Review of the Nvidia RTX 4090: a 4K powerhouse

Throughout this analysis, I had to keep having to double-check and even triple-check my benchmarks since I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The RTX 4090 is a beast of a graphics card that ushers in a new age for PC gaming. Thanks to this card, I can now play games in 4K resolution while maintaining the high frame rates I’ve become accustomed to playing at 1440p.

The RTX 4090, when combined with the most recent update to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology, is capable of delivering a level of seamless 4K performance in Cyberpunk 2077 that has never been accomplished before. I’m talking about getting close to 140 frames per second at 4K resolution while using all settings to their maximum and enabling psycho ray tracing. Also, at 1440p, it’s getting dangerously close to the maximum refresh rate of my 240Hz panel.

Even in games that do not yet support DLSS 3, you will see an improvement in frame rate of approximately 70 percent on average. This is despite the fact that DLSS 3 gives an extremely remarkable performance boost.

But there is a price to be paid for everything. The RTX 4090 Graphics Processing Unit is priced at the very top end of the GPU market at $1,599, and due to its enormous footprint, it may be difficult to install in some PC cases. Additionally, the RTX 4090 consumes 450 watts of power, and in order to get this card powered up, you will require a large number of spare PCIe power connectors. However, if you are willing to accept the higher cost, larger size, and higher power requirements, this is a card that is capable of providing an unparalleled 4K experience.

Review of the Nvidia RTX 4090: a 4K powerhouse
The Beast
Nvidia RTX 4090
  • Excellent work at 4K
  • DLSS 3 transforms frame rates
  • 24GB of Video Random Access Memory
  • 450W power draw
  • It’s way too big
  • It’s expensive as hell
  • Still, the dongle adapter is a pain

The packaging for the RTX 4090 Founders Edition comes in a box that is absurdly large. Due to the fact that the oversized package effectively prepares you for the unbelievable size of the RTX 4090, I believe that this is how a person would be sent a check after winning the lottery.

In spite of the fact that it is roughly 10mm shorter than the RTX 3090, the additional inch in height gives it the appearance of being much more robust. I didn’t have any trouble getting it into my case, but I can assume that the sheer size will be an issue for some people. This is especially true if you choose a third-party RTX 4090, as the dimensions of these cards are significantly larger than those of the Founders Edition models.

The RTX 4090 and the RTX 3090 are visually quite comparable to one another; however, the RTX 4090 has a revised fan that has seven blades instead of nine. This supporter now takes up a much larger portion of the card’s back.

Nvidia has also changed its power connector with the release of the RTX 4090. It now uses the single 12-pin PCIe 5 standard, which has the capacity to offer a combined maximum of 600 watts of power. The port is identical to the one found on the RTX 3090 Ti, and Nvidia includes a 12VHPWR converter cable in the package so that you may connect four eight-pin PCIe power lines. In comparison to the RTX 3090, this card requires twice as many eight-pin connections, but strictly speaking, you only need to connect three eight-pin cables, each of which is capable of delivering 150 watts. This accounts for a total of 450 watts, and if you intend to overclock the card, Nvidia advises you to connect the fourth eight-pin connector to the power supply.

When using the RTX 4090, it is highly recommended that you have a power supply that is capable of producing at least 1,000 watts on hand. This is especially true when considering the fact that you will need to use processors from the most recent generation in order to get the most out of the power that is on offer here. Although Nvidia suggests a total of 850 watts, it may be beneficial to have some extra headroom in case you want to overclock your GPU.

Despite the fact that the Founders Edition design for Nvidia’s RTX cards hasn’t been updated much for the Ada Lovelace generation, I continue to be a great lover of the overall aesthetic of these graphics cards.

1440p benchmarks

Test machine:
CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K
CPU cooler: Corsair H150 Elite LCD
Motherboard: MSI MAG Z690 Carbon Wi-Fi
RAM: 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR5 5600
Storage: Western Digital SN850 1TB
Case: Corsair Crystal 570X
PSU: Corsair HX1000W

I have been conducting tests with the Core i9-12900K from Intel with the RTX 4090 graphics card. This GPU has been matched up with a 32-inch Samsung Odyssey G7 monitor for the purpose of 1440p testing. This monitor offers support for refresh rates of up to 240Hz and is compatible with the G-Sync technology developed by Nvidia.

I’ve compared the RTX 4090 and the RTX 3090 against one another to find out exactly what advantages the Ada Lovelace generation of GPUs has over the Ampere generation. A number of triple-A video games, such as Forza Horizon 5, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Cyberpunk 2077, have been put through their paces by me. In addition to that, I’ve been putting DLSS 3 through its paces on the famously hard games Cyberpunk 2077 and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

On the RTX 4090, every game was tested at the maximum or ultra settings, and the majority of titles provide frame rates that are significantly higher than 100 fps, even when ray-tracing options are activated. Even with ray tracing turned on, the RTX 4090 is still able to generate an outstanding 167 frames per second when running Control at 1440p resolution. Control manages to hit a staggering 223 frames per second at this resolution.

