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NVIDIA RTX 4090, why are the heatsinks so big and heavy?

Yesterday we had the opportunity to offer you the unboxing of the NVIDIA RTX 4090 in several of its versions, where the Founders Edition logically stood out, mainly because it is the reference desEsports Extrasof the brand and it is always interesting to know how far they have come compared to the AIB competition. . What we saw is that all the models of RTX 4090 have huge and heavy heatsinksand although thermal performance data cannot be revealed, an important detail must be taken into account: the AIB information for their desEsports Extraswas wrong, the heatsinks were created to dissipate 600W.

As you surely remember, the rumors stated at the time that the RTX 40 would have a maximum consumption of 600W, so everyone threw their hands to their heads. This information came from IBAwhich had the technical documents before anyone else and were able to test with those Modified BIOS of the RTX 3090 Ti for said consumption, and thus be able to empirically test what was necessary for the RTX 40… But things went wrong and for the better.

NVIDIA RTX 4090, the largest heatsink ever created for a series GPU

RTX 4090 Founders Edition 5

We logically ignore the monstrosities that have been released by, for example, Esports ExtrasBYTE or ASUS. We’re talking about NVIDIA’s FE desEsports Extrasof course. Well, the story has its crumb as it has been revealed, and that is that everything has gone at an unusual speed, almost at the last second.

It turns out that NVIDIA had projected the RTX 40 in the node of Samsung at 8nm like the RTX 30 and this one, as we well know, is not very dense, nor is it very efficient. This is because the production capacity of the TSMC’s 5nm was already reserved for AMD and Apple in their different versions of it, so Lisa Su’s really had the best move to take this war, but then… TSMC came back.

The Taiwanese knocked on the door of NVIDIA to tell them that they could offer them production capacity in a improved lithographic process, but based on loosening the portfolio and in advance. NVIDIA did not hesitate, but the problem is that the thermal designs of the chips were already finished with the Samsung node at 8nm and sent to the AIB to start creating the new high-performance and dimensional heatsinks.

Reached agreement by node TSMC 4N at 5nm Customized for NVIDIA, the result of the first wafers left a great taste in the mouth, since not only the performance was better than expected, but the number of usable chips was also higher. Therefore, and comparatively speaking, the performance and consumption were going to be improved in a proportion of approximately the 33% and of course, that affected the final TGP values. Therefore, from there it happened from 600 watts to 450 watts current and from 420 watts to 320 watts for the RTX 4080 16GB and so on.

The problem of being late and the heatsinks

RTX 4090 Founders Edition 7

Although lowering consumption was well seen by all, the reality is that the investment made by the AIBs was much higher than that of the RTX 30 and that involved a greater amount of materials, heatsinks for the RTX 4090 and her sisters oversized and with an unreasonable weight. The result we have already seen, where the only advantage seems to be that all GPUs will be really cool and very quiet.

The only bad thing is that the PCIe slots are going to suffer greatly and that in almost 100% of the cases you are going to need either a reinforce from the case bracket (at least) or a vertical support system that keeps the GPU straight to avoid damage to both the GPU and the motherboard.

In addition, the AIBs are logically not happy with this change, since they have not benefited from Samsung’s move to TSMC. The costs of each heatsink 10 dollars have been shot on average above what they should have been, not counting the R&D to create them. If these costs are extrapolated to the millions of units sold worldwide in the 18 or 24 months of life Of these models, we are talking about more than important numbers that could have been saved from the beginning.

Ada Lovelace, an architecture thinking about the limitations of the node?

NVIDIA Ada Lovelave architecture architecture 2

NVIDIA was late because TSMC offered the solution to its problems too late, there was no room for maneuver to change the heatsinks of the RTX 4090 and that is why we have seen such monsters. This leaves us with a rather important question. Did NVIDIA designed Ada Lovelace thinking about the technical limitations of Samsung and for that reason there are hardly any novelties in its architecture?

You have to take into account the more than wide difference in density, frequency and efficiency, so perhaps the greens proposed a minor jump in performance and bet everything on the Ray Tracing and DLSS 3 knowing that it would be the differentiating factor with AMD to a possible equality of performance. I guess we’ll never know, but as we saw in the article in the AD102 Full architecturethe performance was due much more to the TSMC 4N node than to NVIDIA’s own changes, only now we are clear why.

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