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ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition Review

Massive but Powerful

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

The RTX 4000 series is officially upon us! Yesterday, we looked at the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition and were impressed by its performance. Today, we can finally pull the veil back on the rest of the 4090 market, starting with a doozy: the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition. Coming in at $1999.99, it’s one of the most expensive 4090s you can buy, so let’s take a closer look at just what it brings to the table.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $1999 (Newegg
  • Graphic Engine: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX® 4090
  • Bus Standard: PCI Express 4.0
  • OpenGL: OpenGL®4.6
  • Video Memory: 24GB GDDR6X
  • Engine Clock: 
    • OC mode: 2640 MHz
    • Gaming mode: 2610 MHz (Boost Clock)
  • CUDA Core: 16384
  • Memory Speed: 21 Gbps
  • Memory Interface: 384-bit
  • Resolution: Digital Max Resolution 7680 x 4320
  • Interface: Yes x 2 (Native HDMI 2.1a), Yes x 3 (Native DisplayPort 1.4a),HDCP Support: Yes (2.3)
  • Maximum Display Support: 4
  • NVlink/ Crossfire Support: No
  • Accessories
    • 1 x Collection Card?
    • 1 x Speedsetup Manual?
    • 1 x Adapter Cable?
    • 1 x ROG Graphics Card Holder
    • 1 x ROG Velcro Hook & Loop
    • 1 x Thank you Card
  • Software: ASUS GPU Tweak III & GeForce Game Ready Driver & Studio Driver: please download all software from the support site.
  • Dimensions: 357.6 x 149.3 x 70.1mm
  • Recommended PSU: 1000W
  • Power Rating: Quiet Mode: 450W, Performance Mode: 500W
  • Power Connectors: 1 x 16-pin
  • Slot: 3.5 Slot
  • AURA SYNC: ARGB

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition - Welcome to the 4000 Series

The ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition is ASUS’s flagship card to kick off this generation. In our research ahead of this review, it appears to be the most expensive card you can buy, so it’s right to have high expectations of its performance. We’ll dig into this more in the performance section, but — spoiler alert — this is a doozy of a card and is ready to tear through just about anything you care to throw at it. Prepare your 4K monitors.

Compared to the Founders Edition we reviewed yesterday, the Strix is bigger, bolder, and faster. It’s a factory overclocked card, so you can count on extra performance right out of the box. With that said, the actual rated clock speeds aren’t far removed from the Founders Edition. It features a Boost Clock 2.61GHz, which is a 90MHz from the Founders Edition. Putting the card into OC mode increases this to 2.64GHz. There is plenty of thermal headroom to support running OC all the time without fear of throttling or damaging the card.

You can also overclock if further, if you’re interested in manually overclocking your GPU. Given the level of power here, and the behavior of GPU Boost, I didn’t find that necessary. The card naturally extends well beyond its rated clock speeds. Because of the way GPU Boost intelligently ramps up clock speeds based on power and thermals, my sample was able to hit 2.82GHz all on its own while also running cool and not generating excess amounts of noise. ASUS also includes a dual BIOS switch on this model, so you can opt for performance mode or quiet mode to adjust the fan curve. I didn’t find the card to be very loud even under load (it blended in with my case fans very well), but you have the option to flick a switch and make it even quieter. 

Like all RTX 4090’s the ROG Strix uses a three-way processing engine composed of 16384 CUDA (shader) cores, 512 tensor cores, and 128 RT cores. That’s 52% more cores across the board in a linear scale. Collectively, this system is named Ada Lovelace, so while the last generation was the era of Ampere, this is the generation of Ada. 

These cores have also seen significant advancements that extend beyond pure numbers. The programmable shader now applied Shader Execution Reordering to prioritize work in real time, improving performance. This is especially true for ray traced games where the performance hit was (and to be fair, still is) very significant in the 3000 series. The tensor core now includes Nvidia’s Hopper FP8 Transformer Engine, which reduces the storage requirement of AI tasks and, Nvidia claims, can more than double its processing capability. Not to be left out, the RT Core has been updated with a new Opacity Micromap Engine. This speeds up alpha-tested geometry for ray tracing by double what was previously possible. 

The ROG Strix also features a huge 24GB frame buffer utilizing ultra-fast GDDR6X memory. It runs on a 384-bit bus at 10,501MHz giving it a total bandwidth of 21Gbps. Such a high capacity is overkill for even the most demanding games available today, but allows the card to pull double duty for prosumers and content creators. The speed and capacity of the VRAM allow you to work in 3D modeling apps like Blender and Octane Renderer at a much faster pace. Octane Renderer doesn’t need to borrow from your system’s memory when using the RTX 4090 and Blender allows you to keep working while your model renders in the background. For this type of application the $1,999 cost of entry can make a lot of sense as Nvidia’s workstation GPUs tend to be much, much more expensive (though, it must be said, the RTX 4090 is still a gaming card and professional creators will still likely turn to their employers for workstation cards; if you’re not able to do that, the 4090 becomes the “next best” option).

