A very subtle image of money falling in front of Nvidia's HQ while GPUs pop out

(Image credit: Dmytro Balkhovitin / michelmond / ImageFlow / Nvidia)

Nvidia’s RTX 5080 might be the first graphics card to come charging out of Team Green’s next-gen stable, not the RTX 5090, which would be quite a surprise.

As you’re doubtless aware, normally Nvidia’s flagship model is the first to be released, such as the RTX 4090, or RTX 2080 (and 2080 Ti).

So far, all rumors have pointed to the RTX 5090 coming out first with Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs. And indeed there’s been a lot of talk that the RTX 5090 might be the only Blackwell GPU to be released in 2024 that’s vying to get into our roundup of the best graphics cards.

Not according to well-known leaker on X (formerly Twitter) Kopite7kimi, though (as VideoCardz noticed).

It’s not ture. RTX 5080 should be released first.May 7, 2024

The leaker believes that the RTX 5080 will debut first, but as you can see in the post, Kopite7kimi refuses to be drawn to comment any further – and as ever with chatter from the rumor mill, add plenty of seasoning.

Analysis: Paper launch?

Okay, you may have noticed that we missed out the RTX 3000 launch when talking about Nvidia’s past generations above. This is because that’s the slight exception in recent times, with the RTX 3080 coming out just ahead of the RTX 3090.

However, the difference in the case of those latter two Ampere GPUs was only a week, so they effectively launched at the same time (and the deployment and shipping of those graphics cards was all a bit weird due to the pandemic at the time).

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We guess it’s possible that Kopite7kimi’s suggestion here is that the RTX 5080 could sneak out a little bit ahead of the RTX 5090 in a similar vein, but as the leaker doesn’t qualify the statement as such, it seems to be a broader assertion of the 5080 emerging some time ahead of the Blackwell flagship.

We do need to layer on the skepticism thickly here, though. For starters, we should note that language that the leaker uses, that they believe it should be the case, is telling – and the truth is that Nvidia almost certainly hasn’t got launch plans in a concrete form itself yet. (Not unless the first Blackwell graphics card is considerably nearer than we expect).

An Nvidia RTX 4090

(Image credit: Future)

If the RTX 5080 comes out early enough, though – say, in October, to guess a date – that could still leave room for the RTX 5090 in 2024, right? After all, there have been some persistent whispers insisting that both these graphics cards could launch later this year.

Well, what seems to be the hint here is that the RTX 5080 would likely be the only release for 2024 if this is the case. Why? Because you have to apply exactly that question – why? – to the reason Nvidia might adopt this strategy. And the obvious answer seems to be that the RTX 5080 will use a lesser chip – the GB203 GPU – whereas the flagship will run with GB202, with a possible conflict in securing enough of that silicon away from the production runs of AI GPUs made with Blackwell.

Really, this is the specter looming large over the whole Blackwell consumer GeForce launch – that the Blackwell AI GPUs are going to be way more profitable, so it could be difficult for Nvidia to allocate production resources to the former rather than the latter. That’s exactly why some of the talk about both the RTX 5090 and 5080 perhaps coming later on in 2024 has been caveated with the possibility that this could be more of a ‘paper’ launch (very low volume that’ll sell out quickly).

But then, a paper launch of the RTX 5090 – with no real availability – seems more likely to happen than simply postponing the launch of that GPU, and coming out with the RTX 5080 instead. Surely? Still, you never know – Team Green has made some strange moves in the past, just look at the Lovelace launch and that canceled RTX 4080 12GB model for starters.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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