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Here’s the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 GPU range we should have had

Our alternative Nvidia Ada gaming GPU lineup shows what could have been, if the price, specs, and branding of these graphics cards wasn't all out of whack.

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: GeForce RTX 4080 with $749 price tag

Hands up everyone who’s bubbling with excitement about all the latest Nvidia Ada GPUs, and isn’t remotely disappointed by them? Yes! You there, with your hand up, what excites you the most about Ada? Oh… yes, you can use the bathroom. No one else? Anyone?

What the hell happened, Nvidia? I feel a little sorry for the marketing people there who have to push Ada GPUs. It’s not that Ada is a bad architecture. You only need to look at the RTX 4090 to see that Ada’s performance can be amazing, and DLSS 3 is fantastic tech for making ray-traced games smoothly playable.

But once you get below the RTX 4090, the specs are completely out of whack with the prices, and the memory configs seem to have been decided by someone who was somehow frozen in time during the pandemic.

With this in mind, I thought I’d have a look at the Ada building blocks, and see if I could come up with something better, a GPU range that I could wholeheartedly recommend as a reviewer, and feel good about it. Honestly, firing up the $399 GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8GB to find it couldn’t even run our Doom Eternal ray tracing test at 1080p was one of the most depressing moments in my time as a graphics card reviewer, and I remember reviewing GeForce FX.

One card that isn’t going to get much tweaking is the RTX 4090. Nvidia pretty much nailed the spec of this high-end GPU, and it delivers on its promise of the best performance for those that can afford it. I haven’t gone into clock speed either – for this feature, I just wanted to focus purely on the core specs. Here’s how the Custom PC Ada range would look below the RTX 4090:

G-Force CPC 4080 Ti

  • Price: $1,139 (£1,075)
  • CUDA cores: 13,824
  • RT cores: 108
  • Tensor cores: 432
  • Memory: 20GB GDDR6X
  • Memory interface: 320-bit

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: RTX 4080 Ti with $1,139 price tag

The CPC 4080 Ti is priced at $1,139, and it’s based on the same AD102 GPU as the RTX 4090, but with only nine of the Graphics Processing Clusters (GPCs) enabled. This gives it 108 Streaming Multiprocessor units (SMs), each with an RT core, making for a total of 13,824 CUDA cores.

It reduces the size of the RTX 4090’s super-wide memory bus, but not hugely. It has 20GB of GDDR6X memory attached to a 320-bit bus, giving it loads of headroom for future games at 4K. It’s not as quick as the RTX 4090, but it’s not far behind, and a solid buy for people looking for a very fast 4K gaming GPU who can’t run to the cost of the RTX 4090. At this price, it’s a much more compelling option than the genuine RTX 4080.

G-Force CPC 4080

  • Price: $749 (£709)
  • CUDA cores: 10,752
  • RT cores: 84
  • Tensor cores: 336
  • Memory: 20GB GDDR6X
  • Memory interface: 320-bit

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: RTX 4080 priced at $749

The CPC 4080 is significantly cheaper than the actual RTX 4080, and it has a superior spec as well. It features seven fully-enabled GPCs, giving it 10,752 CUDA cores and 84 RT cores. Before anyone shouts at us about the price compared to the RTX 3080, we know It costs $100 more than the RTX 3080 at launch, but that reflects a fair amount of inflation from the last few years, plus it has twice as much memory.

With 20GB of GDDR6X memory attached to a 320-bit memory interface, there’s no chance that memory speed or capacity will be a bottleneck to this GPU in any way whatsoever. Yes, Nvidia bumping up the L2 cache in its Ada GPUs helps to counteract having a narrower memory interface, and you could get away with only having 16GB of memory and a 256-bit bus on this card, but this 20GB setup gives you loads of future-proofing headroom, which you want when you’re spending $749 on a GPU.

G-Force CPC 4070 Ti

  • Price: $639 (£599)
  • CUDA cores: 9,216
  • RT cores: 72
  • Tensor cores: 288
  • Memory: 16GB GDDR6X
  • Memory interface: 256-bit

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: GeForce RTX 4070 Ti with $639 price tag

You had to laugh when the RTX 4070 Ti first came out. Its performance was generally fine, but the price looked like it had been plucked out of the rear end of a loan shark. $799 for a card with just 12GB of memory, really? Anyway, we’ve dropped that price down to $649, which is the same price as the RTX 3080 when it launched.

