Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle Review: To Air Is Human

The Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle has the unenviable task of taking on the mammoth 3090 Founders Edition.

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle is basically a base model implementation of the GPU. Its 30 MHz factory overclock doesn't really matter, and for the price, the Founders Edition is the better choice. But if you're jonesing for a 3090 and can find the Gigabyte card in stock, it's still an extremely powerful card, with a price to match.


  • +

    Same extreme 3090 performance

  • +

    Pricing is at the bottom of the 3090 range

  • +

    Runs reasonably cool and quiet


  • -

    Almost no 3090 cards available right now

  • -

    Pretty generic design, if that matters to you

  • -

    Doesn't beat the 3090 Founders Edition

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Nvidia's RTX 3090 Founders Edition is the fastest graphics card in the world, ranking at the top of our GPU benchmarks hierarchy. It's also the most expensive single-GPU GeForce card Nvidia has ever released, sitting at $1,500 … and yet it's still out of stock everywhere you look. Maybe you need an alternative, or maybe you don't want a graphics card that weighs over 2kg. Either way, the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle could be just what you're after. It's basically just as fast as the 3090 FE, at the same price, so it's still the best graphics card available — best in this case meaning 'fastest.' We expect the GeForce RTX 3070 and AMD's Big Navi will be more impressive on a performance per dollar level.

As we noted in our Founders Edition review, the RTX 3090 is very much a card designed for professionals and extreme enthusiasts. Typical gamers don't need to pay double the price for a relatively modest boost in performance. If you're running workloads where you need more than the 10GB of VRAM on the GeForce RTX 3080, though, the gap can increase. The 3090 is also the only 30-series GPU with NVLink and SLI support — not that we'd recommend dual-GPUs for gaming, considering Nvidia's new SLI stance. But for machine learning and GPU compute, multi-GPU can still be beneficial. All you need is about 750W of power for the graphics, plus whatever the rest of the system needs, meaning 1500W PSUs wouldn't actually be overkill.

That's perhaps one aspect of the RTX 3090 Founders Edition that's problematic. It's a full triple-slot card, making it difficult to fit more than two cards into most cases. The Gigabyte 3090 Eagle is in the same category, as it's only 1mm thinner. The 3090 Eagle is also 7mm longer, but its height is 10mm less than the 3090 FE. Here are the full specs for the RTX 3090 cards we're looking at.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Nvidia RTX 3090 Specifications
Header Cell - Column 0 RTX 3090 FEGigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle
Process TechnologySamsung 8NSamsung 8N
Transistors (Billion)28.328.3
Die size (mm^2)628.4628.4
GPU Cores1049610496
Tensor Cores328328
RT Cores8282
Boost Clock (MHz)16951725
VRAM Speed (Gbps)19.519.5
VRAM (GB)2424
VRAM Bus Width384384
GFLOPS FP32 (Boost)3558136211
TFLOPS FP16 (Tensor)142 (285)145 (290)
RT TFLOPS69.570.7
Bandwidth (GBps)936936
TDP (watts)350350
Dimensions (LxHxW mm)313x138x57320x128x56
Weight (g)21891384
Price$1,499 $1,499

Basically, you get the exact same hardware as the Founders Edition, with the only difference being the mild factory overclock on the GPU core and aesthetics. Theoretically, the overclock makes the Gigabyte card about 2% faster, but in practice, the Nvidia Ampere architecture allows for opportunistic boost clocks that benefit from lower temperatures and better cooling. Not surprisingly, a bigger cooler and larger fans mean it will be difficult for many of the AIB cards to match, let alone beat the 3090 Founders Edition. 

Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle: Design, Cooling, Aesthetics 

You can watch our full teardown and video review of the Gigabyte 3090 Eagle above. The basic design is similar to many other recent AIB cards, with a triple fan layout over a large radiator. The Eagle brand is a newer line from Gigabyte, debuting in early 2020 (after initially leaking in late 2019). It appears to take over from the previous WindForce line of GPUs, falling toward the bottom of Gigabyte's lineup in terms of features and extras.

Currently, Gigabyte has five different 3090 models available. The top of the range is the Xtreme series, followed by the Master, then Gaming and Eagle, with the Turbo line still sporting a blower-style cooler. There's very little in the way of bling on the 3090 Eagle — specifically, there are two slashes to the left of the Eagle logo that light up with RGB. Looking at the card, you'd expect the 'Eagle' logo to be backlit as well, but it's not. The slashes (a highly stylized eagle eyeball, apparently) can be configured via Gigabyte's RGB Fusion software. Still, they don't provide much light, and in most cases, they'll end up facing the bottom of your PC. If you're after wild RGB lighting, then this probably isn't the card you're looking for.

Something else that's a bit interesting is the three fans. The left fan, closest to the video ports and sitting basically above the GPU, is an 80mm fan. The other two fans are 85mm. These are also the same style of Windforce fan blades that Gigabyte has used in the past, with a triangular 'tooth' on the leading edge that's supposed to improve airflow.

The Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle includes five video ports, which is one more than the Founders Edition. There are three DisplayPort 1.4a outputs and two HDMI 2.1 outputs, and the card can drive up to five monitors if needed. Despite the ventilation cutouts on the rear IO bracket, however, the card won't exhaust much heat that route. The radiator fins are oriented perpendicular to the IO plate, so most of the airflow will end up exiting the top and bottom of the card.