RTX 4090 (1440p)

BenchmarkRTX 3090RTX 4090
Microsoft Flight Simulator52fps52fps
Microsoft Flight Simulator + DLSS 250fps50fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider170fps247fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider + DLSS 2200fps249fps
Forza Horizon 5111fps175fps
Gears 5140fps190fps
Control + DLSS 2 + RT151fps185fps
Control + RT94fps167fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced80fps121fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced + DLSS 2 + RT84fps128fps
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla98fps171fps
Watch Dogs: Legion97fps132fps
Watch Dogs: Legion + DLSS 2 + RT81fps94fps
Cyberpunk 207797fps142fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + RT75fps119fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + Psycho RT70fps114fps

Even with the RTX 3090, Watch Dogs: Legion has always been exceptionally demanding. The RTX 4090 manages to reach 132 frames per second (fps) without having ray tracing enabled, which is a performance increase of 36 percent. When it comes to performance, I found that upgrading from the RTX 3090 to the RTX 4090 at 1440p resulted in an average increase of roughly 50 percent across all of the games I played. That in and of itself is a significant improvement, but the situation becomes even more intriguing when DLSS 3 is enabled.

Both the new edition of Cyberpunk 2077 and the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, which both incorporate DLSS 3, have been undergoing testing by me. This most recent version employs the AI upscaling techniques that were used in DLSS 2 in conjunction with a brand-new AI frame creation technology that makes use of the Ada Lovelace architecture. The frame generation feature generates two frames by making use of the rendering techniques that are already in place, and then the new frame generation technology is used to insert a third frame in between the first two frames. The end effect is a massive improvement in performance that is now only available on the RTX 40-series graphics cards using DLSS 3.

RTX 4090 DLSS 3 (1440p)

BenchmarkRTX 4090
Microsoft Flight Simulator62fps
Microsoft Flight Simulator + DLSS 264fps
Microsoft Flight Simulator + DLSS 3133fps
Cyberpunk 2077142fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + RT119fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + Psycho RT114fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 3 + RT190fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 3 + Psycho RT181fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 3 Perf + Psycho RT217fps

On the RTX 4090, the average frame rate when playing Cyberpunk 2077 with all settings maxed up and psycho ray tracing and DLSS 2 quality enabled is approximately 114 frames per second. If you just allow frame creation, you can boost it by over 60 percent, bringing the total to 181 frames per second. If you are ready to give up a little bit of image quality, you can boost this all the way up to 217 frames per second by switching to the performance DLSS 3 mode. This is a fantastic improvement for a game that already runs at a smooth 70 frames per second on an RTX 3090.

The identical behavior may be observed in the Microsoft Flight Simulator as well. After using the unique test build of Flight Simulator, I discovered that it was capable of maintaining approximately 64 frames per second with all settings set to ultra, DLSS 2 quality, and internet mode turned off. Simply toggling the switch to DLSS 3 frame generation increased this to 133 frames per second, which is an increase of more than 100 percent. When playing Microsoft Flight Simulator, a very taxing video game, I couldn’t believe the performance I was getting out of my computer.

4K benchmarks

If the benchmarks at 1440p seem great to you, just wait till you see what the RTX 4090 is capable of doing at 4K resolution. This GPU has been connected with an Acer Nitro XV2 display that has a resolution of 4K and a screen size of 31.5 inches. You’ll notice from the benchmarks that the RTX 4090 was able to deliver the types of frame rates that can really take advantage of this 4K monitor. This monitor supports refresh rates of up to 144Hz, and you’ll also see that the monitor supports refresh rates of up to 144Hz.

If the performance increases that may be achieved with the RTX 4090 at 1440P are sometimes reaching within a few percentage points of 50 percent, then they are considerably greater at 4K. The RTX 4090 outperforms the RTX 3090 in terms of performance in roughly 70 percent of the games that I have tested while running them at 4K resolution. When it comes to gaming at 4K resolution, this card is an absolute beast.

Review of the Nvidia RTX 4090: a 4K powerhouse

Because graphics processing units haven’t been able to offer the kinds of high frame rates I’m used to getting at 1440p, I haven’t really had much interest in 1440p gaming at 4K resolution. I’m the kind of guy who notices right away whether I’m playing at 120 frames per second rather than close to 200 frames per second, but the combination of the RTX 4090 and DLSS 3 is definitely compelling me to switch over to 4K.

