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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090: Initial reviews show that native 8K gaming is a step too far for the US$1,499 card in many triple-A games

The RTX 3090 is a gaming beast, just not a native 8K one. (Image source: NVIDIA)
The RTX 3090 is a gaming beast, just not a native 8K one. (Image source: NVIDIA)
The RTX 3090 may be an exceptional card, but it is not powerful enough for native 8K gaming across the board according to multiple reviews. The US$1,499 card can handle 8K gaming using DLSS 2.1, but that is not 8K gaming in the truest of senses.

The NDA surrounding RTX 3090 reviews has been lifted, if you have not read our Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Trinity review already. NVIDIA pitches the RTX 3090 as an 8K gaming card, so it is being reviewed as such. However, the advent of 8K DLSS 2.1 muddies the waters of the RTX 3090's 8K capabilities somewhat.

As Linus Tech Tips demonstrates in its review, 8K DLSS 2.1 adds more detail than running a game at native 4K - but it cannot reach the levels that native 8K offers. The differences between 8K DLSS 2.1 and native 8K would be irrelevant in the context of the RTX 3090 if it could run games well in either resolution. GamersNexus and even Linus Tech Tips have shown that the opposite is true, though.

DLSS 2.1 makes 8K playable for the RTX 3090 in many games. (Image source: Linus Tech Tips)
DLSS 2.1 makes 8K playable for the RTX 3090 in many games. (Image source: Linus Tech Tips)

As we discussed in our review, the RTX 3090 can maintain playable framerates at 8K in games like Doom Eternal and Forza Horizon 4. It is an entirely different story in other popular triple-A titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Red Dead Redemption 2, where the Founders Edition cannot average even 35 FPS. Linus Tech Tips reported an average framerate of 28 FPS in Wolfenstein: Youngblood too, but this jumps to 70 FPS at 8K DLSS 2.1 Ultra Performance.

Frametimes are equally poor at native 8K in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider. As the graph produced by GamersNexus below demonstrates, frametimes at 8K on high graphics vary from a low of 4/5 ms to almost 90 ms - a plot that GamersNexus describes as 'one of the worst...that we have ever set our eyes upon'.

Undoubtedly, the RTX 3090 is an excellent card for professional applications and 4K gaming. As we have shown in our review, the RTX 3090 consistently outperforms the TITAN RTX and the RTX 2080 Ti by a wide margin. However, it is not powerful enough to play many triple-A titles natively at 8K, despite NVIDIA's claims to the contrary.

Frametimes do not look great in Shadow of the Tomb Raider in native 8K on the RTX 3090. (Image source: GamersNexus)
Frametimes do not look great in Shadow of the Tomb Raider in native 8K on the RTX 3090. (Image source: GamersNexus)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 09 > NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090: Initial reviews show that native 8K gaming is a step too far for the US$1,499 card in many triple-A games
Alex Alderson, 2020-09-25 (Update: 2020-09-26)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.