The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT is poised to offer high-end performance at a price that comes below $1000, but does it manage to go toe to toe with Nvidia’s RTX 4080?
AMD’s RDNA 3 graphics cards were announced with a warm reception, while boasting cutting-edge specs, the GPU also comes in at a reasonable $899 MSRP. AMD has also addressed a common criticism many have with Nvidia’s RTX 40-series cards with a brand-new display spec. The designs also come with lower TBP, and a much smaller footprint when compared to Team Green. But, is this GPU worth switching sides for? We should add, this is the weaker card between the 7900 XT and 7900 XTX, which we anticipate will be a touch quicker.
|GPU||AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT|
|Base clock||2000 MHz|
|Boost clock||2400 MHz|
|Infinity cache||80 MB|
|Memory Speed||Up to 2900 GB/s|
|Memory bus width||320-bit|
The AMD RX 7900 XT looks absolutely fantastic. We think that it’s the best-looking AMD reference card the company has ever made. The GPU is enclosed in a 2.5-slot design, with an all-black metal finish. Additionally, the cooler had a militaristic-looking finish on its backplate, where you can see the retention arm’s cutout, too.
Sandwiched in the middle, you can see the heatsink via a cutout, with a neat red stripe next to the two 8-pin power connectors. There’s no melting 12VHWPR connector to be found here, so no adapters are required.
On the bottom of the card, the GPU handsomely has three fans, and the same militaristic-looking design as the rest of the GPU. There’s also zero RGB to speak of, so this card could go perfectly in any PC build.
In terms of I/O around the back, you have 1x HDMI 2.1 port, 2x DisplayPort 2.1 ports, and a USB-C port to plug into all manner of monitors. This is the first time we have seen the DisplayPort 2.1 format in a commercial GPU, which will allow the GPU to display incredibly high framerates at high resolutions. This is something that even the RTX 4090 failed to do and was our biggest criticism of Team Green.
What’s going on on the inside?
This is the first time that AMD is bringing its chiplet-style design over to a commercial GPU. This form of design is incredibly successful over on their CPU side, and using chiplets, instead of one large monolithic die will allow the card to have greater power efficiency over its rivals.
In addition to that, you get Ray Accelerators, to boost AMD’s Ray Tracing capabilities, in addition to a dual-media engine that supports AV1 encoding. Though not many things support it yet, we hope to see further AV1 adoption in the coming years as more GPUs begin to support it. For those not in the know, AV1 is much higher quality than H264 and could transform the way you watch media online, with much better quality. However, it’s still early enough that software and companies are still racing to adopt it. So, in a few years, this might become incredibly useful.
The RX 7900 XT promises to be one of the fastest graphics cards on the market, and we’ll be testing the GPU at both 1440p and 4K in gaming scenarios, in addition to synthetic benchmarks. AMD’s RDNA 3 cards also have boosted Ray Tracing performance, which we will compare directly against the Nvidia RTX 4080.
The GPU looks to provide monstrous rasterization support, in addition to high-framerate workloads, which will also be rigorously tested in multiple titles.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-13600K
- CPU cooler: Cooler Master PL360 Flux
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Z790 Maximus Extreme
- RAM: ADATA XPG Lancer RGB 32GB DDR5-6000
- Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 4TB
- Case: Hyte Y60
- PSU: EVGA Supernova GT 1300
We’ll be using the exact same testbench as we used in our fastest esports gaming PC build, and the Nvidia RTX 4080 review. This ensures that we’re giving both cards a fair shake when comparing them against each other. We have also added an additional title, Overwatch 2 to our gaming benchmarks. We were only able to test this alongside an RTX 4080 and RX 7900 XT, with no comparison against the 3080 or 4090.
RX 7900 XT 4K performance
Equipped with 20GB of GDDR6 RAM, The RX 7900 XT should be a powerful competitor if you are looking to game at 4K. For those looking to get high framerates in AAA titles, esports titles, and more, we’ve taken a look at precisely what you can expect.
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|Game||RX 7900 XT||RTX 4080||RTX 4090||RTX 3080|
|Forza Horizon 5 (Ultra)||107 FPS||125 FPS||153 FPS||69 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, FSR / DLSS off)||16 FPS||29 FPS||37 GPS||13 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, FSR 2.1 Performance / DLSS Performance)||44 FPS||74 FPS||90 FPS||45 FPS|
|CS:GO (High, Dust 2)||340 FPS||399 FPS||416 FPS||258 FPS|
|Overwatch 2 (Ultra)||308 FPS||296 FPS||N/A||N/A|
Compared to the RTX 4080, we found that the RX 7900 XT was around 13% on average slower than Nvidia’s flagship. However, this performance differential does vary between games. In particular, we can see that AMD is still trailing behind in terms of pure Ray Tracing performance. Though this is a 4K card, you will still be leaning on FSR, especially when playing games that heavily use Ray Tracing. While this is somewhat of a shame, the real power of the RX 7900 lies in its pure rasterization performance compared to its price.
