I’ve compared Nvidia’s new RTX 3090 graphics card against the 2080 Ti from last generation in games at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p resolutions as well as content creator workloads to see what the differences are.
Let’s start with the spec differences.The 3090 has around 141% more CUDA cores than the 2080 Ti and 118% more memory. The 3090’s memory is also faster, and the 3090 has higher base and boost clock speeds as well, so it’s basically better in all regards, though it does also use more power.
Of course, at the moment the 3080 is closer in price to the 2080 Ti, but I don’t have a 3080 yet, I don’t think anyone does, and although the 2080 Ti had a $1000 MSRP, it seemed to sell around the $1200 USD price point, so $300 below the 3090 launch price.
The system that I’m testing with uses the Intel i9-10900K overclocked to 5.2GHz on all 10 cores in an MSI Z490 ACE Motherboard with 32gb of DDR4-3200 CL14 memory running in dual channel.I’ve got MSI’s GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio, and my Aorus 2080 Ti to compare with.The latest drivers at the time of testing were used on both GPUs, so let’s get into the results.
Starting out with Microsoft Flight Simulator, I’ve got the newer 3090 shown by the purple bars, and the older 2080 Ti shown by the red bars.The three resolutions tested are on the left, starting from 1080p down the bottom, 1440p in the middle, and 4K up the top. In this test there was only a minor difference at 1080p, then the margin grows as we step up to higher resolutions. At 1440p the 3090 was 20% faster than the 2080 Ti, though this was the slowest result out of all 11 games tested at this resolution, then at 4K the 3090 was reaching 41% higher average frame rates.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using the games benchmark tool.Again there’s less of a difference at 1080p, as these higher end GPUs are better utilized at higher resolutions. At 1080p the 3090 was around 19% faster, but then at 4K the 3090 had a massive 57% lead - the biggest improvement seen out of all games that I’ve tested.
Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode by running through the same mission on both graphics cards.Interestingly the 2080 Ti actually had better 1% low results at 1080p, but this was the only time this happened. This game has a 200 FPS frame cap by default which the 3090 was hitting, so I suspect this may be why its 1% low was behind, given the 1% low on the 3090 was higher than this at 1440p. At 4K the 3090 is reaching a 45% higher average frame rate, even the 1% low from the 3090 is a fair amount ahead of the 2080 Ti’s average frame rate.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the games built in benchmark.The 2080 Ti was still delivering above 60 FPS in this test with the highest setting preset at 4K, but it’s no match for the 3090, which was again around 45% ahead. The difference is of course lower at lower resolutions, the 3090 is around 38% faster than the 2080 Ti at 1440p, then just 14% ahead at 1080p.
For Control I’ll start with RTX off results.At 1080p the 3090 has a modest 20% lead over the 2080 Ti, then a much higher 43% lead at 1440p, increasing further to a 53% higher average frame rate at 4K. The 3090 was still able to run the game well with above 60 FPS at 4K, making it a fair bit more playable compared to the 2080 Ti, at least with the highest setting preset that I’ve tested.With RTX on and DLSS enabled the 3090 is now 35% faster than the 2080 Ti at 1080p, compared to 20% with RTX off. The differences are nowhere near as big at 1440p and 4K though, for instance at 4K in this test the 3090 is 55% ahead of the 2080 Ti, but then in the RTX off results shown earlier the 3090 was 53% ahead. Basically RTX and DLSS in this game is running better on the 3090 than the 2080 Ti, but outside of 1080p it’s not that much better.
I’ve tested Metro Exodus with the game's benchmark tool.There are some nice gains with the 3090. At 4K we’re looking at a 45% higher average frame rate from the 3090, and around 25% higher at the lower 1080p resolution.In Death Stranding the 3090 was giving me 1% lows that were ahead of the average frame rate of the 2080 Ti at 4K and 1440p resolutions, it was close at 1080p but not quite there. Like many other games, we’re around the 46% point in terms of average FPS improvement with the 3090 at 4K.
