When it comes to upgrading your gaming PC, there is no bigger step than deciding you want to install a NVIDIA 3090 in your PC. Why? Well, basically because the 3090 is in fact the strongest and fastest gaming orientated GPU on the market today – but all that power comes at a cost.
The 3090 is notoriously also the most expensive card on the market today, and for the money, you are putting down it’s totally understandable to make sure that you have the best of the best plugged into your machine. So, we are here to run through all of the very best GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards on the market at the moment, and which out of all the cards out there should you be interested in investing in.
Ranking the best Nvidia RTX 3090 graphics cards might sound difficult, but we have managed it by narrowing down our areas of focus to the likes of cooling, graphical fidelity, and overall build quality so that we can seperate the top performing cards from some of the weaker entries. is no mean feat but we’ve managed it by looking at some standout areas in which we think to separate the better GPUs from the weaker offerings. Whilst you might think that all of the 3090 GPUs are on a level playing field at the moment, the truth is that there is actually some difference in the way the different cards perform – hopefully, this list helps you get the most from your money when it comes to buying a 3090!
Best Nvidia RTX 3090 Graphics Card in 2021
ASUS is one of the most reliable PC orientated brands on the market today, with their graphics cards having a long-standing history with the ROG STRIX branding and the gaming marketplace as a whole. Basically, if one of the checkpoints on your list of requirements for a new 3090 graphics card is it comes from a company with a long-standing history in the gaming marketplace, ASUS is a great place to start.
Now let’s talk about this card’s performance, starting with the fact that this is a factory overclocked model. What does that mean? Basically, the manufacturer had designed this card to squeeze out a little more in terms of in-game performance, with a boosted clock speed of 1770MHz, which when combined with the 24gb of GDDR6X this card is packing means you aren’t going to come into any serious issues running pretty much any game out there at the moment…or in the near future.
Now, all that power isn’t going to present itself without any side effects, and I think the big question everyone has on their mind is ‘how does this card handle cooling as it gives out up to 8K gameplay in modern titles?’ and the answer is that this is one of the most effective 3090 cards when it comes to cooling sat on shelves right now.
The brand new design of the Axial-tech based cooling system means that air flows through the card much easier, which only assists with thermal dissipation – and all of this takes place without the noise to match thanks to a dual ball bearing reliant design, which means that you get optimal cooling at subsonic frequencies. Always a win.
You can also throw this fact into the long list of reasons to choose ASUS as the manufacturer of your 3090 – they were one of the only companies to launch their 30 series cards without the slew of overheating and potentially damaging issues that other manufacturers and users saw in their cards, namely to do with overheating and damaging of the components on the card itself. It’s a relatively small note to make when it comes to the list of positives involved with this card, but it does indicate a higher and earlier understanding of the tech within the card that will lead to a longer life within your PC.
And, product lifespan brings us to the price point of this card. Now, with the ASUS TUF OC 3090 being a 3090, you are going to have to throw away any ideas you had about this card being budget orientated – you want a 3090, you have to expect the price point to match. But, what might surprise you is that some of the best cooling and design to feature on a 3090 is sold by ASUS at a price that is actually a lot smaller than some of the others on this list.
Essentially, what you can expect from the ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3090 OC card is a GPU that can handle all of the gameplay you might expect from a top tier GPU, such as 8K gameplay with high stable framerates, alongside a cooling system and technical design that will keep your card in good health for a long time – all built inside a casing that ranks as one of the best looking on this list thanks to its understated and simplistic design.
Slightly lower price than other cards
When it comes to 3090 performance, right now we are in the infancy of what we can see and expect from these cards – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t already clear contenders for the crown of ‘most powerful’, and the overclocked Gaming 3090 from Gigabyte is a close second to the power of the MSI Gaming Trio.
Clock speeds first – and of course, this has a factory boosted clock of 1755MHz and the requisite 24gb of GDDR6X RAM installed in it. What does this deliver? Well, the same game beating performance you would expect from a top tier graphics card, with UHD 4K environments pushed out with no real worries from the card itself, and with extra room to maneuver in high-end environments once gaming software has caught up to this cards hardware.
Then you have to talk about how this card looks. Personally, I think that this is the best-looking card on the list, it’s got a little bit of RGB for those who like that (and Fusion 2.0, so that RGB can be customized!), as well as a monochromatic color scheme that really works as part of any PC.
That’s just how it looks though, when you examine aspects like the triple fan cooling design that helps to keep this card working at optimal performance even when it’s pumping out high fidelity gaming, you appreciate the sleek design that couples with the stop-start integration of the fans to ensure quiet performance when in use.
Then there is the rigidity and overall longevity of the card itself, supported with a metal backplate to help the card sit comfortably within the motherboard without damaging the PCI-E slots too much. Why does this matter? Because this is probably the heaviest card on this list. I’m sure you have already seen the memes and images of these cards, so you might already understand why its weight would be an important factor.
Realistically though, this is the best card to go for if the MSI is totally out of stock – but even if you can find the MSI, The Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming OC is a great alternative that offers near-identical performance at a slightly lower price.
IceStorm 2.0 Cooling
Still amazingly poweful
It's the least expensive, but still expensive
The words ‘budget’ and ‘3090’ rarely go together comfortably, especially when we are still right at the beginning of the 3090 series cards life cycle. Still, if you are looking to get the most for your money when you are forking over for a 3090, then you had definitely better check out the ZOTAC RTX 3090 Trinity.
