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Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs may not arrive until October – which is good news for RTX 3000 prices

An Nvidia graphics card slotted into a test bench with its power cable in the foreground
(Image credit: Future)
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Nvidia’s RTX 4000 graphics cards could arrive later than previously rumored, at least going by the most recent speculation from a prominent hardware leaker on YouTube, who also discussed the purported size of the RTX 4090 Ti GPU (based on an older leak).

All this was aired in the most recent video from Moore’s Law is Dead (opens in new tab), who believes that despite some rumors around the flagship Nvidia Lovelace GPU weighing in as a four-slot monster, it could still be a three-slot affair.

You may recall that we previously saw leaked pics (spilled via the Chiphell forums) that supposedly showed parts of the RTX 4090 Ti, pointing to it being a monster GPU.

Now, those images looked fairly convincing on the face of it, though we obviously need to be careful about whether any leak is genuine, and indeed Moore’s Law is Dead (MLID) does point out that there are a couple of suspect elements with the pictures, and we certainly can’t rule out fakery.

At any rate, regarding those recent pics, the other possibility MLID raises is that they might show an early engineering sample cooler from the Ampere generation, perhaps drafted in as a workaround for a prototype next-gen Lovelace board. And indeed speculative rendered mock-ups based on the leaked images, provided to MLID, make the case that it seems pretty much the same as an RTX 3090 cooler.

Would Nvidia keep the same Ampere cooler for Lovelace? Well, that’s certainly possible, as it worked nicely and was well thought of, and keeping a reliable design for a second generation of graphics cards makes sense (and has happened in the past).

MLID also uses these freshly mocked-up renders to argue that while broad rumors have indicated a four-slot RTX 4090 Ti, a three-slot solution – or perhaps a touch larger, maybe 3.25-slots – could work for a 600W graphics card (the rumored wattage for the 4090 Ti currently). MLID demonstrates that the renders make it look like the latter could be a more likely solution than four-slots, and theorizes that 3.25-slots would give enough room to make the heatsink 10% to 20% bigger, and with design tweaking, this could work for a 600W GPU.

Although it’s still possible that the leaked pics show a 4090 Ti engineering sample with a makeshift cooler (drafted over from Ampere, as we already mentioned), and the final design could actually be a four-slot affair (with more differences).

This leads into MLID’s fresh speculation on the Lovelace release schedule: the leaker observes that Ampere’s cooler leaked a few months before the RTX 3090 emerged, and therefore given the timing of this Lovelace cooler leak, we’d expect the finished version to arrive perhaps in August. Indeed, that date has been rumored in recent times, but MLID has heard from sources that Nvidia’s partners (graphics card makers) are not expecting any real quantity of Lovelace cards to be floating around until October.

And if that does turn out to be the case, it suggests that those leaked pictures of the purported 4090 Ti we saw in May are indeed more likely to be of a sample board, one that perhaps won’t be all that close to the final Lovelace flagship design we’ll actually get (in October, if current rumors are correct). All of this is speculation, naturally, but generally speaking, the leaker sounds confident enough in the sources cited here.


Analysis: A lot of noise from the rumor mill (and maybe those fans, too)

This doesn’t mean we might not get something before October, of course; that’s just the month in which MLID believes (and it is just that – a belief) that Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs will be available in proper volume.

We could see a reveal, or indeed several teases, coming before that – that’d be expected in fact. But the other key part of the puzzle here is that MLID notes that sources have said Nvidia has a lot of excess RTX 3000 stock kicking about, and as we’ve observed before, any Lovelace announcement could prime gamers to wait for RTX 4000, interfering with the sales of Ampere GPUs. And with a lot of stock to get through, Nvidia won’t want that to happen…

So we’d guess that we won’t get a reveal until near-ish launch time, or the other scenario could be that Nvidia’s RTX 3000 models start really coming down in price, as retailers go up a gear to try and shift that excess stock, and sales come through faster as a result – and in that case, maybe we’ll witness an earlier unveiling. All of this points to RTX 3000 GPU prices falling more swiftly, and indeed we’re already starting to see more and more evidence of this; all great news for the average consumer.

As to the issue of whether the RTX 4090 Ti will be four-slot or three-slot (or some kind of three-and-a-bit-slot compromise), we think it’s too early to call that. Whatever the case, expect a beefy card, although MLID does theorize that maybe Nvidia isn’t even sure yet on whether to push for 600W for the 4090 Ti (it could depend on where RDNA 3 performance looks like it’s going to land, and how competitive Team Green must be in comparison).

All we’ll say is that if the 4090 Ti does turn out to be a three-slot or close to it, and a 600W part, then keeping that GPU cool might be possible as outlined above – but we do worry how noisy the fans could be as a result.

So not only might such an RTX 4090 Ti turn your PC into a small room heater, when under full load it could also sound like an aircraft taxiing out of a hangar, and with that likely huge size of the card – whether it’s really big, or really, really big – when all this adds up, you’ve got to wonder how impractical a proposition it could turn out.

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).