The Witcher 3 is still being tested as you guys still voted for it in a poll I ran recently.This game saw the lowest difference between the two GPUs at 4K, though the 3090 still had a 40% higher average frame rate, and again the 1% lows from it were ahead of even the averages from the 2080 Ti at both 4K and 1440p.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built-in benchmark, and is another one you guys voted to see more of.The 3090 was 22% faster than the 2080 Ti at 1080p, 25% faster at 1440p, and 42% faster at 4K, so below average increases compared to the other games tested at the higher resolutions.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare was tested in campaign mode.The 2080 Ti was still giving an above 60 FPS experience at 4K even with all settings maxed out, but once more the 3090 pushes things to the next level by averaging 100 FPS, a 43% improvement. This was another test where even the 3090’s 1% lows were ahead of the 2080 Ti’s averages.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested using the games benchmark tool with Vulkan.The 2080 Ti was right on 144 FPS at 4K, so it’s probably still going to be pretty decent even if you actually have a high refresh 4K monitor, but the 3090 is again offering nice improvements, with a 48% higher average frame rate at this resolution, and it manages to push the 1080p result above 500 FPS, something I’ve never seen before in this test.
Overall gaming performance
At 1080p on average over all 11 games tested the 3090 was under 22% faster than the 2080 Ti.In some titles like flight simulator, down the bottom, we’re seeing a negligible difference, while others such as Control with RTX enabled at the top still had nice gains.
At 1440p the 3090 was now 36% faster than the 2080 Ti on average.As higher resolutions can typically make better use of the GPU we’re starting to see what the 3090 is capable of. Flight simulator was still the lowest improvement out of what was tested, while Control was at the top again.
At 4K the 3090 is now almost 47% faster than the 2080 Ti on average.This time Red Dead Redemption 2 was able to overtake Control for top spot with almost a 57% improvement, and even the worst result was still a 40% boost, so if you’re serious about 4K gaming something like the 3090 could be worth considering.
When we look at total system power draw from the wallthe PC with the 3090 installed was using around 29% more power, pushing the system to over 500 watts. I tested Control here, as we just saw it was around 53% faster in terms of average F PS, so 29% more power from the wall for a 53% boost to FPS, sounds reasonable to me.
Cost per frame
Let’s check out value in gaming in terms of dollar per frame.If we consider that the 3090 is $1500 USD at launch, and the 2080 Ti was meant to be $1000, then that’s 50% more money for the 3090, but the 2080 Ti wasn’t really available at that price, so if we instead go with $1200 which is closer to what it was actually available for, then the 3090 is 25% more money. This of course doesn’t factor in that people have been fire selling their 2080 Ti’s in the lead up to the 3000 series release, at the moment it’s easy to score one for under $700 on the second hand market, so I’ve listed that too.
The 3090 looks better than the 2080 Ti at $1200, but if you could actually get the 2080 Ti at $1000 in the past then the 3090 would be slightly worse from a dollar per frame perspective, and this is of course assuming the 3090 will be available at $1500, that’s still yet to be seen.
The 3090 isn’t exactly targeted towards gamers, but there’s no denying that it’s a beast in gaming. To get the most out of it though, you’re really going to want to focus on playing at higher resolutions like 1440p or 4K. If you’re a competitive 1080p gamer playing at competitive settings, in a lot of cases your CPU will probably matter more than going for a 3090 over some other decent but far cheaper GPU option. Even many GPU heavy titles tested here at 1080p didn’t see huge gains from the 3090.
Content creation benchmarks
I’ve also tested both in content creator workloads, it’s not just all about gaming!I’ve tested DaVinci Resolve with the Puget Systems benchmark, and the 3090 was scoring 42% higher than the 2080 Ti. Despite taking averages of 5 runs, the individual results were two to three hundred points different, so this might not be the most accurate test, hopefully by running it 5 times the results are decent but yeah it did vary between runs a fair bit.I’ve tested the V-Ray benchmark and saw massive gains from the 3090, which was scoring 119% higher than the 2080 Ti. This is testing compute power, and if you recall the 3090 has 141% more CUDA cores, so this sort of gain is expected in this type of workload.Blender was tested with the Open Data Benchmark with the BMW and Classroom tests. This is also relying more on compute power, I selected the CUDA option when running the test, and the 3090 was completing these tasks 125% faster than the 2080 Ti, another serious win.
In Compute heavy workloads the 3090 is able to offer significant gains, so it really comes down to what you plan on running and of course your budget, as we saw this does not translate quite as well into gaming performance, though gaming performance was still a nice step up over the 2080 Ti at higher resolutions.
I’d be interested to hear in the comments if you’re considering the 3090, let me know what you plan on using it for. In gaming the RTX 3080 will be far better value at half the price and will be a much better sweet spot for many gamers, I’ve got one of those in the mail at the moment and will test it soon.