The 4000 series also brings with it a number of other major upgrades, including AV1 encoding support for better streaming and video rendering. Bigger than even those, however, is DLSS 3.0. 

DLSS 3 is Nvidia’s latest iteration on its intelligent upscaling technology. Joseph goes into great detail on this in his review but it’s the kind of next-gen evolution that makes me excited to be a PC gamers. Using its new optical flow technology, the 4090 is able to grab two sequential frames, analyze them with motion data and information from the game engine, and generate additional frames in between. Put another way, this GPU brute forces its way to improved frame rates without calling on the game engine or processor.

This could potentially be an issue, as the GPU generating frames on its own will inevitably lead to increased latency. A game may look like it’s running at 100 FPS but feel like it’s running at 50. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case in our testing at MMORPG. Nvidia pairs DLSS 3 with its Reflex technology, which drops latency back down to imperceptible levels. The result is a game that looks great and feels natural. It is an absolute winner of technological advancement and likely the next major advancement in gaming tech — the same way that DLSS 2 came to be. 

There are some caveats here. First, game developers need to support DLSS 3 and it’s still early days. You should not buy this GPU banking on having it available in lots of games from day one. There won’t be. Two, Nvidia recommends a pretty powerful system. They suggest running one of the latest processors and overclocked memory to make the most of the 4090 (which makes sense in general), but you’ll also need to run games in DX12 mode and have hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling enabled. Because of this, it also makes sense to consider running Windows 11 as well, but this isn’t explicitly necessary.

As you’ll see in other reviews, you don’t have to have all of these specs in order to enjoy DLSS 3. You can experience a benefit if you’re running DDR4 memory and a processor that’s a generation or two old. But, the more bottlenecks you remove, the more the RTX 4090 can stretch its wings. 

To find out more about the improvements this generation, I recommend reading Joseph’s review of the RTX 4090 Founders Edition. He provides an in-depth breakdown and ample testing of many of these new features to kick off the generation.  

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition -  Design and Features

Now let’s turn to the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition in particular. It is a monster of a card in more ways than one. But, if you’re like me, it’s going to be the sheer size that sets it apart most. This card dwarfs even dwarfs the Founders Edition, coming in at 14 inches long and nearly 6 inches wide, taking up 3.5 slots. That’s a solid two inches longer than the FE and nearly a half inch extra in width and depth. The card is so large that it physically would not fit into my Corsair Crystal 680X case. It’s been years since a graphics card has forced me to do a complete system rebuild.

That extra size nets you a massive, well designed cooler. Housed in a metal frame and vented backplate, the Strix uses 104mm fans, an 11mm increase from last generation, and are also 3mm taller to move more air. The middle fan also spins the opposite direction from the two on its side to decrease turbulence. The cooler also uses a patented vapor chamber design that ASUS claims can reduce temperatures up to 5C under a 500 watt load. The design also uses the shortened PCB and vented backplate design we saw debut on the 3000-series to more effectively shed heat from its finstack.

The system works incredibly well. On the back of the card is a dual BIOS switch to select between Quiet and Performance modes, which also changes the TDP between 450 watts and 500 watts. Even after several hours of benchmarking in the performance mode, the card only reached a peak temperature of 68C. Thermal throttling will never be a problem on this card. 

That kind of power draw could potentially be an issue if you’re also running a high-end processor, multiple drives, and lots of RGB. ASUS recommends a 1000-watt power supply if you’re running a Ryzen 7 or Core i7 of higher CPU, and 1200-watts if you’re using an HEDT or Threadripper. The card helpfully has a power indicator on mounted near the BIOS switch so you can tell at a glance if your system has enough juice to run it well. 

Noise levels on the card are also quite good. They blended in with my case fans well and were never a distraction on the Performance Mode. Quiet Mode was even better. Measured with a noise meter, the card generated 35dB under load in its Performance Mode and 31dB in Quiet Mode.

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition - Performance

As discussed above, the card comes factory overclocked, so it’s right to expect higher performance and improved thermals compared to the Founders Edition. This is especially true given the $400 increase over  MSRP. In this review, I’ll mainly be comparing to the RTX 3090 and 3090 Ti, but for the sake of comparison, we’ll also discuss my results as compared to what Joseph found in his review. Just bear in mind that our test benches are different, so we’ll need to consider those anecdotally when the time comes. 

Another important point concerns DLSS 3.0. It is an amazing technology that has the potential to reshape the landscape for graphics processing. Joseph provides a great breakdown in his review with comparative analysis and demonstrations of specific uplift. Since AIB cards are built upon the same platform, these subsequent reviews will not go into the same depth on the technology. Please visit his article for a thorough breakdown of exactly what you can expect from this technology. 

