The Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti is still missing in action

Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Ahh, the curious case of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti. On one hand we’re thrilled to see a new graphics card that pushes the envelope by delivering better frame rates at the highest resolutions. On the other, its anticipated street pricing will probably make us cry, or laugh, or both at the same time. 

Nvidia announced the RTX 3090 Ti at CES back in early January. It said that details would come later in the month but here we are in February and there’s still no sign of it. Is it a unicorn?

The RTX 3090 Ti, if and when it does launch, is expected to be a very limited edition card. We've heard from multiple sources saying that manufacturing is ready to commence, but for unknown reasons, it's been delayed for the time being. There's speculation that Nvidia has encountered issues with the BIOS or hardware though we haven’t been able to find out any specifics at the time of writing. 

We’d hope that any such issues are minor, given that the architecture and GA102 GPU are well known quantities at this point. The Chinese New Year holiday probably contributed to the delay too.

The RTX 3090 Ti is set to be the ultimate Ampere RTX 30 series card. It’s very likely to use the full GA102 GPU with 10752 CUDA cores, and will include 24GB of 21Gbps GDDR6X memory, along with a 384-bit memory bus providing up to 1TB/s of bandwidth. The card is likely to use new PCIe Gen5 16-pin power connectors, though some vendors may choose to use the traditional 8-pin connectors.

(Image credit: Future)

If we put our speculation hat on, we wonder if there are issues with supply, thermals or power consumption of 21Gbps GDDR6X memory. The 19Gbps class memory in use on the 3090 can easily run at over 100c while consuming a lot of power. It's likely that the use of even faster memory is a big contributor to the rumored 450W TDP.

That TDP number brings us to our next point. Designing a cooler for a 450W card with blazing hot memory chips isn’t a walk in the park. It’s possible that decisions have been made to tweak existing RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090 cooler designs to keep GPU temperatures in check, contributing to delays.

We can’t imagine that yields of the GPU itself are a problem. The GA102 GPU has been in production for well over a year and the number of 3090 Ti cards sold is going to be miniscule when compared to mainstream cards. By now, Nvidia surely has enough fully enabled GPUs that can maintain high enough clocks to constitute a launch.

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The Nvidia RTX 3070 and AMD RX 6700 XT side by side on a colourful background

(Image credit: Future)

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Though this is surely an outlier or placeholder price, Twitter leaker momomo_us (via Tom’s Hardware) spotted a listing for MSI's GeForce RTX 3090 Ti Suprim X 24G at Japanese retailer Rakuten for the low low price of ¥633,773. That’s just over $5,500 including tax. Ouch.

Back in early January, Vince ‘Kingpin’ Lucido teased the RTX 3090 Ti Kingpin graphics card. It’s rumored to include dual 12-pin power connectors, which, when combined with the 75W from the PCIe slot, could provide up to 1275W of power. We shudder to think what that card will sell for.

For now, all we can do is wait and see. The RTX 3090 Ti is definitely a very fast and lust-worthy GPU, but it's also shaping up to be the most expensive and power thirsty consumer graphics card ever. We just hope that this doesn’t set a precedent where the quest to rule benchmark charts doesn’t completely lose sight of efficiency. 

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.