Windows Central Verdict
The ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC is very much like a sleeper vehicle. It has some serious horsepower under the hood but looks like your typical desktop GPU. Attach a 4K monitor with a high refresh rate and you'll be able to enjoy one of the best PC gaming experiences.
+ Understated design
+ Impressive performance
+ DLSS 3 is magic
+ Excellent thermals
+ AV1 support
4K is almost required
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We're reviewing the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition, which is a stripped-down version of the flagship ROG Strix RTX 4090. The GPU has the same Ada Lovelace streaming multiprocessors, 4th Gen Tensor Cores, 3rd Gen RT Cores, and a trio configuration of redesigned Axial-tech fans, but it lacks some of the extra flashy stylings from the flagship card.
Utilizing military-grade capacitors that are rated for 20,000 hours at 105 degrees Celsius, the TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC is designed out the gate to perform well under load and last for many years through intensive gaming. It's a huge card, taking up 3.65 PCI slots, yet the PCB is rather small when compared to the behemoth cooler.
Let's take a closer look to see if this truly is one of the best graphics cards you can buy. Hint: yes, it is.
ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC: Price and specs
The ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition has an MSRP of $1,799.99. This is a colossal amount of change to spend on just one component, but the specs speak for themselves. It's worth bearing in mind that the RTX 4090 from NVIDIA is capable of running the latest and most demanding PC games at 8K with stable frame rates.
That sort of performance alone won't come cheap. And with rising energy prices across Europe and beyond, simply powering this 450W TDP graphics card is going to require considerable funds.
|Header Cell - Column 0||ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition|
|Manufacturing process||TSMC 4N|
|Boost clock speeds||2565 MHz (OC: 2595 MHz)|
|Memory speed||21 Gbps|
The RTX 4090 will be listed at various retail partners starting October 12. With the slowdown in demand for graphics cards and supply recovery after global lock downs, availability should be more reliable than the mess we experienced with RTX 30 series cards.
ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC: Ada Lovelace
The name of NVIDIA's next-gen GPU architecture is Ada Lovelace, paying tribute to the English mathematician and writer. With a new TMSC 4nm manufacturing process and the inclusion of countless more processing cores, NVIDIA promised big gains with the RTX 40 series of cards.
As well as the new architecture, NVIDIA worked hard on its DLSS technology, launching version 3 alongside the new RTX 40 GPUs. There's even AV1 decode support included for content creators. A drawback to all these improvements to the GPU is power requirement and thermal management.
As you'll see in this review with the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition, AIB partners are having to bolt on huge cooling solutions to a relatively small PCB to keep thermals in check. Then there's the power requirement with a recommended PSU output of 850W for the RTX 4090 GPU.
|Header Cell - Column 0||ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition||ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3090 OC Edition|
|Manufacturing process||TSMC 4N||Samsung 8nm|
|Transistors||76.3 billion||28.3 billion|
|Boost clock speeds||2565 MHz (OC: 2595 MHz)||1740 MHz (OC: 1770 MHz)|
|Memory||24GB GDDR6X||24GB GDDR6X|
Comparing the new ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition to the outgoing TUF Gaming RTX 3090 OC Edition showcases just how much of a jump this generation of GPUs is. With Ada Lovelace, NVIDIA has managed to increase the CUDA core count by more than 50%, from 10,496 to a whopping 16,384.
Streaming processors are up from 82 to 128, tensor cores have almost doubled from 328 to 512, and ray tracing cores have been boosted from 82 to 128. The same 24GB of GDDR6X is present with a 384-bit memory bus. All this results in a considerable performance gain on paper.
ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC: Design
The design of the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC GPU is understated but fitting for most gaming PC builds. The metal back plate is stunning, and so too is the metal shroud — you'll struggle to find any plastic here. The entire package feels really premium and well-built, but all this metal does make it a little heavy, especially when looking at how small the PCB is.
The weight can at least be addressed with the included stand. This is an ingenious little accessory that can be adjusted with a small wheel. Should you extract the adjustable center tube out, you'll be greeted by a small Philips screwdriver. The bottom of the stand is magnetic, allowing it to "stick" to a metal chassis.
