With each next generation of graphics cards, the NVIDIA company tries to impress so much that potential buyers think about another upgrade, even in cases where they own top models of the previous generation and did not plan to change anything in their configurations at all. So it is not surprising that the developers began to reveal the RTX 40xx graphics line with the flagship of the series – GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB. In addition to the fact that this model deserves special attention, we start our first acquaintance with the adapters of the line with MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G – an original video card with a liquid cooling system.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards are based on AD102 graphics processors with Ada Lovelace architecture. The chips are manufactured by the Taiwanese company TSMC according to technological standards of 4 nm (TSMC 4N). This is a fairly large GPU with a crystal area of 608 mm², which contains 76.3 billion transistors. For comparison, the top processor of the previous generation (Ampere), which was manufactured by Samsung according to the standards of 8 nm, had an area of 628 mm² and included 28.3 billion transistors. If we calculate the relative density of the composition of the elements, then it has increased almost three times – from 45.1 million transistors per 1 mm² to 125.5 million per 1 mm². When you operate with such indicators, the fantastic difference becomes more visible. Technological progress in the manufacture of crystals can still surprise and allows to significant increase the capabilities of microcircuits.
Returning to the AD102, it should be noted that in the maximum configuration, the GPU accommodates 18,432 CUDA cores. However, the developers are keeping the full-featured version for future solutions. In the case of the GeForce RTX 4090, the graphics card uses the AD102-300-A1 chip modification, in which 16,384 CUDA cores are activated. But even this is enough to have a significant quantitative advantage over what the GeForce RTX 3090 with GA102 offered – 10,496 cores. We note the difference of 56%. The number of texture mapping units, rasterizers, tensor cores, and RT cores has increased proportionally. In addition, the last couple updated the generation. Another significant update was a radical increase in the capacity of the L2 cache memory – from 6 MB to 72 MB. Let’s assume that a significant portion of the transistor budget was spent on just this improvement.
|GeForce RTX 4090
|GeForce RTX 4080
|GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
|GeForce RTX 3090
|4 nm, TSMC
|4 nm, TSMC
|8 nm, Samsung
|8 nm, Samsung
|512 (4 generation)
|304 (4 generation)
|336 (3 generation)
|328 (3 generation)
|128 (3 generation)
|76 (3 generation)
|84 (2 generation)
|82 (2 generation)
|GPU clock rates
|24 GB GDDR6X
|16 GB GDDR6X
|24 GB GDDR6X
|24 GB GDDR6X
|Effective memory frequency
|21 000 MHz
|23 000 MHz
|21 000 MHz
|19 500 MHz
The transition to a more advanced technological process allowed to significantly increase in the operating frequencies of the GPU. The base frequency of the graphics processor is 2235 MHz, and the average acceleration is 2520 MHz. We remind you that the RTX 3090 chip has a frequency formula of 1395/1695 MHz. The developers claim the theoretical computing power of the GeForce RTX 4090 at 82.6 TFLOPS, while the predecessor has 35.6 TFLOPS.
The configuration of the memory subsystem actually remained unchanged. The GeForce RTX 4090 uses a 384-bit bus. At the same time, the video card is equipped with GDDR6X chips with a total capacity of 24 GB. The effective operating frequency of the microcircuits of 21,000 MHz allows for a bandwidth of 1008 GB/s in this configuration. The flagship of the previous line, the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti, had identical RAM, while the RTX 3090 version had a slightly lower memory bandwidth of 936 GB/s due to a lower frequency of GDDR6X chips (19,000 MHz).
In terms of power consumption, the claimed TDP of 450 W is also identical to the RTX 3090 Ti, while the base RTX 3090 has 350 W. All GeForce RTX 4090 models have a 12VHPWR connector for connecting additional power.
NVIDIA has expectedly offered a graphics card of its own design – GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition. The model has an original specific layout of both the PCB and the cooling system. Instead, partners presented many adapters of their own development. Considering the declared TDP, most devices are genuine giants with very large cooling systems. An alternative to such graphic titans are versions with liquid coolers. It is one of these models that we are reviewing this time.
MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G
MSI offered eight GeForce RTX 4090 modifications at once – two models each in the SUPRIM, Ventus, GAMING TRIO, and SUPRIM LIQUID lines. The latter, as the name suggests, are equipped with liquid cooling systems. Taking into account the declared level of energy consumption, the appearance of versions with standard liquid cooling systems is quite expected. Moreover, it is not surprising that such models appeared in the assortment of MSI, which already has experience in the production of similar solutions.
The video card is delivered in a large cardboard box, designed in light colors and decorated with a photo of the adapter on the front side. Just by the dimensions of the box, you can guess that we are dealing with no ordinary device. Inside the case, the device is additionally fixed with damping pads for safe transportation.
The MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G comes with a quick installation guide and an adapter with four 8-pin connectors to one 12VHPWR for connecting additional power. As an additional incentive bonus, the graphics card buyer is also offered a mouse pad with a fabric surface.
A video card with a liquid cooling system is structurally significantly different from a model with an air cooler. This difference is even more pronounced when it comes to GeForce RTX 4090-level solutions. Instead of a bulky bar, we see a rather compact graphics adapter module. The developers made an effort to make the graphics card’s belonging to the Suprim series obvious at first glance. Characteristic forms with straight lines, combined asymmetric design with directional grinding of metal surfaces. One can feel the effort of the designers to support the general external style characteristic of the devices of the line.
The MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G model received factory overclocking. Instead of the recommended frequency formula of 2235/2520 MHz for the graphics processor, 2235/2625 MHz is declared. That is, the average value of dynamic GPU acceleration is additionally increased by +105 MHz. The GDDR6X memory chips run at an effective 21,008 MHz (1313 MHz).
The direct block of the graphics adapter is much more compact than RTX 4090 models equipped with air cooling. The dimensions of the graphics card are 280x140x43 mm. That is, we are talking about a two-slot design, which is not so easy to find now, even among devices of a lower class. This is a fundamental feature, for example, when it comes to the mATX platform, where there are limitations in size and free expansion slots on the motherboard.
The total weight of the graphics card is 2.35 kg, but this value also takes into account the mass of the radiator external unit. Therefore, the adapter itself does not need additional supporting supports, which can usually be seen in the standard set of massive graphics cards with air cooling systems.
From above, the graphics card is covered by a combined casing with a plastic base covered with a metal plate. Under the cover, there is a fairly large plate bracket with additional ribs, which acts as a cooler for the power elements.
A water block with a copper heat sink and a built-in low-profile pump is used to remove heat from the GPU and memory chips.
(fig. 8. the fan on the video is larger)
To blow the internal radiator on the graphics card, a 100-mm axial fan is provided, made according to Torx Fan 5.0 technology with a hydrodynamic bearing. The design provides nine blades with a certain angle of inclination of the impeller, while every three blades are connected to each other in a group.
Design features allow for improvement of the directionality of the airflow, as well as to increase the pressure at lower fan speeds.
As for the main radiator unit of the design, it is a full 240mm module with aluminum plates, which is blown by a pair of 120mm MSI MEG SILENT GALE P12 fans. For the latter, rubber dampers are provided in the corners to reduce vibration. PWM regulation is provided for speed control. According to the specification, the maximum rotation speed can be up to 2000 rpm.
The radiator cassette is connected to the water block by PVC pipes with an additional braid 470 mm long. The hardness of the hoses is average, there will be no problems with fitting them into the housing. Connections are securely sealed.
All GeForce RTX 4090 models from partners have original printed circuit boards. So the graphics card under review is also not an exception. The PCB is virtually identical to the one used by MSI to modify the air-cooled Suprim.
The GPU power stabilizer has as many as 26 phases, which are controlled by the Monolithic Power Systems MP2891 controller. At the same time, DrMOS – Monolithic MP86957 power assemblies with an operating current of up to 70 A are used in the circuit.
To control the power parameters of the memory chips, a 4-phase circuit is organized with identical power assemblies as for the GPU.
On the top panel of the adapter there is a 12VHPWR connector for connecting additional power. Although the wave of messages from RTX 4090 owners about the possible overheating of this connector has already subsided, the recommendations of the developers regarding the reliability of the contact should not be neglected. When connecting the power cable, it is a good idea to check and make sure that the connector is connected all the way.
In the specifications for the MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G, the developer emphasizes that the minimum power of the power supply unit for a system with this graphics card is 850 W. At the same time, it is recommended to use models with a power of 1000 W.
Next to the connector for additional power, you can also see a switch between Gaming and Silent modes. As it is not difficult to guess in the context of the graphics card, this is the ability to choose a profile for the operation of the cooling system. In addition, in this case, the basic Gaming mode corresponds to the declared power consumption of 480 W, while for Silent, the threshold is set at 450 W. Therefore, it is quite possible to expect that in the latter case the operating frequencies of the GPU will be somewhat lower than in the base mode.
On the back side, the graphics card is covered by an aluminum plate. In addition to purely decorative functions, it also protects surface-mounted elements from possible mechanical damage. In addition, the plate acts as an additional cooler.
The composition of video outputs on the interface panel corresponds to that of the reference GeForce RTX 4090 – three DisplayPort 1.4a and one full-format HDMI 2.1. All connectors are located in one tier. Part of the panel is occupied by a grid with large cells for the removal of heated air.
MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G received additional decorative lighting. On the upper side of the adapter, the illuminated mark of the Suprim series is clearly visible. An illuminating segment formed by two edges of the outer octagon is also provided near the graphics card fan.
