Nvidia’s RTX 4090 is the new flagship of a new generation of Nvidia graphics cards based on its Ada Lovelace architecture. It brings with it new technologies, new enhancements, and a big uplift in general GPU performance. It’s looking to support the next generation of games with big improvements to ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) performance in particular.
Undoubtedly set to top our list of the most powerful GPUs you can buy, here’s everything you need to know about the Nvidia RTX 4090.
Nvidia debuted the RTX 4090 in its GTC keynote address on September 20, revealing that the new card will launch on October 12, with a price of $1,599. It will be joined later by the RTX 4080, but no clear release date for that card was revealed.
This price is much lower than the original predictions suggested, with some leaks claiming it would be north of $2,000. However, it’s clear from Nvidia’s continued promotion of its RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 that it may not have lower-tier Lovelace cards for some time, instead using existing stock of the RTX 3000-series to flesh out its GPU lineup for the time being.
Nvidia’s debut of the RTX 4090 only revealed the most key specifications for the card, but a full spec sheet followed shortly after and confirmed many of the rumors and leaks of recent months.
|RTX 4090||RTX 3090|
|Process node||5nm TSMC||8nm Samsung|
|Ray tracing cores||144 3rd-gen (rumored)||82 2nd-gen|
|Tensor cores||576 4th-gen (rumored)||328 3rd-gen|
|Base clock speed||2235MHz||1394MHz|
|Boost clock speed||2520MHz||1695MHz|
|Memory speed||21Gbps (rumored)||19.5Gbps|
The RTX 4090 is based on Nvidia’s new Ada Lovelace architecture built on the latest TSMC 4nm process. That allows for unprecedented efficiency and a much more compact design. The RTX 4090 has more than 50% more CUDA cores than the RTX 3090, and it manages that while increasing clock speeds dramatically. Memory configurations are much the same, with 24GB of GDDR6X running with a 384-bit width. Though Nvidia has yet to reveal the speed of the new card’s memory, it’s rumored to run at the same 21Gbps as the RTX 3090 Ti.
The power requirements for the 4090 have increased, as expected, though not to the extent that some rumors suggested. At 450W, it’s 100W more than the RTX 3090 but the same as the RTX 3090 Ti.
Nvidia also confirmed that the Lovelace GPU will benefit from new-generation RT and tensor cores. It has yet to explicitly confirm the number of either, but one graph did suggest that it had massively increased the number of both on the RTX 4090.
With way more CUDA cores, higher clock speeds, and new-generation RT and tensor cores, it’s no surprise that the RTX 4090 can deliver a big uplift in game performance. Although we’ll want to wait for third-party benchmarks to make any definitive claims, Nvidia is promising a lot from general rasterization, ray tracing, and especially when leveraging the new DLSS 3 upscaling algorithm.
Nvidia claims that the RTX 4090 should deliver around two times the performance of the RTX 3090 in general gaming and up to four times the performance in ray traced games when DLSS 3 is utilized.
From a raw performance perspective, Nvidia claims its Lovelace line of GPUs will offer as much as 90 TFLOPs of raw compute performance. This doesn’t mean much for the average gamer, but it’s notable because when Nvidia launched its RTX 3080, it claimed that it could deliver just 30 TFLOPs of shader performance.
There’s no doubt that Nvidia will have put its best foot forward with the brief game demonstrations it showed at GTC, and with no frame rate comparisons between GPUs, it’s not yet clear just how powerful the new card is. But it is going to be very powerful and sets the tone for what next-generation graphics cards can do.
There were heaps of rumors surrounding the RTX 4090 during its development, specifically about how much power it would require and how much heat it would kick out. It turns out that the rumors were a little overblown, though the RTX 4090 is still a demanding card.
Nvidia recommends an 850W power supply at a minimum for anyone running this graphics card, but the 450W power draw is no more than was already pulled by the RTX 3090 Ti, so it’s not an enormous increase over the previous generation.
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