RX 7900 XT 1440p performance
|Game||RX 7900 XT||RTX 4080||RTX 4090||RTX 3080|
|Forza Horizon 5 (Ultra)||121 FPS||132 FPS||172 FPS||104 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, FSR / DLSS off)||31 FPS||63 FPS||74 GPS||34 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra, RT Ultra, FSR 2.1 Performance / DLSS Performance)||60 FPS||116 FPS||113 FPS||59 FPS|
|CS:GO (High, Dust 2)||399 FPS||399 FPS||432 FPS||370 FPS|
|Overwatch 2 (Ultra)||406 FPS||432 FPS||N/A||N/A|
At 1440p, the RX 7900 continues to be an incredibly steady contender, though it still lags behind Nvidia’s efforts in Ray Tracing. Here, the gap between the RX 7900 XT and the RTX 4080 gets pretty narrow, with just a 10% difference in performance. At several hundred dollars cheaper, if you’re just looking to play titles and AAAs that do not heavily rely on ray-traced performance, you could be on to a winner with this GPU.
RX 7900 XT synthetic benchmarks
|Benchmark||RX 7900 XT||RTX 4080||RTX 4090|
|Time Spy Extreme (Graphics score)||12979||14028||18578|
In synthetic benchmarks, the RX 7900 XT was on average 21% slower than the RTX 4080. However, since we have much more narrow results in gaming workloads, we can chalk this up to the RX 7900 XT’s relatively lackluster Ray Tracing performance. In Time Spy Extreme, we see a difference of just 7% between the two cards. This just showcases the sheer value on offer when it comes to the RX 7900 XT. Sure, other areas might be lacking, such as Ray Tracing. However, it is very difficult to refute the value on offer with this GPU.
RX 7900 XT thermal performance
The RX 7900 XT comes with a now-revised 315W TDP, that’s just 5W shy of the RTX 4080’s while coming in a significantly smaller package. Since this is a 2.5-slot GPU, there are certainly third-party designs that could dissipate the heat even further. We tested in a vertical-mount Hyte Y60 case, which is a less-than-ideal solution due to the GPU’s proximity to the glass panel.
Under 100% load, we found that our RX 7900 XT reached a maximum of 75 degrees. This was achieved via a stress test in Furmark. In gaming loads, we found that the GPU topped out at around 72 degrees Celsius. This is incredibly impressive, given the RX 7900 XT’s power, and maybe we’re starting to see the benefits of that chiplet-style design over in the thermals, in addition to performance. The card is able to dissipate heat efficiently, without being a huge card, unlike Nvidia’s Founder’s Edition giants.
RX 7900 XT fan noise & coil whine
The fan noise and coil whine exhibited by the RX 7900 XT under certain workloads are relatively limited. We did hear the odd hum in gaming titles at high framerates, while the fans work hard to only spin up aggressively when the GPU gets hotter than around 70 degrees.
At 100% loads in synthetic benchmarks, we did find that the fans got pretty audibly loud, though we could not replicate the fan’s aggression while in general gaming workloads.
Those sensitive to coil whine might want to choose a different card, as while we’re not particularly irritated by it, the card does exhibit it being noticeably audible. So, those averse to this sonic annoyance may wish to pick up an alternative card.
Should you buy it?
The RX 7900 XT is an incredibly well-performing card in pure rasterization workloads. However, the GPU fails to deliver good ray tracing performance. As more games adopt the new technology, we could see AMD continue to stay behind. It is by far the GPU’s greatest weakness. While AMD’s FSR software still doesn’t match up to Nvidia, it’s usable in a pinch to drive up framerates in certain titles.
The Verdict: 4/5
But, for those just looking for excellent rasterization performance in gaming, you could do much worse than this, at $899, it’s a great competitor to the RTX 4080, while also coming in much cheaper than the competition. AMD’s software is also easily usable, and very intuitive. Team Red has clearly done a lot of work to become a huge competitor to Nvidia, especially as GPU prices rise. This pricing could stand to be slightly lower, but compared to the competition, it feels like a bargain.