An element with RGB lighting is also provided on the back of the video card – the logo of the line with geometric shapes imitating a diamond cut.
Of course, it is possible to choose the illumination mode and the possibility of synchronizing it with that of other elements of the system using the Mystic Light protocol. Appropriate settings can be made in the proprietary MSI Center application.
Despite the fact that the graphics card belongs to the top class, it consumes very little electricity in idle mode, so it is not at all surprising that the MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G supports Zero Frozr mode with the fans completely stopped.
In the absence of additional load, the temperature of the GPU was kept at 38C. The memory chips heated up to 46C. In this case, the cooling system works in passive mode, so the graphics card is silent.
In the basic Gaming mode, during a high game load, the graphics processor warmed up to an average of 60C with the hottest point at 76C. The temperature of the GDDR6X chips rose to 72C. The fan speed was 1400–1500 rpm.
According to monitoring indicators, in such conditions, the GPU was automatically accelerated to 2805 MHz.
When using Silent mode under load, the GPU temperature rose to 66C, the hottest point was 83C, and the memory chips warmed up to 76C. At the same time, the fan speed was within 1200–1300 rpm. The GPU peak is at the same 2805 MHz, but on average it was ~50 MHz lower than in the base Gaming mode.
Evaluating the temperature indicators of the MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G we should clarify. Before the graphics card came to us for testing, the cooling system was dismantled from it. Therefore, the obtained temperature values should be taken as estimates. It is usually difficult to restore the factory level of contact between the GPU and the heat exchanger.
But even in this case, the obtained 60–66С are good indicators for AD102. We associate slightly increased values for Hot Spot with the previous dismantling of the cooler.
Test bench configuration
Motherboard: MSI MAG B650M MORTAR WIFI (AMD B650)
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 7600X (6/12; 4.7/5.3 GHz)
Graphics card: MSI GeForce RTX 4080 16GB SUPRIM X
Cooling: MSI MEG CORELIQUID S360
Memory: Kingston FURY DDR5-6000 32 GB (KF560C36BBEAK2-32 2×16 GB)
Drive: Samsung 980 Pro 1 TB
Performance in games
To evaluate the performance of the MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G graphics card, we used a model of a lower class – the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 16GB SUPRIM X, whose capabilities were previously reviewed. Although the favorite of such a confrontation is known in advance, such a “versus” allows you to evaluate the advantage of GeForce RTX 4090 over GeForce RTX 4080 through a visual example, and perhaps decide for yourself whether it is enough to spend money on the purchase of the flagship.
To make a first impression and generally set the tone for the graphics race, a set of subtests from the 3DMark package is quite suitable. We have included three stages – Time Spy Extreme, Port Royale and Speed Way. A comparison of the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 shows a simply stunning advantage of the older model. The increase in productivity is 40–45%. A very serious gap between two adjacent steps in the graphics line. There is definitely room here for the future appearance of perhaps RTX 4080 Ti/SUPER. However, let’s look at the situation in real games.
Test measurements of performance in 4K mode with maximum picture quality demonstrate an advantage of GeForce RTX 4090 at the level of 18-41%. The arithmetic average for a total of 11 projects – 29%. That is, we are talking about an increase in productivity by almost a third. It is not as exciting as in the synthetic stages of 3DMark, but taking into account the fact that the laggard remains a very powerful model, which is significantly ahead of any graphics card of the previous generation, the difference does not seem so modest.
If you look at the absolute averages in the above games, it obviously makes sense for the GeForce RTX 4090 owner to think about buying a 4K screen with a refresh rate of 144+ Hz. In many cases, such a monitor will not stand idle.
We check the same game set, changing the graphics mode to 1440p. As expected, the GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB remains ahead, however, the difference in performance with that of the younger model has decreased significantly – to 15-20%. Moreover, in some projects it began to be measured in percentage units. In many games, the average fps exceeded the mark of 200 fps, or came close to it. However, the GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB has very good performance here. Of course, the extra performance doesn’t hurt, but the price/performance ratio at 1440p becomes less attractive for the RTX 4090.
With the transition to Full HD, the difference in the performance of graphics cards will further decrease and will amount to ~10%. Obviously, buying the RTX 4xxx series flagship just for games at 1920×1080 simply makes no sense. For this mode, even twice as cheap GeForce RTX 4070 Ti 12 GB is more than enough. A further increase in the power of the graphics card slowly affects the increase in fps.
In games with activated ray tracing, the power ratio of graphics cards is approximately preserved. GeForce RTX 4090 can be called the first model that allows you to get more than 60 fps in 4K mode with activated RT of high quality without additional scaling. Of course, DLSS for such conditions is extremely helpful.
