Apparently, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition is already sold out. So that ought to answer your question of whether it’s worth it or not.
Just kidding. You probably want a deeper discourse that’s not based on hype or consumerism. After all, $1,599 is a huge MSRP and that’s not even counting the OEM variants. There are bound to be more supplies on the way for Nvidia’s flagship Ada Lovelace GPU. When that happens, you want to have a more level-headed decision.
The answer to the question of whether the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is worth it or not isn’t so simple. Too much depends on several factors; consider these use cases or situations if ever you’re planning to purchase one.
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AMD Radeon’s RX 7000 Series is Right Around the Corner
Don’t feel too down that you missed out on the RTX 4090 Founder’s Edition stock. That only gives you more time to decide whether to go Team Green or Team Red this generation.
AMD is reportedly set to release its Radeon RX 7900 XT around November 2022. That’s a few weeks from now at the time of writing. Whether the RX 7900 XT will be more powerful than the RTX 4090 remains to be seen, but critics and tech gurus have this optimistic assumption that AMD’s flagship graphics card will be more affordable (they usually are, based on MSRP).
Another safe assumption is that AMD Radeon’s Ray Tracing performance will be worse than Nvidia’s cards as the tech is proprietary to the latter. Another Nvidia advantage includes DLSS (which is practically free performance gains).
For many, waiting on AMD during this generation is an act of stark defiance against Nvidia’s monopolistic behavior (price-wise). Besides, AMD cards are more power-efficient than Nvidia cards at this point.
If you’re curious to see what Nvidia’s competition will bring to the table, it might be best to wait until November or near the end of the year.
There Are Other Expenses Involved with the RTX 4090
Another reason why you might want to hold off on the RTX 4090 is the fact that it’s expensive in many other aspects apart from the initial monetary cost.
Higher Electricity Bills
To date, this is Nvidia’s most power-hungry GPU. It will consume your house’s electricity like it’s in a buffet; running at 450 W or watts, this graphics card is almost like a small microwave running for several hours at maximum heat just to give you the most eye-popping gorgeous graphics available right now on gaming PCs.
If you can afford that compounding cost, then by all means. But with the current power crisis and inflation right now, perhaps being more conservative about resources (electricity and money, for starters) is the more sensible option?
Larger Form & Power Requirements
If your case is on the small side and you’re planning to upgrade to the RTX 4090 from an RTX 2080 or 3080/3090, etc., you’ll be sorely disappointed. Because the RTX 4090 is also Nvidia’s biggest consumer graphics card to date.
It’s significantly bigger than the previous GPUs and you likely can’t just slap it on your old gaming rig, hoping it will fit or work. The card is also heavy; over time, it might warp some old motherboard PCBs.
That’s not all.
Since the RTX 4090 runs at 450 watts, your old power supply which you used to run the RTX 3090 is looking mighty inadequate right now. You’ll likely need a new PSU which is rated for more than a thousand watts.
In fact, you’re better off buying a new set of components or a new computer just to accommodate the RTX 4090.
More Heat, More Robust Cooling Needed
Finally, another subsequent cost to add to the initial price of the RTX 4090 would be the cooling.
Some of the OEM models of the RTX 4090 even look like they might arrive with their own attached liquid cooling units; the GPU might find itself gasping for too much air with traditional air cooling.
On top of that, you would need better case fans, or a better case overall to provide ample cooling for a component that gobbles up this much electricity.
The RTX 4090 Isn’t Worth It If…
Let’s say you already have an RTX 3060 to RTX 3090 Ti setup (or its AMD equivalents). In that case, upgrading to the RTX 4090 is very much discouraged since you’ll likely be buying a new PC to accommodate this card.
Heck, if you already have a functioning and adequate gaming PC from the previous generation of computer hardware, then you can safely ignore the RTX 4090 or any of its upcoming weaker generational siblings.
Because as per the reasons stated above, you might as well buy a new PC if you’re upgrading to the next generation thanks to the RTX 4090’s ludicrous power, space, and cooling requirements.
The RTX 4090 Is Worth It If…
Okay, here’s a counterbalance to all the negative consensus around the RTX 4090. Nvidia’s Ada Lovelace generation comes stacked with some impressive, upgraded proprietary tech such as better Ray Tracing support.
The other impressive proprietary feature is the new DLSS; this introduces interpolated frames in a video game to further increase the framerate in ways that the old DLSS from previous generations just can’t.
In short, you’ll be getting a lot more performance with the RTX 4090 on top of the actual performance gains due to the denser transistor; there are more cores in the die, as is the case with each new generation of GPUs.
Benchmark numbers are already in too. The RTX 4090 is nearly twice as powerful or as fast as the RTX 3090 Ti and the Raden RX 6950 XT (for 4K gaming). That doesn’t even take the new proprietary tech into account. With goodies such as DLSS 3.0 enabled, that performance margin will increase.
It’s fair to expect the same performance increases from the rest of the RTX 4000 series lineup if they eventually release late this year and the next. Speaking of which…
It Might be Better to Wait
The best course of action we do recommend for you is to wait; hold off at least until November once AMD Radeon has released its answer to Nvidia’s RTX behemoth.
If you don’t care for flagship cards or super-high-end setups, then it’s also optimal to wait a bit further up into 2023. This way, you get the full perspective on how each of the cards in the RTX 4000 series measures up.
Knowing how they all perform relative to one another with the AMD Radeon cards in the fray will help you decide which graphics card offers the best performance per dollar.