Coupled with Nvidia’s latest update to its Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), the RTX 4090 can deliver the type of smooth 4K performance in Cyberpunk 2077 that’s never been possible before. I’m talking nearly 140fps at 4K with all settings maxed out and psycho ray tracing enabled. And at 1440p, it’s nearly hitting the limit of my 240Hz monitor.
DLSS 3 provides an incredibly impressive performance bump, but in games where it’s not yet supported, you’re still getting around 70 percent better frame rates on average.
All of this comes at a cost, though. At $1,599, the RTX 4090 is at the very top end of the GPU market, and its huge footprint could make it difficult to slot into some PC cases. The RTX 4090 also uses 450 watts of power, and you’ll need plenty of spare PCIe power connectors to get this card powered up. But if you can deal with the price, size, and power requirements, this is a card capable of delivering a 4K experience like no other.
The RTX 4090 Founders Edition ships in a box that’s comically huge. It’s how I imagine you’d be sent a winning check from the lottery because the oversize box really prepares you for the surreal size of the RTX 4090.
Although it’s nearly 10mm shorter than the RTX 3090, the extra inch in height makes it look a lot chunkier. I didn’t have any problems fitting it into my case, but I can imagine the sheer size will be problematic in some cases, particularly if you pick a third-party RTX 4090 where the sizes go way beyond the Founders Edition models.
While the overall aesthetics of the RTX 4090 are very similar to an RTX 3090, the RTX 4090 has a redesigned fan that includes seven blades instead of nine. That fan dominates more of the rear of the card now.
Nvidia has also switched up its power connector with the RTX 4090, and it’s using the single 12-pin PCIe 5 standard that can deliver up to 600 watts in total. It’s the same connector found on the RTX 3090 Ti, and Nvidia ships a 12VHPWR adapter cable in the box so you can connect four eight-pin PCIe power cables. That’s double the amount of eight-pin cables needed over the RTX 3090, but you technically only need to connect three eight-pin cables that can deliver 150 watts each. That covers 450 watts in total, and Nvidia recommends connecting the fourth eight-pin if you’re planning to overclock the card.
You’ll probably want to have a 1,000-watt power supply on hand for the RTX 4090, particularly because you’ll need to pair this with the latest generation CPUs to really take advantage of the power on offer here. Nvidia recommends 850 watts in total, but having that extra headroom for overclocking could be useful.
I’m still a big fan of the Founders Edition design for Nvidia’s RTX cards, even if very little has changed on the outside for this Ada Lovelace generation.
I’ve been testing the RTX 4090 with Intel’s Core i9-12900K processor. For 1440p tests, I’ve paired this GPU with a 32-inch Samsung Odyssey G7 monitor. This monitor supports refresh rates up to 240Hz as well as Nvidia’s G-Sync technology.
I’ve put the RTX 4090 head-to-head with the RTX 3090 to see exactly what this new Ada Lovelace generation of GPUs offers over Ampere. I’ve been testing a variety of AAA games, including Forza Horizon 5, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Cyberpunk 2077. I’ve also been testing DLSS 3 on Cyberpunk 2077 and Microsoft Flight Simulator, both notoriously demanding games.
All games were tested at max or ultra settings on the RTX 4090, and most games deliver frame rates well beyond 100fps, even with ray-tracing options enabled. Control manages to hit a massive 223fps at 1440p, and even with ray tracing enabled, the RTX 4090 still manages to deliver an impressive 167fps frame rate.