Maybe the next generation of graphics cards could be smaller?

I’m testing an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti this week. No fully formed thoughts on this yet, although after an unusually stressful installation I have a question: does it have to be that big?

“Yes, because the heat” is probably the answer, because when you have as many CPU cores as the RTX 3090 Ti, running at clock speeds as high as the RTX 3090 Ti, and with as much memory as the RTX 3090 Ti, it’s a bad idea to try to build a postage stamp-sized RTX 3090 Ti. But the best graphics cards aren’t usually huge, and when it gets to the point where newer GPUs can’t easily fit into a standard mid-size PC case, it might be time for a course correction.

For me, the case in question is the NZXT H510 which houses the RPS benchmark, and the specific graphics card is the Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 3090 Ti AMP Holo. I’m going to take blame here, as I didn’t follow my own advice on checking permissions before bringing the card in – perhaps while drunk on overconfidence, having previously installed an RTX 3090 Founders Edition in my own largely similar NZXT Source 340 case with no issues.

Oh, but there was a problem. At 355.9mm long, Zotac’s board wouldn’t squeeze into the H510 with the CPU cooler’s front-mounted radiator and fans still in place. So the photo below shows the only way I could make it all work: with the side window off, the CPU cooler hanging outward with exposed fans that look ready for Harrison Ford to punch through a Nazi. The state of it, honestly.

Technically, it belongs to Gamer Network. Sorry about the PC, Graham.

All that aside, it’s a bit worrying that high-end graphics cards are getting so big they can’t reliably fit into the most mediocre mid-towers. One of the benefits of upgrading your graphics card is that you can simply remove the old one and insert the new one, but what if that new card also needs a new case more spacious? This quick (although relatively expensive) upgrade suddenly becomes an even more expensive complete rebuild.

AMD has new GPUs coming out later this year, Nvidia likely will too, and Intel’s first Arc graphics cards are expected to arrive this summer. Deep down I’m a performance nerd and I’m not going to stomp if it turns out to be RGB paving tiles. But, if a clear effort is made to shorten them and milder, this could be as good news for PC builders as any benchmark breaking record.

About Debra D. Johnson

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