Nvidia RTX 3090 review – is it still worth it?

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RTX 3090 review

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The Nvidia RTX 3090 may no longer be the leading force it once was, however, with its high amount of VRAM and memory bus twined with excellent performance in 4K it’s still able to be considered among the best graphics cards ever made. The first generation BFGPU has a lot to offer you provided you can find it still in 2024 in a new or discounted secondhand condition. Let’s get into exactly why in our full RTX 3090 review.

MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio 24G

  • 24GB GDDR6X memory
  • Large memory bus
  • Still powerful for gaming
  • Outperformed by RTX 4080 Super
  • Hard to find in a new condition nowadays
✓ Review summary

Why we’ve scored it a 3.5

The Nvidia RTX 3090 is still a powerful GPU for gamers and creatives but it now lags behind the cheaper RTX 4080 Super meaning you’re better off skipping this one unless you get it at a discount.

Nvidia RTX 3090 price

The Nvidia RTX 3090 debuted at $1,499 being the most expensive consumer-level gaming graphics card at the time of its release back in 2020. It was since superseded by the Nvidia RTX 4090 for $1,599 (a $100 increase) two years later. That means the original BFGPU is coming up to four years old, and we’ll touch on how it performs further down the page. By and large, you can find this video card for around $1,200 to $1,400 from retailers such as Amazon or Newegg, but we recommend shopping around.

✓ Editor’s note

Hunt for discounts

We don’t really recommend buying the RTX 3090 at its full MSRP, but if you can find it on sale or going cheap secondhand then it could be worthwhile, but if the RTX 4080 Super is cheaper then you should opt for that instead.

For a comparably powerful GPU at a similar price point, you can expect a comparable level of gaming performance from the RTX 4080 Super which is available brand-new from $999. The latter features 16GB GDDR6X memory (8GB less than the RTX 3090) but a comparable amount of CUDA cores which we’ll touch upon later. For a GPU with the same amount of VRAM, your best bet is going to be the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX which is rocking 24GB GDDR6 for $999 – cheaper than you’ll find an RTX 3090 nowadays.

Nvidia RTX 3090 specs

RTX 3090 backplate
RTX 3090 backplate © BGFG

As eluded to above, the Nvidia RTX 3090 features 24GB GDDR6X VRAM with 10,496 CUDA cores and a 384-bit memory on the GA102 GPU. It’s forged on a Samsung 8nm process with a base clock speed of 1395 MHz and a boost clock speed of up to 1695 MHz. While no longer the fastest video card on the market, its bandwidth is a still impressive 936.2 GB/s meaning 19.5 Gbps effective. Few graphics cards are as fast, and despite its age, the RTX 3090 still impresses in this respect.

As mentioned earlier, the RTX 4080 Super is the most comparable to the RTX 3090 in terms of current-generation hardware. It’s built on the AD103 die with a total of 10,240 CUDA cores for a similarly powerful video card you’ll be able to find cheaper new. Couple this with the fact that the RTX 3090 is unable to utilize DLSS 3 Frame Generation as well, so weigh your options accordingly.

Nvidia RTX 3090 key design

In terms of design, the RTX 3090 is one of the largest graphics cards ever made as a triple slot model with the Founders Edition measuring 13.2 x 5.5 x 2.4 inches (LxWxH) with a 350W TDP meaning you’ll need a minimum of a 750W PSU to ensure things run smoothly. However, this will depend on your particular variant as some partner cards are even larger, but that’s not always the case. For example, our review unit is the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio at 12.7 x 5.5 x 2.2 inches, so it’s worth measuring your chassis. You may need to consider one of the best PC cases.

It’s evident that despite its age the RTX 3090 hasn’t missed a step when going through demanding games or running intensive synthetic software

Speaking to the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio specifically, it’s an incredibly fashionable GPU despite its size and heft, coming in a little slighter than Nvidia’s own model. Its three fans should ensure enhanced airflow and you’ll need it for the extra overclocking potential going up to 1785 MHz to squeeze an extra few frames out of demanding software. Depending on the games played, this could make all the difference. Regardless of which option you opt for, it uses a 12-pin power adapter which can break out into 3x or 4x PCIe power connectors.

Nvidia RTX 3090 gaming performance

In the testing conducted by BGFG’s Sebastian Kozlowski, it’s evident that despite its age the RTX 3090 hasn’t missed a step when going through demanding games or running intensive synthetic software. Starting with gaming, the original BFGPU still offers strong figures in native 4K but doesn’t quite excel as some newer high-end Ada cards do, being outperformed by the RTX 4080 Super in the vast majority of cases in games like Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

Nvidia RTX 3090 synthetic performance

Where the RTX 3090 may no longer lead in the gaming space, its 24GB GDDR6X VRAM and large memory bus still make it a strong choice for productivity and creator-led tasks. This can be evidenced by the card’s performance in Blender 4.0 and 3DMark with strong figures in both benchmarking software even if it doesn’t quite close the gap up to the RTX 4080 wholesale.

Nvidia RTX 3090 encoding performance

Finally, we get to the RTX 3090’s encoding times and while solid, they again still lag behind the RTX 4080 Super which is able to render faster and at higher average framerates in the likes of HandBrake and through Cinebench R24 when paired with one of the best CPUs for gaming. Below you’ll see the full figures.


The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is a great graphics card in 2024 despite running on the older Ampere architecture. When paired with the right CPU, you can expect largely solid 4K gaming natively, but gamers will benefit most from the onboard tensor cores’ ability to do DLSS. You won’t be getting frame generation here, but it will add a few extra frames tipping over the 60fps mark. While you’re unlikely to find the RTX 3090 Founders Edition nowadays, some cheaper partner cards could be worth it.

A graphic showing a tiered ranking of various graphics cards, including an Nvidia RTX 3090 review, by performance and price with star ratings.
How the RTX 3090 compares against the newer crop of video cards from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia © BGFG

Alternatives to the RTX 3090

Ray tracing remains a factor where the RTX 3090 shines especially brightly over its predecessors like the RTX 2080 Ti, so if you’re upgrading some older hardware. However, as our benchmarks show, we recommend going for the RTX 4080 Super instead as you can find it brand new and cheaper, as it’s more powerful thanks to advancements with Ada architecture.

Interior of a modern gaming PC with LED lighting, featuring an Nvidia RTX 3090 graphics card, a liquid cooler, RAM, and a motherboard.
The RTX 3090 inside of our official BGFG test system © BGFG
Reasons to Buy
  • You can find it discounted
  • You want to game in 4K
  • You like to get creative
Reasons to Avoid
  • You can buy the RTX 4080 Super for less
  • You want to use DLSS 3

Is the RTX 3090 worth it?

While the Nvidia RTX 3090 was originally a powerhouse in the GPU space, time hasn’t been entirely kind to it as high-end, and cheaper Ada graphics cards have since replaced it. If you want the best graphics card on the market you’ll want to go for the RTX 4090 instead, and something of a similar power level would either be the cheaper RTX 4080 or RX 7900 XTX.

Aleksha McLoughlin is Hardware and News Editor for PC Guide and she oversees buying guides, reviews, news, and features on site. She was previously Hardware and Affiliates Editor at VideoGamer.