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RTX 4080 vs RTX 4090 - Is the high price tag worth it?

The next generation of RTX graphics cards are up to 4x faster than the 3090 Ti, but are they really going to be worth it for gamers and creators?

 

RTX 4080 vs RTX 4090 - Is the high price tag worth it?

 

We recently covered the announcement and launch of the RTX 40 Series, resulting in hundreds of customers signing up to register interest in the RTX 40 Series. The most interesting thing is the conversations we've had with new and returning customers, with gamers and creators weighing up the pros and cons of upgrading to the new GPUs from NVIDIA. Some of the feedback we've received is not what we expected, as we'll discuss below. We've addressed some of the main talking points from the announcement.

Around the internet this week, we've seen Reddit and YouTube comments that also suggest NVIDIA have managed to live up to most of the hype for the new graphics cards. Who saw that coming?

 

In this article

 

First reactions to NVIDIA RTX 40 Series announcement

In his traditional leather jacket, and sporting his usual titular grin, NVIDIA CEO Jenson Huang announced the RTX 40 Series at GTC amid a flurry of features and benefits for graphics card consumers. From gamers to professional creators to game modders, the list of potential happy customers just seemed to go on and on.

 

NVIDIA Launches RTX 40 Series at GTX 2022

 

"The total processing throughput of Ada is a massive leap over the Ampere generation and the performance shows." said Huang. “For rasterized games, Ada is up to two times faster, and it's four times faster for ray-traced games. Ada is incredibly efficient; over twice the performance at the same power compared to Ampere,” Huang added, referring to the RTX 4090's performance whilst consuming the same power of the previous gen RTX 3090 Ti.

The GeForce RTX 4090 is the "heavyweight champion" to coin Huang's phrase, with dramatic specs that command an audience; based on Ada Lovelace architecture and designed to be a flagship of the custom built TSMC N4 node.

An epic GPU for sure, with an MSRP of £1679, the hardware specification is properly impressive, with 16,384 CUDA cores, 24 GB of GDDR6X memory on a 384-bit bus, capable of boost clock speeds of up to 2.52 GHz. Huang was happy to allude to the potential that the RTX 4090 had in store, adding: “...you can really push Ada. We’ve overclocked Ada past 3GHz in our labs.

With a 450W TGP, it hasn't really surprised anyone. We all knew it would be a power sucking beast, largely based on how much the RTX 3090 Ti demands from a PSU. That said, with an ATX 3.0, or an efficient 850W - 1000W 80+ power supply, you're going to be in the clear, even when running AAA+ games at full tilt.

The GeForce RTX 4080 16GB, is no slouch, with a huge 9,728 CUDA cores, and boost clocks up to 2.51 GHz. The 4080 also boasts 16GB of GDDR6X memory on a 256-bit bus, and a lesser TGP of 320W. The RTX 4080 is also available in a 12GB version, and starts at £949 MSRP.

 

Gigabyte RTX 4080 Graphics Card

 

The huge takeaways here, are the significant leaps in performance over the RTX 3090 Ti, which has laid claim to the title of "fastest GPU ever made".

The really important stuff in the announcement was two-fold: DLSS 3 and Omniverse. With DLSS 3, gamers will be able to see an increase in framerates that exceed earlier iterations of the technology. AI is used to great effect, slotting generated frames in between actual frames, thereby increasing the fluidity of what you are seeing on your monitor.

Omniverse is another incredible game-changer for gamers, considering the speed in which developers can now deliver games, probably using the RTX 40 Series as a starting point in game studios. More on this in our RTX 40 Series announcement article.

But what has the reaction been to these next generation quantum leaps in GPU technology?

RTX 40 Series overall consumer reaction

It seems that the general feeling is that the RTX 40 Series is priced a little outside of the ballpark for anyone who currently owns an entry level to mid-range gaming PC. Considering the price of an RTX 3090 or RTX 3090 Ti, however, this makes sense. Until these gamers are able to fit into this price bracket, they are not likely to shell out on a next gen GPU anyway.

