The 3080 was launched to much fanfare, and the performance was really good. The price is high ($700!), and availability has proved to be a nightmare, but it is still the card to get if it’s in-stock and fits your budget.
With the RTX 3090, things are a bit different.
The Price-to-performance Concerns
Let us start with the elephant gigantic mammoth in the room: It is a $1500-$1800 card. That is an insane price, and equal to TWO complete, functional PCs that play games well.
Now, price is not a problem to very rich gamers (so why not buy 4 of these and send a couple our way, eh?) as long as the performance is worth it.
But is the price worth it for the RTX 3090?
That is a definite NO, extra emphasis fully intended. Depending on the game and the resolution, the performance increase is anywhere between 10-20% compared to the 3080. That is right, you pay more than twice as much, for a one-sixth increase in performance. The RTX 3090 has the worst bang-for-your-buck of any modern graphics card.
Ignoring the Price-to-performance Concerns
If we set the card’s woeful value aside, and look only at performance, then the card is certainly the new king. Nothing else can hit 120+ FPS in Witcher 3… at 4K resolution! Let us keep in mind that when the first RTX lineup came out only 2 years ago, we were excited that the RTX 2080 could hit 60 FPS in The Witcher 3 at 4K. That is a huge leap in 2 years.
So, if you are an ultra-hardcore gamer with the budget to get the best, and you are willing to pay the extreme premium, this card is for you!
Two other positives for the card include that it comes with an enormous heatsink that can deal with the massive heat output without making too much noise, and that it comes with a jaw-dropping 24GB of VRAM for those who are doing anything productive that needs more VRAM.
Back to Issues
What about 8K gaming?
It is unfortunate, but that is simply not a thing yet. Just buying an 8K screen will cost an extreme amount of $$$, and it is most likely going to be a 60-100″ TV instead of a desktop-friendly PC screen.
Even if you have an 8K screen, you will not want to use your $1500 card to play games at 30 FPS. With 95% of gamers still using sub-4K screens, we cannot truly say that we are in the “4K gaming era” yet, let alone 8K.
Speaking of eras: The SLI era is over.
While the RTX 3090 supports SLI, whatever program you run has to be explicitly programmed to work with SLI. nVidia has announced that, in a few months, they will not be releasing any further SLI drivers, leaving SLI control in the hands of the developers.
While some game developers might add SLI support, it is easy to see that it won’t be worth it: What percentage of gamers spend $3000 on GPU power alone?
However, for professionals who utilize computers with workstation-like performance, SLI is most likely going to continue to be supported natively by their applications. Why? For the same reason: What percentage of productive professionals spend $3000 on GPU power alone? (Okay, let us be realistic: not that high a percentage… but higher than gamers.)
And there you have it, that’s the RTX 3090. It is the most powerful card available, but it costs far too much. For extremists and enthusiasts with mega-budgets, the $1500-$1800 price tag will not be a deterrent when taking into account the card’s best-in-class performance. For the rest of us mortals without the Infinite Wallet of Limitless Depths, the RTX 3080 is a hugely better option.
Now, all that said, we will be adding the RTX 3090 to the Extremist and Monstrous tiers of our chart, including in SLI for professional work. Well, we will be adding the RTX 3090 Soon(r)(tm)(halflife3). Soonish. Do not worry, the 3090 is out-of-stock everywhere, and it will continue to be out-of-stock for weeks to come. There must be a lot more ultra-rich gamers than I thought!