To say NVIDIA's Ampere was born amid strange times is an understatement. With a global pandemic, various component shortages amongst huge spikes in demand. Working from home, it would seem, requires hefty computational power. Fast forward to today armed with a fully-enabled GA102 GPU, the ROG Strix LC RTX 3090Ti arrives with a water-cooled solution that leads the fleet at full sail.
No rest for the liquid
The 2.6 slot design houses the enclosed pump which actively cools both the GPU and memory using a large copper block. The VRM is dealt with separately using an aluminum heatsink that's actively cooled by a lateral blower sitting flush within the Strix LC's shroud.
Extending from within the shroud are two sleeved 560mm tubes neatly stowing away the fan cables whilst providing generous install length to help even the largest chassis anchor the 240mm radiator. The preinstalled 120mm ROG RGB fans require no external setup and are interchangeable with any 120m fan on the market, such as the Strix XF 120 in case we're aiming for a more neutral build. In addition, FanConnect II allows for two 4-pin PWM fans to be connected. These sync up to our radiator fans to provide additional airflow. Something that's welcome in tighter enclosures or SFF builds where residual heat needs to be removed quickly when the GPU is loaded up.
16-pin PCIe 5.0 Power Connector
The 3090Ti ROG Strix LC can pull up to 480W at factory power limits and extends to 513W with a 107% Power Target, so it's no shock that the recommended PSU requirements stand at 1000W.
All RTX 3090Ti come with a new standard form factor 16-pin power connector 12VHPWR (12-Volt High Power). The new ATX 3.0 connector uses 12 electrical pins and 4 data pins. The latter is used to transport data between the PSU and the GPU, with two of them (SENSE0 and SENSE1) used to inform the GPU what connector is being used so that it can adequately adjust power management. There are up to 4 separate variants of the 12VHPWR connector, these include 600W, 450W, 300W, and 150W.
If you're not sporting a new THOR II PSU, no need to worry as the Strix LC comes with a neatly braided 3x 8-pin to 16-pin connector. It's worth pointing out that although the 12VHPWR connector is a PCIe 5.0 standard, the 3090Ti and all Ampere cards only support PCIe Gen 4.0.
What card? There are two versions of the ROG Strix LC RTX 3090Ti. The OC Edition and the standard card for which the differences can be found below.
OC Edition Gaming Mode: Sets the GPU Boost clock to 1950MHz and 100% Power Target OC Mode: Sets the GPU Boost clock to 1980MHz and 106% Power Target Binned: Yes
Non OC Edition Gaming Mode: Sets the GPU Boost clock to 1850MHz and 100% Power Target OC Mode: Sets the GPU Boost clock to 1890MHz and 106% Power Target Binned: No
The OC Scanner is our first port of call. Taking roughly 20-30 minutes, it will use NVIDIA's own algorithm to test various points along the V/F curve for any improvement. These gains will depend on various conditions, but whether you see any improvement or regression will depends on the individual sample.
Find the OC Scanner in the top right:
We can set our parameters here by clicking Advanced Settings. For now, simply increase the power target to 107% and hit start :
V/F Curve Tuning
Thanks to the controls available in GPU Tweak III we can easily manipulate the curve and increase our target frequency at multiple points. This enables a granular approach to tuning compared to using the offset slider, as this assumes core voltage is sufficient at every point along the frequency curve.
How are we testing stability?
In order to establish a good baseline, we're using Futuremark's 3DMark Time Spy Extreme. 3DMark is a diverse suite that will let you stress your GPU in various workloads, giving you the ability to compare performance with similar systems making it an invaluable tool. If preferred, ROG Furmark can be used and is available from the link below.
When stress testing use Monitor to find the most used voltage point
Select the left-most point associated with the common voltage point during the stress test
Raise this point by 15MHz or more if desired
Lock the voltage point using the function on the toolbar and retest stability
If stable, you can unlock the voltage point and increase the offset
If unstable, we can use save points located at the base of the VF Tuner screen
Once happy with the final value, align the remaining voltage points to the right by highlighting them and using the align function on the toolbar
After setting the top of the curve, repeat for lower voltage points testing after each change
The below video shows a visual breakdown of how to manipulate the VF curve, so be sure to give it a click.
GPU Memory Overclocking
As always, the core is king so be sure to establish GPU stability before moving onto memory. The Micron D8BZC GDDR6X has a range of around 500MHz to 1000MHz typically. You may be able to exceed this range but be sure to test performance as the memory has its own error correction. To test this, we will be using 3DMark TimeSpy Extreme. Add +200MHz offset to the memory slider Test in 3DMark Time Spy Extreme Repeat until the graphics score decreases or the system crashes
Noise Levels & Temperatures
Operating on the Quiet BIOS, the card sits at 37dB 55c. On Performance BIOS, things are kept cooler with the help of a more aggressive fan curve at 47dB and 50c. With a custom fan profile and manual overclock, noise levels and temperatures sit at 42dB and 54C despite the increased frequency and power budget.
Subjectivity is the word of the day when speaking about system noise levels. GPU Tweak III enables control over three key temperature points, letting you calibrate noise and thermals, so experiment with what works for you.
The ROG Strix LC RTX 3090Ti OC Edition is a testament to maturing technology. Strict binning combined with a potent liquid-cooling solution fully extend the legs of NVIDI's GA102. Seeing 2200MHz stable and peaks of 2285MHz on an ambient cooler is mind-blowing, not only compared to its older siblings, but also to its rivals in the same class. If you haven't already experimented with the headroom your card has to offer now is the time. Let's see if you're able to crack the 2300MHz barrier!