Disassembling the 3090 Eagle is relatively straightforward, though you have to remove the main cooler on the front before you can get at the last three screws that secure the backplate. As with other 30-series GPUs, there are quite a few thermal pads between the cooler and the RAM, capacitors, voltage regulators, and other components. A few of the pads ripped when we pulled the cooler off, even though we were trying to be careful, but that generally won't impact cooling performance.

With the cooler and backplate removed, the bare PCB and components are visible. The Gigabyte design is different from several other GPUs we've looked at, with an extension at the back of the card that locates the two 8-pin PEG connectors beyond the end of the PCB. That's probably better for managing cabling in our PC build, though it doesn't really impact most other aspects of the design.

The Gigabyte board appears to use a 15-phase power delivery system for the GPU, with three additional phases used for other elements. The RAM comes from Micron of course, it's currently the only manufacturer of GDDR6X memory, and is rated for 21Gbps, though like other 3090 cards it's only clocked at 19.5Gbps. Also of note is that behind the GPU are six SP-Caps, with no MLCC blocks. We experienced quite a bit of instability on the Gigabyte card with the launch drivers, but thankfully that was cleared up with the 456.55 and later drivers.

Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle: Manual Overclocking 

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Even with the latest 456.55 (and now 456.71) drivers, there doesn't appear to be much headroom for GPU overclocking on our Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle sample. Some graphics tests will allow for a +100MHz offset; others were unstable even with a +75MHz increase. For stability across the tests suite, +60 MHz was the best I could do. Average GPU clocks at stock were around 1840-1900 MHz, depending on the game, and 30-50 MHz faster with the overclock applied.

A bigger benefit for the GPU clocks doesn't come from overclocking, but rather from boosting the GPU power limit. The RTX 3090 FE tended to exceed the 350W TGP by about 15W in our testing. However, the Gigabyte card respects the 350W limit, which means it tends to downclock more than the FE to keep power use in check. Raising the TGP limit by 10% gives it a bit more room to stretch its legs.

Memory overclocking was better, and as with previous RTX 30-series cards, we managed a +750 MHz bump to the memory clock, bringing the effective speed up to 21Gbps. The Micron D8GBX chips used on the board are rated for that speed, so that shouldn't be a problem, though the chips on the back of the card don't have active cooling and may end up running a bit hot.

With the above overclocks in place (+60 core clocks, +750 VRAM, and 110% power limit), gaming performance ends up being about five percent faster on average — at 4K ultra. That's enough to basically match the other 3090 cards we've looked at, without exotic cooling. The benefits of overclocking will generally be less at 1440p, and you probably shouldn't be looking at a 3090 for 1080p (outside of games that use ray tracing) in the first place. Or maybe you're just running CPU tests and want to show more separation among the chips (shades of AMD's Zen 3 launch are looming). 

Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle: Test Setup 

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Eagle

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

You can see the specs of our standard GPU test bed on the right. We ran a series of RTX 3080 CPU Scaling benchmarks on several other processors as well, and the results are mostly applicable here — except the 3090 would potentially be even more CPU limited, particularly at lower resolutions and settings. But for 1440p ultra and 4K ultra, the Core i9-9900K shouldn't present a problem. 

Our gaming test suite consists of nine games, and for the Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle, we're only looking at ultra quality performance at 1440p and 4K — without ray tracing or DLSS enabled. We provided 15 'bonus' benchmarks in the RTX 3090 FE review if you want to see other tests. As you'll see in a moment, the Gigabyte card is essentially equal in performance to the FE.

We have four charts for each of the games we tested: 4K Ultra, 4K Ultra Percentile FPS, 1440p Ultra, and 1440p Ultra Percentile FPS. Despite a small factory overclock, the Gigabyte 3090 Eagle ends up just a touch slower than the 3090 FE, likely due to the differences in power and thermals that each card targets.

Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle: 1440p and 4K Ultra Gaming Benchmarks 

9 Game Average 

Borderlands 3

Division 2

Far Cry 5

Final Fantasy XIV

Forza Horizon 4

Metro Exodus

Red Dead Redemption 2

Shadow Of The TombRaider

Strange Brigade

There's about a 1% margin of error in most gaming benchmarks, but we run each test multiple times to help minimize variance. Of the nine games tested, at two resolutions, the Gigabyte was just barely faster than the RTX 3090 FE in three cases, and those were basically tied. The remaining 15 data points favored the 3090 FE by 0-2%, with an average lead of 1% overall. It's nothing you'd notice in actual gaming, and at least the cards have the same price (or will when supply manages to catch up to demand). 

Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle: Power, Temps, Fan and Clock Speeds, and Noise

The Gigabyte RTX 3090 Eagle has a 350W TGP, the same as the 3090 Founders Edition. Here we actually put that to the test to see if the cards respect their power limits and how they behave with a couple of intense workloads. We use Powenetics in-line power monitoring hardware and software so that we can report the real power use of the graphics card. Powenetics also links up with GPU-Z to record GPU temperature, fan speed, and GPU clock speed.

You can read more about our approach to GPU power testing, but the takeaway is that we're not dependent on AMD, Nvidia or any other GPU vendor to accurately report how much power a GPU uses. We run FurMark as a worst-case stress test, and we also run five loops of the Metro Exodus benchmark at 1440p ultra (without ray tracing or DLSS) and record the results. These results are using the 456.55 drivers (the 456.71 drivers came out after we had completed testing).