It can’t have escaped your notice that there is a new GPU on the block in the form of the RTX 3090 Ti.
What it brings to the party at the top end of the Nvidia range is a combination of an improved clock speed, more CUDA cores, but probably the thing we love the most is that it’s slightly more sanely priced – all things being relative – and actually available to buy. If you’ve spent any of the past couple of years desperately trying to get your mitts on a graphics card then you’ll understand that performance is almost secondary to the ability to be able to purchase one at a shelf price, rather than buy a second hand one at the kind of money usually reserved for forgotten Picassos or a surprise Henry Moore sculpture in your back garden.
We’ve already seen that the RTX 3090 Ti is everything one would expect from a new flagship Nvidia graphics card, and so today it’s time to discover whether the Gigabyte model still brings all that glory to our eyeballs and what the price point is. Let’s find out the first, and we will get to the second in a dozen or so pages time. Read on.
256 extra CUDA Cores and a significant boost to the clock speeds all around ensure that the Ti is worthy of the name, famous as it is. Vanilla Nvidia cards are exciting, but the Ti models have a lengthy history of being the desirable one.
We know we’ve mentioned this before in earlier reviews of Gigabyte graphics cards but it always bears repeating. There must be a lot of money to be made from having a case that looks like this. Just tilt your head to the right, imagine that eyeball is a huge RGB case fan. What’s not to like?
If the Palit Game Rock is the card for people who think that the Blackpool Illuminations are understated, then the Gigabyte card is for those of you who think that RGB lighting is a passing fad and there is no replacement for the stealthy ideals of a black card.
On the subject of stealth, around the back there is a dip switch that lets you swap between the OC BIOS and one that is more tuned for quiet running. Understandably we’ll be leaving it in the OC position. You don’t spend all this money on a card only to rein it in.
You could almost have a competition based upon counting the fins on the Gigabyte RTX 3090 Ti cooler. High fin density is almost underselling it. It is an absolute monster. We wouldn’t recommend squeezing it in to a mini-tower case.
As is the way with the RTX 3090 Ti the power inputs have been split from regular multiples of 8pin PCIe power inputs to a y splitter cable that is a different way of managing the power hungry needs of such a beefy card. Not better or worse, just different.
A closer look at the monstrous chunk of metal and heatpipes that makes up the Gigabyte cooler, including one of the largest cutouts we’ve yet seen. It’s very attractive and promises some low temperatures.
Lastly the output plate is dwarfed by the enormity of the card itself, supplying you with the now-standard Nvidia selection of 8K60 HDMI 2.1 and three DisplayPort 1.4a.
Gigabyte Gaming RTX 3090 Ti OC 24G
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula
Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB Series DDR4 3600MHz
Corsair RM1000i PSU
Corsair iCUE H150i RGB Pro XT AIO
Corsair MP600 2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
Corsiar Obsidian 500D RGB SE
Windows 10 x64 “May 2020” Update
Borderlands 3 saw Gearbox Software return to developing their most famous IP following the somewhat dubious reception The Pre Sequel received. Borderlands has plenty of settings to tweak and, despite looking superficially similar to Borderlands 2, it’s significantly more demanding upon your hardware. At higher resolutions only the most performance rich need apply. Naturally we run with everything at the maximum possible settings.
Remedy Entertainment’s Control is one of those games that demonstrates everything available to you in modern engines and with modern hardware. Not only does it have destructible environments but it supports all the hardware tricks, including Ray Tracing and DLSS on hardware with either or both of those features. We’re testing in every possible combination to demonstrate how each can impact your frames per second. The first graph is ‘plain’ mode. The second graph with Ray Tracing on, and the third graph with Ray Tracing and DLSS on for performance impact demonstration purposes.
Oh Cyberpunk 2077. Rarely has a game promised so much and come out of the gate so absolutely bug-ridden. Thankfully CDPR are working hard to squash most of the bugs, and indeed have, but incredibly ambitious games allied to the world going into lockdown for most of its fine polishing left us all a bit disappointed. It’s still a gorgeous, sprawling title though, which is enough for our purposes. We’re running on the Ultra preset here, as gorgeous – and performance heavy – as it’s possible to make the game with the second graph in Ultra Ray-Tracing mode with DLSS on and off.
