Best RTX 3090 graphics card 2023
A comprehensive look at some of the best RTX 3090 AIBs the market has to offer!
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Although now surpassed by the RTX 4090 of the Ada generation, the first flagship of the Ampere series has still a lot to offer. As such we take a comprehensive look at some of the best RTX 3090 graphics cards out there. Although part of the older generation, it’s still one of the best graphics cards around. It brought gaming performance in modern titles to 4K. This brought the great new performance to the gaming market from Nvidia.
Like the RTX 3080, the 3090 comes equipped with 2nd Gen ray-tracing cores, 3rd-generation tensor cores, and Nvidia’s latest Ampere architecture. However, with an additional 14GB of GDDR6X VRAM, the RTX 3090 is much more potent in other areas. In the following guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best RTX 3090 AIBs to see which stacks up best when it comes to gaming, thermals, aesthetics, and overall value for money.
Our top picks
Best RTX 3090
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio 24G
1785MHz Boost Clock (OC)
TRI FROZR Cooling Solution
- One of the most attractive RTX 3090s
- Powerful cooling system
- High clock frequency
- Stellar build quality
- On the higher end of the 3090 price spectrum
Like our RTX 3080 article, the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio gets the top spot here once again – beating rivals by showcasing better cooling, greater aesthetic appeal, and overall value for money.
The design of the 3090 is very similar to what we’ve seen in the past, utilizing an almost identical triple-fan cooling solution as previous iterations. The RTX 3090 is almost identical to the 3080 in design, only differing in size slightly (323 x 140 x 56mm). Whilst the cooling solution may look the same as previous generations, there is a clear performance difference that can be found when diving a little deeper into this GPU’s design.
The Gaming X Trio comes equipped with the newly-designed MSI Tri Frozr 2 cooling solution, equipped with Torx Fan 4.0 technology and more efficient core pipes. The Torx Fan 4.0 technology is carefully designed to help focus airflow over the heatsink, providing greater heat dissipation. Core pipes have been machine-designed for maximum contact over the GPU, helping to spread the heat along the full length of the heatsink. These two design features, ultimately, have a huge impact on the thermal performance of this improved Frozr design. Especially as the card pushes the frequency to a 1785 MHz boost clock.
Like the RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio, the 3090 also comes equipped with the very good build quality. MSI has used a similar anti-bending metal strap on the 3090 which adds a tonne of rigidity to this card’s design. That being said, you’ll still want to ensure your motherboard has reinforced PCIe lanes and a solid mounting bracket on the case. This thing is heavy.
Best 3090 for gaming
ASUS TUF Gaming Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 OC
1770MHz Boost Clock (OC)
Axial-tech Triple Fan
- Competitively priced
- 2nd Gen Ray Tracing Cores
- Extremely efficient cooling solution
- One of the quieter 3090 AIBs
- Not the most attractive RTX 3090
Next up we have the hugely impressive ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3090. It comes to the table sporting a stylish aesthetic that hasn’t been overpowered with RGB or unnecessary design additions – we’re looking at you EVGA. Whilst the ASUS TUF Gaming isn’t the most expensive 3090 on shelves, it’s still one of the most efficient when it comes to cooling.
The new thermal design ASUS has opted to use has been carefully designed to get the highest levels of thermal dissipation from this card. The fans are newly designed with Axial-tech which, in its simplest form, helps to more accurately direct the flow of air when it’s needed most. The fans rely on dual ball bearings to not only ensure consistent performance but also increase the longevity of the design when compared to sleeve alternatives. Furthermore, ASUS decided to utilize reverse rotation for the center fan which provides less turbulence and a quieter experience.
Cooling aside, the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3090 is a 2.7 (3) slot card that measures 299 x 126 x 51 mm. Whilst it’s on the smaller side of the RTX 3090 size spectrum, it’s still a massive card when compared to older generations. That said, with a carefully thought-out design and some cool aesthetic features, this card really does look the part.
