Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OC Review: Truly Massive

Extreme size results in great cooling

 Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OC
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The massive cooler results in some impressive noise and thermals, and we achieved an excellent overclock on the memory and GPU core. If you have room for the card in your case, it certainly warrants consideration.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent thermal and noise results

  • +

    Plenty of overclocking headroom (YMMV)

  • +

    Helpful included support stand

Cons

  • -

    Requires a very large case

  • -

    Some may not like the boxy aesthetics

  • -

    Relatively minor gains from overclocking

  • -

    Large increase in price

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The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 launched last week, setting a new bar height for the competition to clear. With the RTX 4090 sitting atop the GPU benchmarks hierarchy and ranking as the fastest of the best graphics cards, there remains the question of which particular 4090 model you should buy. Besides the Founders Edition, we have cards from numerous third-party add-in board (AIB) partners on the way. We're kicking off our third party reviews with the Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OC (opens in new tab), an absolutely huge card that dwarfs the already chunky 4090 Founders Edition.

The simple answer for which card you should buy would be "whatever RTX 4090 you can find in stock." Despite the extreme pricing, the performance uplift was significant enough that all of the 4090 cards almost immediately sold out at launch. Certainly some of that can be attributed to RTX 4090 scalpers, but without cryptocurrency GPU mining — no, the RTX 4090 is not profitable for mining, nor are any other GPUs right now — we can only hope that scalper pricing will quickly fade away.

That will naturally depend on Nvidia getting sufficient supply of RTX 4090 GPUs to the market. While we know the cards sold out, we don't know how many were actually sold. It could be thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands. But halo GPU launches typically don't come with massive supplies. Still, the RTX 4090 is incredibly fast and Nvidia likely isn't in a hurry to push out other 40-series models — not when Nvidia by its own admission (opens in new tab) says it expects to be in an oversupply situation at least through the end of the year.

Nvidia can't delay forever, however, not with AMD announcing RDNA 3 on November 3. We fully expect AMD to offer some card — perhaps a Radeon RX 7900 XT — at a much lower price than the RTX 4090. Maybe there will even be multiple high-end cards using the Navi 31, like RX 7950 XT, RX 7900 XT, and RX 7800 XT. We'll find out more in the next couple of weeks.

We've now tested three different RTX 4090 cards: the Founders Edition, this Asus ROG Strix, and (review upcoming) the MSI Suprim Liquid X. We'll have results for all three cards in this review, though knowledgeable gamers will know that performance rarely differs much between cards using the same core GPU — aesthetics and other factors become more important. Here are the specs for the three different  

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Graphics CardAsus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OCMSI RTX 4090 Suprim Liquid XRTX 4090 Founders Edition
ArchitectureAD102AD102AD102
SMs128128128
GPU Shaders163841638416384
Boost Clock (MHz)2610 (Gaming), 2640 (OC mode)26252520
VRAM Speed (Gbps)212121
VRAM (GB)242424
TFLOPS FP32 (Boost)85.58682.6
TFLOPS FP16 (FP8)684 (1368)688 (1376)661 (1321)
Bandwidth (GBps)100810081008
TDP (watts)450480450
Launch DateOctober 2022October 2022October 2022
Launch Price$1,999 $1,749 $1,599

We've removed most of the redundant rows from the specs list above, as all three cards have the same base hardware. The only real differences in terms of specs come from the boost clock and any potential difference in power rating.

Asus doesn't specify a TBP, though we suspect it's the same 450W as the Founders Edition. If you install Asus GPU Tweak, you can also select an OC mode that applies an additional 30 MHz to the GPU core clock and boosts the power limit by a few percent. We skipped that and instead will investigate manual overclocking.

On paper, the Asus card has a 3.6% factory overclock while the MSI card has a 4.2% factory overclock. In practice, the GPU clocks we measured during testing are far closer than that. The Founders Edition averaged 2738 MHz in our Metro Exodus test, the MSI card got 2783 MHz (1.6% higher), and the Asus card got 2791 MHz (1.9% higher). As usual, Nvidia's real-world GPU clocks tend to easily outstrip the spec sheet.

If you want more information on what makes the RTX 4090 tick, check out our Nvidia Ada Lovelace Architectural deep dive. We also ran quite a few additional tests on the RTX 4090 Founders Edition, including professional content creation workloads and DLSS 3 testing. For our AIB card reviews, given the relatively limited differences we see in performance, we'll focus more on the card design and aesthetics as well as any other extras.

Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OC: Teardown and Overclocking

The above Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix unboxing video will give you a good overview of what you get with the card. It's huge, weighing in at just over 2.5kg (5.5 pounds) and measures 358 x 149 x 70mm — quite a bit longer, taller, thicker, and heavier than Nvidia's RTX 4090 Founders Edition that measures 304 x 137 x 61mm and weighs 2186g.

Compared to the previous generation RTX 3090 ROG Strix (opens in new tab), things have changed substantially. The 4090 card is quite boxy, without the chopped off corners. There's also not as much RGB lighting, or at least it's different from the previous 30-series Strix cards. There's a rectangle plastic cover at the end of the card (opposite the video ports), along with an RGB "Republic of Gamers" logo, and that's it.

