Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Nvidia’s RTX 3090 is interesting. The name leads you to believe it is a gaming card. It is certainly more than capable of gaming well, even at high resolutions, but its real prowess is productivity. Nvidia bills the RTX 3090 as the Titan replacement this generation, a card that straddled the line between consumer gaming and professional workstation tasks. For the time being, we find the RTX 3090 only holding a small 10-15% lead over the RTX 3080 in gaming despite having a 20% advantage in CUDA core counts and memory bandwidth. Many of the games we tested simply can’t take advantage of the raw power at typical resolutions.
Keeping more than ten thousand CUDA cores fed at the frame rates this card can produce places an extreme load on the few CPU cores handling this in most game engines. At 1080P, our Ryzen 9 3900X was just crushed. We would see 1-4 cores just flatlined at 100% load. At 1440p, this didn’t improve much with many titles still pegging out cores. Before this month, I don’t think most would ever consider a 12-core high-end CPU to be capable of bottlenecking a GPU, but here it is. Even at 4K resolution with eye candy maxed, we were STILL seeing several cores heavily loaded to 80%+ fairly frequently. For now, game engines just aren’t optimized enough to spread out over enough CPU cores enough to feed this monster. However, it does mean that while this is still the fastest gaming card on the planet, there seems to be a fair amount of performance left on the table to grow in to. We’re not even going to mention it can actually handle 8K gaming when so few even game at 4K currently.
Another thing we want to point out, and this is certainly not an issue with Zotac or the RTX 3090 Trinity, but the RTX 3090 platform in general, and even the RTX 3080 to a large extent, is power draw. Ok, not overall, but specifically PCIe bus power draw. We are seeing PCIe bus power getting very close to the 75W limit of the ATX specification. This doesn’t sound bad at first glance, but you have to keep in mind that all 12V power provided on the motherboard (other than the CPU itself) is derived from two wires in the 24-pin main power cable. Previous generations of cards tended to hang out around the 30W to 40W range over the PCIe bus. Once upon a time, mid to high-end boards included an auxiliary power connector on the board to feed the PCIe slots with additional power, but since multi-GPU setups are increasingly rare, this has largely gone the way of the dodo. We can see some boards not being able to cope with this heavy PCIe power draw along with all of the other things on your board pulling 12V power, and causing instability. We also want to caution you about using PCIe risers for vertical mounting your card. Lesser flexible risers use a few very small wires and may not be able to carry this level of power.
Now with the doom and gloom out of the way, Zotac’s new RTX 3090 Trinity is quite a treat. The new triple fan ‘Trinity’ cooler proved to be more than capable of keeping the card cool, with the fans staying slow and quiet under full load and only allowing the card to hit around 70C. If you manually bump them up a bit, you can easily keep the card in the 50’s. We like the Aesthetics and lighting, but man is that main side Zotac logo area bright! Thankfully, this is easily configurable in the Spectra side of the Firestorm Utility. We also really like the quick yellow pattern across it when the card boots up, almost like a system check. It’s minor, but it’s kind of fun. Overclocking didn’t really gain us a ton, Zotac has already eeked out most of what this chip is capable of, but that’s a good thing for the majority of users that just want to plug it in and have zero compromises. If you want the Retina pleasing barrage of pixels only the RTX 3090 can provide, look no further than the RTX 3090 Trinity from Zotac!
Great Job Zotac!