Portal with RTX is a game that can bring even top graphics cards to their knees. Without DLSS support, choosing 4K mode is pointless even for owners of GeForce RTX 4090. Second-generation scaling already significantly improves performance, allowing you to get about 70 frames/c instead of 24 frames/c in Ultra mode. The use of RTX 4xxx video cards using Frame Generation technology allows the use of DLSS 3, which additionally increases the number of fps. All models of the series have this option, so it is not surprising that the difference in performance between RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 here is about 35%.
In 1440p mode, the overall performance increases, and the difference between the graphics cards decreases to 15-25%. In this case, the power of the RTX 4090 allows even without additional processing to get an average of 50 fps with Ultra quality settings, but 100+ fps with active DLSS is much more comfortable for playing the game.
If we compare the gaming performance of the RTX 4090 with that of NVIDIA’s top models of the previous generation, the new flagship is about 40-50% more powerful than the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti, and 60-70% ahead of the base GeForce RTX 3090.
As for the comparison with the new products of the main opponent, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX 24 GB can rather be considered a worthy opponent for the GeForce RTX 4080. Recently, AMD representatives shared information that based on solutions with the RDNA 3 architecture, they could well offer a competitor to the GeForce RTX 4090, but in their opinion, such a graphics adapter would be unreasonably expensive and have an increased level of energy consumption.
However, the number of AD102 chips sent to partners (100K+) only in the first months since the launch of GeForce RTX 4090 shows that there is considerable demand even for such expensive video cards. The most productive graphics adapters are needed by both uncompromising gamers and users with resource-intensive computing tasks. It is in such cases that the cost and increased energy consumption can take a back seat.
Taking into account that the GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB is sure to be of interest not only to hardcore gamers but also to users who need a powerful number cruncher, we have added a few additional tests that measure the computing performance of the graphics card.
The OpenCL benchmarks from GeekBench 5.5.1 and GeekBench 6.0.0 show mixed results, but both versions agree that the GeForce RTX 4090 outperforms the GeForce RTX 4080 by 32-35%.
Another test stage is computations in Blender. According to the results of the Blender Benchmark subtests, the older model MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G has a noticeable advantage, ahead of the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 16GB SUPRIM X by 34%.
As you can see, in similar tasks, GeForce RTX 4090 24 GB is also about a third ahead of GeForce RTX 4080 16 GB. This is proportional to the increase in the recommended price for the top model. In addition, the flagship has 8 GB more local memory, which can also be crucial for certain tasks.
Additional acceleration of the graphics flagship is an opportunity to go beyond limits that are generally unattainable for other graphics cards. This is an extraordinary feeling for enthusiasts, especially for those who are ready for extreme experiments. We limited ourselves to the express mode, which does not require specific abilities, skills and a container with liquid nitrogen. First of all, we note that MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G allows you to increase the Power Limit to 110%.
During attempts to overclock the graphics card, the GPU base frequency was increased from 2235 MHz to 2400 MHz (+7.4%). Whereas the memory chips ran at 1470 MHz, or an effective 23,520 MHz. Also, here we have a relative increase of 12% compared to the regular 21,000 MHz.
It was possible to overclock the chip to 2420 MHz, and the memory to 1475 MHz (23,600 MHz). In this mode, the system passed the 3DMark Time Spy Extreme test without any artifacts. However, in a much more “demanding” stability test – the game Portal with RTX – it was possible to get a normal operation at only 2400 MHz and 1470 MHz, respectively.
The increase in the base frequency of the GPU also affected the peak values. The GPU clocked up to 2,970 MHz, stopping a half-step short of the symbolic 3 GHz. The chip heated up to 66 degrees at a fan speed of 1500–1600 rpm.
Taking into account the increase in Power Limit, the power consumption of the graphics card was expected to increase to almost 530 W.
The MSI GeForce RTX 4090 SUPRIM LIQUID X 24G power consumption values of 450-480 W declared by the manufacturer are a reference for real figures. Indeed, during practical measurements, we actually got these values while playing Portal with RTX in 4K mode with ray tracing. When using the standard Gaming profile, the graphics card consumed 482 W, and 454 W in Silent mode. The indicators are very close to those in the specification. Here a lot will also depend on the nature of the load. For example, in Cyberpunk 2077, the power consumption was at the level of 390-400 W.
Taking into account such indicators, the manufacturer’s recommendation to use 1000 W power supply units for the platform with GeForce RTX 4090 is clearly valid. Assuming that such configurations will usually also be equipped with top-end CPUs, and at their peak, Intel Core 13-generation flagships may well reach 300+ W, then simple arithmetic proves that a certain reserve will not hurt here.
As you can see, the peak power consumption levels of the GeForce RTX 4090 are quite high and generally similar to those of the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti.
We will remind you that the MSI GeForce RTX 4080 16GB SUPRIM X consumed about 310–320 W under similar gaming conditions. Considering the difference in performance, it can be said that the energy efficiency of the younger model is better. As is usually the case, certain compromises are sometimes necessary to achieve maximum results.