Final words and conclusion
Awesome, a fantastic build quality, premium yet 5K. These are the words that come to mind while testing the KUDAN. As stated, this is a show-off, a premium masterpiece priced 4999 USD with a limited 1000 units available. That means, lots of marketing, x-factor combined with shock and awe. In the past MSI had Lightning editions, ASUS did the same with MARS and ARES graphics cards, so why not Colorful? These are products that do not have to make sense, but something that you need to appreciate as clearly selling them was not the main goal all by itself. It's a showcase, bragging rights and in that category, you'll need to position this product.
Of course, the GeForce RTX 3090 is a product that does not need to make sense and cannot disappoint in that department, albeit we feel even the RTX 3080 and Ti obviously offer more value for money. As mentioned, you need to feed the card what it needs, a GPU-bound game preferably at Ultra HD. NVIDIA claims this card can even run games at 8K; however, we cannot objectively test that. At Full HD, you'll be quite often bottlenecked and CPU limited. But even there, in some games with proper programming and the right API (DX12/ASYNC compute), the sheer increase in performance is breathtaking. The good old rasterizer engine rips right through the threshold of extreme performance. All thanks to the 10.4K Shading processors. Performance-wise we can safely state that this is a true Ultra HD capable graphics card, which it should be at this retail price. But whether or not you use traditional rendering or games that can be ray-traced and manage DLSS, it's all coming together in that UHD resolution. Battlefield V with ray-tracing and DLSS enabled, in Ultra HD now running in that 85 FPS bracket. DXR ray-tracing and Tensor performance; the RTX 30 series has received new Tensor and RT cores. So don't let the actual RT and Tensor core count confuse you. They're located close inside that rendering engine, they became more efficient, and that shows. If we look at an RTX 2080 with port Royale, we will hit almost 30 FPS. The RTX 3090 doubles that at over 60 FPS. Tensor cores are harder to measure, but overall, it's all in good balance from what we have seen. Overall though, the GeForce RTX 3080 starts to make sense starting at a Quad HD resolution (2560x1440), the RTX 3090 Ultra HD at (3840x2160), it is that simple. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 will make you trigger happy at close to 80 FPS in UHD resolutions with the very best graphics settings. As always, comparing apples and oranges, the performance results vary here and there as each architecture offers advantages and disadvantages in certain game render workloads.
Cooling & noise levels
The KUDAN is doing it doubled up, air-based cooling combined with liquid cooling. And that works well, if you configure the two radiator fans at a low RPM, you'll be hardpressed to even hear this card. meanwhile, temps sit well under 60 Degrees C.Of course, when you spend 5k on a graphics card, you'll enable the one-click overclock, so that was the only mode we felt we needed to test. Combined with an increased power limiter rated at 420W you can add 19% more power, so you can suck a proper 500 Watts out of it. And yeah, that's not even an issue whatsoever for the card. Please do make sure you have a properly ventilated chassis though most of that 400~500 Watts will be exhausted through the radiator. Noise wise the two modes do not differ much.
NVIDIA is listing their TGP at 350 Watt for the FE and you can run the card like that at 350W and 370 (+powerlimiter). However, after spending 5K we're certain you'll leave the one-click OC enabled as temps, and noise-wise, you're fine. This card is advertised to have a 420 Watt TDP. Our measured total board power is closer to 410 Watts. Add to that any tweaks you might apply, and you're closing in at 500 Watts. I am not comfortable with this level of power consumption, no matter how I look at it just to play games.
Where the FE produces some, we had a hard time detecting coil whine on this card. Graphics cards all make this in some form, especially in high framerates this can be perceived. In a closed chassis, that noise fades away in the background.
Very impressive. The power limiter does offer you the leash you need. in OC mode you get that 420W power allowance and can add another 19%, bringing you towards 500 Watt. That's quite something coming from a 350Watt product series at reference levels. in the end, our tweak brought us 9% additional performance averages out over a couple of games rendering in Ultra HD. The card was quite easy to tweak, really. We added a 19% on power distribution, raised the offset clock frequency by 150 MHz, and have been ably to add 2000 MHz on the memory clock (effective) resulting in 21.5 GHz. As stated these factors combined bring your let's round it up to 10% additional performance (coming from the reference product). And that makes both this and the MSi Suprim X series the most tweakable 3090 cards we tested to date.
Admittedly I like products that don't make sense? And at 5K this product doesn't make any sense whatsoever. However as stated, this product release is a marketing showcase with a limited 1000 piece production run. And X-Factor wise you need to appreciate that regardless of relevance. Colorful truly offers a gorgeously designed graphics card from an aesthetic and impact point of view. At that asking price of 4999 USD, the card obviously will be a hard sell (if you could ever even find one).
Interestingly enough, even in OC mode one of the problems the KUDAN runs into is the limiters that NVIDIA enforces. Long story short, the premium AIB cards all perform 1%, maybe 2% away from each other in raw performance. This 3090 KUDAN, as a result, sits 3 to maybe 4% above reference performance (given the right GPU stringent conditions). We do have to say that this card is among the best tweakers we've tested to date (for an RTX 3090). Overall we boosted performance close to 10% measured from the founder edition. Everything is relative, of course. It's a gorgeous product nonetheless—gaming performance and, of course, rendering quality. My main concern is not performance, cooling, or even pricing. This card consumes close to 420 Watts of power (based on OC mode), and relative to the extra performance you gain, that number is far too high for me to be a comfortable number. Many will disagree with me or do not care about power consumption. You need to game at Ultra HD and beyond for this card to make a bit of sense. We also recognize that the two factors do not need to make sense for many of you as the product sits in a very extreme niche. But I stated enough about that. I like this chunk of hardware sitting inside a PC, though, as no matter how you look at it, it is a majestic product.
Other than that, the card is formidable if you apply and give it the right circumstances. Also, we love the experience that Colorful made out of it, with the product arriving in a suitcase, the hand gloves, and the extremely detailed finish of the product. The OLED screen is fantastic and works nicely, however can be a little busy on the eyes. Then again, we assume you'd like to draw some attention to your PC with a card like this installed. So that's okay. Aside from that pricetag, Colorful did almost everything right with the iGame KUDAN. Design and aesthetics are, of course, a subjective matter, but well .. come one, this card looks just fantastic! Performance-wise really, the trade-off perhaps is 4% over reference. However, for tweaking potential is a gem.
I know we stopped handing out giving awards with the inflated prices and all, and the 5000 USD price tag of course is nauseating, but for sheer originality, the balls to do something truly different and applied shock and awe, we'll make an exception here. You just have to appreciate that Colorful did, and as such, the card easily is a top pick, but whether or not you can find one in the stores or people willing to hand out this kind of cash for a GPU, well .. no. But my man, what a fun test this has been.
- Hilbert, LOAD"*",8,1.