Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 review: the typical performance upgrade spectrum

Metro Exodus, Dirt Rally 2, Assassin's Creed Unity.

Eight down, three to go. Before we savour the pudding that is the results of our RTX testing, let's finish the main course with the final games we tested using traditional rasterised rendering. We have Metro Exodus, Dirt Rally 2.0 and Assassin's Creed Unity; two rather new titles and one 'banana skin' game - a classic that should run well on modern hardware, yet still poses a challenge to even high-end graphics machinery.

To capture our performance data, we use the FCAT tool baked into the Rivatuner Statistics Server (RTSS). This produces a coloured border on the side of the screen, with each new element's height corresponding to the time taken to generate a single frame. We capture a direct feed of what the video card produces - the game footage with the FCAT border - and then load the resulting video file into our own bespoke analysis tools to generate metadata for each run. It's this metadata that we upload to the Eurogamer website, which we can then arrange in any combination to create the embedded performance metrics you see below.

Metro Exodus

While our previous Metro Exodus testing centred around the start of the Volga level of the game, we've shifted to the integrated benchmark which shows a greater variety of environments and technological effects. The RTX 3090 holds a familiar-looking 14 per cent lead over the RTX 3080 at 4K, dropping to 13 per cent at 1440p and eight per cent at good old 1080p. Of course, you're probably not planning on running this card at 1080p, are you?

In comparison to older GPUs, the 3090 is more impressive - although perhaps not quite enough to justify its prosumer asking price. The 3090 outperforms the Titan RTX by 38 per cent at 4K and 30 per cent at 4K, and the RTX 2080 Ti by a few percentage points more. If you've got the GTX 1080 Ti, you'll be pleased to know your $1500 is getting you more than twice the frame-rate at 4K.

Metro Exodus: Ultra, DX12, TAA

  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090

Dirt Rally 2.0

We've already highlighted in our RTX 3080 review the display and graphics features that racing games have popularised over the years - the likes of high refresh rate monitors and Nvidia Surround or AMD Eyefinity - so it makes sense to include one member of this genre in our benchmarks. The upcoming Dirt 5 is one of the first games to support 120fps playback on next-gen consoles, but that's not out until October - so for now, we're opting for Dirt Rally 2.0, another Codemasters release that delivers extremely high frame-rates, even at high resolutions.

Once again, that 14 per cent figure rears its head when we compare the 3090 and 3080 at 4K. Likewise, we have a 36 per cent advantage for the new flagship over the Titan RTX and just over double the frame-rate with the 3090 over the GTX 1080 Ti. Looking at lower resolutions, 1080p and 1440p, the 3090 and 3080 are the same margin apart, but the 3090's lead over the Titan RTX drops to around 28 per cent.

Dirt Rally 2.0: DX12, Ultra, TAA+8x MSAA

  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090

Assassin's Creed Unity

Our final game is a stone cold classic: Assassin's Creed Unity. It's hard to believe that this game debuted in 2014, as you need to run an RTX 2080 Ti or better to achieve at least 60 frames per second in our test scene, a rooftop conversation over Notre Dame cathedral from early in the game.

The RTX 3090 is the best performer we've tested yet, with a 12 per cent lead at 4K over the momentarily world-leading RTX 3080. If we test the 3090 against the Titan RTX, we get an advantage of 39 per cent for the new gun, increasing to 46 per cent if we consider instead the RTX 2080 Ti. It's GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti owners that will see the greatest benefit to an upgrade, unsurprisingly, with a 161 per cent lead for the 3090 over the 1080 and a 140 per cent advantage against the 1080 Ti.

AC Unity: Ultra High, DX11, FXAA

  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3080
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1080 Ti
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090

So the RTX 3090 is the fastest card we've ever tested - but given the price and the specs, we expected that. Some of the RTX 3080's best work came in ray-traced and path-traced games, so let's see how the RTX 3090 fares in our RTX test suite.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Analysis

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry  |  digitalfoundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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