing the 'unlaunch' button on the 4080 12GB. The RTX 4080 16GB is amazing and on track to delight gamers everywhere on November 16th."

When Nvidia first announced the RTX 4080, we were a bit surprised to find there were two of them on the way. From the name alone, you'd suppose they're two models of the same card with different memory configurations, but they're actually two graphics cards with significantly different specifications.

Following Nvidia's announcement of the cards, many called it confusing and questioned why the RTX 4080 12GB isn't named the RTX 4070 to reflect its lower specs.

Surprisingly, Nvidia has taken that feedback on board and done something I really hadn't expected it to do. Even Nvidia had been quite convinced it was the right call until recently.

"It should be intuitive, right? The 16GB, it's a better GPU, it's faster. I don't think anyone is going to think the 16GB is not better than the 4080 [12GB]. We are going to work on being very clear with our product pages, with our retail space, and anywhere that gamers are looking at GPUs, so that gamers can pick the GPU that's right for them," Justin Walker, senior director of product management at Nvidia said during a pre-briefing on the RTX 40-series cards.

Below is a table of the original RTX 4080 lineup:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
The original RTX 4080 announcement spec
Header Cell - Column 0 RTX 4080 12GB ("unlaunched")RTX 4080 16GB
CUDA Cores7,6809,728
Base Clock2,310MHz2,210MHz
Boost Clock2,610MHz2,510MHz
Memory Bus192-bit256-bit
Memory Type12GB GDDR6X16GB GDDR6X
Memory Speed21Gbps23Gbps
Graphics Card Power (W)285W320W
Required System power (W)700W750W
Launch Price$899$1,199
Launch dateNow unknownNovember 16

What this means is that we're only now expecting one graphics card next month, the RTX 4080 16GB, and that will arrive on November 16. Assuming pricing all remains the same for this card, it will launch for $1,199. 

Following that, it's likely that the card that was once destined to be the RTX 4080 12GB will take on a new disguise as the RTX 4070, though we now no longer have any timeframe for that. Assuming again that pricing remains the same, that card will eventually launch for $899. This potentially would make it a pricey xx70 card, so I wonder if that price is now in flux, too.

Nvidia had never planned a Founders Edition for the RTX 4080 12GB, which may have made the decision to cancel and reconfigure it a little easier. Though surely it has come to a point where some plans are set in stone—Nvidia's GPU partners were likely to have been ramping up their RTX 4080 12GB cards ready for launch next month. Can much at all of that card's spec now be changed as a result? We'll have to wait and see.

If you want a taster of what more is to come from the RTX 40-series cards, you can sink your teeth into our Nvidia RTX 4090 review right now.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.