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Asus Spins Up RTX 3090 Turbo With Blower-Style Cooler

Asus RTX 3090 Turbo
(Image credit: Asus)

Nvidia might have launched its RTX 3090 way back in September, but it and its partners can't seem to produce enough to meet demand. Meanwhile, the release of new variants isn't stopping either, and according to GDM and VideoCardz Asus is apparently coming out with the RTX 3090 Turbo, which comes with the same 24GB of GDDR6X RAM as other RTX 3090 cards. However the RTX 3090 Turbo provides a 25 MHz overclock and uses a blower-style cooler.

Although blower-coolers have a (justified) reputation for being loud and inefficient, they have their use cases. For one, they dump all the heat outside the chassis ensuring the high heat output doesn't clog up the rest of your system -- with the RTX 3090's 350 W TDP, dumping the heat directly outside the system can make quite a difference. They're also cheap.

Asus RTX 3090 Turbo

(Image credit: Asus)

That latter argument is probably the most relevant argument for their existence -- a cheap cooler means the graphics card can be had for less, which at the end of the day translates to better value for your money. If you're someone that simply doesn't care about noise levels or thermals, and just wants a functional RTX 3090 card for creative workloads because you need that 24 GB of GDDR6X memory, a card like this can be a "cheap" ticket in.

Conversely, these cards are also popular among watercooling crowds that do care about thermals and noise levels, because why pay extra for a cooler that you're going to ditch in favor of a waterblock anyway?

The card occupies only two expansion slots, and its two 8-pin PCI-Express power connectors reside at the back end of the GPU instead of on the side. There's also no RGB to be found here, and display outputs consist of three DisplayPort 1.4a ports and one HDMI 2.1 output.

Asus RTX 3090 Turbo

(Image credit: Asus)

Asus' RTX 3090 Turbo does come with a small factory overclock to 1725 MHz, which is 25 MHz over Nvidia's reference specification. You'll have to activate it manually though, and chances are your real-life Boost speeds will be lower due to the limited cooling potential of the blower cooler.

Nvidia's RTX 3090 is the company's latest flagship graphics card (our review of the Founder's Edition RTX 3090 here), though with 24 GB of GDDR6X memory and a whopping 10,496 CUDA core count, it's aimed primarily at creative professionals who need the grunt for rendering. Of course, if money is no objection, it does make for the Best 4K Gaming Card currently on the market. 

Asus hasn't revealed pricing for this model, but in a world without scalpers, we would expect this one to land close, or at Nvidia's MSRP of $1499.

Niels Broekhuijsen
Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware news on all components and peripherals.
  • Evil_Overlord
    At first I was really excited to see a blower applied to the 3090, then it drained away when I saw the card is only two slots thick AND the exhaust has to share space with 3x DP and 1x HDMI. The article didn't show a picture of the back of the card, so we don't know if these are full-sized or mini HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. I would bet they are full sized.

    I would rather they made the card a full three slots thick, which would provide a bigger two-dimensional area for the back-of-the-card exhaust, plus it would increase the interior volume which could be used to fit a taller heat sink. I've got a GTX 1080 Ti blower with a TDP of 250W and if the two-slot blower design isn't adequate for 250W, then it sure won't be enough for the 3090's 350 Watts.
    Reply
  • greatmaharg
    Evil_Overlord said:
    At first I was really excited to see a blower applied to the 3090, then it drained away when I saw the card is only two slots thick AND the exhaust has to share space with 3x DP and 1x HDMI. The article didn't show a picture of the back of the card, so we don't know if these are full-sized or mini HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. I would bet they are full sized.

    I would rather they made the card a full three slots thick, which would provide a bigger two-dimensional area for the back-of-the-card exhaust, plus it would increase the interior volume which could be used to fit a taller heat sink. I've got a GTX 1080 Ti blower with a TDP of 250W and if the two-slot blower design isn't adequate for 250W, then it sure won't be enough for the 3090's 350 Watts.

    The real reason these cards exist, and also why they don't come in 3-slot flavors, is AI research and 3D rendering, since those workloads benefit from as many GPUs as you can throw at them. Dual slot blower cards are basically the only way to put more than 2 cards in a standard-ish case.
    Reply
  • wujj123456
    greatmaharg said:
    The real reason these cards exist, and also why they don't come in 3-slot flavors, is AI research and 3D rendering, since those workloads benefit from as many GPUs as you can throw at them. Dual slot blower cards are basically the only way to put more than 2 cards in a standard-ish case.
    In addition, these non-gaming workloads typically don't hit TDP because lots of game specific units like ROPs, TMUs, RT cores, etc are completely idle. While 2-slot blower might not be adequate at cooling with decent noise level for prolonged gaming, it could still be decent for non-gaming workloads. I am looking for a 2-slot blower since I have a multi-GPU rig for volunteer computing, though likely not at price point of 3090.