The RTX 40 Series is excellent news for these gamers, though. With new generation products comes a slew of price cuts on older hardware, so you can expect the landslide in prices for GPUs like the RTX 3080 to continue.

RTX 40 Series tech journalist reaction

"Absolutely absurd" is not generally a comment you would like hearing about your latest product launch. In the case of Gamers Nexus, however, this is actually high praise. Aside from baulking at the ludicrous size of the RTX 40 Series, and poking fun at Gigabyte's launch page for the GPUs, Steve Burke recapped the vendor line-up with a refreshing tongue-in-cheek special on YouTube:

 

 

Journalists from some of the more prominent tech mags were more to the point with their observations:

"...prepare to pay even more for your next-gen graphics card...yikes!" - PC Mag

"...no matter what GPU you have, you will probably benefit from upgrading up to the RTX 40 series" - Dexerto

"...the RTX 40 series pricing is (thus far) kinda wince-worthy" - RockPaperShotgun

"The likes of Resident Evil Village, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and The Division 2 all appear to show performance drops for the RTX 4080 (12GB) edition and only small increases for the RTX 4080 (16GB) compared to the RTX 3090 Ti. This isn't the absolute home run you might expect for the money" - PC Gamer

The testing that PC Gamer referred to is below. The RTX 4080 12GB shows it is slightly below the RTX 3090 Ti in Resident Evil Village, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and The Division 2, but these are very early tests. All of the games were tested at 4K, maximum settings, and with a few caveats which you can read in the small print of the image.

In an NVIDIA Q&A on Reddit, there was some clear information on this: “This chart has DLSS turned on when supported, but there are some games like Division 2 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla in the chart that don’t have DLSS, so you can see performance compared to our fastest RTX 30 Series GPU without DLSS,” Nvidia wrote.

Without the DLSS support, the RTX 40 Series GPUs don't hit the 2x performance increase when compared against RTX 3090 Ti. So, in a perfect world, you would see the likes of EA, Capcom, Ubisoft etc. supporting DLSS 3, and enabling these games to receive the next gen treatment that they deserve.

 

 

Special attention should be paid to the benchmarks we've already seen, however, with Microsoft Flight Simulator really showing the DLSS 3 chops, having a massive increase in framerate thanks to the AI frame insertion magic.

 

DLSS 3 games list and comparison

 

 

RTX 40 Series power consumption

There is a lot to be said for the evolution of power supplies and VRMs in motherboards. Without the already significant changes in PSU efficiency, we would be passing out when the electricity bill arrived each month. Yes, ATX 3.0 is made for the next generation, but importantly, the GeForce RTX 40 Series Founders Edition graphics is going to be "leveraging the new standard GPU power input of next-gen ATX 3.0 power supplies", which is the PCIe Gen-5 16-pin Connector.

This will allow you to power your GeForce RTX 40 Series GPU with a solitary cable, cutting out some of the cable clutter, and making the overall aesthetics of your build just that bit better. ATX 3.0 power supplies will become available in retailers in October from the likes of ASUS, FSP, Gigabyte, Cooler Master, iBuyPower, MSI, Silverstone and ThermalTake, with many more slated in the months that follow.

 

MSI unveils ATX 3.0 PSU ready for Ada Lovelace GPUs

 

You don't have to purchase an ATX 3.0 PSU, of course. If you own a regular, previous generation PSU, there's an adapter cable included with your graphics card, so you can plug three 8-pin power connectors into the card. NVIDIA also say you might want to have an optional fourth connector "for more overclocking headroom". Officially, NVIDIA recommends the RTX 4090 graphics card be used with an 850W power supply, the RTX 4080 16GB with a 750W PSU, and the RTX 4080 12GB with just a 700W PSU.

