There is no denying that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is an incredible graphics card. It boasts unparalleled performance levels out of the box that can go even further with DLSS 3, as long as it can fit in your case and stand up to its eye-popping price tag. This last point plays a big part in undermining the importance of the green team flagship, with the announcement of the company’s much more fundamental pixel boosters hopefully on the horizon.
To be perfectly clear, the RTX 4090 will remain the best graphics card money can buy for the foreseeable future, and its closest competition (the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX) will be looking to take on the RTX 4080. Fewer people are out there though. that they will buy, let alone be able to afford, such an expensive GPU compared to the would-be RTX 4070, 4060, and 4050.
You only need to take a look at any Steam Hardware Survey to see how popular Nvidia’s core offerings are, and conversely, how low of a prevalence 90s and 80s class graphics cards are among the user base. The GeForce GTX 1060, despite being six and a half years old, is still the most popular pixel booster on Valve’s platform, with the RTX 2060, GTX 1650, RTX 3060, and 1050 Ti making up the rest of the top five GPUs.
There are a couple of reasons why 60 and 50 class graphics cards are so dominant among Steam users, and one of them is price. The most expensive GPU in that bunch cost $329 when it first launched, and now you can get it for less. Looking at this data, it’s pretty clear that while PC gamers strive to push fps as high as possible, most of them just aren’t willing to break the bank for a higher frame rate.
Understandably, resolution also plays a large role in these purchasing decisions. GeForce RTX 4090 and RTX 4080, to some degree, are powerful enough for 4K gaming, but the user base just isn’t there yet. The prevalence of 1080p displays is undeniable, with a whopping 65.08% market share among Steam users at the time of writing, compared to 13.42% enjoyed by 1440p displays and a woefully small 2.33% adoption rate of 2160p.
Since it makes more sense to upgrade your graphics card before upping your gaming monitor’s resolution, it’s likely to be some time before 1080p’s reign comes to an end. Even 1440p hasn’t had its day in the sun like its HD counterpart. On the surface, this might perhaps stop people from expecting this generation’s 50/60 class GPUs, but they’re likely themselves 4K performance powerhouses armed with Nvidia DLSS 3.
The current rumors suggest that the performance of the RTX 4060 will be the same as that of the RTX 3070, which will be excellent if it is launched at a competitive price. That said, Nvidia’s next-gen enhancement technology (or perhaps current-gen now) increases its value compared to its predecessors while diminishing the appeal of more expensive GeForce graphics cards.
As hardware enthusiasts, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up in the amazing things happening on the cutting edge of technology. This, at least in my case, has distorted the way I view my own setup and created a completely misplaced fear of missing out on the latest and greatest technology, like the GeForce RTX 4090.
Ultimately, it’s not the most powerful GPUs that have come to define every generation of graphics card, be it from Nvidia or AMD. In fact, it’s the value-oriented 50 and 60 class offerings that turn out to be the most influential among PC builders and gamers alike, making them the go-to graphics cards.