Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO review: The definition of overkill

The RTX 4090 sets a new standard for 4K gaming.

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO review
(Image: © Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

The RTX 4090 is designed to crush 4K gaming, with NVIDIA rolling out exciting upgrades across the board from the RTX 30 series. The RTX 4090 is the first card that consistently delivers over 100fps in most 4K games, and it has better efficiency figures as well. For its part, Zotac did a magnificent job differentiating its RTX 4090 with a gorgeous design, and if you want the fastest video card in the world, this is the one to get.


  • +

    Incredible performance gains

  • +

    Consistently delivers 100fps in 4K games

  • +

    Gorgeous design with flowing curves

  • +

    Excellent efficiency figures

  • +

    DLSS 3 is a big differentiator

  • +

    24GB of video memory


  • -

    Very costly

  • -

    Huge design takes up four slots

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NVIDIA set out with one goal when creating the GeForce RTX 4090: make the world's fastest video card. The card is the first with the Ada Lovelace architecture, and is built on a 4nm node that offers exciting efficiency gains over the previous generation. It has an insane 76.3 billion transistors, 24GB of GDDR6X video memory, and a new AI frame generation feature that is a huge differentiator.

The standard RTX 4090 by itself is excessive, launching at $1,600, and Zotac is taking things to a new level with its high-end variant of the card, dubbed the Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO. The card has a new design aesthetic with flowing curves, the boost frequency is overclocked to 2,580MHz, and it has gorgeous RGB lighting.

I like what Zotac does in this category, and having used most of the manufacturer's cards over the last five years, I was looking forward to seeing what the RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO could deliver. In a lot of ways, the RTX 4090 reminds me of Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 4; both products are designed to showcase the best possible tech that's available right now, with no consideration for value. So if you're looking to get the best possible GPU available today, here's what you need to know about the RTX 4090.

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090: Pricing and availability

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

NVIDIA unveiled the RTX 4090 on October 12, 2022, and the card went on sale shortly thereafter. The Founders Edition RTX 4090 sells for $1,599, and NVIDIA's board partners have their own variants that cost anywhere between $100 to $300 more. The Zotac RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO that I'm reviewing is listed for $1,699.

Availability has been an issue for the RTX 4090, with the card sold out at all major retailers in North America and other key markets. As of January 2023, there are a few listings for the RTX 4090 on Amazon, but they're all upwards of $2,100. The Zotac card is going for $2,268 right now, and while availability issues may stabilize in the future as NVIDIA and its partners roll out more inventory, there's no reliable way to get your hands on the RTX 4090 at the moment.

This situation hearkens back to 2020 and most of 2021, where it just wasn't possible to get your hands on a video card at its retail figure — we have an RTX 40 series restock page that's updated whenever the RTX 4090 is back on sale, and if you need a card right now, you may want to take a look at the GeForce RTX 4080; that card has fewer cores and 16GB of memory, but it is available for $1,199 at most retailers.

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090: Hardware overview

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

The RTX 4090 showcases what's possible with the Ada Lovelace architecture, and there is a lot to like with the card. For starters, it has 16,384 cores and 24GB of GDDR6X memory over a 384-bit bus width, leading to a memory bandwidth of 1,008GB/s. The shift to a 4nm manufacturing node has allowed NVIDIA to fit 76.3 billion transistors in the AD102 silicon without any increase in size. If anything, AD102 is smaller than the GA102 silicon that's featured in the RTX 3090 Ti.

What's also new is a huge uptick in the frequencies, with the Zotac RTX 4090 starting out at 2,235MHz core and 2,580MHz boost. Obviously, all of these changes result in a higher power draw, and you'll find a TDP of 450W, with the 12+4 pin 12VHPWR connector able to deliver up to 600W of power.

NVIDIA hasn't changed things much on the connectivity side of things, with the RTX 4090 offering three DisplayPort 1.4a ports along with one HDMI 2.1a port. Hardware-level AV1 decode is intact as well, and here's a rundown of the hardware on offer:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryGeForce RTX 4090GeForce RTX 4080GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
Core Clock2235MHz2205MHz1560MHz
Boost Clock2520MHz2505MHz1950MHz
Memory Bus Width384-bit256-bit384-bit
Bandwidth 1008GB/s 716GB/s 1008GB/s/s
Transistors76.3 billion45.9 billion28.3 billion
Process Node4nm, TSMC4nm, TSMC8nm, Samsung LSI

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090: Design

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

Zotac is known for making interesting designs, and the Taiwanese brand outdid itself with the RTX 40 series. The RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO has a unique design with smooth flowing lines that differentiate it from other partner cards that follow a rectangular aesthetic. The curvy design looks very elegant, and the best part is that it isn't limited to the RTX 4090 — I used Zotac's RTX 4080 as well, and it has the same styling.

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

That said, Zotac's RTX 4090 is absolutely massive; I don't believe I've used a card that's larger than this one. Although I have a large case in the Corsair 5000T, the card's four-slot width barely squeezed into the chassis, and I had to maneuver the 12VHPWR connector carefully to avoid bending it at an angle.

The size is an issue if you're using a smaller chassis, and at 4.6lb (2.1kg), the RTX 4090 weighs a lot as well. You may want to consider mounting the card vertically, but doing so means you won't be able to get the most out of the RGB lighting.

The backplate is made out of aluminum, and it has a vented design to the right that allows air to flow through the card. You'll need to use the bundled 12VHPWR connector and plug in four PCIe 8-pin cables at the other end to power the card, and you get a dual BIOS option. Zotac's cooling solution is among the best, and the three fans do a great job ensuring the card doesn't overheat.

Overall, I like what Zotac has done here, and the curvy design combined with vibrant RGB lighting allows the RTX 4090 to stand out.

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090: Efficiency and performance

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

While the RTX 4080 is still a decent choice for gamers using a QHD gaming monitor with a high refresh rate, the best use case for the RTX 4090 is with a 4K monitor. Before we get to gaming scores, an overview of efficiency. Because of the shift to the 4nm node for this generation, NVIDIA was able to eke out much better efficiency figures. The Lovelace architecture also contributes to this, and if you're interested in reading more about the architectural changes, head to my RTX 4080 review.

In idle mode, Zotac's RTX 4090 consumes 35W of power — 15W more than the RTX 4080. That figure increases to 45W for video playback, and while gaming, you'll see the card hit 375W with relative ease. At maximum load, the card will draw 465W of power, so you will need beefy power delivery to handle the requirements of this card. And while the 12VHPWR connector was prone to melting on Founders Edition RTX 4090 units, I didn't see any issues whatsoever on my card.

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4K Gaming (FPS)
CategoryGeForce RTX 4090GeForce RTX 4080GeForce RTX 3080GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
Assassin's Creed Valhalla108.492.754.466.8
Borderlands 3112.392.575.288.7
Cyberpunk 207773.459.637.648.4
Elden Ring116.492.763.179.8
Far Cry 6138.6112.784.898.0
F1 22267.3192.1128.6160.4
Halo Infinite108.194.761.574.8
Metro Exodus184.2143.794.8126.6
Red Dead Redemption 2106.288.462.277.5
Watch Dogs Legion107.285.456.168.8

The RTX 4090 is the ultimate video card for 4K at the moment, and it runs rings around the best of the RTX 30 series: the $2,000 RTX 3090 Ti. You'll see gains in excess of 40% over the 3090 Ti, and that's astounding when you consider that the card launched in early 2022. 

