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

Nvidia might have stiffer competition from AMD this graphics generation, but its RTX graphics cards are still the most powerful GPUs money can buy — even if you need a lot of it to afford them. At the very top-end, the Nvidia RTX 3090 has been the king of the hill for the past year, but the newly announced RTX 3090 Ti promises to be a bit faster, with the most extreme power and thermal demands of a stock GPU ever released.

Here’s how the RTX 3090 Ti and the RTX 3090 measure up.

Specs

Nvidia previews RTX 3090 Ti GPU at CES 2022.
RTX 3090 Ti RTX 3090
GPU GA102 GA102
CUDA Cores 10,752 (rumored) 10,496
RT Cores 84 (rumored) 82
Tensor Cores 336 (rumored) 328
Base Block 1,560MHz (rumored) 1,395Mhz
Boost Clock 1,860 MHz (rumored) 1,695MHz
Memory 24GB GDD6X 24GB GDDR6X
Memory Speed 21 Gbps 19.5 Gbps
Memory Bus Width 384-bit (rumored) 384-bit
Bandwidth 1,018 GBps (rumored) 936 GBps
TDP 450W (rumored) 350W

Nvidia has only made a few clear announcements about what makes the 3090 Ti special — predominantly around its memory. We know it’ll have the same 24GB GDDR6X capacity as the RTX 3090, but this time it’ll be faster. That, combined with the rumored — but likely — same 384-bit memory bus, should work out to a near 10% improvement in overall bandwidth.

The rest of the speciations are just rumors for now, but they have been relatively well substantiated from reliable leakers. We’re probably looking at a card with a few hundred extra CUDA cores and a slightly inflated clock speed. The power demands may be extreme, however, demanding an over 1,000W power supply to cover any spikes.

Pricing and availability

The RTX 3090 was originally released in September 2020, with a price tag of $1,500. But because of ongoing graphics card shortages, prices have ranged from $2,000 to more than $3,000 in extreme cases — and Ebay and other auction sites have been even worse. Availability remains low in early 2022, and it isn’t expected to pick up significantly throughout rest of the year. That makes getting an RTX 3090 difficult and/or very costly.

The RTX 3090 Ti doesn’t have an official release date just yet, but Nvidia plans to reveal more details about the card later in January, so we may see more detailed specifications and release and pricing information announced then.

Whenever the card does become available, though, expect it to cost at least $2,000 at retail — and likely far more once demand his the modest supply limits.

Performance

Nvidia RTX 3090 graphics card.
Nvidia

The RTX 3090 Ti will be the fastest of the two graphics cards, but by how much? With no third-party testing of the RTX 3090 Ti yet, we can’t confirm just how much the added cores and clock speeds will make it, but Nvidia did give us some rough performance numbers that we can extrapolate into an educated guess at how the cards will stack up.

The RTX 3090 Ti will reportedly offer 40 teraflops of shader performance — a notable leap over the RTX 3090’s 35.6 teraflops. It’s possible that could equate to around a 10% uplift in gaming performance, particularly at higher resolutions, though that may well only be over Nvidia’s own reference designs. Overclocked versions of the original RTX 3090 from partner companies may prove to be pretty competitive with the newer card.

Third-party versions of the 3090 Ti will no doubt appear, and there have been rumors of a Kingpin Special Edition from EVGA that will have extreme clocks and cooling demands, though how much more can be wrung out of the GA102 die at the heart of both these cards remains to be seen.

The 3090 Ti will reportedly enjoy a boost in both ray tracing and tensor performance too, with 78 RT teraflops and 320 tensor teraflops, versus the RTX 3090’s 69.5 RT teraflops and 285 tensor teraflops. That won’t make a huge difference in reality, but in ray-tracing-heavy games where performance at 4K even on the 3090 isn’t great, every bit of rendering load the RT cores can shoulder makes a difference.

An overclocked RTX 3090 is probably better

Until we get more information on performance in real world gaming and 3D rendering tasks, and know what the retail and eventual scalped prices of the new RTX 3090 Ti will be, we can’t say for sure which card will ultimately represent the best value for money. Neither card will give you the same kind of bang for your buck as lower-end options that are more modestly priced, but that’s not why you buy cards like these. For the most affordable high-end gaming graphics card, an RTX 3080 Ti is a better bet than both of these cards, costing far less and offering very competitive performance.

For the absolute best-of-the-best GPU you can buy, the 3090 Ti will be it, but considering its eventual performance advantage in games over the RTX 3090 is likely to be single-digit percentage points, the standard 3090 is likely to remain the better card to buy for now. Especially if it comes overclocked and with advanced cooling.

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