Nvidia’s RTX 4000 SFF fixes my biggest issue with its GPUs – but there’s a catch

Nvidia has announced a new graphics card at its GTC 2023 event, the Nvidia RTX 4000 Small Form Factor (SFF) Ada Generation, and it could fix one of my biggest issues with Team Green’s latest GPUs – their size.

As the name suggests, as a Small Form Factor graphics card, this GPU has a compact design that means it can fit in smaller PC cases. With a height of 2.7 inches (68.58mm) and a dual-slot width of 6.6 inches (167.64mm), this is a much shorter (yet slightly thicker) GPU than the RTX 4080. It also has a relatively low power consumption of 70W.

This is an attractive proposition for anyone who wants to fit a powerful GPU into a compact PC. As someone who has sadly had to move on from my small form factor PC due to the ever-expanding size of modern GPUs, this has got me excited – but there’s a catch.

Not for gaming

As you might guess from the fact that the RTX 4000 SFF was announced at Nvidia’s GTC event, which is primarily aimed at enterprise, AI, and scientific users, the RTX 4000 SFF isn’t a gaming GPU but is instead aimed at compact workstations. So, while you may not want to put it in your SFF gaming rig, it does mean you could build a powerful small PC that gives the Mac mini, Mac Studio, or even a Mac Pro (if a new one ever gets announced) a run for its money.

With 6,144 CUDA cores, 192 Tensor cores, 48 RT cores, and 20GB GDDR6 memory, the Nvidia RTX 4000 SFF looks like it’ll be a powerful little GPU, even if it doesn’t compete with the RTX 4090. According to Nvidia, the RTX 4000 SFF can “transfer data to and from its memory more quickly, resulting in improved graphics, compute, and rendering performance,” thanks to its increased memory bandwidth, and it also supports DLSS 3 upscaling. While used a lot in gaming, this can also be useful for 3D modeling and game development.

The specs also suggest that the RTX 4000 SFF could certainly handle modern games, though despite how keen I am to get a compact Lovelace GPU to put in my small gaming PC, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s likely that Nvidia will only release Studio drivers for this GPU, rather than Game Ready drivers, so game performance wouldn’t be optimized. As a compact, powerful, GPU aimed at creative professionals, it’s also likely to be very expensive (Nvidia hasn’t disclosed prices just yet).

So, I’m going to have to wait a bit longer for a compact RTX 4000 gaming GPU. However, with the  RTX 4000 SFF, Nvidia shows that it is possible. The sheer size of the latest gaming GPUs has been disappointing to see, as it’s made them impossible to install in some PC cases. I hope that while the company might not produce any small RTX 4000 gaming GPUs any time soon, third-party manufacturers like Zotac, Gigabyte, and Asus could be inspired.

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