Thanks to the official reveal we now know a lot more about the Nvidia Ampere graphics cards, not least the fact the RTX 3080 will be released on September 17, the RTX 3090 on September 24, and the RTX 3070 later in October.
A new family of GPUs means a whole new slew of weird and wacky graphics cards from AIBs (that's add-in board partners acronym fans), and we've dug around in the mire to find the most intriguing-looking designs announced so far.
The fact that Nvidia's own Founders Editions cards have a novel new design capable of keeping the Ampere RTX GPUs much cooler has put pressure on those AIBs too. So, while there are some tried and tested designs being trotted out yet again, if you look closer there are a few more interesting options coming out as well, including this rather sassy 400W number from Asus.
I have to say that while I wasn't originally sold on the new Nvidia cooler, it has slowly grown on me, and in the slightly more diminutive form as found on the RTX 3070, I'd even say I actually like it. The rest of the PCG team isn't exactly of the same mind on this one, but what your graphics card looks like probably isn't something worth fighting about.
Well, I didn't think it was at any rate. On with the show…
Palit RTX 3080 GameRock
I have to include this sparkling RTX 3070 from Palit, mostly because Jacob threatened violence towards me if I didn't rate this card, but then he also loves the look of the G.Skill Trident Z Royal RAM too. Personally I think it looks absolutely horrible. You just know it's going to be that cheap plastic faux-glass look the world doesn't really need.
It's colourful, I'll give you that. But then it's also hideous. Given the option, I'll take the violent option rather than have this anywhere near a case that has a window, or a vanity mirror.
The one thing about this design that is worth pointing out is that all three Ampere cards are available using the same cooler, which makes for an efficient design if not necessarily an optimal one. A triple fan cooler on an RTX 3070 may be overkill, or it may give you enough room to clock it to stupidly high levels, we'll have to wait and see.
Galax 1-clip Booster
You may want to place your hands either side of your head for this one, because it may just blow your mind. What's better than having fans on the front of a graphics card? How about slapping one on the back? There. Amazing.
It's an interesting approach that should improve cooling, in a similar way to the under and over fan design of the Nvidia reference blower. Me? I'm not entirely sure I like it. And having just got back from rebuilding my test rig, the idea of slapping a cooler where your memory usually sits has me a little confused. But it's novel. And Galax is clearly thinking outside the box.
In fact I don't think it even knows what a box is at this stage.
Colorful iGame GeForce RTX 30 Series Vulcan
This may seem a little unnecessary at first, but having an LCD on the graphics card itself may not be such a crazy thing to do. Okay it probably is, but bear with me. While a logo or image (it supports JPGs and GIFs) could soon lose its charm, how about a live readout of your GPUs temperature and/or your memory load? That's got your interest, right?
The 48 x 120mm LCD display can be flipped back for a normal installation so you can still see the image/info, or flipped up if you've treated yourself to a vertical mounting kit. Apart from the screen, the Vulcan packs a pretty standard 3-slot triple-fan cooler.
Colorful iGame GeForce RTX 3080 Neptune
Water cooling appears to be a bit of a thing with Ampere, which makes sense given the increased thermal needs of the RTX 3090. It's absolutely not the first time AIBs have launched such offerings, but the fact that there are already a couple of designs out there could mean this is a watershed moment for easy watercooling of our GPUs. Probably not to be honest, as these will undoubtedly be overclocked and ship with the sort of pricing that would make you cry the very finest distilled water. But we can dream.
The Colorful Neptune looks pretty tasty, with that glowing ring sure to throw a little colour round your case, or you could grab a mirror and show it to the world. The center of the cooler boasts a mirrored surface, and that ring is fully customisable too. The press release for this says that it is a 3-slot cooler, although that definitely looks like a dual-slot to us. You're going to need to plan for that radiator though, and while it's only a twin 120mm fan design, it could be a squeeze in your case if you've already got an all-in-one keeping your CPU in check.
EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 Kingpin
The EVGA Kingpin meanwhile has a bit of a retro look to it, with an air of Tim Burton's Batmobile. No? Just me? Okay. Having a fan on the card itself as well as a radiator could seem a little overkill, although it should help keep things ultra cool at the same time. And with that Kingpin branding you are going to get some sweet, sweet overclocking performance too.
It's another dual-slot design, this time connected to a 360mm radiator. It also features a full color RGB OLED display to "keep you informed while you make history."