The latest version of Codemasters long running Rally game has plenty of visual splendour. Sure it’s never going to be mistaken for Richard Burns Rally or any of the genuine sims out there, but if you want to get muddy and know your “medium left over crest don’t cut”s from your “5 right tightens” then it’s a good place to start.
The second graph is 8K gaming, which understandably is a future idea.
Despite being launched at a time when there wasn’t any motorsport – or any sport – in the world, F1 2020 is everything it could realistically be. No, the track list didn’t match the real 2020 F1 season, but the cars were close to their real-life counterparts and the graphics engine brings all the glorious imagery we’ve come to expect from Codemasters F1 titles. We’re running with it all to the stops, because of course we are.
Far Cry 6
Far Cry has gone through a fair number of ideas since it first appeared. Far Cry 2 was the last with something new to say thanks to the amazing fire spreading and malaria, Far Cry 3 perfected the formula even if it hid the best antagonist in gaming away for half the run time, whilst 4 was basically 3 transplanted elsewhere. Far Cry 5 took the bold step of giving you a downer ending and Far Cry 6 has launched reverting back to the Far Cry 4 formula, although ramping up the insanity so it more resembles GTA Online than anything else.
A game where we always mentally add “of War” to the title, the most recent addition to the Gears franchise saw The Coalition stick rigidly to the formula that has made this title a success on the Xbox. It’s more of a ‘best of’ than a new title, but still brings all the graphical glory to your screen as befits a game aimed at the console market. With everything turned up to ten the graphics can bring even beefy systems to their knees.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Alongside God of War, Horizon is one of the best titles from this generation of games. A massive open world and story rich game with none of the ‘collect 500 tiny things’ that plagues many open world titles, the breath-taking vistas and gorgeous animation of Aloy’s adventures should be experienced by all gamers. The PC release required some fine tuning to be all it could be, but graphically it’s still jaw-dropping and with everything up to the hilt as we have here, few games look better.
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition
The latest version of Metro Exodus – the Enhanced Edition – continues to utilise all of the potential of your graphics card in a way few other games do. No matter what you may feel about the game play style and that post-apocalypse horror aesthetic, it’s worth checking out just to see what graphical splendour modern titles can bring.
Monster Hunter World
Capcom’s Monster Hunter World might be, compared to other titles in our test suite, getting a little long in the tooth but it’s still a gorgeous title with beautiful scenery punctuated by boss fights that wouldn’t look out of place in a From Software title. The introduction of the Iceborne expansion pack boosted the graphics a little further, and as always we’re running everything as high as we can push.
Resident Evil 3
Another Capcom title, this instalment of the remade Resident Evil franchise continues to up the ante in graphical glory. As someone old enough to have played the originals, seeing Jill Valentine in all her high definition glory never stops being impressive, and whilst the gameplay doesn’t quite shine as brightly as the two games that bracket this in the Res line-up, it’s still fun to turn everything up to max and murder some zombies.
The Witcher 3
The original Witcher flew under the radar a little bit in the mainstream, whilst winning an army of fans amongst the RPG hardcore. The Witcher 2 brought everything to it’s knees and was the Crysis of it’s time. The Witcher 3, rightfully, is legendary amongst gamers as the perfect blend of open-world, choices matter, graphically gorgeous role playing. Comfortably one of the best games ever. Hopefully CDPR have learned their lessons from the Cyberpunk 2077 debacle in time for the forthcoming Witcher 4 release.
Total Warhammer II
Creative Assembly rewrote the book for strategy games with their Total War series, and with Total Warhammer they brought fantasy into that sphere. Total Warhammer 2 took all that was great about the first entry and filled it so full of content that you can play the Mortal Empires campaign for literal years if you wish. The CPU does as much work as the GPU here, thanks to hundreds of units and vast draw distances.
Total War Saga: Troy
A game everyone probably owns thanks to the free 24 hours on the Epic Store, Troy might not have the breadth of some of the more fully-fledged entries in the long Total War series, but it’s still a good way of showing off the well-rounded nature of your system. You need every component to be finely tuned to really pump those frames out.
Watch Dogs : Legion
It’s been three games and Watch Dogs still hasn’t quite lived up to its promise, but Legion is much closer than either of the previous two titles were to fulfilling the ‘hack the world’ tagline. It’s a Ubisoft game, so you already know pretty much what to expect, just on PC we get Ray-Tracing and all the good eye candy stuff.
