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Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti vs. RTX 3090: Monster GPUs face-off

Nvidia has a new BFGPU: The RTX 3090 Ti. It’s a halo product that can even outclass the RTX 3090, at least from the spec sheet. We threw the RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti into the ring to see if the new model offers real performance improvements or if it’s just an exercise in vanity.

The new model is impractical by all accounts: It’s massively expensive, power-hungry, and large, but our RTX 3090 Ti review shows that it’s the top dog, even if it’s only by a thin margin. And given GPU prices right now, the RTX 3090 Ti may actually offer a better value.

Specs

RTX 3090 installed inside a gaming PC.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The RTX 3090 Ti is a supercharged version of the RTX 3090. It uses the same GA102 GPU that Nvidia has used as low as the RTX 3080, but it’s unlimited. With the RTX 3090 Ti, you’re getting the full GA102 die, which translates into about a 2.4% increase in cores over the RTX 3090.

RTX 3090 Ti RTX 3090
GPU GA102 GA102
CUDA cores 10,752 10,496
RT cores 84 82
Tensor cores 336 328
Base clock 1,560MHz 1,395Mhz
Boost clock 1,860 MHz 1,695MHz
Memory 24GB GDD6X 24GB GDDR6X
Memory speed 21Gbps 19.5Gbps
Memory bus width 384-bit 384-bit
Bandwidth 1,018GBps 936GBps
TDP 450W 350W

It’s clocked slightly faster, but most third-party RTX 3090 models reach Ti speeds without issue. The main difference comes from the faster memory. The RTX 3090 Ti has the same 24GB of GDDR6X memory, but it’s clocked faster. A combination of the increased boost clock and faster memory leads to much higher power requirements.

Our worst fears about the RTX 3090 Ti are real. It draws 100W more than the RTX 3090, and we wouldn’t recommend running it with anything less than a 1000W power supply. You’ll also need to deal with a triple eight-pin connector (though that’s an issue with many RTX 3090 models as well).

Pricing and availability

The back plate on the Gigabyte RTX 3090 Gaming OC.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The RTX 3090 launched in September 2020 for a list price of $1,499, but the ongoing GPU shortage has pushed prices much higher. Our current analysis of the GPU market revealed that cards are selling for around $2,100 on average, but some reach as high as $3,000.

Nvidia launched the RTX 3090 Ti on March 29 for a list price of $1,999. A $500 premium for a 2.4% increase in cores isn’t great, but recency works in the RTX 3090 Ti’s favor. Third-party cards are selling for around $2,100, and you can find some in stock. Prices may go up over time, but they should sell closer to the list price than the RTX 3090.

Performance

Gaming results for the RTX 3090 Ti.

The RTX 3090 Ti is faster than the RTX 3090, but that’s not surprising. The $500 question is: By how much? Our testing at 4K shows that it’s about 10% faster than the RTX 3090, which is quite a jump considering how expensive both cards are. You can see our average test results in the chart above.

Ten percent may not seem like a big difference, but it makes a differences. In Red Dead Redemption 2, we climbed from 77 fps to 84 fps. And in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the RTX 3090 Ti was the first graphics card we’ve tested that was able to crack 70 fps at 4K.

For gaming, the RTX 3090 Ti is the clear performance winner. It’s not like the RTX 3090 is bad, though. Both cards are absolute monsters at 4K. It comes down to if you want top-shelf performance or you need the best of the best.

Someone grabbing the RTX 3090 Ti.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Outside of gaming, the RTX 3090 Ti still shows its power. In Blender, it was around 5% faster than the RTX 3090. However, the cards are very close for creative workloads.

Nvidia’s proprietary rendering technologies and the massive 24GB of memory on both cards is a winning combination. It’s hard to go wrong with either card for creative applications. We’d recommend most people stick with the RTX 3090. However, if you’re a professional and precious seconds make a difference, the RTX 3090 Ti is worth the investment.

A halo product to end them all

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Ti Gaming OC on an orange background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The RTX 3090 Ti has no reason to exist, but by that logic, neither does the RTX 3090. Although the extra $500 isn’t worth it for a modest 10% performance gain, that’s the same difference between the RTX 3080 and RTX 3080 Ti — and we rarely see similar performance scaling with the highest-end products.

Add on top of that the fact that the RTX 3090 Ti and RTX 3090 sell for very similar prices right now, and the Ti model doesn’t look so bad. That said, the RTX 3090 is still plenty powerful, and assuming it eventually drops to list price, it’s the better option for gamers and content creators.

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