With the Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC, ComputerBase tested the first custom design of the fastest RTX 4000 graphics card. The model benefits from the better cooling system which enables quieter gaming operations. That said, custom designs will have an even harder time making a difference this time around.
Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC review
Nvidia gave the green light to its next-generation graphics cards with the GeForce RTX 4090 (test) yesterday. The price of the Founders Edition is very high at 1,949 euros, but technically and performance-wise the provisional flagship has it all. With and without ray tracing, the RTX 4090 delivers a big increase in performance over the RTX 3000 generation, energy efficiency has increased significantly, and with DLSS 3 there is a potentially very good new upsampling process.
RTX 4090 in stores now
The GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition can now also be purchased. At the same time, the sale of specially designed designs started, for which the test embargo also fell – a day after “FE”.
The first custom design compared to FE
With the Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC, ComputerBase is now testing a first custom design after Nvidia’s Founders Edition. It comes with even larger proportions, although other partner cards go even larger – such as the Asus ROG Strix variant. At the same time, a large cooling surface means a theoretically quieter operation, and here the Founders Edition has also left room for the board partners.
Custom designs have a hard time
When it comes to performance boosts, Nvidia is making it even harder for its partners than it was last time: Because the Founders Edition usually operates below the 450 watt power limit, higher limits without hard GPU overclocking from the factory do nothing at first.
This makes TUF different from FE
In addition to the larger cooling system, Asus offers slightly higher clock rates with the GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC, small RGB lighting, two BIOS versions with different fan profiles and also differs from Nvidia’s own variant in other areas. However, this is not the case with the factory TDP: it remains at 450 watts.
Asus does not mention a suggested price, but the first customers will pay 2,349 euros* at Caseking.de and 2,249 euros* at Notebooksbilliger.de – several hundred euros more
The test clarifies what the Asus TUF has to offer for this price premium. The direct predecessor model Asus GeForce RTX 3090 Ti TUF OC is also included, so possible improvements will be quickly recognizable.
Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC in detail
With the GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC, Asus does not send the flagship for testing, but the smaller version “TUF OC”. The figurehead of the brand is still the Asus ROG Strix.
Compared to some other models from the manufacturers, the TUF graphics card is actually small. But don’t let that fool you, because the Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC is still huge and really heavy. On the other hand, even Nvidia’s own Founders Edition is not that impressive anymore. Asus does not provide any information about a price recommendation for the graphics card.
With a length of 35 cm and a height of 14.5 cm, Asus’ specially designed is a real piece. This is also evident from the high weight of 2,318g. It is best for anyone interested to take a look at their own case before making a purchase and see if there is anything in the way of installation. To match the weight, Asus includes a bracket to prevent the board from bending when installed.
The graphics card looks absolutely high quality
Asus does everything right in terms of look and feel. The GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC does not appear playful, but rather down-to-earth. The choice of materials is consistently of high quality, and the manufacturer completely avoids plastic. Although the level of Nvidia’s Founders Edition has not been reached – not a single custom design can do that – the graphics card still gives the impression of absolutely high quality. There have been visible improvements compared to the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti TUF OC. Only the RGB lighting seems literally flimsy and simple, especially considering the purchase price. Here it is perhaps better to do without it altogether.
The 3.65 slot wide cooler consists of two very large cooling elements with numerous fins. These are connected to each other via eight heat pipes of various sizes, and there is also a vapor chamber above the GPU. Asus wants to have increased the cooling surface by 35 percent compared to the RTX 3090 TUF, which is primarily due to the extra width. Three axial fans with a diameter of 104 mm provide the necessary fresh air, which is stopped at low temperatures, such as on the Windows desktop. Again, this is an additional 4 mm, which gives higher air pressure.
The printed circuit board of the Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC is significantly shorter than the actual graphics card and no longer than 22 cm. The rear fan can thus blow unhindered through the cooler, the air flow is not interrupted by the printed circuit board. The latter consists of a total of 14 layers and has 10 voltage converter circuits for the GPU and 4 more for the remaining components. The printed circuit board is designed for up to 70 A.
The graphics card is only slightly overclocked
Asus has overclocked the GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC. The average boost clock is 2,565 MHz, which is 45 MHz more than according to Nvidia’s specifications. Using the GPU Tweak III tool, an OC mode can be enabled on the software side, increasing the clock further to 2,595 MHz. The 24 GB GDDR6X memory operates at the usual 10,502 MHz.
Asus does not increase the power limit of the graphics card further, 450 watts is still the factory setting. This can be increased to up to 600 watts via software. The new 16-pin power plug (12VHPWR) is necessary for operation in order to guarantee the 600 watts. Asus includes an adapter that goes to four 8-pin power connectors. With all four, 600 watts is also possible. The graphics card normally starts with only three connectors, but then the power limit cannot be set above the normal 450 watts.
Performance and quiet BIOS with different fan control
The Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC has two different BIOS modes as usual. The performance BIOS is active from the factory, the silent BIOS is available as an alternative. It can be activated with a switch on the back of the graphics card – and the name says it all. Because the second software version only affects the fan control, which works less aggressively in quiet mode than in performance. This lowers the volume, but at the same time increases the temperature. There is no other significant influence.
With the GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC, monitors can be controlled via three DisplayPorts 1.4 with DSC or two HDMI 2.1 outputs.
This is how the Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC sounds in games
The test sample of the Asus GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC showed a maximum clock of 2,805 MHz during testing, but this is only available at low temperatures and loads. When playing, a slightly lower 2,790 MHz, on the other hand, is the maximum. The highest possible plus compared to Nvidia’s Founders Edition is 15 MHz and thus one clock step at Ada Lovelace.
In games, the GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC then shows an average frequency of 2,771 MHz. That’s 27 MHz more than the Nvidia model, so it’s already clear that both graphics cards will work almost equally fast in games.
Clock Story – Ultra HD, Doom Eternal
Even in the worst case, the power limit hardly slows you down
In F1 22, the GeForce RTX 4090 TUF OC shows the lowest clock, which at 2,726 MHz is only 64 MHz below the maximum possible. This means that the graphics card is not slowed down significantly either by the temperature development or by the power limit. However, this also means that an increased power limit in isolation does not result in additional performance.
At 2,740 MHz, Asus’ partner card works 38 MHz faster in F1 22 than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition – that’s 1.3 percent more clock speed.
The graphics card then shows the highest clock in Cyberpunk 2077, Far Cry 6 and Sniper Elite 5. The full 2,790 MHz is consistently available in all three games, no more is possible.
Whether the custom design runs with Quiet or Performance BIOS has only a minimal impact on performance: 15 MHz is the maximum. Since this is so low, the performance measurements were done with the Quiet BIOS.
Benchmarks, volume and other metrics