Best 3090 for mining
Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 GAMING OC 24G
1755MHz Boost Clock (OC)
WINDFORCE 3X Cooling System
- Excellent build quality
- Quite and efficient cooling
- Decent out the box clock frequency
- Subtle yet attractive RGB
- Cooler is very large
Gigabyte is one of the biggest names in the GPU game, bringing high levels of build quality and performance to the table. Thankfully, the RTX 3090 Gaming OC 24G ticks both of those boxes and more. Like the other cards in this guide, the RTX 3090 Gaming OC 24G comes to the table sporting exactly the same design as its little brother, the 3080. The only additional extra is the SLI compatibility which can be found at the base of the card.
Overall, however, the Gigabyte RTX 3090 looks pretty damn good. The logo can be found on the top of the card and is the only area that accommodates any form of RGB – unlucky RGB lovers. That being said, the RGB is extremely bright and definitely adds to your build’s overall design. Like other cards on this list, Gigabyte has given both the 3080 and 3090 the exact same thermal design. That said, it has been bolstered from previous generations in order to handle the additional heat the 3090 generates.
The Windforce 3X cooling system has been equipped with this card, providing outstanding levels of heat dissipation. Like the other cards in this guide, the thermal design offers up stop-start technology, a feature that switches off the fans when the card drops below 55 degrees. Whilst this is fairly standard in modern-day graphics cards, it’s still a nice feature and brings noise levels right down.
Out of the box, the Gigabyte RTX 3090 Gaming OC 24G has been clocked to a fairly modest 1755MHz. That said, this card is more than capable of pushing past this figure when put under maximum stress. Fusion 2.0 also allows users to customize and synchronize the lighting to their exact requirements.
A metal backplate has been equipped with this GPU to give it an additional boost in the build quality department. Whilst this may seem overkill, it’s actually not. The Gaming OC is an extremely heavy card – one of the heaviest we’ve tested – and requires every bit of reinforcement it can get.
Best 3090 for rendering
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Trinity
1695MHz Boost Clock (OC)
IceStorm 2.0 Cooling Solution
- New 11-blade fan for increased airflow
- Stays cool
- Freeze fan stop technology
- Excellent build quality
- Can become noisy
Last but not least, is the ZOTAC RTX 3090 Trinity. This extremely attractive GPU ticks a lot of the right boxes, but most importantly, it ticks the affordability box. Whilst it might not be the fastest (out-the-box clock frequency), it still provides excellent cooling, great aesthetics, and pretty good build quality.
From a design point of view, it’s pretty hard to knock the ZOTAC. This thing looks fantastic. It comes equipped with the Ice Storm 2.0 cooling solution which, not only looks great but operates in a very efficient manner. This is also one of the only RTX 3090s that offers RGB on the rear of the card. Whilst it is only subtle, it definitely adds a lot to the look of this GPU.
Looks aside, the ZOTAC 3090 has been equipped with a hugely impressive cooling system. The Ice Storm 2.0 is a triple-fan configuration – like every other 3090 in this guide – which offers stop-start technology and a ‘flow-through’ backplate which is in keeping with the Founder’s Edition.
At the rear of the card, ZOTAC has installed an additional metal plate which adds a ton of extra rigidity to this card’s overall makeup. As far as inputs go, the ZOTAC brings 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a and an HDMI 2.1 to the table, giving users access to a wide array of display options.
How we chose the best RTX 3090 GPU
Choosing the right components for our best of guides, whether it’s the best gaming monitor or best gaming headsets, is never an easy task. It requires hours of product research, performance benchmarking, and user feedback to get anywhere close to a definitive conclusion. If you aren’t tech-savvy and struggle to put time aside to go through the above requirements, you may end up purchasing a GPU that isn’t right for you or your build.
Fear not though, friends! Here at WePC, we like to take the stress of all that research away and transform it into an easy-to-follow, complete buyers guide. That’s right, our team of PC enthusiasts has done all the hard work, so you don’t have to.
How we test
Testing the products we recommend is a huge part of the overall selection process in our best of guides. It’s a way to make sure what we recommend is the absolute best option in its specific category. To be sure a product is “the best,” it must show excellent performance in our tests and display better qualities than the competition it faces.
