Nvidia RTX 4090 GPU could be more trouble for AMD than we thought

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti on a black background
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia’s RTX 4090 might just be even faster than we anticipated, at least if a new rumor turns out to be true – and we’ve also heard more on why Nvidia’s launch plans might have recently changed (again, going by the GPU grapevine, so remain cautious around all this info).

The fresh nugget around the potential performance of Nvidia’s Lovelace flagship graphics card comes from well-known hardware leaker 'kopite7kimi', who believes that the final loadout of the RTX 4090 could be 16,384 CUDA Cores instead of 16,128 as was previously believed. That’d represent an extra 2 streaming multiprocessors for a total of 128.

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That’s a relatively small bump in the core count, but not an insignificant one, giving the RTX 4090 just a bit more raw grunt in theory – remembering that this graphics card is already expected to be a huge leap in performance compared to its predecessor the RTX 3090.

Another interesting point to note on Nvidia’s incoming next-gen GPUs comes via YouTube leaker RedGamingTech, who spotted the above tweet, and further chimed in regarding the purported release schedule for the RTX 4090 (and other Lovelace cards).

Of course, we’ve heard a lot of rumors around the launch dates for the RTX 4090, and RedGamingTech says that their sources are now agreeing that the latest speculation is correct in terms of a September launch for the Lovelace flagship, followed by October and November for the RTX 4080 and 4070 respectively.

Why the apparent delay? RedGamingTech’s best guess, based on the most reliable source the YouTuber taps, is that this isn’t about RTX 4000 cards not being ready to go – but more a case of Nvidia putting on the brakes to give more time to sell through existing inventory of RTX 3000 GPUs.

Analysis: Time for AMD to start getting a bit worried?

We’ve always thought that an August launch for the RTX 4090 – one of the more recent rumors to gain traction – seemed like an overly optimistic scenario, and that September felt more realistic as a release (on-sale) date. For us, it seems plausible enough that Nvidia might want to hold back to help clear existing GPU inventory, particularly as deflating crypto demand may factor into the equation here.

Of course, if this is true, then the purported mid-July reveal for RTX 4000 isn’t likely to happen, either, as even teasing the performance of Lovelace cards is likely to make some gamers pause for thought before committing to buying, particularly in the case of an expensive high-end GPU – if they can see what’s right around the corner.

Especially if what’s just around that bend is an RTX 4090 which is a bit beefier than rumors previously indicated, as theorized by kopite7kimi. Previously, the renowned Twitter leaker has guessed – and of course, we are very much in speculative territory here – that the RTX 4090 could be twice as powerful compared to the RTX 3090, or more than that. This fresh leak on the CUDA core count is another hint that we can expect better than double the performance, then.

Another positive bit of news that has emerged for those keenly awaiting Nvidia’s RTX 4090 – whenever it may emerge – is that RedGamingTech also underlined that we’re supposedly still looking at a 450W power usage as more recently theorized, and not some of the more worrying much higher TDP figures which were floated in previous leaks (like 600W).

Of course, it still looks like AMD’s strongest line of attack in the war of the next-gen GPUs will be power-efficiency, as Team Red recently trumpeted just how much progress has been made with RDNA 3 graphics cards in terms of delivering better performance-per-watt – with a 50% or more increase promised above RDNA 2.

With rising energy costs, and concerns around thermals and cooling – and the potential need to upgrade the power supply, even, for really power-hungry GPUs – we shouldn’t underestimate how important that efficiency battle may be. But if Nvidia is going to really throw down the gauntlet for raw, galloping frame rate power, it’s obviously imperative that AMD doesn’t look far off the pace when it comes to gaming benchmarks…

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).