If you’ve been following the GPU market these past couple of years, it’s been a wild ride. But now that we’re at the tail end of a massive spike in GPU prices, Nvidia is set to release its next big flagship GPU, the RTX 4090.
Details and leaks about the upcoming 40-series have been all of the place, with some extreme rumors about power consumption and price. Either way, it’s likely to take a spot among the most powerful GPUs you can buy. We don’t know what all will end up being true, but here’s everything we’ve heard so far.
We won’t know any of the final details or pricing until Nvidia officially launches the RTX 4090. But we do know that Nvidia traditionally drops new graphics cards every two years in the fall, which makes sometime between mid-September and the end of October the most likely scenario.
The last time around was at the height of a global health and supply crisis. While things are definitely chaotic this year, chip supply chains, at least, are in much better shape than they were in 2020. This means the RTX 4090 could get into consumers’ hands much faster than the RTX 3090.
To add more support to an upcoming fall release, Nvidia leaked a testing schedule back in late May and included August and September for mass production of the unit.
Of course, this could still be off. After all, a rumor back in May pegged the RTX 4090 release date for mid-July. Obviously, this didn’t happen, and it doesn’t fit with Nvidia’s customary fall release.
On the other hand, it is possible we could see Nvidia delay the event into early 2023. The reason is simple: They have too many RTX 3000-series chips on hand. Logistics bottlenecks during the pandemic meant chips piled up in warehouses, and Nvidia may hope to offload some more of these 2020 GPUs before dumping a new version onto the market.
Right now, rumors are suggesting that Nvidia will release only the RTX 4090 and hold off on the mid-range 4000-series cards while they offload surplus stock. This would help bring down pricing on older, but still capable. chips, and put them more in line with AMD chips.
The current RTX 3090, arguably the king of graphics cards right now, dropped from a high of $1,999 and has settled around $1,499. The RTX 4090 will probably end up north of that number, although we can’t see it reaching $2,000 territory.
Pricing is important right now, especially with AMD snipping at Nvidia’s heels. The AMD Radeon RX 7000 series of GPUs promise to be beasts as well, but at a lower price. The current-gen AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT retails for $900, or $500 less than the current Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti. Nvidia’s recent financial woes in the gaming sphere could even prompt Nvidia to get more aggressive with pricing, but we’ll have to wait and see.
According to the rumors, the Nvidia RTX 4090 will most likely include 16,384 CUDA cores, 144 ray tracing cores, and 576 tensor cores. Potentially, this could give it a sizzling 40% performance increase over the RTX 3090.
It will also include 24GB of VRAM, the same as the 3090. However, Twitter leaker Kopite7kimi says the RTX 4090 will have a base clock speed of 2235 MHz and can boost up to 2520 MHz, more than double that of the RTX 3090.
|RTX 4090||RTX 3090|
|Ray tracing cores||144||82|
|Base clock speed||2235MHz||1394MHz|
|Boost clock speed||2520MHz||1695MHz|
|Bus width||384 widths||384 widths|
If rumors are to be believed, the RTX 4090 will be a power-chewing monster with an unquenchable appetite for electricity. Put more succinctly, it will require up to 600 watts of power when pushed to its maximum. With the way some are already downclocking their GPUs to keep heat and noise down, this amount of power could be a problem.
Although it will come with a standard 12-pin PCIe Gen 5 power connector, chances are there will need to be some kind of adapter in order to draw that kind of power. It could be built in or may need to be purchased separately. Nvidia usually doesn’t nickel-and-dime consumers, so we don’t see the latter being likely.
Still, 600 watts is a lot of power. The previous-gen RTX 3090 gulps up to 385 watts, which is a lot. The RTX 4090 will move enough energy to heat your home, meaning it’ll be beyond time to upgrade your power supply.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends
According to tech watchdog Igor’s Lab, the RTX 4090 will need 450 watts just to power the GPU. The VRAM, fans, inductor, caps, and MOSFET will need the rest.
Because of this massive need for power, the RTX 4090 will get hot. We’re talking “surface of the sun” levels of heat — enough to melt the unit under sustained load. It would require a massive cooling unit to keep temperatures under control.
We reported on just such a thing back in June. The RTX 4090 has a three-slot BFGPU cooler much like the RTX 3090 Ti, but with more fins and more heat sink surface. It will likely keep the same dual flow-through as the RTX 3090, and the logo will light up LED lights.
Power doesn’t necessarily translate into performance, but the RTX 4090 needs to find a way to convert that energy into pure graphical fulfillment. There’s no denying that high-end Nvidia GPUs are among the best in the world, even if they’re overpriced and hard to get. But the RTX 4090 could end up being on a different level altogether.
For starters, the card will supposedly be able to achieve a score of 19,000 on a Time Spy Extreme benchmark test, according to kopite7kimi. This would make it the fastest GPU ever built and nearly double the RTX 3090’s score of 10,000. Other rumors suggest the RTX 4090 can hit 4K 160 fps with both ray tracing and DLSS enabled. Gamers are going to love this card, if these rumors prove correct.
But more shocking is the raw performance. The RTX 4090 is set to become the first GPU to break the 100 teraflops bar. These are truly phenomenal numbers, but let’s be real: This is an enthusiast card only. Performance such as this sits on the edges of consumer needs.
Gamers will be able to play Cyberpunk 2077 or Elden Ring at full settings. The only problem could be what your electricity bill will look like later.