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The RTX 4080 might be subject to as many memory switcheroos as its forebearer

Close up of an Nvidia graphics card showing capacitors.
(Image credit: Nvidia)
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Has there been a GPU generation with such fiercely debated and rumoured specifications as Nvidia's RTX 40-series (opens in new tab)? I'd say no, there hasn't been. The upcoming lineup of graphics cards has shapeshifted far too many times to count over the past year. However, with a potential launch window coming up fast, we're beginning to see these cards' final form—and there could be a few different memory configurations on the way.

We're expecting the RTX 4090 to lead the charge for the RTX 40-series, which is likely to feature 24GB of GDDR6X memory as standard. That's not particularly groundbreaking information as the current generation RTX 3090/Ti also come with as much.

However, it's the RTX 4080 (opens in new tab) that could be a more interesting sight at its release, though when that might come is not entirely clear. According to leaker MEGAsizeGPU (opens in new tab) (via Videocardz (opens in new tab)), where we'd expect a single graphics card, we may find two. The RTX 4080 is rumoured to arrive with two different memory configurations: either 12GB GDDR6X or 16GB GDDR6X.

Even more surprising is that these are said to be fundamentally different graphics cards. The 16GB variant is reported to be using a 12-layer PCB and the 12GB variant a 10-layer PCB. And both are said to be arriving at the same time.

Nvidia has offered such a split in the past, though arguably where it made more sense in the more entry-level market with the GTX 1060 6GB/3GB. At the higher end of the performance spectrum, you'd suspect Nvidia to be a little more sure of what's required of its high-end cards.

Though competition will do things to a graphics card company, and it wouldn't be entirely unlike Nvidia to float the idea of multiple memory configurations and power limits to ensure that it has all bases covered. AMD is coming in hot with its RDNA 3 GPUs (opens in new tab) this year, and Nvidia will be keen to see it has an answer to the RX 7000-series at every performance level.

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Nvidia is not afraid of testing the waters with multiple memory configurations for its GPUs and then ditching them at a moment's notice. Remember how many RTX 3080/Ti memory configurations (opens in new tab) were rumoured before and even after its release? It was a lot, and I heard from one GPU manufacturer at the time of that they were excruciatingly close to finalising their own design for one of these unreleased configurations before it was canned.

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We did end up seeing one such memory configuration later in the RTX 3080's life with the 12GB variant (opens in new tab), so such a release for the RTX 40-series is also absolutely possible.

I'd say the chances of these two RTX 4080 variants coming to the market at launch are about as good as any other rumoured RTX 40-series specification seeing the light of day. Which is to say: we're going to have to wait and see. 

We shouldn't have to wait too long for at least some mention of the next-generation GeForce GPUs, however—Nvidia's CEO Jensen Huang is hosting the keynote of the company's September GTC conference and the next-gen has already been tipped to make an appearance (opens in new tab) at that event.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.