RTX 4090 vs. RTX 3080: Which is the Better Buy?

Nvidia RTX 4090 vs RTX 4080 16gb

RTX 4090 vs. RTX 3080: Which is the Better Buy?

It is a difficult proposition to resist the urge to upgrade your PC hardware. After all, who doesn’t love the honeymoon period of new hardware? Performance is suddenly snappy and old games get a fresh coat of paint when you can turn on all the bells and whistles. Rising prices can certainly put a damper on said upgrades.

NVIDIA’s Ada line of GPUs has seen a significant price hike, but is it worth the upgrade? Let’s take a look at the RTX 4090 and how it stacks against the RTX 3080 in terms of performance, pricing, and real-world usage. The jump in performance from Ampere to Ada might surprise you, and the pricing certainly will.

RTX 4090 vs. RTX 3080: Side-By-Side Comparison

RTX 4090 vs RTX 3080


FeatureRTX 4090RTX 3080
CUDA Cores163848704
Core Clock Speed2235 MHz1450 MHz
Boost Clock Speed2520 MHz1710 MHz
Manufacturing Process4 nm8 nm
Thermal Draw Power450 watts320 watts
InterfacePCI-Express 4.0 x16PCI-Express 4.0 x16
Maximum RAM Amount24GB10GB
Memory Bus Width384-bit320-bit
Memory Bandwidth1,008 GB/s760.3 GB/s
High Efficiency
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
  • Has 16,384 NVIDIA CUDA Cores
  • Supports 4K 120Hz HDR, 8K 60Hz HDR
  • Up to 2x performance and power efficiency
  • Fourth-Gen Tensor Cores that offer 2x AI performance
  • Third-Gen RT Cores
  • AI-Accelerated Performance: NVIDIA DLSS 3
  • NVIDIA Reflex low-latency platform
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11/30/2023 11:10 pm GMT

RTX 4090 vs. RTX 3080: What’s the Difference?

If it isn’t immediately apparent, the RTX 4090 thoroughly outclasses the RTX 3080 in all possible technical specifications. The RTX 4090 is the flagship card for Ada, so this comes as little surprise. The RTX 3080 isn’t a slouch, however.


The RTX 4090 takes the lead quite ably when playing games. Performance is nearly double that of the RTX 3080 on 1080p resolution with a handful of popular games. Riot’s first-person shooter Valorant sees the RTX 4090 at 895 frames per second versus the RTX 3080’s 509 frames per second. The ever-green Minecraft likewise sees astounding performance gains. The RTX 4090 runs popular game at 2367 frames per second, while the 3080 follows behind at 1490 frames per second.

During testing, both GPUs were tested on a test bench to eliminate any possible discrepancies. The RTX 4090 simply has more of everything. There are more CUDA cores, transistors, RAM, and any other possible factor you can think of present for it. This comes at the cost of a far steeper power draw. The RTX 4090 draws a substantial amount of power, with the TDP measuring in at 450 watts compared to the 320 watts of the 3080. This equates to needing a far more substantial power supply unit for the RTX 4090. Granted, if you’re paying for a 4090, then an adequate power supply likely isn’t an issue.


Retail cost is where the RTX 3080 outclasses the RTX 4090. The higher-end Ampere GPU is readily available for under $1,000. Compare that to the astoundingly high cost of the RTX 4090 and it creates quite a gulf. The price-to-performance ratio of both GPUs heavily skews towards the RTX 3080 as well.

While the RTX 4090 is the pinnacle of performance currently available on the consumer market, it still has a suggested retail price of $1,599 compared to the $699 of the RTX 3080. Some smart shopping and deal hunting can net a cheaper 3080, but the prices on the 4090 are still sky-high thanks to a combination of limited stock and high demand.

If you don’t mind waiting and keeping tabs on your favorite retailers, this is a moot point. If the cost is a concern, then the RTX 3080 takes an effortless lead.

AI Performance

Both of these GPUs make for ideal gaming GPUs. They thoroughly trounce things at 1080p, with popular games absolutely being crushed under their performance. There are plenty of other utilities for GPUs, however.

One popular usage is in machine learning and artificial intelligence. NVIDIA has long held the advantage for AI work, as their CUDA cores have become something of a standard for hardware-based parallel processing.

