Our 8K test system
PC built by Chillblast
Motherboard: Asus ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING
CPU cooler: Noctua NH-U14S
Case fans: Noctua NF-A14 PWM Chromax 140 mm
Processor: Intel Core i9-9900K, 8 cores / 16 threads
GPU: Nvidia GeForce Titan RTX / GeForce RTX 3090
Storage: 500 GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 PCIe
Second storage: 2 TB Samsung 860 QVO
Power: Corsair RM850x 80 PLUS Gold 850W PSU
Case: Fractal Design Vector RS tempered glass
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z RGB 32 GB DDR4 3200 MHz
Monitor: Dell UltraSharp UP3218K
The monster Nvidia RTX 3090 is here, and the company claims that its powerful new graphics card will finally bring the reality of 8K gaming to anyone who can afford this mighty GPU.
Claims like that got us really excited, as many of you will know that for the past year we’ve been testing 8K gaming with the Nvidia Titan RTX, previously Nvidia’s most powerful ‘consumer’ card.
We say ‘consumer’ as the Titan RTX retails for $ 2,499 (about £ 2,000, AU $ 3,600), putting it out of the reach of most people. Meanwhile, the RTX 3090 costs $ 1,499 (£ 1,399, roughly AU $ 2,030).
That’s still an awful lot of money, but it’s a lot less expensive than the Titan RTX. If the RTX 3090 can indeed beat the Titan RTX when it comes to 8K gaming for $ 1,000 less, then Nvidia has done a remarkable job. Especially when the Titan RTX struggled to play a lot of games on 8K.
So to test how well the RTX 3090 compares to the Titan RTX, we hooked up the new GPU to our 8K test setup and revisited the games we tried before with 8K.
Nvidia RTX 3090 vs Nvidia Titan RTX: specifications
Before we get into the games, let’s take a look at the specifications of the two GPUs:
Nvidia Titan RTX:
- Architecture: Nvidia Turing
- Video memory: 24 GB GDDR6
- Memory interface: 384-bit
- Boost clock: 1770 MHz
- Tensor cores: 576
- CUDA cores: 4608
Nvidia RTX 3090:
- Architecture: Nvidia Ampere
- Video memory: 24 GB GDDR6X
- Memory interface: 384-bit
- Boost clock: 1700 MHz
- Tensor cores: 328
- CUDA cores: 10496
While there are some areas where the Titan RTX is ahead of the RTX 3090, the specifications of the newer GPU generally show a decent boost in potential performance. Even where things look the same, like the amount of memory, the RTX 3090 trumps it, thanks to the faster GDDR6X memory in use.
Again, the fact that the RTX 3090 is so much cheaper than the Titan RTX, yet could offer better performance from a gaming perspective, is great. However, that by no means makes the Titan RTX an outdated card. It’s also worth noting that the Titan RTX wasn’t really aimed at gamers – it was more for digital professionals and content creators, and when compared to professional GPUs, the price was much more appetizing.
Anyway, enough about specifications. Let’s talk games.
Nvidia RTX 3090 vs. Nvidia Titan RTX Round One: Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 remains one of the most graphically impressive games ever made, so when it hit PC last year we couldn’t wait to see if the Titan RTX could handle it with 8K.
As it turned out, it struggled, at just 18.65 frames per second (fps) with the maximum graphics settings applied.
Things improved when we turned the graphics to low, at 26fps. Still below the playable 30fps threshold, but not quite the slideshow we expected.
However, things have improved quite a bit with the RTX 3090. By setting absolutely everything to Ultra or the highest settings, it scored 19.02 fps. A jump, but far from playable. With a bit of tweaking and a few options limiting to medium or high, but mostly sticking to ‘Ultra’, we got much better results, averaging 30.74 fps for the game. For many people, that’s a perfectly playable frame rate, although others will argue that paying $ 1,499 for a GPU to hit just 30fps is still 8K unrealistic.
However, by reducing all settings to the bare minimum, you get a much better frame rate of 44.08 fps, with even highs of 52.8 fps. That’s close to the magical 60fps mark, but there are sacrifices you have to make in terms of graphics fidelity (it’s starting to look like a PS2 game in places).
Nvidia RTX 3090 vs Nvidia Titan RTX round two: Doom Eternal
Doom Eternal is our next game, and when we tried it earlier this year we were impressed with how well the Titan RTX handled it at 8K, with settings on ‘Ultra Nightmare’ reaching an average of 39.9fps. Not a bad score considering the high graphics settings and hectic gameplay, but not quite reaching 60fps.
Meanwhile, the RTX 3090 offered an incredible improvement. On Ultra Nightmare settings, it managed to hit an average of 51.6 fps at 8K and even broke the 60 fps barrier in some places. Doom Eternal is a fast and frenetic shooter that also looks fantastic, so it’s very impressive that the RTX 3090 gets close to 60fps at 8K on the highest graphics settings.