There are 20% gains over the RTX 4080 as well, and the RTX 4090 is the first video card that I've used that was able to consistently deliver over 100fps at 4K. If that is what you're looking for, then the RTX 4090 is the obvious choice. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
QHD Gaming (FPS)
CategoryGeForce RTX 4090GeForce RTX 4080GeForce RTX 3080GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
Assassin's Creed Valhalla161.4136.886.798.8
Borderlands 3192.5171.8102.4146.7
Cyberpunk 2077138.3116.574.696.4
Elden Ring142.8129.493.3106.7
Far Cry 6148.7126.890.5106.2
F1 22285.1271.8194.7238.2
Halo Infinite171.8148.591.4122.7
Metro Exodus249.2233.8158.6192.5
Red Dead Redemption 2141.9122.785.398.1
Watch Dogs Legion146.7129.491.3106.1

The RTX 4090 is overkill for QHD gaming as the RTX 4080 by itself does a great job in this area, and you'll see gains of around 25% here. The RTX 4090 demolishes the 3090 Ti by posting scores that are 40% higher on average. 

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4K Ray Tracing
CategoryGeForce RTX 4090GeForce RTX 4080GeForce RTX 3080GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
F1 2287.462.338.551.1
Far Cry 698.686.262.879.8
Metro Exodus126.592.851.370.6

Enabling ray tracing leads to a huge hit in framerates, but thanks to the new cores, redesigned architecture, and the sheer hardware you're getting here, the RTX 4090 posts a strong showing. 

There's a huge gulf between the RTX 4090 and 3090 Ti in this area as well, and in titles that use DLSS 3 — NVIDIA's groundbreaking new feature that uses AI to inject frames automatically — the RTX 4090 was able to deliver sizeable gains. In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the card was able to deliver 92fps with the new Frame Generation feature, an increase of 25%.

Overall, the RTX 4090 is the fastest card currently available, and that's unlikely to change for some time. 

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090: The alternatives

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

With the RTX 4090 not available at the moment, a good alternative to consider is the RTX 4080. Zotac's GeForce RTX 4080 AMP Extreme AIRO is available for $1,379, and while you get 16GB of memory and just 9,728 cores, it manages to hold its own for 4K gaming. There's a differential of 15 to 20% between the RTX 4090 and 4080, but the upside is that you can pick up the card without any hassle.

AMD's $1,000 Radeon RX 7900 XTX is another alternative to consider. It is on par with the RTX 4080 in most situations, and you're not paying quite as much money here. Availability is a bit of an issue with the RX 7900 XTX as well, but things should stabilize in a few weeks as AMD rolls out more inventory.

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090: Should you buy it?

Zotac GeForce RTX 4090 AMP Extreme AIRO

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

You should buy this if:

  • You want the fastest video card available today
  • You need a card that delivers over 100fps at 4K
  • You want plenty of overhead for future games
  • You need NVIDIA's latest features

You shouldn't buy this if:

  • You don't intend to play at 4K
  • You want a card that has a good value

Zotac's RTX 4090 makes a bold statement from a first glance, and right now, there isn't a faster video card available. It offers huge gains across the board from the likes of the $2,000 RTX 3090 Ti, and it does so while consuming less power. NVIDIA outdid itself with DLSS 3, and the feature will prove to be a big differentiator in the future as more games start leveraging AI frame generation.

Brands are starting to release 4K OLED and mini-LED monitors with refresh rates crossing 240Hz, and the RTX 4090 is the ideal choice for unlocking the full potential of those monitors. This card is built to dominate 4K gaming, and there isn't another option that offers the same caliber of power. Of course, all that power comes at a cost, and at $1,699, the Zotac RTX 4090 is a huge investment — if you can even get a hold of one at retail.

Ultimately, it comes down to what you want. The RTX 4090 is the definition of a halo product, and you're better off with the RTX 4080 if you want a card that plays 4K games reliably. But if you want the best that NVIDIA has to offer at the moment, you'll have to shell out a premium.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia for Android Central, Windows Central's sister site. When not reviewing phones, he's testing PC hardware, including video cards, motherboards, gaming accessories, and keyboards.