The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 sits atop the throne as NVIDIA’s fastest GeForce RTX 30 series performance offering. It also carries a hefty price to get to that performance, with the Founders Edition having a $1,499 MSRP. At $1,499 the GeForce RTX 3090 is at least about $800 more than the MSRP over the GeForce RTX 3080 at $699. The real question is, does it seem like it provides the kind of performance boost you’d expect for at least $800 more?
Today we reviewed the GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC video card. This video card is not GIGABYTE’s highest-end model, but rather about in the middle of its offerings of RTX 3090 GPUs. It has a Boost Clock at 1755MHz which is higher than the reference 1695MHz. It offers a customized cooler called WINDFORCE 3X. It has a nice display output configuration providing 3 DisplayPorts and 2 HDMI 2.1.
As a quick reference the GeForce RTX 3090 a.k.a. GA102 is made up of 10,496 CUDA Cores, 328 TMUs, 112 ROPs, 82 RT Cores, and 328 Tensor Cores. It is based on the Ampere architecture on Samsung 8nm with 28.3B transistors. It is integrated with 24GB GDDR6X 384-bit memory interface at 19.5GHz providing 935.8GB/s of memory bandwidth.
In our game performance testing today, we looked at both 1440p and 4K performance. We also looked at Ray Tracing and DLSS performance. It was important to include 1440p because there are people out there aiming for the highest performance possible at lower resolutions, and so we needed to see what this video card offered at 1440p to get those high framerates. It is also at 1440p that things like Ultra Ray Tracing and more playable. At 4K you will need DLSS to achieve the best performance with Ray Tracing.
At 1440p the GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC offered a high-end gaming experience in every game. There weren’t any games that we could not max out at the highest in-game settings. We were able to play at “Ultra” in Cyberpunk 2077, “Ultra” in Watch Dogs Legion, “Ultra” in Red Dead Redemption 2, and every other game we tested. The GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC always offered the highest performance and gave us more than playable framerates.
This situation was mostly repeated at 4K. The only game that wasn’t playable at “Ultra” settings was of course Cyberpunk 2077. However, once we enabled Quality DLSS the game was very playable and framerates were over 60FPS. Otherwise, every other game tested, including Watch Dogs Legion and Red Dead Redemption 2 were playable at their highest settings at 4K with 60FPS. It is clear that the GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC was the best card for 4K gaming performance.
Ray Tracing and DLSS
When we enabled Ray Tracing at 1440p of course Cyberpunk 2077 was slower, but once we turned on Quality DLSS the game was more than playable at 75FPS with Ray Tracing at 1440p at the highest level. Letting the game using DLSS Auto allowed Ray Tracing Ultra to be playable even at 4K with 60FPS. Dirt 5 with Ray Tracing was playable at 4K. Even Watch Dogs was playable at 1440p with Ray Tracing, but turn on DLSS and it shot up to 87FPS. At 4K Watch Dogs Legion needed DLSS to be playable with Ray Tracing, but it was, especially when overclocked.
In terms of the performance advantage the GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC provided over the GeForce RTX 3080, it was on average 10% faster than the GeForce RTX 3080. However, when you take into consideration the overclocked performance it was up to 20% faster. Now, at the end of the day, this doesn’t sound like a lot considering the $800 price difference. 10% performance uplift at $800 doesn’t make a lot of sense.
However, at the end of the day, the GeForce RTX 3090 is technically faster and does technically allow the highest performance. You are just going to be paying a lot for it. It also makes more sense at 4K gaming where the advantages are greater. If you are gaming at 4K there simply is nothing else as fast as the GeForce RTX 3090. It offers the best 4K experience, and every little bit helps at 4K.
The GeForce RTX 3090 is really built for that 4K gaming experience, and it has the massive 24GB of VRAM to back that up. You won’t run out of VRAM capacity for your 4K gaming experience.
We did not have any issues overclocking. We felt the GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC overclocked admirably. However, the small 5% Power Target increase is really what was holding us back. If there was more headroom then maybe we could have achieved a higher GPU clock speed. The cooling solution on this video card was not holding it back, so there was plenty of room there to overclock with, it could handle the thermals.
We found that engine clock speed affects performance the most. The video card already has a very high memory bandwidth, it is not memory bandwidth starved. The GDDR6X memory overclocked well, at 20.5GHz it is near the maximum we’ve seen for GDDR6X memory which seems to be around 21GHz. Therefore, the only way to really increase performance, even more, is to get that GPU clock speed up. With more Power Target headroom and raising the Voltage, perhaps it could be done.
We will have to look toward the higher-end models to see if they offer more in ways of overclocking potential. At the end of the day though, overclocking the video card yielded another 10% on average over the default clock’s performance. That definitely helped separate it more from the GeForce RTX 3080’s performance. It did take a lot of power to get there though.
The Final Points
As we write this review, we write this review with the MSRP in mind, it’s the only metric we can reliably use. The MSRP for this GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC model may be higher than the Founders Edition. Even if it was at Founders Edition pricing of $1,499 we would think this would be a little steep for the GeForce RTX 3090. Especially considering the GeForce RTX 3080 is just $699 MSRP. The uplift in performance for $800 doesn’t seem like it makes sense. You are paying a butt load of money for the highest game performance possible and 24GB of VRAM.
That said, the GeForce RTX 3090 is the fastest video card there is for gaming. It offers the best 4K gaming experience. So, if you just have money to spend, and you need or want the fastest, well then there you go. Just know you are paying more than you really should be for that performance. If you know that going in, the choice is yours, as long as you are well informed about that.
The GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC is a solid video card in our testing. It overclocks decently and provides a top-notch gaming performance. It supports DLSS which will take it even further at 4K. We think higher-end models may have the potential to overclock even higher. The AORUS ENGINE software works very nicely, and RGB syncing is easy. GIGABYTE has put together a fine video card, and we’d like to see what their higher-end models can do. If you can find this video card at a good price, it will provide the best gameplay experience in games.