As far as custom cards go, the Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix checks all the right boxes. You get a modest factory overclock and a more potent cooler compared to the baseline models. There's perhaps a bit more RGB lighting than the reference model, but the RGB is somewhat subdued compared to what we've seen on other cards in the past.
Still, Asus knows how to build a potent card, and the ROG Strix models represent the top of the Asus range. Factory stock performance might not impress too much compared to the reference model, but the card we received did manage some impressive manual overclocking results.
The thing is, we're not sure if we just got "lucky" with our sample, or if binning by Asus will mean similar results for all the ROG Strix OC models. The fact that we reached over 1Gbps higher clocks on the GDDR6X memory than on any previous GDDR6X-equipped card certainly indicates that our card has 24Gbps memory chips that are just labeled as 21Gbps. It's virtually guaranteed that not every ROG Strix OC card will have similar results, though some cards might do even better.
It mostly goes without saying that you're going to need a very spacious case for this card. There are bigger RTX 4090 cards out there (hello, Gigabyte 4090 Aorus Master), but not many will exceed the ROG Strix dimensions. It's a good thing SLI is basically a thing of the past, since few if any cases (and motherboards) would be able to accommodate two such cards.
Pricing will still be the biggest roadblock. The RTX 4090 already carries an extreme $1,599 price tag, but Asus bumps that up $400 for the ROG Strix OC. That's why we dropped the overall score from 4.5 stars to 4 stars, if you're wondering — the street prices will need time to stabilize, but out of the gate the ROG Strix OC doesn't offer enough to justify the price increase. The overall performance is fine, but it's nearly identical to the 4090 Founders Edition. Of course, that assumes you can even find the Founders Edition in stock — that's not the case right now, though perhaps in the coming months the supply will improve, or the demand will decrease, or both.
Asus' branding is also strong, however, and our experience over the past several generations suggests there will be plenty of people willing to pay the 25% price premium for an ROG Strix OC card. We've talked to employees at our local Micro Center, and when a new GPU comes out, the Asus cards always tend to sell out first, even when there are faster cards available from a higher tier for less money.
We won't see a higher tier than the RTX 4090, though, at least not any time soon. There's nothing that comes close to its level of performance, and unless AMD can pull a rabbit out of its hat with the upcoming RX 7000-series and RDNA 3 GPU launch, we'll probably need to wait for an RTX 4090 Ti before we'll see anything substantially faster. Or wait a couple more years and let's see what Nvidia's RTX 5090 has to offer in 2024.