RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition leak shows Nvidia’s future GPU plans aren't pretty

Nvidia CES 2022
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Update: Our Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti review is now live, and we can confirm that the price is a very high $1,999 (around £1,600 / AU$2,700).  The RTX 3090 Ti also does indeed require 450W, as many leaks suggested. This means our fears that this GPU would be both very expensive and power-hungry were correct.

If you'd like to buy the RTX 3090 Ti, check out our RTX 3090 Ti order live blog for stock information.

Original story follows...

Several new leaks have emerged that give us a better idea of the upcoming Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti, which will likely be the most powerful – and expensive – gaming GPU in the world.

While the mighty Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti is likely to be a niche product, it could still be a very important release, as it may give us an idea of what future Nvidia GPUs will be like. If that is indeed the case, then these new leaks have got us a little bit worried.

The most recent leak shows off the Founders Edition of the Nvidia RTX 3090 Ti, a reference card made by Nvidia itself. 

While we were shown the Founders Edition at CES 2022 when the RTX 3090 Ti was first announced, things had gone a bit quiet on that front, and recent leaks concentrated on showing us aftermarket RTX 3090 Ti designs (and performance benchmarks) from third parties.

This led some people to think that there may not be a Founders Edition of the RTX 3090 Ti after all, or at least not one for consumers to actually buy.

However, VideoCardz has published a series of photographs of the RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition, giving us a closer look at the GPU, including a box shot which essentially confirms that this model will also go on sale.

As many of us suspected, the Founders Edition RTX 3090 Ti looks almost identical to the RTX 3090 Founders Edition, and it will once again by a hefty three-slot GPU. 

So, if you weren’t a fan of the sheer size of the RTX 3090, or have a smaller PC case where space is at a premium, you may be disappointed.

There is a noticeable difference, however, as the RTX 3090 Ti Founders Edition comes with a PCIe Gen5 16-pin power connector, rather than the 12-pin connector the RTX 3090 Founders Edition sported.

This means you’ll need an adaptor for your PSU (power supply unit), and one will likely be included in the box. 

The new 16-pin connector already looks like it will be more widely used than the 12-pin connector, as third party RTX 3090 Tis have been pictured using it, whereas the 12-pin connection was only found on Nvidia’s own RTX 3090 and a few GPUs based on Nvidia’s reference design.

It’s highly likely that high-end models of Nvidia’s next generation ‘Lovelace’ graphics cards, like the rumored (and, let’s face it, practically inevitable) RTX 4080 could use the 16-pin connector. 

This could worry some people, as not only does it mean using an adaptor, but it also means next gen Nvidia GPUs could be seriously power hungry - the RTX 3090 Ti could have a huge TDP of 450W, compared to the already-high 350W of the RTX 3090. 

For PC gamers with rigs powered by a PSU that offers less than 1000W of juice, it means a new PSU will more than likely be needed. 

That’s not only a pricey upgrade, but it can be a complete pain as well, as the PSU connects to a variety of components, including the GPU, SSDs and motherboard, so swapping them out can be time consuming and fiddly.

With rapidly rising energy increases, this move could also have longer-term cost impacts for gamers as well, especially if the trend of evermore power-hungry GPUs continues.

However, another RTX 3090 Ti leak emerged over the weekend, which if true has us a bit more worried.

Big price, small gains

These rumors, again reported by VideoCardz, suggest that that the RTX 3090 Ti will offer a performance increase of between 5% to 10% over the RTX 3090 at 4K

While this makes the 3090 Ti, which looks to offer 43 teraflops of power an incredibly impressive GPU, people hoping for a larger leap over the older card will likely be disappointed.

See more

This will definitely be the case if the RTX 3090 Ti launches at a much higher price than the RTX 3090, as some rumors suggest.

However, another source claims the RTX 3090 Ti will launch at the same MSRP as the 3090: $1,499 (around £1,150 / AU$2,000).

See more

This would be a (nice) surprise, which the source claims is due to the minimal performance increase over the RTX 3090. 

It would also suggest that the RTX 3090 could get a price drop. That would be another nice development, though while GPU prices are dropping globally, it’s still very hard to find graphics cards selling for MSRP.

We also hope that this incremental upgrade isn’t a sign of things to come. Nvidia’s RTX 4000 GPUs, which are expected to launch later this year, will need to offer a substantial performance boost over the current generation of RTX 3000 graphics cards to justify launching at a time when getting hold of GPUs remains difficult.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.