    Even in the gaming world, there are folks that would use custom water cooling. They just need the cheapest card since stock cooler will be thrown away anyway.
    Reply
  • Evil_Overlord
    wujj123456 said:
    While 2-slot blower might not be adequate at cooling with decent noise level for prolonged gaming, it could still be decent for non-gaming workloads.
    I game less than an hour a day. The rest of the time (24x365), my 1080 Ti is working for FoldingAtHome. I had to add a custom thermal limit because the card would hold steady at 80 C, which is too hot for my liking. For many months, I had a GTX 1060 in the adjacent two slots; both crunching numbers for FoldingAtHome. The PointsPerDay (PPD) penalty when having two blowers in adjacent slots was crazy high because the card in the back had its air intake restricted by the card in the front, causing massive thermal throttling.

    A crazier design that I'd like to see is a partial 3-slot/2-slot design: Make the entire card three slots wide except for the blower intake, which is only two slots wide, giving ample space for the blower air intake. ...However, once you've committed to a 3-slot wide design, why not ditch the blower and add a 60mm axial fan, pointing down the length of card? This is rather similar to existing solutions using Nvidia Grid cards: They are 2 slots wide, and have zero fans; they rely upon the chassis's axial fans (fast and loud) to push air through the card and out the back. Supermicro even makes fan housings that attach to the back of the PCI slots to pull exhaust air out of the cards. They can get away with this because the cards don't have video-out connectors, so no cables to get in the way.
    Reply
  • wujj123456
    Evil_Overlord said:
    I game less than an hour a day. The rest of the time (24x365), my 1080 Ti is working for FoldingAtHome. I had to add a custom thermal limit because the card would hold steady at 80 C, which is too hot for my liking. For many months, I had a GTX 1060 in the adjacent two slots; both crunching numbers for FoldingAtHome. The PointsPerDay (PPD) penalty when having two blowers in adjacent slots was crazy high because the card in the back had its air intake restricted by the card in the front, causing massive thermal throttling.

    A crazier design that I'd like to see is a partial 3-slot/2-slot design: Make the entire card three slots wide except for the blower intake, which is only two slots wide, giving ample space for the blower air intake. ...However, once you've committed to a 3-slot wide design, why not ditch the blower and add a 60mm axial fan, pointing down the length of card? This is rather similar to existing solutions using Nvidia Grid cards: They are 2 slots wide, and have zero fans; they rely upon the chassis's axial fans (fast and loud) to push air through the card and out the back. Supermicro even makes fan housings that attach to the back of the PCI slots to pull exhaust air out of the cards. They can get away with this because the cards don't have video-out connectors, so no cables to get in the way.
    Having cards adjacent to each other will run warmer, but shouldn't cause massive thermal throttling, unless you are exaggerating the "massive" part. I have an open-air cooler 1660 (what a mistake, but the discount was huge) sitting beneath 1080 FE, covering the blower entirely. The 1080 lose like 50MHz at most at same 80C. I don't do FAH, but various GPU projects on BOINC.

    You know the passively cooled variant already and they work with the right case. I am a bit confused why you would want to waste one slot instead of just improving the case airflow. You are basically asking the GPU cooler to do the job of case fans, but they won't be as efficient compared to case fans due to limited space and no access to outside air. The server chassis are really loud because they use iPPC fans that are not optimized for noise. Some even use 40/60mm fans at very high RPM. If you have a 4U chassis (which will be required for 2+ GPUs anyway) and substitute intake/exhaust with normal consumer 120/80mm fans, they can be pretty quiet with decent air flow too.
    Reply
  • greatmaharg
    Evil_Overlord said:
    I game less than an hour a day. The rest of the time (24x365), my 1080 Ti is working for FoldingAtHome. I had to add a custom thermal limit because the card would hold steady at 80 C, which is too hot for my liking. For many months, I had a GTX 1060 in the adjacent two slots; both crunching numbers for FoldingAtHome. The PointsPerDay (PPD) penalty when having two blowers in adjacent slots was crazy high because the card in the back had its air intake restricted by the card in the front, causing massive thermal throttling.

    A crazier design that I'd like to see is a partial 3-slot/2-slot design: Make the entire card three slots wide except for the blower intake, which is only two slots wide, giving ample space for the blower air intake. ...However, once you've committed to a 3-slot wide design, why not ditch the blower and add a 60mm axial fan, pointing down the length of card? This is rather similar to existing solutions using Nvidia Grid cards: They are 2 slots wide, and have zero fans; they rely upon the chassis's axial fans (fast and loud) to push air through the card and out the back. Supermicro even makes fan housings that attach to the back of the PCI slots to pull exhaust air out of the cards. They can get away with this because the cards don't have video-out connectors, so no cables to get in the way.
    With more and more things going cloud-based I've seen a lot of cards take that approach-- GRIDs, Teslas, and other datacenter cards have always done it, but more recently there's been Quadros and even a 2080Ti I think that have been made in a passive-airflow form. They honestly probably run cooler than blowers because they can have a longer heatsink where the fan would be on a conventional card.
    Reply
  • Gussv
    Don't see anything over at the Asus site.

    Anyone has a link for more info?
    Reply