Do You Even Need A Flagship GPU Like The RTX 4090?

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Is It Actually Worth It?

Story Highlight
  • The RTX 4090 is miles ahead of any other GPU at all resolutions with and without ray tracing enabled, making it the current GPU-king.
  • The GPU’s investment depends on your specific use case scenarios, such as high-end gaming or 3D animation.
  • On the path of upgradability, the RTX 4090 is the top choice for a future-proof PC build that can last a decade.

As a passionate gamer and video editor, I have always been fascinated by the performance of flagship PC components. NVIDIA’s RTX 4090, with its jaw-dropping specifications and performance, is bound to tempt anyone looking for the ultimate graphics processing power. However, the ultimate question remains: is the RTX 4090 worth it? With its off-the-charts pricing, power and cooling requirements, the GPU isn’t appealing to many. Let me break it down further.

RTX 4090 Vs The Rest: A Performance Benchmark

The RTX 4090 is currently the top GPU on the market with an incredible 2,520MHz boost clocks, 16,384 CUDA cores, and 24GB GDDR6X VRAM. Even so, I let it loose with a few of its competitors in several games and returned with remarkable benchmarking results. To give a preview, when against the RTX 3090, in my testing, the RTX 4090 had over 50% higher performance. Now, allow me to show you my graphs:

To explain what these graphs dictate, here’s a summary of whether the RTX 4090 is worth it:

  • All tested graphics cards provide over 120FPS on average at 1080p resolution with a diverse MSRP.
  • While the RTX 4090 has the best rasterization and ray tracing performance, the RTX 4080 Super has the best value in terms of performance and pricing.
  • The RTX 4090 is overkill for 4K 60FPS gaming with RT-enabled, while other options are more viable, such as the RX 7900 XTX.
  • The performance is bound to differ with different variants and whether the GPUs are being overclocked.

Is The Investment Worth It?

Different Graphics Cards
RTX 4090 (the biggest one) next to previous-gen cards (Image By Tech4Gamers)

There’s no sugarcoating it; the RTX 4090 is a massively expensive GPU. For many users like myself, such an investment is overkill. However, there are a few things you can look at to verify whether your investment will be worth it.

For starters, if you’re not playing AAA-titled games with a 4K 144Hz monitor, such as the ASUS ROG Swift PG27UQ, with ray tracing enabled, then the RTX 4090 should instantly be out of the question. Something like the RX 7900 XTX or the RTX 4080 Super will also suffice in lower workloads.

A use case scenario where I recommend purchasing the RTX 4090 is if you’re a professional video editor or want to render 3D outputs at an enterprise level. Such a flagship graphics card will help save a monumental amount of time on large-scale operations. Other than that, it’s merely an overkill graphics card in my books.

So, the question still stands: is the investment worth it? My response is to look at it from your own perspective. Do you want to spend $12.4 per frame according to the GPU’s MSRP of $1,599, or are you content with a slightly lower performance from an RTX 4080 Super and a significantly lower price of ~$9.6 per frame?

Thinking Long-Term With The RTX 4090

Corsair iCUE H150i Elite LCD XT RGB Display
Our $5000 gaming PC with the RTX 4090

Although I dislike the RTX 4090’s pricing, I can’t deny it: the GPU is the best choice if you don’t want to upgrade your PC again for a really long time. The graphics card will offer better long-term value due to its higher grade performance. I do not see the RTX 4090 lagging behind anything else, even with next-gen AAA-titled games at 4K resolution and with ray tracing enabled.

Moreover, you can gain an even bigger edge by slightly overclocking the GPU, although I don’t recommend it because of the RTX 4090’s already severe power-hungry nature. But, the performance output is still undeniable no matter the risks.

So, if you’re thinking long-term with the RTX 4090, your investment may be worth it. However, I doubt any graphics card will work without problems for over a decade. You can potentially find thermal paste issues, higher temperatures, or voltage increments that need addressing. Hence, I recommend keeping these issues in mind, too.

Making The Right Choice For Your Needs

Ultimately, whether you want to opt for the RTX 4090 or a mid-range option depends solely on your specific requirements and budget. For those who need the absolute best, I guarantee that currently, the RTX 4090 is completely unrivaled. However, I also deem that most gamers will find that mid-range options strike a better balance in performance and pricing.

Something like the RTX 4080 Super or the RX 7700 XT provides incredible 1440p and 4K performance, especially when their respective DLSS and FSR capabilities are enabled. Therefore, I recommend looking into other options before finalizing your build.


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