OPINION: This week Nvidia revealed the first two entries in its new RTX 4000-series.
And, while we’re yet to benchmark the new RTX 4090 and RTX 4080, from what we’ve seen they’re set to be very impressive upgrades on the already impressive 30-series GPUs, which I reviewed when they launched two years ago.
Highlights include general spec upgrades to both: more CUDA Cores, more GDDR6X memory, the debut of Nvidia’s 3rd Generation RT Cores and 4th Generation Tensor Cores plus slightly better TDPs (power consumption). The latter is particularly important as the 30-series cards were monster trucks that required a very powerful PSU to run when I benchmarked them.
To people that don’t obsess over GPU specs, but just want to play games faster and at higher frame rates, according to Nvidia, this means the RTX 4090 is between 2x and 4x faster than RTX 3090 Ti and the RTX 4080 is between 2x and 4x faster than the RTX 3080 Ti depending on the title you’re running.
Considering the fact I could already get games to run at playable, post 30fps speeds on the base RTX 3080 with their graphics maxed and ray tracing on in 4K, if any of that rings true when we test the new cards, then they’ll be the fastest we’ve ever seen.
And while there’s a lot to get excited about there, there’s one big fly in the ointment: their cost. The new Nvidia RTX 4090 graphics will cost $1599/£1679 starting price. That’s a $100 increase on what the 3090 cost at launch. The Nvidia RTX 4080 16GB and 12GB have starting prices of $1199/£1269 and $899/£949, respectively
Even if you’re cash rich, those aren’t cheap investments. The cost of living crisis also means many will need to question if now’s the right time to spend over a grand on a card to play games, especially one that eats so much electricity.
This is why for me, though they’re exciting, it’s another card that Nvidia’s yet to launch that’ll be more important in the long term. Specifically, my money is on the RTX 4060 to be the most successful and widely used Lovelace GPU when it finally arrives.
To caveat, this isn’t an official card yet, I’m basing it on my experience testing previous Nvidia 60 cards, like the RTX 3060 Ti, which I gave 4/5 when I reviewed it and to this day list as the best GPU for 1080p ray tracing.
60 cards tend to be the ones that hit the sweet spot for price and performance, offering reliable enough speeds for 1080p gaming with ray tracing and 1440p without it.
This, in my mind, is a key reason that year-on-year Steam lists 60 cards as the most used on its platform. Jump over to the latest August 2022 Steam survey and you’ll see it’s not 80 or 90 cards that top the list. The top 10 most used cards in August are mostly 60 and 50 series:
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6.60% share)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (6.24% share)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 (5.02% share)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4.99% share)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU (3.39% share)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (3.24% share)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2.57% share)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (2.55% share)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER (2.46% share)
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 (2.32% share)
Despite being excited at a technical level for the premium cards, and very keen to see how they perform when we benchmark them in our test rig, I can’t help but think the biggest Lovelace release from Nvidia is yet to come.