Nvidia's RTX 4090 is rumored to top 2.75GHz in terms of 'actual max' clock speed

Nvidia GPU render
(Image credit: Nvidia)

The next gen GPU hype train is leaving the station. Rumors are coming almost daily, which is as good an indicator as any that the launch is drawing closer. It’ll be some time before we get actual benchmark results, but if these latest rumors turn out to be accurate, the Nviida RTX 4090 in particular is shaping up to be an absolute monster.

The latest 'news' comes from serial Nvidia leaker Kopite7kimi. The key piece of information are the expected clocks of the RTX 4090. A 2,235MHz base and a 2,520MHz boost clock would put it far ahead of the clocks of the RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition at 1,670MHz and 1,860MHz respectively. 

Do bear in mind that a future fully enabled AD102 equipped RTX 4090 Ti will likely feature even higher clocks and come with a higher TDP, alongside its full 18,432 complement of CUDA cores. A future 4090 Ti is probably the source of the extreme TDP numbers that have been floating around over the last few months, but would also likely be held in reserve as a response to any extreme RDNA 3 performance.

Observant owners of RTX 30 series cards would know that their rated boost clocks are often exceeded, and that appears to be the case with the RTX 4090, too. Kopite7kimi claims that the RTX 4090 can boost to over 2,750MHz in terms of its "actual max" clock speed. 

That’s a pretty incredible number. Third party cards might even be able to hit the magical 3GHz level if their cooling and power delivery is up to it, especially on something like the RTX 4080 with fewer cores.

It's worth stating that GPU frequency isn't unprecedented, however. AMD has been able to get its RDNA 2 GPUs running at close to the 3GHz mark without overclocking. We've had the Radeon RX 6950 XT running at 2.55GHz as standard, and the Radeon RX 6500 XT will go all the way up to 2.8GHz.

Still, this is all making the RTX 4090's reported 450W TDP—dare I say it—almost reasonable, but that’s only if the performance of the card turns out to be as good as these specs suggest. An RTX 4090 will blow way the RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti just on the basis of the extra cores and higher clocks alone, and that’s without taking any architectural improvements into consideration. 

The potential is there for 100% intergenerational uplift, though personally, I believe that’s too high an expectation. I’d love to be surprised though.

Looking beyond the RTX 4090, there are the much higher volume RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 cards. The RTX 4080 reportedly comes with 10240 cores and 16GB of 21Gbps GDDR6X across a 256-bit bus isn’t really all that different from an RTX 3090. The RTX 4080 will likely be well ahead in performance. Its 420W TDP is higher than I would expect though, given the 450W rating of the much faster 4090. If its priced well enough, the 4080 will certainly be extremely popular.

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The RTX 4070, however, seems a bit of an odd one if the rumours are right. An xx70 class card with a 160-bit bus feels out of place on a 2023/24 era card. 18Gbps memory goes a way to offsetting that but 160-bit sounds very much mid-range. With 7168 cores it's surely likely to beat an RTX 3080, but is 10GB of memory enough as 4K gaming and large texture packs become more commonplace? 

Time will tell, but of the three cards leaked here, the RTX 4070 looks a bit underwhelming. Performance and price is what really matters though, and the RTX
4070 may surprise just as much as the other RTX 40 cards. 

We won’t have too much longer to wait until the world gets to see the RTX 40 series. Rumors around the release timeframe are quite variable. We can expect to see the RTX 4090 first with the RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 expected to follow before the end of the year. 

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Rumored RTX 40 series specs
Row 0 - Cell 0 RTX 4090 RTX 4080RTX 4070
CUDA Cores16384102407168
Base Clock2235N/AN/A
Boost Clock2520N/AN/A
Memory Bus384-bit256-bit160-bit
Memory Speed21Gbps21Gbps18Gbps
Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.