GeForce RTX 3090 Ti officially released
The road to get there has been a bit tortuous, but the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti was officially released today, with full specs and pricing revealed about two months later than expected. If you are looking for maximum performance – “Damn torpedoes, full speed ahead!” So where is the review? We are still waiting for our sample as Nvidia decided not to send reviewers with their Founders Edition. We should have an AIC Partner Card coming soon, and once it’s available, we’ll post a full review with the usual set of tests, including some additional mock tests in content creation workloads.
If you’re primarily interested in gaming performance, go for the GeForce RTX 3090 and get a 10% performance boost, give or take (Nvidia says it’s 9% faster overall), and you’ll end up with a 3090 Ti. Given the extreme shortage of GPUs and rising GPU prices over the past 18 months, you should definitely take the last row of the table above with a grain of salt. There’s been a clear downward trend in graphics card prices lately, including a 25% drop in EU prices in March, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Our latest US data using eBay GPU pricing in mid-March shows that most of these extreme GPUs are around 30-50% below the recommended price, with the exception of the RTX 3080 (10GB), which is still close to double the recommended price. (*cough*) The “good” news is that if the initial MSRP is much higher, the actual price of the RTX 3090 Ti could be closer to Nvidia’s hypothetical starting point, roughly the same price as the RTX 3080 Ti, at just 30%. Above the MSRP, as it’s more than 70% more expensive than the reference 3080.
In addition to the price elephant in the room, there are other noteworthy elements that are surprising. We’ve long expected memory speeds to reach 21 Gbps, and credible rumours indicate that this is one of the main reasons for Nvidia’s two-month delay in revealing 3090 Ti components. The GPU also uses a fully finished and working GA102 chip with 84 streaming multiprocessors (SMs) and 10752 CUDA cores clocked at about 200 MHz higher than the RTX 3090. But there is a problem, and it is quite serious: the RTX 3090. Ti has TBP (total board power) rating of 450W, 100W higher than the 3090 and 3080 Ti.
That’s an almost 30 percent increase in power consumption, which isn’t surprising given the higher clock and memory speeds. Thus, Nvidia moves to the right on the voltage/frequency curve and maximizes performance through higher power consumption.
Given the recent unveiling of the Nvidia Hopper H100, this could be a harbinger of future Ada/RTX 40 series graphics cards. What can you expect from the increase in power, price, core count, and clock speeds? As already noted, we do not have a card yet, but there are benchmarks for all other GPUs.
In gaming performance, the RTX 3090 was only 2.4% faster than the RTX 3080 Ti overall, with a slightly larger 3.0% advantage if we focus purely on 4K gaming performance. Even if we switch to ray-traced games with our DXR benchmark suite, the 3090 is still only 2.9% faster than the 3080 Ti. The gap between the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 is bigger, with the 3090 leading by an average of 16% and 20% in 4K, but it looks like there isn’t much gas left in the GA102’s tank, even as a pair. The Core i9-12900K is the best gaming processor right now, or at least the fastest gaming processor. On paper, looking at the specs alone, the 3090 theoretically has 4.4% more processing and 2.6% more memory bandwidth than the RTX 3080 Ti.
Compared to the RTX 3080, it has 19.5% more processing power and 23.2% more memory bandwidth. This means that actual performance is very close to the graphics card’s specs, and computation is more important than bandwidth. The RTX 3090 Ti theoretically offers 12.4% more processing power and 7.7% more bandwidth than the 3090. At best, the 3090 Ti might be around 12% faster than the 3090, but overall we expect it to be close. To 10% – If the load is limited by the processor, the chances of winning will be less.
Please note that since Nvidia does not offer reviewers an RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition card at a reference clock speed, there is a strong possibility that comparisons are being made using a factory overclocked card capable of achieving even higher levels of performance. It will most likely just be a 2-4% increase, but we can’t help but think that the lack of sampling on the reference cards was at least partly done to make custom 3090 Ti cards a bit better.
They are still of very questionable value, basically reporting the price level of the Titan RTX without some of the extra Titan features. Like the RTX 3090 before, Nvidia is not offering the RTX 3090 Ti primarily as a gaming GPU. Instead, it’s a map designed for content creation.
The extra video memory should help a bit in intensive content creation workloads, although often the card runs or fails completely due to lack of video memory – there’s a reason why the Nvidia RTX A6000 has 48GB of slower GDDR6 memory, for example. The 3090 Ti has half the amount of video memory, which means it’s limited to models and workflows that don’t exceed 24GB, but that’s still double what other consumer models offer.
Nvidia has gone so far as to provide guidance for testing “large memory workflows” on the RTX 3090 Ti. We don’t mind it, but when test results for GPUs with less than 24GB of VRAM end up “not working”, it’s less about benchmarking and more about showing extreme GPUs in the best possible light.
“Oh, you don’t have an RTX 3090 Ti, 3090 or Titan RTX? Sorry, you can’t complete this particular task in this way.” Again, this might be true, and it could certainly be relevant to content creators, but it’s strange that these professional apps can’t just run in standby on system RAM. Either way, if you want a GPU that can handle workflows with 24GB of VRAM, the RTX 3090 Ti now supplants the RTX 3090 with better performance and a pretty significant $500 price increase. If you need even more video memory, you will need to upgrade to something like the Nvidia RTX A6000, which will have the added benefit of providing fully certified ISV drivers for professional applications.
Content creation aside, another aspect of the RTX 3090 Ti that Nvidia is pushing again is the potential for 8K gaming. To be honest, it’s a little ridiculous, as a small performance increase over the 3090 won’t make 8K any more viable. In practice, only games that support DLSS Ultra Performance mode (or some other form of upscaling) will achieve higher frame rates – well, as well as older and lighter games that are kind enough to support 8K. However, if you only need 30fps, it will probably handle a few games at medium detail settings.
Honestly, if you do have an 8K monitor and want to hook it up to a PC, get the RTX 3090 Ti because you can afford it. For testing purposes, we couldn’t use an 8K monitor, but even 4K isn’t enough for the highest-quality RTX 3090 without any upgrades. 10% faster than “not fast enough” probably won’t work and break the graphics card, and we’re definitely far from making 8K anything close to mainstream.
It’s probably for the best, or at least something your wallet will be very grateful for. We’ll have a full review of the RTX 3090 Ti card in the near future, once we have a card to test.