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Nvidia RTX 4090 vs Nvidia RTX 3090: Which is best?

Nvidia has launched its most powerful graphics card yet in the Nvidia RTX 4090, which is the very first card to hit stores from the new RTX 4000 Series.

But what kind of improvement can we expect from the previous-generation RTX 3090 graphics card? We’ve created this guide to show the key differences, both in terms of specs and performance. Keep scrolling down for the full breakdown.

Price

The Nvidia RTX 3090 came out in September 2020 with a starting price of £1399/$1499. Since it’s been available for two years, it can now be found on third-party sites, like Overclockers and eBay, for under £1000.

The RTX 4090 will be available to buy from 12 October 2022. The starting price for this GPU will be £1679/$1599, making it the most expensive option out of the two.

Specs

The Nvidia RTX 3090 uses Ampere architecture, which has since been taken over by Lovelace. Ampere uses Samsung’s 8nm process, with the RTX 3090 coming with 10,496 CUDA Cores. It also packs Micron’s 24GB GDDR6X video memory.

It requires a 12-pin PCle power adaptor, with the GPU featuring a 350W power draw.

Architecture
CUDAcores
Video Memory
Boosted Clock Speed
Power Consumption

The Nvidia RTX 4090 comes in just one configuration – unlike the Nvidia RTX 4080 – and has a CUDA Core count of 16,384. We can see that it packs a lot more cores than its predecessor.

It’s built upon Lovelace architecture, which features TSMC’s 4N process node. Nvidia was able to include 76 billion transistors on the GPU, which is leaps and bounds more than the 26 billion that feature on Ampere. Generally, more transistors result in faster performance, since the data can be processed and transferred at a faster rate.

Lovelace chip Nvidia
Credit: Nvidia

The RTX 4090 comes with a massive amount of memory at 24GB GDDR6X, putting it on par with the RTX 3090. This makes both of these graphic cards a great option if you’re craving lots and lots of memory.

However, the RTX 4090 requires even more power than its predecessor, at 450W. This is one of the highest requirements for GPUs and requires 100W more than the RTX 3090 – it may be time to upgrade your PSU.

Performance

We have now tested the Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics card, and collected various benchmark results. We unfortunately don’t have an RTX 3090 available for testing, but we can still get an idea regarding the performance difference via the RTX 3090 Ti.

As you can see above, the RTX 4090 saw far better results than the RTX 3090 Ti when having ray tracing activated. At every resolution, the new card from Nvidia saw a significant lead. It’s extremely likely that the RTX 4090 would offer an even greater performance lead over the RTX 3090.

Again, you can see the RTX 4090 boast a massive performance advantage over the RTX 3090 Ti below. There’s a massive 185fps difference at a 4K resolution. That result will only be greater when comparing the RTX 3090.

The RTX 4090 also supports the new DLSS 3 software, which boosts the frame rate even further thanks to its AI smarts. But how does DLSS 3 compare to the older DLSS 2 technology that’s available on the RTX 3090?

We did some performance tests on the RTX 4090 to see how much of a difference DLSS makes when playing games at 4K with ray tracing activated. You can check out the results below.

With DLSS 2 activated, the RTX 4090 is able to raise the performance of Cyberpunk in 4K from 41fps to 75fps. That’s impressive alone, but the DLSS 3 technology can boost that figure even further to 143fps.

It’s important to remember there are only around 35 games and apps that support DLSS 3 right now, but that list is expected to grow month by month.

If you want a deeper dive into the Nvidia RTX 4090, then click the link to check out our full review.

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