A Review: Gainward RTX 3090 Phantom

Melted PCB

Around the end of last week, my Alphacool waterblock decided that it was time to kill the NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition it was placed on. That was the day I learned that burning PCB and plastic smells the same as coal – and that I should probably replace my smoke detectors since they didn’t go off at all.

That meant I needed a new GPU, and after a bit of search for actually available GPUs, I ended up going for the 3090 cards – nobody apparently has 3080s, only 3070s and 3090s. The card I ended up with is the Gainward RTX 3090 Phantom, which has some limitations but otherwise works well. Let’s get into the hard stuff.

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NVIDIA RTX 30xx: How to make everything else obsolete in one generation

NVIDIA certainly wasn’t idle in the last two years, that much is clear. Their jump from 12nm to 8nm should set the average standard for what we should expect from moving nodes while also improving on the generation. This generational leap is what we should have seen from the 20xx series, which now seems like overpriced junk – so sorry for anyone who bought them in the last 6 months and can’t return them. Let’s go into a bit of history and detail.

The AMD side: Shrinking 14nm to 7nm

Three years ago in 2017, AMD RTG tried to even the playing field by moving from 14nm to 7nm, and succeeded. Their new RX Vega generation, while extremely power hungry, did improve performance across the board by roughly 30-75%, depending on what you looked at. And in 2019 they improved on that, with the RX 5000 series – except this time we saw practically no (<5%) performance increase, but they did cut down on heat generation and power draw quite a lot.

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The Art of encoding with NVIDIA Turing NVENC

Dual-PC streaming with x264 has been the leader in H264 encoding for streaming for years – up until NVIDIA released their new Turing generation. This new generation of GPUs with a brand new encoder brough comparable quality to x264 medium (or better), has next to no impact on gaming (unlike an NDI-based dual-PC setup) and is much more affordable.

Let’s take a look at the necessary changes to get your NVENC encoding to look comparable to x264 medium (or better).

warning

These settings are for an older FFmpeg version!

The settings provided here are for FFmpeg 4.3.x and earlier, and OBS Studio currently ships with FFmpeg 4.2.x. FFmpeg 4.4 has different Presets and Tuning values, which by default already reach the quality described here, requiring no additional custom configuration.

Setting up NVENC (for Streaming)

With modern OBS Studio, you have two options: NVENC NVENC H.264 (new) or StreamFXs NVIDIA NVENC H264/AVC (via FFmpeg). The latter has more options to configure, but both will give you comparable quality to x264 medium – as long as you have a Turing GPU encoder. You can check here to see if your GPU has a Turing encoder – note that the GTX 1650 Super also has a Turing encoder.

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RTX Voice in my VST-compatible Audio Software? It’s more likely than you think!

If you haven’t heard of RTX Voice, it’s basically “Krisp” in Discord but with less shitty audio quality. It’s based on Tensor, which can fall back onto CUDA hardware, but runs best on RTX due to the hardware accelerated Tensor cores on it. You can find a guide on how to set it up here on Nvidias own website.

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How to use the new Nvidia Face Tracking Filter in StreamFX

A short while ago I teased a new filter live on stream, and now that the Nvidia counterpart for it is publicly released I can finally go into more detail on what it does, why it is useful, and how you too can now use it on your Nvidia GeForce RTX hardware.

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