Zotac GeForce RTX 3090 ArcticStorm Is The Latest Great Unobtaninum Ampere Card
Have you ever heard of a graphics card with "fearless cooling?" Well, you have now, because that is how Zotac is describing its new GeForce RTX 3090 ArcticStorm, which trades an air cooling shroud for a full coverage waterblock. It does not come with a factory overclock, but if your custom liquid cooling loop is up to snuff, you should be able to goose the clocks on this thing.
We might be getting ahead of ourselves in focusing on the term "fearless cooling." The other term that might trip you up is "graphics card." We'd almost forgotten what one looks like, and according to ancient transcripts, these 3D accelerators once roamed the land and were plentiful, before scalpers, miners, and bots poached them all.
Snark aside, Zotac's latest custom card is based on NVIDIA's flagship Ampere GPU (it's a beastly part—see our GeForce RTX 3090 review for benchmarks and analysis). It rocks 10,496 CUDA cores, 328 texture mapping units, 112 render output units, 328 Tensor cores, 82 dedicated ray-tracing cores, and a generous heaping of 24GB of GDDR6X memory tied to a 384-bit memory bus, for 936.2GB/s of memory bandwidth.
NVIDIA's reference blueprint calls for a 1,396MHz base clock and 1,695MHz boost clock, and Zotac opted to stick with those speeds. However, there should be room to push the clocks higher. The card is built on a 16+4 power phase design, and of course benefits from the kind of chill that liquid cooling can deliver.
To that end, it sports a slim profile waterblock measuring 25.9mm wide. It's made of anodized aluminum and spans the entire length of the PCB, making contact with critical components. Underneath it all is a nickel-plated copper cold plate engraved with 0.3mm micro-channels, that sits on top of the GPU.
"The optimized copper base and waterblock combined with liquid, supercharge the heat transfer. Other critical components aided by thermal pads make contact with the waterblock to dissipate heat effectively," Zotac explains.
Zotac's cooler users standard G 1/4 threaded fittings. Other features include a metal backplate for durability, and adjustable RGB lighting.
It all sounds cool (see what we did there?), but of course finding one in stock will be the big challenge, as is the case with every modern discrete GPU these days. Zotac does not mention pricing for the GeForce RTX 3090 ArcticStorm variant, but whatever the cost, it's mostly academic anyway, given the current situation.