NVIDIA is now shipping RTX 4090 graphics cards which are built using a slightly different GPU than the original 4090s, if a bunch of details posted on Reddit is correct.
The Redditor in question (Cavitysearch123) tells us that they've just picked up a new RTX 4090 Founders Edition card from NVIDIA, and that a close inspection of the board (during the process of mounting a waterblock) revealed that it's a different GPU.
To be precise, it's an AD102-301 GPU as opposed to the original AD102-300. So, what's the difference here, exactly?
If you recall, NVIDIA's RTX 4080 has already been subject to this treatment of changing to a '301' spin on the GPU (in this case, it was switched to AD103-301). While there was speculation at the time that this might just lower the price a touch, that hope didn't pan out (but neither was performance affected on the brighter side).
What's odd in this case is that we haven't seen any leaks at all about the RTX 4090 getting this '301' treatment, but it sure looks like this has happened. The Redditor provides many details and pics in the post, and it certainly seems genuine.
The only real difference with this AD102-301-toting RTX 4090 is that the max voltage has been dropped slightly to 1.07v, or this is what the poster tells us. That compares to a limit of 1.1v for the original RTX 4090.
In the grand scheme of things, this is unlikely to make any difference to gaming frame rates that you'll notice. And of course, we must remember that this is just one sample of the purported '301' version of the RTX 4090, so load up with salt - we need to see more evidence that this new GPU spin exists with the apparent new voltage limitation in place.
Assuming that this is really what's happened, even then, any real-world difference in gaming will be pretty small as mentioned. What might be the case, though, is the negative perception over this slight change could cast a cloud over your RTX 4090 for resale value.
Meaning that down the line, second-hand GPU hunters might be on the lookout for an 'original' RTX 4090 (AD102-300) rather than the 'nerfed' version (AD102-301) if that indeed becomes the public perception. Which, let's face it, isn't unimaginable.
The other point to remember here is that this is a Founders Edition card from NVIDIA, and we don't know whether or not third-party RTX 4090 models from Team Green's manufacturing partners will make the same GPU switch. We'll be watching closely for developments on this story going forward.