Synthetic Benchmarks

Test system: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, 64GB Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4-3600, 2TB Gigabyte NVMe SSD, Gigabyte AORUS X570 Master Motherboard, ASUS Thor 1200 Watt PSU, Windows 11 (most recent update).

Beginning with the synthetic benchmarks, the lead the 4090 takes is startingly huge. This is a massive jump, extending even beyond what we saw with the Founders Edition. In Fire Strike Ultra, the RTX 4090 is 65% faster than the 3090 Ti and 68% faster than the RTX 3090. In Time Spy, it was 46% and 53% faster respectively. Bumping up to Time Spy Extreme sees the RTX 4090 extend its lead again, this time coming in 56% faster than the RTX 3090 Ti and 66% faster than the RTX 3090. Finally, in Port Royal, 3DMark’s ray tracing benchmark, it devastates with a 74% lead over the Ti and a whopping 93% improvement over the RTX 3090. Wow.

Moving on to games…

All of the following tests were conducted at 4K on the highest settings unless otherwise noted. 

The RTX 4090 is a real performer in real world gaming tasks. As you can see in the charts above, it beats the RTX 3090 Ti handily. The lowest improvement was found in Borderlands 3, which is a bit of an outlier at only 12% uplift averaged across repeated testing. From there, we jump to 27% improvement in Red Dead Redemption 2, and top out with 63% uplift in Control. The average improvement from the RTX 3090 Ti to the RTX 4090 is an impressive 45%.

Compared against its equivalent last generation, things get even better. The minimum uplift is again found in Borderland 3 which increases by 19% gen-over-gen. The next lowest is Red Dead Redemption 2 with a 33% gain. The gains increase all the way to 88% in Metro: Exodus with Control coming in at 85%, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Cyberpunk 2077 at 74%, and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla at 57%. Average uplift against the RTX 3090 comes in at 61%.

The gains are even more impressive on titles that support DLSS 3. I test Cyberpunk 2077, F1 2022, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and A Plague Tale: Requiem, comparing performance with DLSS 2 against DLSS 3 with Frame Generation, each at 4K. The leaps were huge. Cyberpunk went from 80 FPS to 141 at 4K (76% uplift). A Plague Tale leaped from 116 to 182 FPS (57%). F1 and Microsoft Flight Simulator improved by 22% and 86% respectively. 

DLSS 3 isn’t perfect. I did notice some artifacting in shadows — but I was pixel-peeping. In normal gameplay, these are things I don’t believe I would even notice let alone care about. The game was responsive and fluid, just as if the game engine were generating those frames.

So how does it compare against the Founders Edition? Since Joseph and I are running very different test rigs, that’s difficult to say for certain and we would recommend that you visit some of our peers in the tech space who have both cards on hand for side by side testing. 

With that said, understanding the uplift between our respective CPUs, it’s safe to say that the differences are moderate at best. Running some numbers in the tests we shared through our review processes, the ASUS ROG Strix RTX 4090 OC should only be 2-5% faster overall. This checks out as I’ve compared my figures against some posted reviews today, but do your own research before committing to a purchase. 

What those numbers don’t factor in is overclocking. Sadly, due to a shipping delay, I did not have time to overclock this card and perform thorough testing ahead of this review. The card can be pushed to 600W of total power, so there’s ample power and thermal headroom. I intended to revisit this review in the future once that data is on hand. 

Another thing to consider about this card, as well as any RTX 4090, is the benefits they offer to creators. With 24GB of fast GDDR6X memory, they're able to offer impressive performance in creative applications. Such a large frame buffer means faster rendering and increased productivity; no longer will you system slow to a crawl because you have a scene rendering in your viewport. Likewise, each offers support for AV1 encoding and decoding, which will allow you to increase the quality of your stream without the massive bandwidth demands that would have been possible in the past. 

Final Thoughts

The RTX 4090 is a massive leap in performance and the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC only extends that. It’s a massive but powerful card with ample overclocking headroom, and doesn’t get too loud when put to the test. As we saw last generation, the out of box lead isn’t dramatic thanks to the way GPU Boost automatically extends each card’s performance. But, there can really be no question: this is a top tier choice for out of box clock speeds, thermals, acoustics, and overclock potential. It is very expensive, and there’s no doubt you’re paying extra to join ROG’s ranks, but if you’re looking for a TOTL RTX 4090, this is an excellent choice.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Outstanding performance
  • Runs very cool and quiet
  • DLSS 3 is game changing
  • Solid out-of-box overclock
  • Included GPU support to hold its weight
Cons
  • Extremely expensive
  • Huge -- may not fit in your case
  • Requires lots of power


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight