Currently, two kings are competing for the GPU throne. The RTX 3090 from NVIDIA and the RX 6900XT from AMD.
These GPUs are extremely close in terms of raw rasterization performance. However, due to the 24GB of VRAM and swifter memory bandwidth on the 3090, the RX 6900XT lacks slightly in 4K resolution. Once you factor in ray tracing and DLSS, the definite winner this time around is NVIDIA.
If you truly want to have the best of the best in your computer, you should opt for the green team. However, getting your hands on this beast of a GPU will prove difficult, given the lack of stock and the mining craze.
If you can find a store with this GPU available, it’s wise to conduct research to determine the specific RTX 3090 model you should select.
Usually, the various models of a GPU are similar in many aspects. Even so, given that this is going to be (or at least should be) a long-term investment, it is best to find something that will satisfy your needs in every aspect. These needs include design, cooling, and performance.
Ensure you make the correct decision by looking through this list of the finest RTX 3090 variants available.
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ASUS ROG Strix Gaming RTX 3090
Interface: 2 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 2.3 HDCP SupportrnrnOC Mode boost clock – 1890 MHzrnrnGaming Mode boost clock – 1860 MHzrnrnRecommended PSU: 850 W
- Sleek and simple designrnGood stock boost clocksrnQuiet and cool
- No groundbreaking disadvantages
When it comes to high-end GPU products, ASUS always delivers. Their variants often come with a heftier price tag, but if you are a fan (no pun intended) of cool and silent graphics cards and don’t care about the extra cost, you will always end up happy with a Strix.
ASUS again delivers reliable cooling and performance with the new NVIDIA SKU lineup.
Even the RTX 3090 shows promise, considering it is a card that can easily exceed 400 W of power consumption. Five years ago, most enthusiasts and reviewers would compare that to a furnace. That is not the case this time around, even when sucking 400 W of power.
Let’s see what the ROG Strix Gaming RTX 3090 can deliver.
Believe it or not, the ROG Strix is actually a bit cheaper than some alternatives on the market right now, which is unusual. ASUS usually grabs the top spot for GPU costs. The MSRP of the Strix RTX 3090 is $1800, which is about $300 more than the Founders Edition.
That is a significant price hike but consider that all the other AIB models will come with a similar increase in cost.
Design-wise, it looks great, in my opinion. Of course, this is entirely subjective, but with so many over-the-top “gamer” designs today, it is refreshing to see something a bit simpler and more straightforward. Almost the entire card is black, with a few silver-looking aluminum accents.
However, it is a bit disappointing that the GPU shroud is made of plastic, considering this thing costs almost $2000.
In terms of cooling, we don’t think it would have made a major difference.
Performance and Overclocking Capabilities
The Strix is also impressive when it comes to performance. Out of the box, you will enjoy an 1860 MHz boost clock (Gaming mode), which is 160 MHz higher than the Founders Edition. There’s also the OC mode that can increase the boost clock to 1890 MHz. This is one of the best factory boost clocks you can find on the market.
If you are uninterested in overclocking yourself, this might be the AIB you are looking for.
Even if you are an OC enthusiast, this model from ASUS is still a good choice. The overclocking headroom is larger than most of the other variants. That said, the overall OC headroom for all GPUs of the 3000 series isn’t exactly great, so keep that in mind.
The Strix is able to reach a 1950 MHz GPU core clock, although your mileage may vary. This could bring up to a 6% performance uplift over stock when gaming at 1440p.
Thermals and Noise
With stock settings, ASUS’ RTX 3090 is relatively silent and cool, averaging around 65 °C. This is all thanks to the excellent contact between the heatsink, the GDDR memory, VRM, and the entire PCB.
You won’t be disturbed much by the sound of fans because they don’t spin up very often.
Gigabyte RTX 3090 Aorus Xtreme
Interface: 2 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0rnrnBoost core clock – 1860 MHzrnrnRecommended PSU: 850 W
- A lot of RGB optionsrnLED displayrnGreat overclocking headroom
- Average stock boost clocks
Gigabyte has mostly been consistent with its releases for the past several years, with its AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. This is especially true of their low-mid-end variants, such as the Gaming OC and WINDFORCE. However, if you are looking for the best of the best, you should not be looking at those. You should turn your focus to the Aorus Xtreme.
The RTX 3090 Aorus Xtreme is huge. It is 319 mm long, 140 mm wide, and 70 mm tall. You definitely won’t be fitting the Aorus Xtreme in an ITX case.
Unfortunately, it appears impossible to find any kind of information about the original pricing of this GPU from Gigabyte. Currently, the price on websites such as Newegg and Amazon sits at a “comfortable” $3000. However, this is caused by the mining craze and a lack of stock.
The design of the Aorus Xtreme is exactly what its name suggests: extreme from every angle. That is not necessarily bad, but we would prefer something simpler like the Gaming OC from Gigabyte or TUF from ASUS.
Overall, it is a pretty good-looking graphics card made using high-quality materials and with a lot of RGB. Not only does the Xtreme feature RGB lighting, but it also has its own LED display that can be customized as you wish. The display can be used for monitoring temps, FPS, and clocks, or you could even add your own gifs, text, etc.
Of course, you can always turn it off if you don’t like it.
Performance and Overclocking Capabilities
This is where the Aorus Xtreme falls a bit short, at least when using its stock preset. Although its name promises a lot, it doesn’t deliver anything unexpected or groundbreaking. If you are lucky, you could push the clocks even further, surpassing the ROG Strix RTX 3090.
Ultimately, we understand that adding a couple more MHz will not significantly impact gaming performance. The FPS improvement might not surpass 2% compared to the Strix card. Nevertheless, if you enjoy overclocking and aim to maximize its capabilities, this could present a favorable chance.
Remember, your mileage may vary. We have seen some reports of people pushing it over 2000 MHz without any modification or additional cooling.
If you don’t care about overclocking, you should know that the maximum factory boost clock is 1860 MHz, effectively the same as the Strix.
Thermals and Noise
The thermal performance does not seem too impressive either, especially if you plan to noise normalize the GPU. According to multiple sources, temperatures can average up to 80+ °C when the fans are noise normalized at 40 dBA.
This shouldn’t be acceptable, considering that other variants can easily stay below 70 °C under the same conditions.
EVGA RTX 3090 FTW3 Ultra
Interface: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4arnrnBoost core clock – 1800 MHzrnrnRecommended PSU: 750W Minimum
- Great coolingrnMostly positive user reviewsrnOnly 300mm long
- Over-the-top design and RGBrnAdditional HDMI 2.0 or 2.1 would be nice
EVGA is usually well respected in the PC world because the company delivers reliable, high-quality products while also providing great customer support. They may not be as prolific as ASUS or MSI on the market, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a spot on this list.
EVGA’s RTX 3090 FTW3 is a great all-rounder and should definitely be compared with some of the other options in this article.
On the official EVG website, the 3090 FTW3 Ultra is listed at $1869.99. This doesn’t come as a big surprise. We already know that most AIB variants are at least $300 more expensive than the Founders Edition.
Even so, it is $70 more than the Strix. Does EVGA have anything that can justify this kind of price? Should you really opt for this card instead of anything else? Let’s take a closer look.
As mentioned previously, aesthetics, styles, and design preferences should be completely subjective. However, on occasion, some things are objectively awful looking, and the FTW3 Ultra has this unfortunate distinction. Some people enjoy a lot of RGB, but this is overkill.
One large white translucent piece of plastic occupies a huge part of the GPU. Whether the RGB under the translucent plastic is off or on, it looks out of place, especially on a piece of technology such as this.
If you ignore that white piece of plastic, it doesn’t look bad. It has three fans, and the entire shroud is black without any weird accents, shapes, etc.
One thing EVGA has over other companies is software. The Precision X1 is the most intuitive, stable, and easy-to-use RGB software out there. That’s a huge plus in anyone’s book.
Performance and Overclocking Capabilities
EVGA isn’t exactly known for having big OC headroom on their GPUs. However, the 3090 FTW3 Ultra does sound promising for overclocking because you can easily switch to another preinstalled BIOS that allows for a higher power limit. By default, switching to the OC BIOS should gain you about 30 MHz above the stock 1800 MHz boost clock, as seen on benchmarks.
The 1800 MHz stock boost clock might not seem very impressive, but the FTW3 Ultra still holds its own pretty well against ASUS and Gigabyte in terms of raw FPS.
When it comes to cooling and noise, EVGA never misses the mark, even with a power-hungry GPU such as the RTX 3090. Out of the box, this thing stays under 70 °C without any additional adjustments.
Noise levels increase to around 40 dBa once the fans start to ramp up to 1800 RPM. However, you should also expect that from most of the other options in this article.
MSI RTX 3090 GAMING X TRIO 24G
Interface: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4arnrnBoost core clock – 1785 MHzrnrnRecommended PSU: 750 W
- Close to MSRPrnSimple triple-fan designrnBetter boost clocks than advertised
- Thermals similar to Founders Edition
When discussing the best AIB variants, we can’t just skip over MSI because they always manage to deliver in the high-end market. The flagship tier for the previous NVIDIA series, the RTX 2080 Ti Lightning Z, was one of the fastest GPUs at the time. It overclocked incredibly well.
Unfortunately, there is no Lightning Z for the 3090 (or any other 3000 series GPU, for that matter). However, we do have the Gaming X Trio 24G. We’ll see how well it fares against its competitors.
Believe it or not, this time around, this variant’s MSRP is not $300 more than the Founders Edition. In fact, it is much less than that. This MSI GPU is listed at $1,589, far cheaper than its competitors. If it also performs well, this could make it the best choice overall.
Similar to the Strix design, the GAMING X TRIO 3090 is simple and clean. On the front, there are three equally sized fans with the MSI logo in the middle. There are some jagged edges here and there, but nothing too aggressive. Even if there were, keep in mind that the front will be facing towards the bottom of most PC cases.
On the side, there is an RGB MSI Logo. There is also one line of translucent white plastic, similar to that used by EVGA, but this one is far subtler and looks good. The issue is that the LED strip inside is very poor.
There are only six LEDs behind the plastic, so the lighting isn’t properly spread out. That’s a major negative for any lovers of RGB. Keep in mind that this could be fixed in the future, or it might only affect some, but not all, models.
Additionally, if you are worried about GPU sag, there is a bracket included in the box that can provide some extra support.
Performance and Overclocking Abilities
The specifications on MSI’s official website show a boost clock of 1785 MHz. However, from several different sources, it seems the GAMING X TRIO can jump up to an average of between 1800 to 1900 MHz. This is impressive, considering the far more expensive competitors offer similar stock performance.
The GAMING X TRIO doesn’t exactly shine for overclocking, but it can deliver up to 50 MHz more if you bump up the power limits. However, the temperature increase with such an overclock is probably not worth it.
If you are chasing better overclocks, we suggest picking the Strix or the Aorus Xtreme.
The heatsink itself isn’t very impressive, which is understandable when considering the minimal price bump from the Founders Edition. In any case, the triple fan setup is enough to keep the hungry 3090 beast cool and quiet. It does manage to go slightly over 70 °C under certain workloads.
This is not the best, but it is certainly not the worst.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 – Which One Should You Get?
The question remains: Which of these GPU variants should you get?
If you are looking for something that performs well in every aspect, the ASUS STRIX RTX 3090 is the best overall. You get outstanding overclocked core clocks out of the box while staying silent and cool.
However, if you don’t care about the extra performance from factory overclocks, the MSI RTX 3090 GAMING X TRIO will provide the best value for your money.
Whatever you choose, any of these cards is a great option, and you won’t be disappointed with your decision.