RTX 4090 (4K)

BenchmarkRTX 3090RTX 4090
Microsoft Flight Simulator47fps51fps
Microsoft Flight Simulator + DLSS 249fps49fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider98fps195fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider + DLSS 2132fps227fps
Forza Horizon 585fps151fps
Gears 580fps138fps
Control + DLSS 2 + RT88fps158fps
Control + RT74fps86fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced53fps96fps
Metro Exodus Enhanced + DLSS 2 + RT58fps106fps
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla68fps119fps
Watch Dogs: Legion62fps109fps
Watch Dogs: Legion + DLSS 2 + RT55fps89fps
Cyberpunk 207748fps74fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + RT41fps72fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + Psycho RT37fps66fps

The reason I spent the majority of my time playing Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with the RTX 4090 was simply because I’ve always wanted to play this game with all of the settings and ray tracing turned up to their maximum levels at 4K. The RTX 3090 was incapable of performing well when everything was set to its maximum at 4K, resulting in an experience that was frequently slower than 30 frames per second and had the consistency of sludge.

I was able to get an average frame rate of nearly 140 fps at 4K with DLSS 3, even with all settings at their maximum, psycho ray tracing turned on, and DLSS 3 performance mode activated. Even without DLSS 3, Night City looked and felt much smoother with ordinary DLSS 2 quality producing 66 frames per second on average; nevertheless, playing Cyberpunk 2077 at much beyond 100 frames per second in 4K is a real treat.

RTX 4090 DLSS 3 (4K)

BenchmarkRTX 4090
Microsoft Flight Simulator64fps
Microsoft Flight Simulator + DLSS 261fps
Microsoft Flight Simulator + DLSS 3125fps
Cyberpunk 207774fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + RT72fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 2 + Psycho RT66fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 3 + RT109fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 3 + Psycho RT103fps
Cyberpunk 2077 + DLSS 3 Perf + Psycho RT138fps

Not just Cyberpunk 2077, but many other games run smoothly at 4K resolution when powered by the RTX 4090. The vast majority of games were able to maintain more than 100 frames per second while running at 4K resolution. I’ve only ever been used to playing video games at a resolution of 1440 pixels high, but with DLSS and ray tracing both turned on, the controls seemed extremely fluid even at their highest settings. I have high hopes that DLSS 3 will be added to Control, as I believe it would be amazing if the astounding advancements shown in Cyberpunk 2077 could be used in a wider variety of games that support DLSS.

When using the RTX 4090 graphics card with DLSS 3 enabled, Microsoft Flight Simulator also performs exceptionally well. With all settings set to ultra, DLSS 2 quality, and online mode turned off, the special test build of Flight Simulator is able to achieve 61 frames per second. The transition to DLSS 3 frame generation raises this to 125 frames per second, an increase of more than 100 percent, and makes the game significantly more playable at ultra settings in challenging areas.

The first Nvidia Ada Lovelace graphics card demonstrates that the Ampere 30-series generation has been superseded by a generation with significantly higher performance. The RTX 4090’s price tag of $1,599 places it well outside the pricing range of most PC gamers, but it does pave the way for what might be an interesting future generation of graphics cards.

DLSS 3 brings about a genuine transformation in frame rates here, and it does so without compromising the image’s quality, balance, or performance in any way. However, as of right now, there have only been 35 games or applications that have been confirmed to be compatible with DLSS 3, which means that it will be some time before we actually see the impact that this new technology has.

Even without the help of DLSS 3 from Nvidia, the RTX 4090 is currently in a league of its own when it comes to performance. If you absolutely must have the most powerful graphics card for 4K gaming, then the RTX 4090 will not let you down. The RTX 4080 graphics cards, which are slated for release in November and provide a more acceptable price point for entrance into this generation of graphics cards, will be available to everyone else. But would the performance be just as impressive on the contentious $899 graphics card with 12 GB of memory?

It is possible that AMD may release RDNA 3 in November and steal the spotlight away from Nvidia’s RTX 40-series graphics cards, but it is difficult to think that the company will release something even quite comparable to DLSS 3. That is really the star of the show for the RTX 4090, and reason enough to upgrade all by itself if you believe that Nvidia will be able to pull off the kind of support that we have seen with DLSS 2 so far.

In any case, the RTX 4090 is a monster of a GPU when it comes to playing games in 4K, and the prospect of upgrading to it is truly enticing me. The price tag of $1,599 is what is making me think twice about purchasing it.

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Throughout this analysis, I had to keep having to double-check and even triple-check my benchmarks since I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. The RTX 4090 is a beast of a graphics card that ushers in a new age for PC gaming. Thanks...Review of the Nvidia RTX 4090: a 4K powerhouse