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Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090: a new level in graphics performance

The Digital Foundry video review - and how the new GPU champion delivers for 4K 120fps gaming.

The embargo lifts today on Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4090 and it's a phenomenal achievement in graphics performance - as you might hope and expect from a $1600/£1650 GPU. The full Eurogamer review will follow as soon as possible but so much work in Digital Foundry has been poured into this project that we've only just managed to finish the video review in time. With minutes left until the embargo lifts, I wanted to share the review with the Eurogamer audience - and to offer up some personal thoughts on the product.

First of all, I think it is important to stress that the power level of this product shows a leap in performance that surrounding components within a gaming PC may struggle to fully access. 1080p and 1440p metrics with this product are essentially meaningless - even with my Core i9 12900K overclocked to 5.2GHz on all performance cores, I'm finding frame-rates hitting the CPU limit. This happens even on some 4K benchmarks without ray tracing in the equation. And even if you are using RT, opting for DLSS performance mode (with an internal 1080p base image) can again see you hitting the limits of your processor.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 - the Digital Foundry video review.

Over the last few weeks, it's been really interesting just to 'live' with the card for PC gaming - I use a 4K 120Hz LG OLED CX display, and it's a good fit for the RTX 4090. I don't need to worry about settings, I don't need to worry about performance. I'd venture to suggest that for non-RT gaming, the graphics problem is 'solved'. Ray tracing? No worries there either, thanks to DLSS. However, if I did not have a 4K 120Hz display, I do wonder whether I'd need the 4090. That's my subjective opinion on gaming with the card, but the full video review above has all the numbers you need.

Since the performance data is done and our video capture analysis fully input into the Eurogamer system, here's how some of the benchmarks play out. RTX 4090's biggest generational leaps are best seen at 4K with ray tracing workloads ramped up to the max, so here's a few RT benchmarks across all major resolutions to look at.

Dying Light 2 Ultra RT, TAA, DX12

Cyberpunk 2077, Ultra RT, DX12, TAA

Control, High, High RT, DX12, TAA

There's an interesting spread of results here with Dying Light 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 at ultra RT settings delivering big, big generational gains. The Techland showcase sees a good 74 percent performance increase for the RTX 4090 over the last-gen champion, RTX 3090 Ti. This increases to a 94 percent gen-on-gen boost up against the RTX 3090. The figures also demonstrate the challenge facing AMD in terms of ray tracing performance - there's a mountain to climb there.

Cyberpunk 2077? A nigh-on 86 percent boost vs RTX 3090 Ti - and the new GPU is over twice as fast as RTX 3090. On the flipside, Control sees more modest gains in the Corridor of Doom stress test, in line with some of the boosts seen in non-RT titles.

The Eurogamer review is a whopper, currently standing at nine pages! We hope to bring it to you soon - and it'll also be followed by a deeper dive into Nvidia's disruptive DLSS 3 technology. It's content weeks in the making and I'm really looking forward to sharing it with you. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video review.

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

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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