There’s been a ton of hype around the RTX 3080, but what about the 24GB beast, the RTX 3090? Some benchmarks from the $2400-plus GPU leaked over the weekend and … well, they’re not that impressive.
The RTX 3090 is effectively the Titan-class GPU for the new generation. It certainly has a price tag to match at $2429. But the question on a lot of people’s minds was how much more performance the RTX 3090 would truly offer, especially with 14GB extra VRAM and talk of genuine, playable 8K/60fps gaming.
But if you’re not playing at 8K? The RTX 3090 might not be that appetising.
A string of benchmarks run on a system with an Intel i9-10900K, the Game Ready drivers released last Thursday, some G.Skill RAM running at 4133MHz and other bits and pieces found that in a lot of cases, the performance benefit was 10 per cent or less.
In Control, the RTX 3090 was hitting 71fps at 4K with ray-tracing and DLSS enabled, compared to 65fps for the RTX 3080. (That’s almost identical to our Ashtray Maze benchmark for the RTX 3080, although the video below is from an early section of gameplay running through the initial levels.)
Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ran at 107fps and 71fps at 4K, only 8 and 9 per cent quicker than the RTX 3080 on the same system. The biggest jump was in Death Stranding with DLSS disabled — there’s no ray-tracing in Death Stranding — but even that was only at 116fps on the RTX 3090, compared to 104fps on the RTX 3080. (With DLSS enabled, both cards get well over 160fps.)
Nvidia pitched the RTX 3090 as an 8K-capable gaming card — at least with DLSS enabled — but also towards those for whom the 24GB of VRAM would be essential. Those generally aren’t gaming applications, although gaming at 8K would undoubtedly require a substantial jump in memory.
It’s not the first RTX 3090 benchmark that’s leaked. Some Time Spy scores appeared late last week, showing the RTX 3090 about 19 percent and 20 per cent faster in the Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme tests. Those are synthetic, however, and we can’t compare how the difference in the two systems might have impacted the results. It also doesn’t show the RTX 3090 running at 8K, something that definitely warrants testing from independent third party reviewers.
Official reviews for the RTX 3090 should be dropping towards the end of this week. It’ll be fun to see how it handles different engines and different types of games, although ultimately I think it’ll be more interesting to revisit the card when something like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Watch Dogs: Legion drops. Those will give us the first taste of what the next generation of games will target and demand, and we’ll have a better assessment of what you’ll get for your $2429 when those are out.