 

RTX 4090 & RTX 4080 - Is it worth it?

Whilst everyone is talking about the price of the cards online, the question for most is - which represents the best value. If you want to get the best performance for your spend, then you have two choices.

First, you can hold off buying a new RTX 40 Series until the early adopter tax (higher pricing) settles down. The drawback of this is the stock levels might not support that tactic, and there's no guarantee of the price dropping at all.

 

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPU - is it worth it?

 

The other option is to buy as soon as you have checked the benchmarks for your favourite games, and compare like for like with a previous generation graphics card. With this option, you are more likely to get a new GPU in the initial shipments, and you are also future-proofing against the latest games coming out in the next few years. Most of these games will be doing their level best to utilise NVIDIA's new technologies, and really push performance.

Currently, DLSS 3 is supported in the following:

  • A Plague Tale: Requiem
  • Atomic Heart
  • Black Myth: Wukong
  • Bright Memory: Infinite
  • Chernobylite
  • Conqueror's Blade
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (inc. RT Overdrive Ray Tracing)
  • Dakar Desert Rally
  • Deliver Us Mars
  • Destroy All Humans! 2 - Reprobed
  • Dying Light 2 Stay Human
  • F1? 22
  • F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch
  • Frostbite Engine
  • HITMAN 3
  • Hogwarts Legacy
  • ICARUS
  • Jurassic World Evolution 2
  • Justice
  • Loopmancer
  • Marauders
  • Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Midnight Ghost Hunt
  • Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
  • Naraka: Bladepoint
  • NVIDIA Omniverse
  • NVIDIA Racer RTX
  • PERISH
  • Portal with RTX
  • Ripout
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl
  • Scathe
  • Sword and Fairy 7
  • SYNCED
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • THRONE AND LIBERTY
  • Tower of Fantasy
  • Unity
  • Unreal Engine 4 & 5
  • Warhammer 40,000: Darktide

In future, it is highly plausible that games such as Starfield, Final Fantasy XVI, Street Fighter 6, ARK II and more will get the DLSS 3 and RTX treatment.

Some might say there's no point buying an RTX 4090 and playing Cyberpunk 2077 again, or seeing little gain in open world masterpieces like Red Dead Redemption 2.

I beg to differ.

In the list above you can see games such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum and Naraka: Bladepoint. All of these games are going to be worth playing at 4K resolution, with DLSS 3 increasing framerates, and with Ray Tracing enabled. Further, if you are playing Cyberpunk 2077 right now on an RTX 30 Series, or you just finished playing it, the experience is going to be completely different the next time you play it. That's how they designed the game, for starters - with a unique plot arc and game structure each time you play through.

Okay... but is it worth it??

Honestly, for the games where you don't see so many gains - Assassin's Creed Valhalla is one of them - there's still a very good reason to upgrade. If you are a fan of Ubisoft's AC series, then you will surely see the benefits of an RTX 40 Series graphics card with the next in the series - Assassin's Creed Mirage. The question should not be about what the RTX 40 Series can play from a back catalogue of games, but rather what's coming next?

Still not convinced? We can take it a step further with the aforementioned Red Dead Redemption 2 (which supports previous-gen DLSS). Just because you cannot get the most out if it now - that doesn't mean to say it's not in the pipeline. With RTX Remix and developers like Rockstar eagerly adopting DLSS, you shouldn't be waiting long to experience games like RDR 2 with all the extra detail, Ray Tracing mods and DLSS 3.

There are many titles that will get the same treatment - especially where there is a modding community, or consumer demand. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, came out in 2015, and yet we see it on the list of titles for DLSS 3 supported games. Why? On Nexus Mods there are over 4,800 mods available for the game, and an average of 12,000+ daily concurrent players of the game on Steam.

Last Word

We live in a brave new world, now. Upgrading to an RTX 40 Series allows you to embrace it with both hands, give it a shake and laugh maniacally.