NVIDIA RTX 3090: Will it be Worth the Expense?

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We have been hearing a lot very recently about the next-gen graphics cards that are on the way from NVIDIA. The Ampere architecture that NVIDIA is debuting on the RTX 3090 is hotly anticipated to dramatically boost video performance from the last generation models. So the question is this – these huge performance gains are going to cost money, and A LOT of it. Who is going to spend that money? Will it be worth it to the average gamer?

Here is some of what we know on the technical side, thanks to various leaks we’ve seen in the last couple of days.

So the first question- how much better with the 3090’s be? Well, there was a leak that we heard first from over at NotebookCheck.net. It seems that a leaker, known as @CyberPunkCat posted on Twitter images that were Tweeted at him by another user account, @yuten0x. The images display a picture of what is supposed to be the newest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 card, listing specs of 5248 Cores, 24GB and 19.5 Gbps. The second, a comparison chart showing a side-by-side comparison of performance between the 2080Ti and 3090 cards. We are always fairly skeptical of leaks, but it’s fun to bite.

Here is the original tweet:

(Image Credit @Yuten0x)

So, lets examine the possibilities that these specs are believable and whether this “leak” is believable.

If we look at the prior two generations, the GTX1080 Ti sported 3584 CUDA cores, and came with 11 GB of DDR5 on board. The leap from the 3584 cores of the 1080Ti to the ray tracing RTX2080Ti card, at 4352 cores is 768 cores, or about 17%. From the 2080Ti at 4352 cores, to the NVIDIA RTX 3090 at the leaked 5248 cores is… about 17%. Coincidence? As to the 24 GB of RAM, the Titan cards are already sporting 24 GB of DDR6 RAM, so duplicating this on the newest RTX card is hardly a stretch of the imagination.

As to the real performance boosts, the graphic on the right suggests a doubling of performance on a control test basis and in running Minecraft RTX with Ultra Settings and RTX on. Possible? Under ideal circumstances, anything is certainly possible. The proof will ultimately be in when people out in the real world start actually hooking these things up and messing with them, and having them hooked up in the ideal setup.

The reality is too, the leaked specs don’t really provide anything in the way of new info. There has been, for a couple of days now, information floating around online that came as a result of an earlier, and perhaps far more reliable leak: that of a number of spec sheets that Videocardz posted on their site two days ago, for a new Gainward Phoenix RTX 3080 and 3090 cards, with the same numbers listed on the 3090 edition. Fake? Real? Who knows anymore. This is one of the images they got as a result of a tip it seems they recieved.

(Image credit: Gainward / Videocardz)

The source of the image in the Twitter post from @Yuten0x is a mystery. Perhaps someone on the inside getting ready for NVIDIA’s big event schedule for 9 AM PST on 9/1/2020 “snuck” them out. If we see them pop up in NVIDIA’s show in the morning, that question might be answered.

So that brings me to the question at hand… Who is going to buy one of these monstrosities, and is it worth it?

Don’t get me wrong- There is definitely a market for these beasts – if your business is cryptomining or high-end video editing and the like. Professionally speaking, upgrading in those ventures makes sense. Its a business expense. Especially in crypto, where constantly having any edge in processing power is vital, it makes perfect sense.

If I may be honest too, if I had a bunch of extra disposable income around, being the gaming enthusiast I am, I’d buy myself one at whatever nearly unfathomable amount these cards will debut at.. So what is that cost? Thats the $2500 question. Could it be that much? More? A Titan RTX card already sets a buyer back $2500, and the NVIDIA RTX 3090’s will outstrip that in both core count and memory bandwidth, if the leaked specs are right. So $2800? Thats not even the real sunk cost, as this card will require a 12-pin power connector and a huge amount of power supply. Then there is the PCIe 4.0 capable motherboard to take advantage of the wider bandwidth the 4.0 standard offers, which also might mean a rebuilding of a rig completely to take really full advantage of this beast.

The reality is that in usage, under ideal circumstances, and with all the best hardware in play, these cards are going to be, no doubt, freakin’ unbelievable. For professionals in the worlds of CAD design, CGI and video editing and other graphic arts, the investment in this hardware makes sense. So too does it make sense for cryptocurrency miners, or professional pilots navigating MS Flight Simulator for training purposes.

What about for the average, above average, or probably even extreme gamers? For the kind of money we are talking here, you could go out and buy a crate of new PS5’s or Xbox Series X consoles at whatever price they come out at, for you and all of your friends to enjoy together. Seems to me that, unless you are a professional with a business use, or have a giant wad of cash in your pocket from recently winning a Fortnite tournament, or being a highly paid professional that loves you some Wolfenstein:Youngblood after a long day performing surgery, and can drop a few G’s, this card is probably out of play, and that is probably ok.

If I win the lottery tomorrow and suddenly have A LOT of disposable income, sure – I’ll bite. Otherwise, this doesn’t seem like its likely to be very accessible hardware to the general public. Despite the performance gains, there are hardly games for the general population to play that even warrant this level of performance. The trade off in expense, even if all the rumors are true, hardly seems worth it to me.

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James Ferguson (JimHere93)

Nothing like a card that costs more than my entire rig for some serious hardware envy…. Have to still agree with you, I suppose it wouldn’t be more than a flex to have max render on Minecraft for probably whats gonna cost 3k and would need a full system upgrade to boot! A guy can dream tho

[…] who speculated on the cards, as is only natural in the run-up to such a hotly anticipated release. Some of the rumors were right, some were sort of right. In the end, there was a lot more to talk about then just GPU’s, and we are going to go through […]

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