Most of the products we recommend here at WePC have gone through a strict testing process that involves everything from price and looks to performance and efficiency. Each product is pushed to the limit to see how it performs under intense stress to make sure it warrants the top spot.
Doing this enables us to provide you with the most accurate review of how the product performs and, ultimately, whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash. And you can check out our full methodology on out how we test GPUs page.
Best RTX 3090 buying tips
When building or upgrading your PC, especially when it comes to a new GPU, there are certain factors that must be considered. By educating yourself on these fundamental factors, you will not only ensure the next GPU you purchase is right for you, but you’ll also get the best bang for your buck too.
Below are some of the key factors to consider when looking to purchase a new RTX 3090:
Performance is, without a doubt, the number one thing to consider if you’re thinking about purchasing Nvidia’s new GPU. Whilst this isn’t a huge problem when referencing the RTX 3090 – it is the world’s most potent GPU after all – it’s still wise to ensure you aren’t overspending on a product that isn’t optimized for the job.
There was a lot of noise around the RTX 3090’s launch that suggested unrivaled gaming performance and 8K gaming with DLSS + ray tracing. However, since its release, it’s been well-documented that the RTX 3090 isn’t quite as impressive as we first thought – for gaming anyway.
Whilst the RTX 3090 can perform 8K gaming with DLSS (not true native 8K), the early framerates seem to suggest a pretty sluggish performance. Furthermore, when dropping back down to mortal resolutions like 1440p and 4K, the RTX 3090 doesn’t show nearly enough performance gains when compared to the RTX 3080 – a GPU that is currently on shelves for under half the price of the 3090.
That being said, it isn’t all bad, the RTX 3090 is extremely efficient when it comes to 3D rendering and other workstation-type workflows.
If you’re happy with the performance, the next thing to consider is the price. This GPU comes to shelves at an eye-watering $1500+, putting it into the upper echelons of the GPU pricing spectrum. Although these days you can expect the card to be lowered down with the successors around.
It’s not just the cost of the GPU you need to be concerned with either, there are a whole host of additional costs to factor in if you do decide to purchase an RTX 3090. That’s right, we’re talking about a new case that has the capacity to hold a GPU of this size and weight. Chances are also high that you’ll need to invest in a new PSU that can power a beast of this power as well.
Keeping your internal temperatures as low as possible is something every PC user should concern themselves with. High temperatures within your PC case can cause your hardware to run inefficiently and even reduce overall life expectancy too.
The RTX 3090 is a hugely powerful card, meaning it needs a hefty cooling solution to match. Luckily, this is where most GPU AIBs excel, in the cooling department.
Lastly, we have the physical size (and weight) of the GPU. The RTX is one of, if not the biggest GPU we’ve seen – aptly named the BFGPU by Jensen himself. But now surpassed by the Ada cards and their ever-growing power of them.
If you’re happy with the price and performance that the RTX 3090 comes equipped with, the next thing you need to consider is whether or not your PC case has the capacity to accommodate such a beast.
In the following guide, we’ll be posting physical measurements of each AIB RTX 3090. Simply check to make sure your case can handle its size before finalizing your purchase.
RTX 3090 specifications
Based upon Nvidia Ampere architecture, the GPU used in the RTX 3090 is the GA102-300. Made with Samsung’s 8nm process it creates a die that is 628mm² in size. Which itself is made up of 28.3 billion transistors.
It comes with 10,496 shading units or CUDA cores, along with 82 RT cores, 328 TMUs, 112 ROPs, and an L1 cache of 128 KB (per SM). These work at a set core clock. For the 3090 the base clock of 1,395 MHz as well as reaching boost clock speeds of 1,695 MHz. However, AIBs will likely have their own overclocks on the card and set them higher than stock for performance increase.
The VRAM in the 3090 consists of a whole 24GB of GDDR6X memory. Along with a 384-bit memory bus, it means there is plenty of room for all the data to pass through. Especially when it is clocked at 19.5 Gbps giving the total throughput of the VRAM to 936.2 GB/s. All together making the card strong for premium high-resolution gaming or work applications.