We can’t realistically expect pricing miracles after a pandemic, a silicon shortage, and several other inflationary factors, but we can at least expect the price to bear some relation to reality. The CPC 4070 Ti has a similar spec to the actual current RTX 4080, with 16GB of memory attached to a 256-bit interface. It has 72 fully-enabled Ada GPCs, giving you 72 RT cores and 9,216 CUDA cores.

G-Force CPC 4070

  • Price: $539 (£499)
  • CUDA cores: 7,680
  • RT cores: 60
  • Tensor cores: 240
  • Memory: 12GB GDDR6X
  • Memory interface: 192-bit

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: RTX 4070 with $539 price tag

We quite liked the RTX 4070 when it launched, and it even has a place on our best graphics card guide. However, it’s still far from perfect – it’s a 4/5 scorer rather than a solid 5/5, and a bit of tweaking gets it over the edge. Our CPC 4070’s spec is basically the same as the standard RTX 4070 Ti spec, but with a price that doesn’t make you sob into your keyboard.

G-Force CPC 4060 Ti

  • Price: $399 (£379)
  • CUDA cores: 6,144
  • RT cores: 48
  • Tensor cores: 192
  • Memory: 12GB GDDR6X
  • Memory interface: 192-bit

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: RTX 4060 Ti with $399 price tag

The price of the genuine GeForce RTX 4060 Ti was about right – it seemed like a breath of fresh air to see a gaming GPU that demanded a sum that mere mortals could afford. However, its core spec failed to deliver on expectations for that price. It’s barely any quicker than the last-gen RTX 3060 Ti in games that don’t use DLSS 3, and its lack of memory is shocking in 2023.

We’ve given the CPC 4060 Ti four fully-enabled Ada GPCs, giving it 48 RT cores and 6,144 CUDA cores – it’s more powerful than the actual RTX 4070. It also doesn’t have the memory bottleneck of the genuine RTX 4060 Ti, having 12GB of GDDR6X memory attached to a 192-bit interface. Comparatively, the RTX 3060 Ti had a wider 256-bit interface, but the extra L2 cache from the Ada architecture bridges this gap. This setup is a happy compromise between the RTX 4060 Ti 16GB, which is too expensive, and the RTX 4060 Ti 8GB, which doesn’t have enough memory.

G-Force CPC 4060

  • Price: $299 (£280)
  • CUDA cores: 4,068
  • RT cores: 36
  • Tensor cores: 144
  • Memory: 12GB GDDR6
  • Memory interface: 192-bit

Imagine if the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range wasn't a joke: RTX 4060 with $299 price tag

Like the RTX 4060 Ti, the price of the genuine RTX 4060 is in line with expectations, even costing less than the RTX 3060 at launch, but the spec is seriously underwhelming. We’ve given the CPC 4060 three Ada GPCs, so it has 4,608 CUDA cores and 36 RT cores – it’s more powerful than the standard RTX 4060 Ti, and it also has 12GB of memory attached to a 192-bit bus, although it’s GDDR6 memory, rather than GDDR6X. This helps maintain the price, while also providing some headroom for future proofing.

G-Force CPC 4050

  • Price: $229 (£219)
  • CUDA cores: 3,072
  • RT cores: 24
  • Tensor cores: 96
  • Memory: 8GB GDDR6
  • Memory interface: 128-bit

Finally, we come to the first 8GB card of the pack, which is where it should be, in the entry-level section. The CPC 4050 basically has the spec of the genuine RTX 4060, but with a name and price that better reflects the power on offer. At this price, the CPC 4050 would squish the $269 Radeon RX 7600, undercutting the cost and out-performing it in quite a few tests, especially with its support for DLSS 3.

Wouldn’t Ada have been so much more compelling if the price and specs were balanced like the above list? If the RTX 4080 hadn’t cost over a grand I’d have bought one. Of course, I don’t pretend to be a silicon engineer, and I don’t know the exact costs involved in producing all the above, but I do know that Nvidia is an immensely profitable company with sizable margins, and the RTX 4000 lineup would undoubtedly be selling in larger numbers if the price and specs gave people a more compelling reason to upgrade.

As it is, while some of Nvidia’s latest GPUs have just about scraped by, the only Nvidia Ada GPU that really blew us away was the original GeForce RTX 4090, which remains our top choice as the best 4K gaming GPU. You can currently pick one up for $1,599, which is expensive, but in line with the cost of previous top-end graphics cards.

Would you change anything about this list, while being realistic about costs and specs? Share your ideal GPU wish list with us on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and discuss PC tech and gaming with our 400,000+ members.