In November 2022, gaming on a GeForce RTX 3090 delivers excellent 4K performance across the board; from competitive shooters like Apex Legends to ray-traced open-world single-player RPGs like Cyberpunk 2077. With the recent arrival of NVIDIA’s latest GPU technology built on the new Ada architecture - the GeForce RTX 4080 and GeForce RTX 4090 combo - we’re now getting a glimpse at some truly next-level 4K gaming cards. Powerhouses that easily beat the RTX 3090 in every test and benchmark you can think of while showcasing some incredible efficiency gains.
Especially when it comes to the GeForce RTX 4080, which as per our review, “can perform 35% faster than the GeForce RTX 3090 in 4K whilst using 25% less power”. Impressive stuff. And so we’re updating our RTX GPU Showdown to include three cards. The flagship GPU from the GeForce RTX 30 Series launch from 2020, the flagship GPU from the GeForce RTX 40 Series launch, and the fresh on-the-scene GeForce RTX 4080. A massive 18 game head-to-head in 4K covering standard rendering, DLSS, and ray-tracing.
This 18-game benchmark head-to-head covers a range of titles too, from high-end AAA cinematic blockbusters to racing games, multiplayer titles, and even stuff with ray-tracing and DLSS. We’ve also included a DLSS 3 head-to-head, which will kick things off. Plus, 3D Mark figures too.
An explosion of performance numbers and data. Let’s get to it.
Both cards were paired with the following hardware:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
Motherboard: MSI MAG X670E Carbon WiFi
Memory: Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 5200MHz
The DLSS 3 Games in 4K
Using the Quality Super Resolution setting, the following games (and Unity Tech Demo) were tested to compare native 4K rendering with DLSS 3 Frame Generation. As the feature is exclusive to the new GeForce RTX 40 series and requires specialised hardware to enable, the following results exclude the GeForce RTX 3090.
- No matter if it’s the GeForce RTX 4080 or the GeForce RTX 4090, Frame Generation is a game changer delivering insane performance increases.
- Triple-digit Cyberpunk 2077, A Plague Tale: Requiem, and Microsoft Flight Simulator with detail settings dialed up are mind-blowing.
- Even using the DLSS Quality mode it’s a 2.7X increase for the RTX 4090 and the RTX 4080 in Cyberpunk 2077.
- DLSS 3 performs just about the same across both GPUs, delivering the same uplift in performance in relation to native 4K rendering.
- Across 4K Native and DLSS 3 the performance improvement on average when stepping up to the RTX 4090 over the new RTX 4080 is around 25%.
- DLSS 3 takes full advantage of Ada’s improvements to overall efficiency. Take Microsoft Flight Simulator as an example, on the RTX 4080 the power draw is close to 300W in native 4K rendering. As the performance increases to a sizable 120 fps with DLSS 3 Frame Generation, the power usage actually drops to around 275W on average.
The 4K Benchmarks
The following titles were tested in 4K with DLSS set to ‘Quality’ mode to maintain like-for-like visuals compared to native. Likewise, we cranked the detail settings all the way up because these cards represent the most powerful entries in their RTX line-up. And they’re built for 4K gaming.
Games tested: Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Borderlands 3, Control (RT + DLSS), Death Stranding (DLSS), DOOM Eternal (RT + DLSS), Far Cry 6 (RT), Gears 5, Gears Tactics, God of War (DLSS), Horizon Zero Dawn (DLSS), Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (RT + DLSS), Metro Exodus Enhanced (RT + DLSS), Red Dead Redemption 2 (DLSS), Rainbow Six Extraction (DLSS), Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Division 2, Total War: Warhammer III, and Watch Dogs: Legion (RT + DLSS)
- Across all titles tested in 4K the GeForce RTX 4080 performed around 25% faster on average compared to the GeForce RTX 3090 whilst using a lot less power.
- Some titles see massive gain gen on gen, like The Division 2, Borderlands 3, and Gears Tactics performing up to 35% faster on the RTX 4080 versus the RTX 3090.
- This increase makes the RTX 4080 more than capable of uncompromised 4K gaming.
- That said, the GeForce RTX 4090 presents another level of performance over the RTX 4080, offering an additional 30% bump in performance over the RTX 4080.
- Across all 18 titles the GeForce RTX 4090 performed on average 77% faster than the GeForce RTX 3090, a 1.8X increase in 4K performance gen on gen.
- On the high end of the spectrum Gears Tactics saw a whopping 2.2X increase in performance, with The Division 2 close behind with a 2.0X increase and Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1.9X.
- A number of titles ran faster on the RTX 4090 using less power than the RTX 3090 too. Ada is, yeah, impressively efficient.
3D Mark Benchmarks
- For the RTX 4090 with Fire Strike (DirectX 11) we see a 2X improvement in 4K performance over the RTX 3090.
- The RTX 4080 with Fire Strike (DirectX 11) we see a 1.5X improvement in 4K performance over the RTX 3090.
- Port Royal, which tests ray-tracing, sees the RTX 4090 showcase its true power - a 2X increase over the RTX 3090. The RTX 4080 isn’t too far behind, maintaining its 1.5X increase in performance over the RTX 3090.
- The RTX 3090 was the ray-tracing king until the RTX 40 Series arrived, so its results here are still impressive.
- There are diminishing returns for the tests that render in 1080p and 1440p which is reflected in in-game performance, where the gap between the three GPUs becomes a little closer.