There has been no shortage of rumours and leaks for the RTX 40-series, with the usual suspects doing the rounds on Twitter and YouTube. Some of these leakers are somewhat reliable when we look at historical posts, and the amount of times they got it right. These could be the most hotly anticipated graphics cards we've ever known.
When we look at the facts, however, NVIDIA have let nothing out of the bag since the 40-series was unceremoniously announced following a targeted cyber attack on the GPU giant. Cyber criminals leaked over 19GB of sensitive data, and demanded ransom via cryptocurrency to prevent further leaks. Another reason to dislike crypto if ever there was one.
The big question for leak watching, cash-strapped gamers in the current economic climate is - is it going to be worth waiting for the 40-series?
Just the facts
Sadly, for all gamers, there are no hard facts to go on from NVIDIA themselves, but there is some information we can gather from previous graphics card launches.
There was a two-year gap between the RTX 20-series in 2018 and RTX 30-series in 2020, so it would not be a huge leap to assume the 40-series is on the way this year. Q3 (July-September) looks to be a likely candidate for the launch window if we look at the information we do have:
- NVIDIA posted lower than expected revenue for 2022, with gaming revenue dropping 44%. The new cards releasing before year end would be a welcome boost to gaming revenue for the company.
- The supply chain shortages is still affecting NVIDIA as much as any tech company, and expected to last into 2023. Releasing already manufactured products that used stockpiled chips is a sensible move to create revenue while the supply chain sorts itself out.
- There is less fear of cryptocurrency miners buying up stocks of the new 40-series, even with NiceHash unlocking the LHR (Low Hash Rate) graphics cards recently,. As ETH mining is shifting from GPU-bound mining, cryptocurrency speculators are now offloading their less-than-useful GPUs. For this reason, it is likely RTX 40-series cards will be sold at near MSRP - a great opportunity for retail and distribution channels as well as NVIDIA.
- Recession chatter is guaranteed to stall consumer buying, so the key objective for NVIDIA is to sell their GPUs before the worst of the financial crisis hits home, and rely on the segments who still have expendable income. For the most part, their demographic fits this criteria (18-34 years old). It is possible, however, that Intel Arc graphics cards will dominate the market in the entry level segment, with their incredibly good value cards.
AMD offerings, and RDNA 3
Although it would be fair to say consumers have been less than impressed with AMD in the recent past, with issues with game driver support, and the unrelenting vilification of the RX 5500 XT. AMD have faced quite a lot of backlash. Incidentally, the RX 5500 XT was a surprisingly poorly-received GPU, being a great value entry level graphics card that sits between the GTX1650 and GTX1660 in terms of performance. That said, the real draw was that it offered stock levels and pricing that was welcomed by the gamers waiting to build their rigs.
AMD have got great pedigree when it comes to competing with RTX, and their GPU price/performance for RX cards also cannot be ignored. An example is their RX 6950 XT - even without Ray Tracing, the Radeon GPU can compete in terms of actual gaming PC performance with the RTX 3090, and that uses RDNA 2 architecture. With pricing similar to (or better than) the RTX 3090, it shows how competitive AMD can be when they are able to throw themselves into R&D and production.
It's great news, then, that AMD will be finally hailed as heroes for gamers with RDNA 3 launching in their RX 7000-series cards. Gamers can choose between Team Green and Team Red yet again, with the potential upscaling technology of FidelityFX™ Super Resolution playing a huge role in the new cards, facing off against DLSS. The Ray Tracing hurdle may not be a tough one to overcome for AMD when you consider the colossal market that is Esports and competitive gaming (which does not traditionally require visual effects).
Realistically, though, with the incredible power and features potentially on offer with the 40-series Lovelace GPUs, it is hard to imagine how AMD (or Intel for that matter) could get close to the same performance.
Buy now or wait for the RTX 40-series?
The biggest issue that NVIDIA faces right now is the market being flooded with GPUs from the 30-series that were meant for crypto mining rigs. The change in ETH mining switching to POS (Proof of Stake), which makes mining on GPUs virtually a thing of the past. NVIDIA also rallied to produce an abundance of 30-series cards, and get them to market once the COVID supply chain cleared up, but all of the above has left a lot of them still circulating in both the new and used market.
If consumers want to tighten their belts this Autumn/Winter, upgrading to a moderately powerful 30-series card until the full range of 40-series cards launch would seem to be a favourable course of action. There are several reasons why you should NOT buy a used graphics card from a former mining rig, however, the main one being that it has already had to cope with full power workloads for its current lifetime. A regular gamer will only ever use 30% - 70% of the GPU's potential, whereas you would need to be playing GPU-intensive games like Flight Simulator 24/7/365 to get close to what these used ex-mining graphics cards have been doing.
Speaking of workloads, the RTX 4090 is set to require a hefty PSU, with leakers saying the new GPU will have a huge power draw (which is yet to be substantiated by NVIDIA). great news for manufacturers adopting the ATX 3.0 PSUs we are now seeing.
With rumours circulating about the 2x performance increase in the RTX 40-series, "waiting" is not going to be an option for the hardcore section of the gaming community. With already insanely good 4K and 8K performance from the Ampere architecture RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti, one would have to wonder - just how awesome will Lovelace based cards be? The answer, of course, is very awesome.
Regardless of the leaked data sheets and photographs of the new GPU, NVIDIA is keeping their cards close to their chest - and for good reason. Confirming leaked data early will not increase hype. Denying leaked data decreases hype. So, NVIDIA's best course of action is to stay quiet and look ahead to launch day, which some think may be coming very soon.
For gamers who want the very best experience from titles, waiting for the 40-series is a good bet. The promise and the hype is real. That said, with the price drops in the 30-series right now, if you are not cash-rich right now, but you want to get your game on - there are bargains to be had. If you're looking for a bargain - the 40-series might be just out of reach... for now.
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