Canceled GeForce RTX 3080 Ti With 20GB VRAM And Factory OC Breaks Cover
An incredibly rare 20GB variant of the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti was spotted on the Facebook marketplace where an Australian seller is selling the card for $1100. The card is confirmed to be an OEM-finished MSI Suprim X variant that never made it to market, due to NVIDIA canceling the 20GB model altogether back in 2020 before the SKU launched. Despite the card’s awfully high price, it appears to be fully functional (despite having a few scuffs) and even has support for overclocking, which should make it a good collector's item.
You may have never heard of the RTX 3080 Ti 20GB, but ironically it was one of the first RTX 3080 Ti variants we heard about during NVIDIA’s initial Ampere launch before the real 3080 Ti (12GB) hit the market. The 20GB model was quite different from its 12GB brother, featuring a weaker 320-bit memory interface but far superior 20GB of GDDR6 19Gbps memory. For some reason, NVIDIA never greenlit the 3080 Ti 20GB for mass production, instead opting to go with the 12GB version (with its beefier 384-bit memory interface) as the sole version of the RTX 3080 Ti.
Apparently, the 20GB card being sold on Facebook is an original production or pre-production variant of the model before NVIDIA canceled it for good. Based on this, we now know that the 20GB model was indeed pulled at the very last second, after AIB partners started producing the cards. It remains a mystery why NVIDIA would cancel the 20GB card so late, especially when cards were already being built, but NVIDIA seemingly had some very good reasons to pull it anyway.
The GPU’s 20GB memory configuration has a peculiar implementation and is in many ways inferior to the 12GB model that we see today. To hit exactly 20GB of memory capacity, NVIDIA had to disable part of the memory bus so it could use fewer, larger 2GB memory ICs on the card. This is a tactic NVIDIA has used many times to increase memory capacity on some of its GPUs, but this comes at the consequence of reduced memory bandwidth if the GDDR6 modules are not clocked higher to compensate (which was not the case with the 20GB 3080 Ti).
If you were gaming back in 2020, the 12GB option would likely have been preferred over the 20GB due to the 12GB’s 17% higher memory bandwidth. Games rarely required over 8GB of memory to run well at the time, meaning the 20GB version would have been completely overkill from a capacity perspective. The additional memory bandwidth would have been much more useful and resulted in noticeably better frame rates across the board. NVIDIA probably killed the 20GB off for this specific reason, on top of any other financial reasons including unwanted competition with the RTX 3090.
It is very surprising to see one of these cards out in the real world when usually these cards are locked up behind closed doors. Though sadly, if you want to get this card for actual gaming NVIDIA only ever made one driver version that supported this model, meaning you’ll be missing out on any bug fixes and game-ready driver support that has been added over the past few years. On the flip side, it would be a great collector's item that would look great on any GPU shelf with its black and silver color theme.