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RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080: Flagship Ada vs High-end Ampere

Flagship Ada vs High-end Ampere
Last Updated on January 3, 2024
RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080
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Now that the new flagship Ada model has been released, we’re comparing RTX 4090 vs RTX 3090. The battle of the heavyweights looks at the pricing of both cards, the performance, the physical size, TDP, and more factors around bleeding-edge GPU technology. We’re also looking at some different models, too.

You have two options when it comes to cutting-edge Nvidia graphics cards in 2022. That’s why the battle of RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080 is so fierce. Ultimately, the difference between both video cards is going to depend on the size of your case and what you’re wanting to do with your gaming PC. We’re breaking down the specifics of how the cards stack up in a head-to-head.

RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080: specs comparison

We’ve compiled the specs of both RTX 4090 and RTX 3080 below in an easy-to-read table. You can get a quick feel for how both video cards compare against each other without having to agonize over the fine details. We have done the research down below.

RTX 4090RTX 3080
AD102 processorGA102 processor
16384 CUDA cores8704 CUDA cores
384-bit memory bus width320-bit memory bus width
2235 MHz base clock speed1440 MHz base clock speed
2520 MHz boost clock speed1710 MHz boost clock speed
1,018 GB/s bandwidth760.3 GB/s bandwidth
450W TDP320W TDP
$1,599 MSRP$699 MSRP
How the older RTX 3080 stacks up against the RTX 4090 flagship. Sources: Nvidia / TechPowerUp

As you may have sussed out, the RTX 4090 is substantially more powerful than the RTX 3080, especially when it comes to 4K performance, but more on that later. This is due to roughly double the amount of CUDA cores combined with a larger die, and over double the available memory.

That’s to say nothing of the prowess of the RTX 3080, which is still widely considered to be one of the best graphics cards on the market. The former is entirely marketed on its 4K gaming performance and productivity functionality, whereas the latter is primarily aimed exclusively at gamers.

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RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080: Performance

Now that the RTX 4090 has officially been released, we’ve got official in-game benchmarks to pull from. Notable outlets have already begun demonstrating the prowess of Ada when compared to flagship Ampere. This is evident from such publications as BENCHMARKS FOR GAMERS on YouTube, which has created an excellent comparison video for the platform.

As we can see from the video, the jump in performance is truly remarkable. All games are tested in 4K at High and Ultra settings where available, and this shows that we’re now at a point where 4K120 can happen without compromise. This is most evident in titles such as Halo Infinite. The RTX 4090 averages 130 FPS, with the older RTX 3090 just about able to maintain 60.

The ray tracing prowess of the RTX 4090 is on show with games like Spider-Man: Remastered which averages 90 FPS with the RTX 4090 and sub-60 FPS with the RTX 3090. There’s roughly double the framerate in F1 2021 in ray tracing mode, with the former running at 86 FPS and the latter maintaining 40 FPS. All tests were conducted without DLSS in any form. Native performance.

RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080: Price

The biggest difference between RTX 4090 and RTX 3080 is the price point. The new Ada Lovelace flagship carries an MSRP of $1,599, with the Ampere GPU retailing for $699. Now, with the RTX 3080 available for over two years, the card is now selling at, or cheaper than recommended price.

If we’re to break things down, the RTX 4090 costs an estimated 128% more than the RTX 3080, meaning it’s most likely going to appeal to enthusiasts. For the vast majority of PC gaming consumers, the high-end card is going to be much more feasible for gaming in 2022.

Should I buy an RTX 4090 or RTX 3080?

Simply put, if you want the best of the best then the RTX 4090 is the clear winner. However, if you’re after the best price-to-performance ratio, then you may be better served by an RTX 3080. Specifically, though, it may be the best idea to wait until November for the RTX 4080 release date.

What makes Ada different from Ampere?

The key architectural difference between Ada and Ampere is the process that defines the die on the silicon. The former is utilizing TSMC’s 4nm N4 microarchitecture, with the latter being built on Samsung’s 8nm technology. As we’ve seen with the leap in processing tech recently, smaller silicon die tends to make for improved performance.

Aleksha McLoughlin is Hardware and News Editor for PC Guide and she oversees buying guides, reviews, news, and features on site. She was previously Hardware and Affiliates Editor at VideoGamer.