We tested the game through some frantic firefights and wide open spaces, so the RTX 3090’s performance is very promising here. The performance boost over the Titan RTX is pretty impressive too.
We also tried Doom Eternal on the lowest graphics settings. Unlike Red Dead Redemption 2, even on low, Doom Eternal still looks very nice, and this allowed the RTX 3090 to hit an average of 57.7 fps. Quite a jump, but still just below the 60fps target. Still, this is one of the most common cases of the RTX 3090 offering 8K at 60fps – something the Titan RTX never achieved.
Nvidia RTX 3090 vs Nvidia Titan RTX round three: Gears 5
However, the RTX 3090 absolutely smashed it, hitting an incredible 58.8fps on average on Ultra settings. Certainly, during some particularly tough firefights, with explosions and debris flying around, we saw drop into the low 50’s, this is still an incredible feat.
Better yet, by simply lowering the graphics settings to ‘High’, the RTX 3090 achieved a solid 60 fps in our testing. This means 8K at 60 fps is a reality, and you don’t have to make too many compromises when it comes to graphics fidelity as the game still looks great.
With a little tweaking, we think you can have a mix of high and ultra settings and hit 60fps. Impressive things indeed.
One thing to note is that this is the only game here that we don’t have on the exact same hardware compared to the Titan RTX. Still, these results provide a good idea of how much better the RTX 3090 is at 8K gaming.
Nvidia RTX 3090 vs Nvidia Titan RTX Round Four: Death Stranding
Death Stranding was one of the most impressive 8K experiences we had with the Titan RTX when we tested it. While each graphics setting was set to the highest level, the Titan RTX struggled at an average of 23.3 fps by enabling Nvidia’s DLSS technology, which uses the Tensor Cores of an RTX card to improve high-resolution performance thanks to AI and machine learning, we found that with the ‘Quality’ setting (and everything else set to maximum, as usual), the performance went up to 29.9 fps, with a minimum of 25.7 fps and a maximum of 32 fps.
In fact, by switching DLSS to the ‘Performance’ setting, the game averaged 39.8 fps at 8K, with a maximum of 49 fps.
When we set the graphics to low, but with DLSS on, we averaged 50.9fps with the Titan RTX, and in some parts of our testing the card hit 57.2fps, temptingly close to 8K at 60fps on the older card.
So, as you can imagine, we had high hopes for the RTX 3090’s 8K performance in Death Stranding, especially since a new Ultra Performance DLSS preset has been added specifically for 8K, specifically for the GPU.
The improvements are immediately apparent: the RTX 3090 achieves an average frame rate of 29.4 fps on the highest settings without DLSS. So this is pretty much an out-of-the-box playable 8K experience. But let’s tinker.
First thing we did was enable DLSS on ‘Performance’ and leave everything else as it was. The results were drastic, with an average frame rate of 55.7fps and a maximum frame rate of 60.5fps – another 8K game hitting the 60fps dream.
We then tried it with the ‘Ultra Performance’ DLSS setting. This is the new setting added specifically for 8K resolution and the RTX 3090. The results are even better, with an average frame rate of 59.9 fps at the highest graphics settings. These are really impressive things as it means that you are playing a modern graphically beautiful game at 8K resolution and 60fps.
Most important of all, this is the first time we feel like we could actually play the entire game at 8K resolution, rather than down to 4K for a more consistent experience.
Sure, with a lower resolution and a high refresh rate monitor, you could get much higher frame rates than 60fps with the RTX 3090 and Death Stranding, but keep in mind there aren’t any 8K gaming monitors out there right now. The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K monitor we are using is strictly a productivity monitor, with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz.
Overall, with Death Stranding, Nvidia has really delivered on its 8K gaming promise.
Nvidia RTX 3090 vs Nvidia Titan RTX: conclusion
So, when it comes to 8K gaming, does the Nvidia RTX 3090 deliver? Excitingly, yes, many games we’ve tried so far have. It shows a marked performance boost in many games compared to the more expensive Titan RTX, and many games are now achieving that magical 8K @ 60fps experience we were looking for.
However, not all games have achieved that, and many games require you to make big sacrifices when it comes to graphics.
However, as Death Stranding proves, that might just be the real star of the show DLSS. This feature, which has been enhanced with Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 series GPUs, makes a huge difference, allowing games to be played at 8K and 60fps without any noticeable loss in graphics fidelity.
As DLSS continues to evolve and more games take advantage of it, including upcoming blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077, it looks like the 8K gaming future may finally be here with the RTX 3090. We will be testing all the latest games at 8K when they are released.