The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is among the most powerful graphics cards on the market right now, and if you want to play the latest games at the highest framerates you'll need the best gaming PCs packing high-octane cards like this one.
The GeForce RTX 4090 is currently the top-of-the-line card in Nvidia's 40-series of GeForce RTX GPUs, which were officially announced in September 2022. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 and 4090 were unveiled during Nvidia's September 2022 GTC keynote. Together, they've established a new high-water mark for what we can expect from consumer-grade graphics cards.
At that Nvidia event, we learned when these cards are coming out, how much they'll cost, and what kind of power we ought to expect from them. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is the cream of the crop — here's everything you need to know about it.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 price and release date
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is expected to go on sale Wednesday, October 12 at a starting price of $1,599. That's roughly as much as the rest of the PC you'll put it in will cost, so start saving now!
Nvidia will produce a limited amount of special Founders Edition 4090 cards for release. In addition, the usual crew of third-party vendors will release their own spins on the 4090, so look for versions to come from companies like Gigabyte, MSI and PNY.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 specs
|Nvidia RTX 4090||Nvidia RTX 3090||Nvidia RTX 3080|
|Nvidia CUDA Cores||16,384||10,496||8,704|
|Boost Clock (GHz)||2.52||1.70||1.71|
|Standard Memory Config||24GB GDDR6X||24GB GDDR6X||10GB GDDR6X|
|Memory Interface Width||384-bit||384-bit||320-bit|
|Ports||HDMI 2.1a, DisplayPort 1.4a (3x)||HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4a (3x)||HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4a (3x)|
So what do you get for all that money? For starters, you get one of the biggest GPUs we've ever seen, built on Nvidia's Lovelace architecture and sporting 76 billion transistors. That's nearly three times the 28 billion transistors on the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, which translates to greater potential power.
You also get 16,384 CUDA cores, which are basically parallel processors that run Nvidia's Compute Unified Device Architecture (the aforementioned CUDA). These are the workhorses which do the heavy lifting of rendering graphics on your PC, and the 4090 has nearly 6,000 more than the old Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090.
That means we should see significantly improved performance when gaming on a 4090, which can achieve boost clock speeds of 2.52 GHz.
Memory-wise, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 ships with 24GB of DDR6X RAM that we believe will be as fast as 21Gbps.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 DLSS 3 support
A graphics card's main feature is to draw images onscreen as fast and beautiful as possible, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is no exception. However, since this is one of the first cards announced in Nvidia's new 40-series line, the company also unveiled a new version of its DLSS upscaling tech to go with it.
Nvidia is rolling out this new DLSS 3 technology on October 12, right alongside the 4090. This is an update on the DLSS 2 tech Nvidia debuted in 2020, which itself was an update on the company's original DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) upscaling technology.
DLSS is a big deal because it uses machine learning to try and intelligently "upscale" graphics that are rendered at artificially lowered resolutions, affording you the performance of low resolution without a big drop in graphical performance.
Nvidia pitches DLSS 3 as being leaps and bounds more effective than DLSS 2, and to use DLSS 3 you need the fourth-generation Tensor cores and new Optical Flow Accelerator tech built into Nvidia 40-series cards like the GeForce RTX 4090. The company also claims that for the first time ever, it's possible to use AI to fill in whole frames of gameplay, rather than individual pixels, with DLSS 3.
This new feature is branded Optical Multi Frame Generation, and it appears to work by using the Optical Flow Accelerator to analyze sequential frames of gameplay and interpolate new frames based on work done by a convolutional neural network. When firing on all cylinders, Nvidia claims DLSS 3 can improve game framerates by up to 4x what they are without DLSS.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 outlook
The reveal of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is a big deal because it means Nvidia's next-generation GPUs have arrived, and we're one step closer to the end of the Great GPU Shortage.
That's good news for PC gaming enthusiasts, who are finally breathing a sigh of relief now that the top GPUs just fell below MSRP and a fresh supply of cards is about to enter the market.
Going forward, Nvidia will have to balance its drive to sell more cards with sensitivity to customers who have been eagerly awaiting the chance to buy a new GPU at a reasonable price. While the $1,599 price tag on the new 4090 is anything but, the other cards in Nvidia's new 40-series should be significantly cheaper. Hopefully the company can do something to discourage scalpers and ensure more fans have a shot at buying one of these new cards at a fair price.