Back to the monstrous RTX 4090. As mentioned, the entire GPU takes up 3.65 PCI slots, so planning around other expansion cards and smaller PC cases needs to be carefully considered.
Like previous generation NVIDIA cards, ASUS makes good use of a passthrough for the large fin array. For cooling, ASUS uses three 104mm Axial-tech fans with dual-ball bearings. They're capable of spinning up to 2,260 RPM and can push through 63 cubic feet of air per minute.
We'll be testing this for the performance section of the review, but ASUS states the three fans are at a standstill when the card is cooler than 50 degrees Celsius. When playing less demanding games, it'll be possible to have a near-silent experience, perfect for those who prefer to play without headphones.
Going back to the RTX 4090 PCB from ASUS, which is what everything is attached to, it measures 145mm x 220mm. Considering the dimensions of the GPU are 348.2mm x 150mm x 72.6mm, it's amazing just how small the PCB is. NVIDIA and ASUS have managed to pack some serious performance on this board.
ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC: Performance
To power the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090, you'll need to use the included 8-pin splitter, which combines four 8-pin PCIe power inputs for a single 12-pin GPU connection. With the card itself being able to pull upwards of 500W alone, having a reliable power supply is a must.
850W is considered the minimum for an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 PC build, but we'd recommend 1000W to be on the safe side and then 1200W for an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 processor. These estimations should be valid with a few accessories and other components installed.
To effectively test the RTX 4090, we installed the GPU on our Ryzen 7000 test bench. This PC consisted of the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU, 32GB of DDR5-6000 RAM, and the RTX 4090 GPU. The results speak for themselves.
4K gaming has been included with marketing materials since the RTX 20 series but performance has always been a hit or miss with low frame rates. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 is changing this and the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition is absolutely fantastic with a 4K monitor.
NVIDIA's DLSS 3 was promising on paper when it was announced alongside the new RTX 40 series, but seeing it in action is nothing short of incredible. Looking at the numbers for Cyberpunk 2077 and we can see a good 45% boost in frame rates by simply going from DLSS 2 to DLSS 3, with ray tracing activated.
Temperatures were rock solid thanks to the new cooler design. Even under heavy synthetic benchmark loads, we barely saw the card hit 60 degrees Celcius. This depends on which profile you have set with silent mode resulting in approximately 6 degrees Celcius gain, hitting 66 degrees.
ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC: Competition
The problem with reviewing the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition as an NVIDIA GPU is the lack of any competition from AMD or Intel. It truly is in a league of its own compared to older RTX 30 graphics cards, as well as competitor brands. If we're to compare this specific card against the RTX 4090 Founder's Edition, the additional cost goes into better thermal and computing performance.
We're expecting to see AMD's next-gen graphics cards later this year, which could bring something similar in line with what the RTX 4090 offers. For 4K gaming, there's no other choice. This is the card to buy. Looking at other RTX 40 series GPUs like the controversial RTX 4080, there's a clear difference in price and performance.
ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC: Should you buy?
You should buy if ...
- You have more money than sense.
- You want the very best PC gaming experience.
- You usually play games at 4K resolutions (or higher).
- Your PC is equipped to handle the RTX 4090.
You shouldn't buy if ...
- You don't feel comfortable paying more than $1,500 for a GPU.
- You don't play PC games at 4K ... yet.
- You don't have a powerful enough PSU.
So long as you have a powerful enough PSU that can output enough power and have enough cash to cover the cost, the RTX 4090 is a superb GPU from NVIDIA. It's a flagship for a reason and the sheer number of cores found on this card allows it to perform wonders at 4K and even 8K resolutions.
The ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 4090 OC Edition graphics card is a brilliant aftermarket option for those who want a more subtle and sleek GPU for their PC. It has all the bells and whistles of Ada Lovelace without the RGB bling of the ASUS ROG Strix line-up.
Whether you're into first-person shooters or strategy games, this GPU is going to make it possible to crank all the settings up high at 4K and higher. I'm a big fan of ASUS graphics cards and this is yet another winner to add to the list.
Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.