There is a multitude of ways to test GPUs for their viability in AI, and a popular benchmark is the Resnet50 utilizing FP16. The RTX 4090 scores an astonishingly high 1720 points. The very same test on the same test bench nets a result of 1022 points for the RTX 3080. As a tool for AI, the RTX 4090 actually comes off as quite affordable. Most major firms are going to be hiring off-site processing farms, but for lighter work for smaller firms, the RTX 4090 is a great choice.

RTX 4090 vs. RTX 3080: 6 Must-Know Facts

  • The RTX 4090 is the fastest GPU on the market
  • RTX 4090 is more power efficient than the RTX 3090
  • The 4090 is a great entry-level AI GPU
  • The RTX 3080 has great price-to-performance ration
  • RTX 3080 readily handles VR and 4K gaming
  • The RTX 3080 is very power efficient

RTX 4090 vs. RTX 3080: Which One is Better? Which One Should You Use?

If you’re already running an Ampere card, it is difficult to recommend the 4090 at its price point. Sure, performance is astounding and you’ll be future-proofed for quite some time. If you have the budget to spare and are upgrading from a GTX 1000 or RTX 2000 series GPU, then the 4090 is an astounding choice. You’ll be set for gaming for the foreseeable future, and it readily handles 1080P and 4K without sweating.

If you are looking to upgrade but budget is a consideration, then the RTX 3080 is a fine choice. It isn’t as powerful as the newer GPUs, being two years old, but is still a very relevant GPU. What it lacks in performance it more than makes up for in terms of cost. Further, there is actually a supply of RTX 3080s to choose from, while the RTX 4090 is still in short supply with waitlists persisting since shortly after its introduction.

  1. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
    • Has 16,384 NVIDIA CUDA Cores
    • Supports 4K 120Hz HDR, 8K 60Hz HDR
    • Up to 2x performance and power efficiency
    • Fourth-Gen Tensor Cores that offer 2x AI performance
    • Third-Gen RT Cores
    • AI-Accelerated Performance: NVIDIA DLSS 3
    • NVIDIA Reflex low-latency platform
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    11/30/2023 11:10 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the RTX 3080 be used for ray tracing?

The RTX 3080 does quite well with ray tracing. At 1080p you can get some very noticeable graphical improvements in games like Cyberpunk 2077. It does falter a bit at higher resolutions, which isn’t surprising given how taxing ray tracing can be for contemporary systems.

On the same hand, the RTX 4090 absolutely knocks ray tracing out of the park. If you’re looking for something that can handle 4K and ray tracing at the same time while maintaining playable framerates, it’s well worth a look. Granted, the performance boost comes at quite a hefty price.

Can you use the RTX 4090 for SLI?

NVIDIA has actually discontinued SLI. Honestly, with the performance of either the RTX 3080 or the RTX 4090, it is hard to imagine needing a second GPU to coax out more frames. SLI was a fairly inefficient means of gaining more performance when the technology behind GPUs was less refined. On a GTX 780, it made perfect sense, but with an RTX 4090, it would just be a waste.

The dimensions of the RTX 4090 also come into play. Saying it is a massive GPU would be an understatement, as it readily dominates most of the available room in an ATX case.

Does the RTX 3080 handle Modern Warfare 2 well?

Modern Warfare 2 can be a somewhat demanding game, but the RTX 3080 is more than capable of handling it. If you are on a GTX 1080, you might notice some performance issues, but the RTX 3080 handles it quite easily.

The RTX 4090 absolutely crushes the game. It handles playable multiplayer frame rates while also outputting the game at 4K on higher detail settings. Either choice you make though, you’ll be more than adequately covered with the GPUs covered in this guide.

Is the RTX 4090 good for working with AI?

The 4090 isn’t a specialized GPU for AI, but it does quite admirably work with it. It lacks the CUDA cores of the more specialized enterprise GPUs that NVIDIA has available, but it is far cheaper than those. If you’re looking for an affordable solution and are running a smaller business than some of the massive corporations working in the field, a selection of 4090s should more than handle things.

If you’re looking at the 4090 to augment your output at an autonomous driving firm, it might be worth looking at the more intensive enterprise GPUs out there.

Do either of these GPUs support multiple monitors?

Both do, although you may need adapters to handle additional outputs.

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