GamingGPUs

NVIDIA RTX 4080 vs 4090: Which 4K Gaming GPU Should You Get?

The RTX 4090 now starts at $2,000. That makes it twice as expensive as the 4080. Does it justify that price tag?

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4090 is (by far) the fastest gaming GPU on the planet. With over 16000+ shaders spread across 128 SMs on the AD102 and 24GB of GDDR6X memory, it delivers potent 4K performance within a 450W envelope. The RTX 4080 features the smaller AD103 die with 9,728 shaders or 76 SMs paired with 16GB of GDDR6X memory and a TBP of 320W.

There’s also the matter of the price. While the GeForce RTX 4080 (Super) retails at $999, the RTX 4090 debuted at $1,599. However, these days, $2,000 seems to be the new starting price for the Lovelace flagship. That makes the 4090 twice as expensive as the 4080. But is it worth that much dough?

Test Bench

  • Mobo: ASUS Z790 Maximus Hero
  • Cooler: Lian Li Gld 360
  • CPU: Intel Core i9-13900K
  • Memory: 16GB x2 DDR5 6,000 MT/s CL 30

Performance Testing Notes

  • 1% lows represent a value that is higher than only 1% of all recorded FPS. This is a good indicator of performance in taxing scenes as it gives the value where the GPU or CPU struggles the most.
  • We decided to test the RTX 4080 and 4090 at 4K and 1440p (for ray tracing). The games are heavily GPU-bound in these scenarios, removing most CPU bottlenecks.

The above GPU-busy charts from Hitman 3 are a good demonstration of this. At 1080p, the GPU-Busy Deviation is 39%. This means that the CPU takes up to 39% more time to finish its render work, leaving the GPU idle, hence bottlenecking it. At 1440p, it drops to 23% and is almost eliminated at 4K (4%). Hence, 4K testing is optimal for comparing high-end GPUs.

NVIDIA RTX 4080 vs 4090 4K Performance

2160p or 4K brings down the fastest graphics cards. In Asobo’s “A Plague Tale: Requiem,” the GeForce RTX 4080 falls short of the 60 FPS mark with lows of under 50 FPS. The RTX 4090 fares better, averaging 72 FPS with 61 FPS lows.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a much closer affair. The RTX 4080 approaches an average of 100 FPS, while the 4090 delivers a bit over it. The lows are within the margin of error.

Cyberpunk 2077 runs notably faster on the GeForce RTX 4090, with an average lead of 26% over the RTX 4080. The extra shaders, cache, and bandwidth come into play in this one.

Dying Light 2 is 36% faster on the RTX 4090, with the lows exhibiting a similar delta versus the RTX 4080. Regardless, both GPUs deliver close to 100 FPS with high enough lows.

F1 2022 doesn’t run well on NVIDIA hardware. So much so that even the Radeon RX 7900 XTX is faster than the RTX 4090 in this title and across all resolutions. However, all three cards average over 150 FPS with lows close to 130 FPS.

Ghostwire Tokyo isn’t too different, leaving a paltry 7 FPS deficit between the GeForce RTX 4080 and 4090. This game suffers from unusually low lows, a side-effect of a vast open world with tons of complicated skyscrapers drenched in a stormy rainstorm.

Hitman 3 runs exceptionally well on the RTX 4090, with a lead of ~33% over the RTX 4080. Fortunately, both graphics cards deliver lows of 110 FPS+ throughout the benchmark.

Hogwarts Legacy was a stuttering mess at launch but following several months of updates, it runs smoothly on our testbench. It still requires 16GB or higher graphics memory at 4K, leaving a massive gulf between the RTX 4080 and 4090.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a well-optimized title, averaging 186.5 FPS on the RTX 4090 and 145 FPS on the RTX 4080. A 29% deficit is nothing to scoff at.

The Callisto Protocol is a whopping 40% faster than the RTX 4080 on an RTX 4090, averaging 84 FPS and 119 FPS, respectively. Like Ghostwire, the lows are considerably lower than they should be (just 31.8 FPS on the former).

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, another AMD title, loves the extra cores and cache on the RTX 4090. The Borderlands spinoff is 37% faster than the RTX 4080 on the 4090.


Average 4K Rasterization Performance

Ray Tracing Benchmarks on the next page…

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Areej Syed

Processors, PC gaming, and the past. I have been writing about computer hardware for over seven years with more than 5000 published articles. Started off during engineering college and haven't stopped since. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Divinity, Torment, Baldur's Gate and so much more... Contact: areejs12@hardwaretimes.com.
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