The Colorful RTX 4090 Vulcan OC continues our coverage of custom RTX 4090 cards — our fifth so far. Check the Nvidia RTX 4090 Founders Edition, Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OC, MSI RTX 4090 Suprim Liquid X, and Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC for details on the other cards, though we'll have the performance results in our charts. The RTX 4090 remains the top performer in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy and one of the best graphics cards, and with the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT launch now in the rearview mirror, it's clear that the 4090 will remain unchallenged for quite some time.
Colorful's 4090 Vulcan OC follows a now-familiar pattern: you get a massive air cooler and triple fans with a wider than triple-slot form factor. But Colorful doesn't stop there, tossing in a detachable LED screen that can be used to show details like temperatures and clock speeds, or just extra RGB effects if that's what you're after. There's also a stand to support the card and prevent sagging
Two months after the initial launch, the brouhaha surrounding the melting 16-pin adapters has subsided, with Nvidia declaring that improperly connected cables were to blame. We haven't heard much in the way of new reports on melted connectors, so hopefully the word is out and the root cause really was user error. Certainly, Nvidia would like to put melt-gate in the past, especially since it appears to have plans to use the same 16-pin connector across most of its RTX 40-series lineup.
|Graphics Card||Colorful RTX 4090 Vulcan OC||Asus RTX 4090 ROG Strix OC||Gigabyte RTX 4090 Gaming OC||MSI RTX 4090 Suprim Liquid X||Nvidia RTX 4090 Founders Edition|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||2625 (OC mode)||2640 (OC mode)||2535||2625||2520|
|VRAM Speed (Gbps)||21||21||21||21||21|
|TFLOPS FP32 (Boost)||86||86.5||83.1||86||82.6|
|TFLOPS FP16 (FP8)||688 (1376)||692 (1384)||665 (1329)||688 (1376)||661 (1321)|
|TDP (watts)||515 (OC)||480 (OC mode)||450||480||450|
As far as specifications go, the only difference between the various RTX 4090 cards is their boost clocks. Even then, there's not a big gap, as the boost clocks tend to be conservative. We've seen around 2.7–2.75 GHz from the Founders Edition, and maybe 50 MHz higher from some of the third-party cards. It generally means less than a 2% difference, though sometimes higher power limits can increase the gap a bit.
Colorful includes an OC button on the IO panel, rather than the usual switch we see on other cards. Perhaps it's useful if the side of your PC is closed and you switch modes on a regular basis… but since a reboot is required, we suspect most users will just press the button (or not) and forget about it. If you don't press the "1-button OC," you end up with reference clocks, though I'm not sure if the power limit changes.
Colorful's official MSRP is a bit higher than most of the other cards, with only the Asus model having a higher starting point. In practice, right now it doesn't matter much as all of the RTX 4090 cards we've seen online lately sell for over $2,000. That's assuming you can even find the Colorful card in the U.S. It's a well-known brand globally, but its U.S. presence remains more limited than some of the other graphics card names. Maybe it can try to grab some of EVGA's former market share now that it's exiting the market?
For more information on the core RTX 4090 functionality, check our Nvidia Ada Lovelace architecture piece where we go into more detail about the various changes Nvidia has made relative to the previous generation Ampere architecture. There are also additional tests that we performed with the RTX 4090 Founders Edition, including professional content creation workloads and DLSS 3 testing. Our AIB card reviews focus more on the card design and aesthetics, as well as any other extras, as those tend to be more important than minor variations in performance.
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"Please note that testing of the Colorful card was conducted on our standard test bed, a few weeks ago (around the time the RTX 4080 launch took over my free time). This is the same as the other 4090 cards, and not the new and improved test bed we used in the RX 7900 XTX / XT review. This was also before Fortnite broke our benchmarks and changed its settings, and the same for Forza Horizon 5 and Total War: Warhammer 3."
It's a third-party AIB card, and our standard is to mostly compare it to the reference card with the same GPU as well as any other AIB cards using the same GPU. The other cards are just there for reference.
So why does noise have the 7900 series? Well, first because I apparently forgot to not include them and used an updated spreadsheet that had those results. Oops. But also because the noise (and power) testing hasn't changed with drivers and such. I don't have truly "comparable" results from 12900K testing for the new AMD cards in a couple of games, or alternatively I don't have comparable data from all the other 4090 cards if I were to swap testbeds and retest.
But all of that misses the point that I'm really just evaluating the Colorful 4090 against the other 4090 cards. It's better in some cases (though the VRAM is likely just luck of the draw), but worse on noise levels. If you don't want a quieter 4090 card, and you can find it in stock, it's not a bad option.