It’s kind of remarkable how little we really know about Nvidia’s next gaming graphics cards, the RTX 40 series. AMD are openly working on next-gen, RDNA 3-based Radeon GPUs, and Intel are gearing up for the full launch of their Arc Alchemist cards before the end of summer – yet there’s not been so much as a single presentation slide on Nvidia’s wares. Not the kind of hype-building you’d expect, given how many of the current generation’s best graphics cards have GeForce badges.
Arriving to fill that info void are, inevitably, leaks. If you don’t regularly hang out in PC hardware circles, know that there’s a veritable cottage industry of in-the-know insiders: anonymous but widely known tipsters like Greymon55 and kopite7kimi, who’ve shared enough accurate details on previous GPU and CPU launches that at least some of their sources are solid. Recently, unannounced Nvidia cards like the RTX 4070, RTX 4080 and especially the RTX 4090 have become this industry’s hottest commodities, meaning leakers are also the primary source of GeForce details for the gaming tech world at large.
I’m not here to dunk on leaks. Leaks can be fun, and leaks can be accurate, and sometimes they’re both. But amidst the excitement of sneaking a peek at future tech, and the feeling that you might have just bested the corporate PR machine, a diet that consists solely of Twitter tips can blind us to their limitations as an information source.
The rise in RTX 40 leaks might actually be the most perfect example I’ve seen of this because, by leakers’ own admissions, most of the meaningful details on these graphics cards are in flux. They’re still in development, and almost everything we as PC owners would want to know about them is subject to change. If not actively changing as we speak.
Again, some leakers do have decent track records, so I don’t believe kopite7kimi was knowingly telling porkies about the RTX 4090 reveal taking place mid-July. But it clearly didn’t, so either that information was outdated at the time, or the reveal window was only ever a possibility to begin with. Another apparent insider, wjm47196, has more recently claimed an October release date for the RTX 4090 (the AD102 mentioned is its underlying graphics processor). But again, even if that’s an earnestly held belief, it could just as easily be based on outdated, incomplete or merely provisional plans.
Sometimes it’s not even an issue of unconfirmed details, but of hardware or software that couldn’t possibly be finalised. Performance and benchmark-based leaks are the juiciest of all, but where the RTX 40 series is concerned, they’re going be running on drivers that aren’t even close to being ready for launch day. So when someone says the RTX 4090 scores nearly twice as high as the RTX 3090 in 3DMark’s Time Spy Extreme test, or can hit 160fps+ in Control at 4K… I mean, sounds great, but realistically it’s not going to reflect the performance that PC players will see at home. So how useful are these reports, beyond the self-evident reveal that a new GPU will be faster than the old one?
Again, there’s no evidence to suggest an intentional spread of misinformation, and my own belief is that independent tip providers are as vital a part of the gaming/tech fabric as conventional reporting. But right now, with the RTX 40 series in particular, there just aren’t that many truths to tell – only maybes and probablies, waiting to coalesce into actual products.
I get why that’s frustrating, partly because leaks are the only regular source of anything to do with one of the biggest PC hardware developments of the next year. That’s another issue, really: unlike with games, where hype is built but can’t be acted upon until release day, there are undoubtedly people out there who are currently deciding whether to upgrade their GPU now or wait for the next Nvidia generation. Specs, performance and release date info are therefore relevant to real purchasing decisions right now, so although there’s a lot of a pre-release interest in leaked data, that's all the more reason to be wary of possible inaccuracies.
Is there anything truly compelling to come out of these early RTX 40 series leaks? Perhaps one detail, and by no means a small one: kopite7kimi, Greymon55, and wjm47196 have all reported that the RTX 4090 will launch first and separately, with the RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 following later. Greymon55 and wjm47196 have also both said that the RTX 4090 release will happen this year, with the other two cards (both based on different underlying processors) coming in 2023. It still feels like that could change, but you simply don’t get matching leak smoke like this without some genuine fire.
Beyond that, Nvidia’s next RTX GPUs remain mysterious. Mystery will, of course, invite rumours, and in fairness these should become more detailed and accurate as the cards themselves are finalised. In the meantime, though, remember that a peep behind the scenes will rarely tell the whole story.