Why I feel hopeful about Nvidia’s RTX 50 series GPUs

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I’m not going to lie — I’m pretty scared of Nvidia’s RTX 50 series, and I’d say those fears are justified. They don’t just appear; this is driven by Nvidia’s approach to GPU pricing and value for money.

However, the RTX 40 Super refresh is a step in the right direction, and it’s a step I never saw coming. Nvidia’s latest choice suggests that they may have learned an important lesson, and that’s good news for next-generation graphics cards.

Performance price

Nvidia really isn’t holding back on the RTX 40 series. It’s introducing a few of them the best graphics card we’ve seen in a long time, but raw performance isn’t the only thing to consider when estimating the value of a GPU. Price is the second major factor and comparing it to performance can often tip the scale from “great” to “disappointing.” A similar thing happened to several GPUs in the Ada generation.

Let’s take the RTX 4070 Ti, for example. The GPU may (or even should) have more memory and perhaps more CUDA cores, but those issues wouldn’t be as big of a deal if they were cheaper. With a price tag of $800, it’s too expensive for the kind of performance it’s capable of delivering.

The RTX 4080 is in the same position, or even worse. A powerful GPU, capable of handling almost any game in 4K resolution, was doomed from the start and was dubbed the worst value GPU of the year. It’s priced at $1,200, so the sentiment is totally valid.

PNY RTX 4080 with power connector installed.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Things don’t get better as we move down the product stack. The RTX 4070 is great, but all three versions of the RTX 4060 are disappointing. Performance, VRAM, and questionable pricing all come together to create three fairly “meh” GPU releases.

At the top of the range is the impressive RTX 4090. While it was very expensive at launch, it’s even more expensive now, but considering the generational jump between the RTX 4090 and its predecessor, the price is much more reasonable than some of the other choices Nvidia has made. this generation.

With an impressive lineup of GPUs that each have something that needs improvement, Nvidia has a lot to improve on. Personally, I’m disappointed and don’t believe that any steps are needed to improve the sorry state of the RTX 40 series.

And then, Nvidia decided to prove me wrong.

How Nvidia says ‘sorry’

RTX 4080 Super graphics card on pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Super RTX 40 refresh adds three more GPUs to the lineup: the RTX 4070 Super, RTX 4070 Ti Super, and RTX 4080 Super. Early rumors revealed the specifications of each GPU well in advance, so technically, we know what to expect.

The RTX 4070 Super receives a major increase in CUDA core count. In contrast, the RTX 4070 Ti Super addresses a big problem many people had with the base model – the lack of VRAM. Now, the Super version features 16GB VRAM and a matching memory interface. Lastly, the RTX 4080 was a big puzzle before its release. With barely noticeable spec upgrades, the GPU is destined to be a sidegrade and clone of the RTX 4080.

Again, performance is one thing. Pricing remains a secret until before launch, and I fully expect Nvidia to price all these cards higher, simply because they are “Super.”

Wow, I’m really surprised.

RTX 4070 Super RTX 4070 Ti Super RTX 4080 Super
CUDA core 7,168 8,448 10,240
Increase the clock 2.475MHz 2,610MHz 2.505MHz
Memory speed 21Gbps 21Gbps 23Gbps
Memory bus 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit
TDP 220W 290W 320W
Price $600 $800 $1,000

Instead of Nvidia ignoring the important aspect of performance per dollar, we get two cards with real performance improvements, and the RTX 4080 Super at a surprising price cut. That’s all it takes to be a great GPU.

This time, consumer complaints heard on various social media platforms were listened to. Nvidia addresses the main issues we had with the RTX 4070 Ti (poor performance for the money and low VRAM) and RTX 4080 (poor value). The RTX 4070 Super was great to begin with, and now, it’s even better, all for the same price.

This is a rare example of a “win-win” in general, and while the card could be cheaper, it is important to note that Nvidia is consciously straying from the words of its CEO, Jensen Huang, who said that the chip will fall. price is “a story of the past.”

This is a big deal, but it’s also not the first time Nvidia has decided to apologize by correcting its past mistakes on the same GPU generation.

Not the first Super

Nvidia's RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti sit on the table.
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Nvidia is no stranger had to apologize and correct mistakes that were not well received by its customer base. The RTX 20 series Super Refresh is similar to what we got in this generation.

A few months after the launch of the RTX 2060, RTX 2070, and RTX 2080, Nvidia turned around and decided to right its wrongs. The Super version comes at the same price (or slightly higher), but with better specifications. Sounds familiar, right?

However, the spec upgrades aren’t big enough to make much of a splash. The RTX 2080 Super is only a few percent faster than its predecessor, while the Super 2060 and Super 2070 see bigger improvements of 10% to 15%. Of course, their prices were initially lower than the prices we face today; An RTX 4080 at $700 would be a killer GPU.

On the surface, there’s not much difference between the RTX 20 series refresh and what we’re looking at this time around. Older GPUs will largely be phased out in favor of more powerful GPUs, and the market would be better served by having more GPUs available while both types are still being sold. The launch of this refresh is timely, giving Nvidia something new to talk about before it gets ready to launch the RTX 50 series.

But this time the refreshment feels significant. Given the pricing strategy for the RTX 30 series and RTX 40 series, Nvidia could do the same and price each GPU higher. Sure, a lot of people will be disappointed, but hey, it’s Nvidia – people will still buy it. (Case in point: myself. I bought an RTX 4080 last year.)

We could get an RTX 4070 Ti Super with more CUDA, but the same VRAM for $900, or an RTX 4080 Super with almost no upgrades and a $1,300 price tag. We didn’t.

What impact will this have on Nvidia’s next generation of graphics cards?

The GPU landscape is changing

Two RTX 4070 Ti Super graphics cards are placed next to each other.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

For the first time in months, I felt hopeful. After all, it’s not the rumored performance of the Blackwell generation that worries me; in fact I don’t believe Nvidia is still willing to listen to feedback. However, the RTX 40 series Super refresh tells me otherwise.

Could this be a one-off? Possible. But it’s hard not to realize that the consumer market may be slowly reaching the limits of how far most people are willing to go to build a new PC. Prices can only rise so high before people move on to cheaper options, be they entry-level GPUs, consoles, or portable devices like Asus ROG Ally. The latter wouldn’t be a great solution for Nvidia, considering they still haven’t dipped their toes into the pot of gold seen in the burgeoning gaming handheld market.

Now that Nvidia has shown us that it’s possible, I’m hoping the RTX 50 series will expand on that. Give us slightly better value and a reasonable GPU configuration — so, not an RTX 4060 Ti with 16GB VRAM and a 128-bit bus. Instead, let’s get the RTX 5070 which starts at $600 and beats the RTX 4070 Ti, or the RTX 5080 which increases the performance or lowers the price. Maybe down to $900? One can dream, but realistically, I would be happy if the price remained at $1,000.

Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know what Nvidia will do next. It’s probably doing the same thing it did when it previously released a mid-gen refresh – going back to the old ways and draining our wallets with overpriced GPUs. The approach will, no doubt, see AMD working in anticipation of some easy gains in the mid-range segment where gamers are more likely to choose value over performance.

The problem is, Nvidia can’t keep doing the same thing forever and expect different results. The reception of the RTX 40 series showed the tech giant that simply slapping the Nvidia logo on a product isn’t always enough to sell it. Hopefully these learnings can be passed on to the next generation and provide even better value with the RTX 50 series in 2025.

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