All of those components need quite the power to run. This means the card comes with a TDP of 350W. Requiring a cooling solution to keep it all working without thermal throttling. As such even the Founder’s Edition comes with a three-slot cooler.
Understanding the specifications
Familiarizing yourself with a GPU’s specs should be one of the first things you learn when looking to upgrade your PC. By understanding the key specifications of a GPU, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on what hardware to pair it with, decide whether or not this GPU is right for your needs, and ultimately, make sure you aren’t wasting money in the long run.
Below are some of the main specs that could affect you and your purchasing decision:
First up we have clock speed – or frequency. Like most hardware, the microprocessor inside a GPU comes with a predetermined clock frequency. The clock frequency is an indication of how fast your GPU performs certain tasks and processes.
Whilst a lot of companies like to flaunt their out-the-box clock frequencies, this shouldn’t be the defining factor when you purchase a GPU. Modern graphics cards almost always go above and beyond the listed clock boost frequency. Take the RTX 3090 for instance. Whilst manufacturers post clock boost frequencies of 1700 MHz, the GPU can actually go as high as 2000 MHz when under full load.
And there are models that offer overclocked versions of the cards. These go above and beyond of what standard is offered as to show something different and stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to high-end GPUs that are capable of workstation tasks, understanding VRAM and its role is extremely important. That said, VRAM also plays a big part in determining how well a GPU can run higher resolutions – such as 4K and 8K.
VRAM, in its simplest form, is your GPU’s video RAM (random access memory). It has a direct impact on how well your graphics card performs and how much data it can store and access at any one time – in any order and at any time.
VRAM works in the exact same way your system RAM does, it stores important data used by a game or application you’re running – allowing the GPU to utilize that data at any time. This means the GPU doesn’t have to go between the CPU and your primary drive to collect the data – it already has it readily stored to be used with immediate effect.
TDP (Thermal Design Power) refers to the maximum amount of heat your GPU cooler can dissipate when at maximum capacity. TDP is more important when looking at purchasing a new CPU – mainly because users have to purchase a standalone CPU cooler.
With a GPU, the manufacturers already supply an efficient cooler rated to deal with the heat the GPU creates. In rare cases where individuals want to overclock to extremely high levels, more efficient cooling solutions may need to be installed – water cooling for example.
TDP also gives you a good indicator of how much heat it will be adding to the interior of your case. Although it does also affect the board’s power and how much energy will be drawn by the system.
Hopefully, this article has given you a greater understanding of the better RTX 3090 AIBs and should steer you in the right direction when it comes to purchasing time. Ultimately, we would not recommend this card for gaming over the RTX 3080. It simply doesn’t offer the levels of performance you’d expect for such a large jump in the pricing. With plenty of headroom at lower resolutions, it wouldn’t make sense to spend so much more on it.
However, if you do CAD work or highly taxing workflows, the RTX 3090 could definitely be a GPU to consider. Or even the more powerful RTX 3090 Ti that offers even faster speeds.
Other GPU guides
How much should a RTX 3090 cost?
The RTX 3090 has an MSRP of $1,499 USD/£1,399. And it might drop a bit below that now but not too much. Especially as the newer Ada cards have been coming out, it has meant we have seen the pricing recover and improve over the time when the shortage was happening.
Is RTX 3090 the most powerful GPU?
Although when released the RTX 3090 was the most powerful GPU, it no longer is. That spot was first taken over by the 3090 Ti in its generation but now has been succeded by the much bigger RTX 4090 which is the most powerful gaming GPU.
Is the 3090 overpriced?
Now that the new set of graphics cards has been released, the older-gen choices are a good choice to pick. As the 3090 is a powerful card still and the prices have now fallen in line. Meaning you can get a much better deal on them if you find any stock of them.
What is the best RTX 3090?
For the best RTX 3090, there is the MSI gaming X Trio. With both high quality and build and good clock rates, it means the performance of the card stands out from the pack. This is also true for the ASUS TUF, which is a good choice of card to pick from.