Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition: It works hard, it plays hard

The 24GB of VRAM makes it a stunning value for prosumers.

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Borderlands 3

Borderlands is back! Gearbox’s game defaults to DX12, so we do as well, and it gives us a glimpse at the ultra-popular Unreal Engine 4’s performance in a traditional shooter.

borderlands 3 Brad Chacos/IDG

Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade is a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It’s a technological showcase, built around the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. It uses Rebellion’s custom Azure engine. We test using the Vulkan renderer, which is faster than DX12.

strange brigade Brad Chacos/IDG

Total War: Troy

The latest game in the popular Total War saga, Troy was given away free for its first 24 hours on the Epic Games Store, moving over 7.5 million copies before it went on proper sale. Total War: Troy is built using a modified version of the Total War: Warhammer 2 engine. This DX11 title looks stunning for a turn-based strategy game. We use the more intense battle benchmark scene.

total war Brad Chacos/IDG

F1 2020

The latest in a long line of successful racing games, F1 2020 is a gem to test, supplying a wide array of both graphical and benchmarking options, making it a much more reliable (and fun) option that the Forza series. It’s built on the latest version of Codemasters’ buttery-smooth Ego game engine, complete with support for DX12 and Nvidia’s DLSS technology. We test two laps on the Australia course, with clear skies on and DLSS off.

f1 2020 Brad Chacos/IDG

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider concludes the reboot trilogy, and it’s utterly gorgeous. Square Enix optimized this game for DX12, and recommends DX11 only if you’re using older hardware or Windows 7, so we test with DX12. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses an enhanced version of the Foundation engine that also powered Rise of the Tomb Raider and includes optional real-time ray tracing and DLSS features.

sotr Brad Chacos/IDG

GTA V

This DX11 game isn’t really a visual barn-burner like the (somewhat wonky) Red Dead Redemption 2, but it still tops the Steam charts day in and day out, so we deem it more worthy of testing. RDR2 will melt your graphics card, sure, but GTA V remains so popular years after launch that upgraded versions of it will be available on the next-generation consoles. That’s staying power.

We test Grand Theft Auto V with all options turned to Very High, all Advanced Graphics options except extended shadows enabled, and FXAA. GTA V runs on the RAGE engine and has received substantial updates since its initial launch.

gtav Brad Chacos/IDG

Rainbow Six Siege

Like GTA V, Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege still dominates the Steam charts years after its launch, and it’ll be getting a visual upgrade for the next-gen consoles. The developers have poured a ton of work into the game’s AnvilNext engine over the years, eventually rolling out a Vulkan version of the game that we use to test. By default, the game lowers the render scaling to increase frame rates, but we set it to 100 percent to benchmark native rendering performance on graphics cards. Even still, frame rates soar.

rb6 Brad Chacos/IDG

Next page: 8K gaming benchmarks

At a Glance
  • The extravagant GeForce RTX 3090 is a poor value for pure gamers, but a stunning value for creators who can use its massive 24GB of memory. Nvidia's Founders Edition cooler is exceptional.

    Pros

    • Amazing value for professionals
    • Fastest graphics card for gaming
    • Massive 24GB memory capacity
    • Exceptionally cool, quiet Founders Edition design
    • NVLink support
    • HDMI 2.1, AV1 decode makes some 8K gaming possible
    • Nvidia CUDA and OptiX supercharge content creation

    Cons

    • Poor value for pure gamers
    • Very large, potentially limiting multi-GPU deployment
    • 8K gaming is very hit and miss
    • Only 1 HDMI 2.1 port
    • 12-pin power adapter is ugly
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