3DMARK: Port Royal
One of the first Ray Tracing benchmarks to appear, the value of Port Royal cannot be overstated. Games always take a while to adopt new technologies but benchmark/demos can get on board much faster and show off where your hard-earned is going. With the next generation of consoles supporting Ray Tracing too it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a bigger part of our lives.
3DMARK: Time Spy
If you’ve been using 3D Mark since the days when it was largely full of dragons and Matrix-esque FPS games, you’ll appreciate Time Spy taking you on a trip down memory lane whilst also showing the future too. It’s always a lovely thing to watch which, as people who’ve seen the Fire Strike benchmark a thousand times or more, is a feature we appreciate.
Temperatures and Power Draw
Modern graphics cards no longer rely upon the user to overclock them, as the drivers now make the most of any spare power or thermal headroom available to boost the clocks to give the smoothest performance. Thus the temperature graph is a little less important than it used to be unless the manufacturer has created a godly cooler, whilst Power Draw is fun on your energy bill, but most of us just care about performance rather than a handful of Watts here and there. With slight variance in ambient temperatures we’re also including the delta temperature too, so you know exactly how well the card performs relative to the air temperature.
Clearly it doesn’t really matter whether you go for the Palit or the Gigabyte card, any time you can supply your rendering task with this much calculative performance then you’ll be a happy person.
We’re no fools here at OC3D. We understand that even a RTX 3080 Ti is way beyond the means, or indeed needs, of most people and the RTX 3090 Ti is sitting in even more rarified air. No matter how carefully Nvidia have attempted to negate any supply issues and the scalping that always brings – hello anybody still trying to buy a PS5 or XBOX X – there is no getting around the fact that this is a seriously steep investment. Thus we’re speaking either to people who have the money and probably would buy it anyway, or those of you who just like to dream of what you might do with your lottery winnings, or when your rich uncle finally snuffs it. However, let’s pretend that we’re all going to sit here with our hands on our chins and contemplate the wisdom of purchasing a flagship card a few months before the replacement arrives.
Unsurprisingly the answer to the “should I buy this” question is simply answered by choosing any of the graphs on the previous pages at random and then seeing how your system compares. It’s the best of the best right now. The flagship. The benchmark. The high watermark by which all others shall be judged. It’s not a quantum leap (Ziggy!) forwards when compared to the RTX 3090, but neither is it impossible to get hold of like that card was. It is, like all Ti cards before it, the ultimate refinement of a product. The most Ampere GPU an Ampere GPU can be. Comfortably spanking 4K results in anything you care to name. Breaking average frame rate speeds hither and thither. It’s a monster, a beast. If it came with any more pomp it would be written by Elgar.
Thus the question isn’t if you should buy a RTX 3090 Ti, it’s whether you should buy this RTX 3090 Ti.
That’s a bit more of a thorny issue. Clearly as we saw throughout our testing the Gigabyte card is generally a couple of frames per second ahead of the Palit card, in pretty much everything. It also makes full use of one of the biggest coolers we’ve ever seen fitted to a graphics card to have absolutely rock bottom temperatures. If all you want is the coolest, fastest card then your decision is pretty much made right there.
For us, although the Palit Game Rock is somewhat divisive with those gaudy ARGB lights it also grabs your attention more. The Gigabyte is so understated that you wonder if you really have just placed a card costing £2000 in your rig, because it does nothing to advertise that expense. We’re not asking it to shine lasers like a Pink Floyd show, or be gold plated like all the cars in Kensington, but we’d like something that at least hinted at the money we’d spent, rather than a screen printed brand and that’s your lot. Additionally it’s another £75 more expensive than the Palit. Sure if you’re spending nearly 2 grand you might as well spend 2 grand, but that extra might be the straw that broke the camels back, or it might be the difference between some other piece of hardware that will make a difference and a lesser one. You could get a 500GB Gigabyte Aorus M.2 drive for that. We know what we’d rather have.
The Gigabyte RTX 3090 Ti OC is everything you would expect the new flagship Nvidia card to be. More power than you could need, capable of demolishing any game, on any setting and do so at super cool temperatures. We like a little more glitz and glamour for our investment, and the Gigabyte Gaming does suffer from being all steak and no sizzle. That might be just want you want though. YMMV.