The new ROG Strix chassis definitely embraces the "go large" mentality of graphics cards. It's a 3.5-slot width, effectively occupying four slots in practice. Oddly, Asus sticks with a dual-slot IO bracket. We're not sure why, since covering an extra slot would help support the card a bit more and potentially provide more exhaust ports.

Not that the card will actually exhaust much air out the IO bracket, despite the cutouts. The heatsink fins are oriented parallel to the IO bracket, which means most of the airflow will go out the top and bottom of the card and back into your case. It's a traditional approach to cooling and should work fine, though we wouldn't suggest putting the ROG Strix into a smaller case — not like it would fit anyway.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Asus includes three 104mm axial fans on the card, all with integrated rims that help direct airflow into the heatsink fins and improve static pressure. That's a slightly larger fan size than on the previous generation 30-series Strix cards' 97mm fans, and the new fans are also slightly thicker (deeper). As we've seen with other recent Asus cards, the middle fan rotates clockwise while the outside fans rotate counter-clockwise, which Asus says reduces air turbulence and fan noise.

Asus also includes dual HDMI 2.1 ports alongside the traditional triple DisplayPort outputs, though only four can be active at any time. As noted in the main 4090 review, the DP ports are still using the old 1.4a standard — yes, that's the same port standard that first appeared on the GTX 10-series back in 2016. Why not DisplayPort 2.0? It apparently wasn't ready in time, or at least that's what Nvidia claimed when asked during a briefing. That seems unlikely considering the RTX 30-series launched in 2020, and DP 2.0 was finalized in 2019. Meanwhile, VESA just announced the DisplayPort 2.1 spec, which AMD's RDNA 3 is rumored to support — no real surprise as it's fully backward compatible with DP 2.0.

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • -Fran-
    Thanks for the review, but I hate to say this: you missed the most important thing here...

    Can you do a proper workout with this card? How many calories do you burn by just unboxing it and then installing it in a case (when it fits)? Can you hold two at the same time without breaking your back?

    Regards :LOL:
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    -Fran- said:
    Thanks for the review, but I hate to say this: you missed the most important thing here...

    Can you do a proper workout with this card? How many calories do you burn by just unboxing it and then installing it in a case (when it fits)? Can you hold two at the same time without breaking your back?

    Regards :LOL:
    I'll be following up with my new "90 Days to a Better You" fitness program.
    I may have already injured my wrist while trying to install the card, though... ;)
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    I'll be following up with my new "90 Days to a Better You" fitness program.
    I may have already injured my wrist while trying to install the card, though... ;)
    Hell yeah. Most expensive fitness program ever xD

    And I hope your wrist is actually fine. You still have the AIO-cooled one to review, no?

    Regards.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    -Fran- said:
    Hell yeah. Most expensive fitness program ever xD

    And I hope your wrist is actually fine. You still have the AIO-cooled one to review, no?

    Regards.
    Yeah, MSI, Gigabyte, PNY, Colorful, and Galax are still incoming, probably in that order. Maybe a Zotac as well (still waiting for confirmation on that one).
    Reply
  • Zizo007
    No one finds it weird that even big OCs on the core and memory only results in minor performance increase, 5% and less? I looked up many reviews online and they all show the same even for the Gigabyte rtx 4090 OC thats been clocked to 3ghz core and 25.6ghz memory. Thats a 22% OC only on the memory. My strix 2080 Ti benefits a lot more from OC. I wonder if we're CPU limited with an OCed rtx 4090.
    Reply
  • Geezer760
    This thing will injure your wallet or bank account!!, $1239.00 totally insane,
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    Zizo007 said:
    No one finds it weird that even big OCs on the core and memory only results in minor performance increase, 5% and less? I looked up many reviews online and they all show the same even for the Gigabyte rtx 4090 OC thats been clocked to 3ghz core and 25.6ghz memory. Thats a 22% OC only on the memory. My strix 2080 Ti benefits a lot more from OC. I wonder if we're CPU limited with an OCed rtx 4090.
    The GPU core overclocks are what really matters, and if you do the math, you'll find that even though the reference 4090 Founders Edition claims a boost clock of 2520MHz, in practice it runs at around 2750MHz. Then you overclock to 2950MHz and that represents a 7% increase in clock speed. Given the memory overclocks are much higher — on the Asus card I managed 24.5Gbps vs. 21Gbps stock, so that's a 17% increase — it just means that the large L2 cache and architecture make raw memory bandwidth less of a factor. I suspect even without the memory OC, the 7% increase in GPU clocks will give you a 3-5% boost in performance, meaning the VRAM only accounts for an extra 2% or so.
    Reply
  • Murissokah
    The 4090 is a beast, but I can't look at a 4-slot VGA and see at as anything other than bad design. Watercooled solutions are like MSI's make it more palatable, but I'm still not very happy with almost 500W of power and heat. Hoping AMD can come up with something competitive.
    Reply