NVIDIA released its new and powerful GPUs in the past couple of months based on the new Ada Lovelace architecture; the GeForce RTX 4090 and RTX 4080. Both GPUs are faster than their predecessors; even the RTX 4080 is around 15% to 25% faster than the best RTX 3090 Ti flagship GPU. And that’s with traditional rasterization alone. The new RTX 40 series GPUs based on the Ada Lovelace architecture have exclusive features. For example, dual NVENC encoders with AV1 support and the most promoted feature by NVIDIA – DLSS 3 or AI Frame Generation technology. With DLSS 3, these new RTX 40 GPUs can offer more than double the performance of their predecessors. So, if you’re looking to upgrade or buy the latest and greatest GPU from the green team, the GeForce RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 are currently your options. But which one to get? Which GPU is the better buy?
RTX 4090 vs RTX 4080 – Why The RTX 4090 Is Better
Just a quick recap for those a bit late to the party, the GeForce RTX 4090 is NVIDIA’s latest and fastest flagship graphics card. NVIDIA announced its latest RTX 40 series GPUs back in September. The company then released the RTX 4090 in the middle of October. A month later, the RTX 4080 16GB was released on the market. Oh, NVIDIA also “unlaunched” the RTX 4080 12GB after the release of the RTX 4090.
The GeForce RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 are NVIDIA’s latest and greatest GPU based on its new Ada Lovelace architecture. These new GPUs feature 3rd generation RT cores; 4th generation Tensor cores; Shader Execution Reordering; Ada Optical Flow accelerator; dual NVENC encoders with AV1 support; and DLSS 3 or AI Frame generation technology. DLSS 3 is an exclusive feature of the RTX 40 series GPUs.
On paper, the GeForce RTX 4090 has better specs than the RTX 4080. The RTX 4090 has around 68% more CUDA cores and 50% more VRAM than the RTX 4080. It’s also using a larger AD102 GPU compared to the RTX 4080’s smaller AD103 GPU. Despite the significant difference in specs, the RTX 4090 is only 33.33% more expensive than the RTX 4080 if we base it on NVIDIA’s launch price.
You can check out the rest of each GPU’s specifications in the table below.
GeForce RTX 4090 vs RTX 4080 Specifications
|Graphics Card||RTX 4090||GeForce RTX 4080|
|Fabrication Process||TSMC 4N NVIDIA Custom Process||TSMC 4N NVIDIA Custom Process|
|Transistor Count||76.3 billion||45.9 billion|
|Architecture||Ada Lovelace||Ada Lovelace|
|Graphics Processing Clusters||11||7|
|Texture Processing Clusters||64||38|
|Tensor Cores||512 4th gen||304 (4th Gen)|
|RT Cores||128 3rd gen||76 (3rd Gen)|
|Boost Clock||2520 MHz||2505 MHz|
|Total Video Memory||24 GB GDDR6X||16 GB GDDR6X|
|Memory Clock||10501 MHz||11200 MHz|
|Memory Data Rate||21 Gbps||22.4 Gbps|
|L2 Cache Size||73,728 KB||65,536 KB|
|Total Memory Bandwidth||1,008 GB/s||716.8 GB/s|
|Connectors||3 x DisplayPort 1.4a x HDMI 2.1||3 x DisplayPort 1.4a x HDMI 2.1|
|Minimum Power Supply||850W||750 Watts|
|Total Graphics Power (TGP)||450W||320 Watts|
|PCI Express Interface||Gen 4||Gen 4|
|Release Date||October 2022||November 2022|
RTX 4090 vs RTX 4080 Performance Difference
If you are buying any of the RTX 4090 or RTX 4080 for 1080p gaming, I strongly recommend that you don’t. If you only have a 1080p monitor, do not buy an RTX 4090 or RTX 4080. You’ll be wasting your money since the resolution will limit these GPUs.
At 1080p resolution, the RTX 4090 is only around 7% faster than the RTX 4080. There’s really no point in getting either. Upgrade your monitor if you are planning on getting one of NVIDIA’s latest GPUs.
Moving up to 1440p, the RTX 4090 is around 13% to 15% faster. There is no massive difference since 1440p is close to 1080p resolution. Although, at least the GPU got a little more room to stretch its legs. However, if you are using a (super) ultrawide 1440p gaming monitor (ex. 3440×1440), the performance difference may be a bit wider.
You will see a noticeable performance gap at 4K UHD resolution, specifically 3840×2160. At 4K, the RTX 4090 is around 30% faster than the RTX 4080. The difference doesn’t account for DLSS 3 performance. So, depending on the game, scenario, or settings, the RTX 4090 could be even faster than the RTX 4080.
With the GeForce RTX 4090, you are paying around 33% more than the RTX 4080 for roughly 30% faster performance. That sounds a bit reasonable, considering that the RTX 4090 is a halo product and it’s not a value-oriented product. However, the issue may arise when considering their predecessor and what GPU you are upgrading.
Let’s talk about the pricing….
As mentioned earlier, the RTX 4090 starts at $1,600, while the RTX 4080 starts at $1,200. The RTX 4090’s predecessor, the RTX 3090, has a launch price of $1,500. There’s only a $100 increase between the RTX 4090 and RTX 3090. Not a big deal.
On the other hand, the RTX 4080’s predecessor, the RTX 3080, has a launch price of $700. There’s a $500 increase, or around 71% price increase from its predecessor. That’s huge, making the RTX 4080 (very) expensive for an 80-class GPU.
Not only that, when we reviewed the RTX 4080 and compared it to its predecessors, we found out that the RTX 4080 is around 32% to 52% faster than the RTX 3080 on average, not counting DLSS 3. Don’t get me wrong, up to 50% performance improvement, gen on gen is excellent! And the RTX 4080 gets even faster, more than double when DLSS 3 is enabled. However, if you factor in its pricing, you’re also paying more than 70% for that improvement. It sounds like a bad deal and doesn’t feel like you’re upgrading from one 80-class GPU to the next.
GeForce RTX 4090 vs RTX 4080 – So, Which One To Buy?
Based on the data I have gathered, in my opinion, the GeForce RTX 4090 is a better buy than the RTX 4080. In the first place, the RTX 4090 is a halo product, and the target market for the RTX 4090 is people who are not too concerned about spending more than $1600 for a GPU. It’s a GPU for those looking for the latest and fastest GPU in the market, regardless of its price.
The GeForce RTX 4080, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. It performs excellently, runs silently and cool, consumes less power than the RTX 4090, and so far, I haven’t heard of a burning 16-pin 12VHPWR connector with the RTX 4080. The only issue with the RTX 4080 is its current pricing. I’m optimistic that if NVIDIA adjusts the RTX 4080’s price, maybe at $999 or lower, it will sell like hotcakes, just like the RTX 4090.