An Nvidia RTX 4090 leak reveals brutal performance, but what about efficiency?

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Nvidia is expected to release the next-generation GeForce RTX 40-series GPUs later this year, but a new leak gives us a sneak peek at the possible performance of these long-awaited graphics cards. According to notable Twitter leaker @kopite7kimi, Nvidia’s upcoming RTX 4090 desktop GPU scored over 19,000 points in the 3DMark Time Spy Extreme synthetic benchmark test. If this leak is accurate, it makes the RTX 4090 the fastest Nvidia gaming card yet, almost doubling the score of a standard RTX 3090 and beating the current leader, an LN2-cooled EVGA RTX 3090 Ti Kingpin Edition, in 30%.

It is a solitary and unspecific benchmark, so you should not take it too seriously. However, the source has a respectable track record and previous rumors suggested that the next GPU could be capable of making such significant gains. In fact, this same leaker wrote in May that the RTX 4090 can “achieve twice the performance” of the RTX 3090, and an even earlier rumor suggested we could get a 2.5x boost for the same power. Gamers hoping for the ultimate should be interested in the rumored Time Spy Extreme benchmark: 2x magnification is enormous compared to the 10-20% performance gains we see in a typical upgrade.

There’s only one asterisk to put in that score, something that’s sure to make some AMD fans laugh. If you have been aware of the rumors of the RTX 40 series, you probably share our concern: it is rumored that Nivdia’s upcoming flagship cards will reach a total wattage of 600 watts of power consumption (or 450 watts for the card itself). If the RTX 4090 really requires that much power, then this benchmark isn’t as impressive an achievement as it sounds. What we really want is efficiency gains along with performance improvements.

If those rumored power specs are true, then heat management will also be a serious concern. Vendors will need to be smart with their cooling systems to prevent the card from overheating. Larger heatsinks and more effective fans will be paired with larger power supplies to keep RTX 4090-equipped systems running. Not to mention, Nvidia could be at risk of scrutiny from government bodies given the revamped emphasis on energy prices and the reduction of electricity consumption.

Other rumors suggest that the RTX 4090, which will be the first Lovelace GPU released, will hit clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz or slightly higher. When Nvidia launches its RTX 40-series GPUs later this year, possibly in October, it will be competing against AMD’s Radeon RX 7000-series, the first based on a new RDNA 3 design.