Now, Zotac isn’t a brand that many people have heard of when it comes to GPUs – usually the big hitters are the likes of MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte, and EVGA, but that’s no reason to write them off. In fact, the marketplace ignorance of ZOTAC might work in your favor once you start looking into how these cards perform.
It comes with a factory boosted clock speed of 1695MHz, and the requisite 24GB of GDDR6x RAM that all the 3090 cards ship with. That clock speed is nothing to be laughed at either. For the price this card comes at, this is an OC boost clock that’s comparative to the higher tier cards in this list – and if you were wondering, yes, it offers all of the ray-traced, 8k, high framerate gameplay you might expect from a brand new 3090 card plugged into a gaming PC.
One area that always attracts a lot of attention when it comes to graphics cards is the onboard cooling, as in cheaper cards it can be overlooked and made into an issue for third party coolers. Not the case with ZOTAC though. In fact, the onboard IceStorm 2.0 cooling solution on the card itself, which builds off of the ‘flow-through’ technology present in the founder’s edition with a triple fan design and stop-start tech all to keep the card cool as it performs.
You aren’t going to be caught short when it comes to display options either, as the ZOTAC offers 3 DisplayPort 1.4a outputs, as well as an HDMI 2.1 port, which is obviously going to keep you covered in terms of output display options – unless you have more than four monitors, in which case, might I suggest you have too many monitors.
Basically, if you are looking for a GPU in the 3090 range that offers stellar performance and doesn’t (completely) cripple your bank account, then you need to look at ZOTAC.
Best performing card
If money is no object to you, and you believe personally that every penny in your account should be devoted to superior in-game performance, then you need to check out what our old friends at MSI have been cooking up with their Gaming GeForce Gaming X Trio.
Right off the bat, I can tell you that this card is going to give you an out of the box overclocked performance bench of 1785MHz, alongside the 24gb of GDDR6x RAM that comes in a 3090. However, this card utilizes it well – possibly better than others in this list to the extent that we would call it the fastest and most consistently high performing card on the market today (for general gamer use. You can expect 4K UHD performance with the factory overclock alone, and the 24gb of GDDR6x means that you are going to struggle to find yourself a task that this card won’t be able to tackle.
All of that raw performance power is of course offset by potential heating issues, but you don’t need to worry. This card is all set to go with the fresh design of the MSI Tri Frozr 2 cooling solution, so, along with more efficient core pipes and improved fans you can expect a greater heat dissipation, with the core pipes themselves designed to channel heat from the GPU into the heatsink directly, which has a huge impact on how this card performs in regards to thermal optimization.
We can’t talk about thermal solutions without talking about the overall design of the card though, and for all those gamers out there, you will be happy to learn that this card as some RGB slapped onto it just to improve in-game frame rate. That’s how RGB works. Seriously though, this a good-looking card, and it even has reinforced PCI-E slots so you don’t need to worry about the actual casing warping once it’s plugged into your motherboard.
Basically, if you are looking for pure performance and power from your 3090, and you don’t mind slapping down the cash to match the performance, then the MSI Gaming X Trio is the one for you.
Things To Consider
What To Think About Before Buying A 3090
When it comes to PC gaming, there can be no argument that the 3090 card by Nvidia is the top dog. Right now the 3090 is unmatched when it comes to performance, but it would be untrue to say that there aren’t some caveats when it comes to running one in your PC.
The very first thing you need to remember is that the 3090 itself is a very expensive GPU. In fact, it’s probably one of the most expensive mass-produced gamer orientated GPUs to hit the market in history, so you need to make sure that you are comfortable with the amount of money a 3090 demands.
And it isn’t just the cash you are putting down you need to be comfortable with either – you need to make sure that your PC can handle it from a processing point of view. Basically, your CPU needs to be strong enough to handle the loads being pulled to the 3090, otherwise, you are going to come up against some CPU bottleneck issues. What does this mean? In simple terms, the performance of your graphics card is going to be limited by what your CPU can do. So, before you go whacking a fistful of cash down on the counter for a new 3090, consider investing in your CPU and MOBO to make sure you are getting the most for your money. AMD is doing some great stuff in their newest CPUs, so I would suggest starting there.
Then you have to think about whether you really need all the power that a 3090 offers. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the need to stick the biggest and best engine under the hood, but sometimes just because you can get insane performance doesn’t mean you need it.
So, take a moment to think about the 3080. You are still going to be able to expect ray-traced environments, stable 4K gameplay, and run a future proof graphics card whilst only having paid a fraction of the cost of a 3090. Sure, the 3090 is better when it comes to tasks outside of gaming like 3D CAD design and video rendering – but if you are looking for a pure gaming experience then you should definitely explore your options in the 3080.
So, if you are looking for the best available 3090 graphics card on the market at the moment, then you need to check out the Asus TUF Gaming Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 OC thanks to its stellar performance and balanced price. For unmitigated power, you should check out the MSI Gaming X Trio, as it outstrips its contemporaries when it comes to in-game power. If you’re after a close second to the MSI then the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3090 is a great alternative, costing less and offering close-but-no-cigar performance. And of course, if you want a 3090 but really want to squeeze every drop out of your money, then look into the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Trinity, thanks to its stellar performance and cooling, matched with market-beating prices.
However, this is only a general guide to the 3090 cards out there on the market today, If you want some more advice regarding your gaming PC upgrade, and you would like a little more guidance when it comes to choosing your next GPU just leave a comment below, and we will do our best to get back to you with tailored advice!