A hot potato: Allow me to introduce you to the MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Aero 24G. The enormous, ray tracing GPU of the future; armed with a decade-old cooler. The no-expenses-spared Nvidia flagship; with a few downgrades to preserve the budget.

If I were an optimist, I'd describe this graphics card as minimalist. As a realist, I have to admit that this graphics card is an ugly and (presumably) cheap blower based on the reference spec. The caveat is that MSI hasn't revealed the price yet, but that can be chalked up to the present market conditions.

If we judge this baby as an entry-level flagship (isn't that a phrase!) and assume it will cost less than the $1,500 MSRP of an RTX 3090, then it looks reasonable on paper. Nvidia's reference spec is nothing to complain about, as long as the cooling solution is adequate, which it seems to be. And the card is eminently practical: it's a two-slot design, so it'll work very nicely in SLI or small form factor set ups, as long as the 300 mm length doesn't pose a problem.

The only issue is that of aesthetics. On the front, the card's very large exhaust plate sits adjacent to the small circular blower fan, adorned with the MSI logo and a green accent. The design is reminiscent of the founders edition Fermi blowers, pictured above.

Conjuring reminders of Fermi isn't something any marketing department wants. As experienced enthusiasts will recall, the Fermi architecture was hot and hungry and the GTX 480 was a problematic flagship. In our review, we found that it could get up to almost a hundred degrees during testing, and it idled at an outrageous sixty-five. Steve had to wear gloves so he didn't burn himself!

The second problem with this RTX 3090 is the backplate, or partial lack thereof… inexplicably, the backplate is half-length, while the PCB is full-length. Seriously MSI, how much money does a short backplate save?

The MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Aero 24G will be released soon. Purchase at your own peril.