Truth be told — I was pretty frightened of Nvidia’s RTX 50-series, and I stand by the belief that those fears were justified. They didn’t come out of thin air; they were fueled by Nvidia’s approach to GPU pricing and value for the money.
Nonetheless, the RTX 40 Super refresh represents a step in the right direction, and it’s one I never anticipated to occur. Nvidia’s most recent decisions demonstrate that it may have absorbed an important lesson, and that’s gratifying news for future generations of graphics cards.
The cost of performance
Nvidia really didn’t hold back in the RTX 40 series. It introduced some of the best graphics cards we’ve seen in a while, but raw performance isn’t the only thing to consider when evaluating the value of a GPU. The price is the second major factor and weighing it against performance can often tilt the scales from “great” to “disappointing.” That was the case with several GPUs in the Ada generation.
Let’s consider the RTX 4070 Ti, for example. The GPU could (or even should) have had more memory and perhaps more CUDA cores, but those issues wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if it was more affordable. With an $800 price tag, it was too costly for the kind of performance it was able to provide.
The RTX 4080 was in the same, or even worse, position. A powerful GPU in its own right, capable of tackling pretty much every game at 4K, it was doomed from the start and dubbed the worst-value GPU of the year. It was priced at $1,200, so that sentiment was completely valid.
Things don’t get better as we move down the product stack. The RTX 4070 was excellent, but all three versions of the RTX 4060 were a letdown. Performance, VRAM, and questionable pricing all came together to create three fairly “meh” GPU releases.
Atop the lineup sits the impressive RTX 4090. While it was outrageously expensive at launch, it’s even pricier now, but considering the generational leap between the RTX 4090 and its predecessor, that price made a lot more sense than some of the other choices Nvidia made this generation.
A lineup of impressive GPUs where each had something that could use improvement meant Nvidia had a lot to make up for. Personally, I felt disillusioned and didn’t believe that it would take any steps to fix the sorry state of the RTX 40-series.
And then, Nvidia opted to prove me wrong.
How Nvidia apologizes
The RTX 40 Super refresh added three more GPUs to the lineup: the RTX 4070 Super, the RTX 4070 Ti Super, and the RTX 4080 Super. Early rumors revealed the specs of each GPU way ahead of time, so technically, we knew what was coming.
The RTX 4070 Super received a substantial boost in CUDA core counts. The RTX 4070 Ti Super, on the other hand, addressed the major problem many people had with the base model — a lack of VRAM. Now, the Super version serves up 16GB of VRAM and an appropriate memory interface. Coming in last, the RTX 4080 was the big enigma prior to the release. With a barely visible spec upgrade, the GPU was destined to be a sidegrade and a clone of the RTX 4080.
Once again, performance is one thing. The prices remained secret until right before the launch, and I fully expected Nvidia to price all of these cards higher, just on the basis of them being “Super.”
Boy, was I in for a shock.
|RTX 4070 Super
|RTX 4070 Ti Super
|RTX 4080 Super
Instead of yet another instance of Nvidia ignoring the important aspect of performance-per-dollar, we got two cards with a noticeable bump in performance, and the RTX 4080 Super with a shocking price cut. That was all that it needed to become a great GPU.
For once, the outcry of consumers that was heard across various social media platforms was listened to. Nvidia addressed the main issues we’ve had with the RTX 4070 Ti (poor performance for the money and low VRAM) and the RTX 4080 (terrible value). The RTX 4070 Super was great to begin with, and now, it’s even better, all at the same price.
This is a rare instance of a “win-win” across the board, and while the cards could stand to be even cheaper, it’s important to acknowledge that Nvidia consciously strayed from the words of its CEO, Jensen Huang, who said that falling chip prices are “a story of the past.”
This is a big deal, but it’s also not the first time that Nvidia decided to say “sorry” by fixing its past mistakes in the very same generation of GPUs.
Not the first Super
Nvidia’s no stranger to having to apologize and fix mistakes that didn’t go over well with its customer base. The RTX 20-series Super refresh was similar to what we got in this generation.
Months after the launch of the RTX 2060, RTX 2070, and the RTX 2080, Nvidia turned around and decided to improve what went wrong. The Super versions came in at the same (or slightly higher) price points, but with an improvement in specs. Sounds familiar, right?
However, the specification bump wasn’t massive enough to make much of a splash. The RTX