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What Happened Here, AMD? AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT Review and Benchmarks

After a significant hiatus, AMD has finally unveiled their next-generation mid-range GPUs, and I must say they kind of nailed it following Nvidia and not really adding anything new or exciting to the current market.

So we have two of the new cards - the Saphire Pulse RX 7700 XT and AMD RX 7800 XT. These are priced at 450 and 500 dollars respectively, and to be honest they are a good deal for many people, but I feel AMD missed the opportunity to be the good guy and shake up the market. Let’s get into what I mean.

Starting with what you get for your money. Both of these cards feature the latest RDNA 3 chiplet design, and they're not skimping on the cool stuff. We're talking about all the fancy features you'd find in the 7900XT and XTX models: the 2nd gen AMD Infinity Cache, the fresh-out-of-the-lab AI and Ray Tracing accelerators, as well as a new media engine supporting AV1 encoding.

Alright, let's get down to the nitty-gritty details of these bad boys. The 7700 XT is packing a punch with its 54 compute units and RT accelerators, not to mention a generous 12 GB of GDDR6 memory clocking in at a speedy 18 Gigabits per second, all riding on a 192-bit bus. It's rated with a total board power of up to 245W.

The 7800 XT flexes with 60 CUs and RT accelerators, it has a beefier 16 GB of GDDR6 memory running at 19.5 Gigabits per second on a 256-bit bus. The total board power for this beast can go up to 263W.

The spec differences might not seem like a massive deal, but they result in a whopping 44% boost in memory bandwidth, and that's definitely not something to dismiss lightly.

AMD has strategically positioned the 7700 XT to go head-to-head with Nvidia's 4060 Ti, and this matchup seems like a slam dunk, given the 4060 Ti's underwhelming value proposition. However, the real showdown unfolds when the 7800 XT takes on the performance of Nvidia's 4070, and that's where things get seriously interesting. But before we dive into that matchup, let's talk a bit about how we conducted our benchmarking.

We used a combination of AMD and Nvidia cards ranging from last and current gen and testing was carried out on our Ryzen 7 bench with ReBar enabled. For the details of our benchmarking, you'll find the actual in-game settings right up at the top of the graphs.

Let’s start with quick verification of total board power. Here we ran Time Spy Extreme on loop and calculated average wattage using NVIDIA Pcat which measures power going through the PCIE slot and cables and found that both cards are bang on advertised TBP. Now, it's worth noting that while these cards do consume notably less power than the mighty 6900 XT, they do gulp down about 30 to 45 Watts more juice compared to the RTX 4070.

But hey, power isn't everything. Check out this graph showcasing performance per Watt, where higher is better. Here we can see that both of these new AMD cards do trail behind their more premium siblings. Interestingly, the 7700 XT manages to be about 7.2% less power-efficient than the 7800 XT, which is interesting. The gap between the 7700 XT and the RTX 4070 in terms of power efficiency widens to a noticeable 14.4%, and that's definitely something that raises some concerns.

This is obviously a very simplified synthetic test. Let’s now get into the game benchmarks and see how it translates. In Horizon Zero Dawn at 1080p we see 7700 XT beating 4060 Ti by about 10 average FPS as well as 1% lows.

Meanwhile, the 7800 XT dances to a different tune, boasting nearly identical average FPS compared to the 4070, with only slight variations in the 1% lows. However, if you squint your eyes, you'll notice that most cards above the 6900 XT tend to hover within the run-to-run variance range here.

Taking the resolution up a notch to 1440p, the high-end cards engage in a neck-and-neck race, while the 7700 XT maintains its similar lead. To be honest, with any of these cards in your rig, you're in for a pretty nice gaming experience. Even the RX 7600 holds its own quite impressively.

While AMD Advertises these as 1440p cards, it's fascinating to see that in some cases, they can hold their own even at 4K. If I were to pick between the two, the 7800 XT would be my preference in this scenario.

Borderlands 3 is an AMD focused game and while at 1080p 7700 XT leads over 4060 Ti, the 4070 has a slight lead over 7800 XT. Again the difference here is not huge but it is interesting, especially since this game is one of AMD's advertised strongholds.

Moving up to 1440p, the plot thickens with a similar performance trend, but there's one standout: the lead from the 4070 widens. However, when we dare to venture into 4K territory, it becomes clear that neither of these cards is the wisest choice for an optimal experience.

In a much lighter World War Z title at 1080p we see yet again 7700 XT beating 4060 Ti and 4070 being a little faster, but only on 1% lows. In 1440p we see 7700 XT take a bigger lead and 7800 XT is actually ahead by about 20 average FPS as well as 1 percentiles. It's noteworthy that the 7800 XT even outperforms the 3090 in this title.

In 4K we see the same order when it comes to these 4 mid range cards. Which is essentially the final nail in the 4060 Ti coffin when it comes to standard rasterized games.

Now, let's switch gears and delve into a ray tracing title, F1 2022. It's a more forgiving game to run, and with these cards, you can comfortably enjoy it at 1080p. The 7800 XT goes head-to-head with the 4070, and when we compare the performance improvement from the previous generation's 6700 XT to the 7700 XT, we're looking at a whopping 50% boost in performance. It seems those new accelerators are indeed earning their keep.

At 1440p it is a bit of the same, but still with playable frame rates. But at 4k we drop way below 60 FPS and it makes no sense to use this resolution.

For gamers who are seeking performance boost and are open to leveraging upscaling technologies like DLSS and FSR, we've got the same game, starting at 1440p, as lower resolutions have already proven to be quite satisfactory. It's worth noting that we're employing the performance preset for both DLSS and FSR, but keep in mind that these presets can vary from game to game. Our focus here is on the measurable performance metrics rather than subjective aesthetics, allowing for a more objective assessment of gaming experiences.

Here both DLSS 2 and FSR 2.0 are delivering very similar performance and 7800 XT inches out a small lead over 4070, while the lower-end cards continue to be closely matched just below.

A notable advantage that the NVIDIA 4000 series cards bring to the table is DLSS 3, which incorporates frame generation. With this feature enabled, the 4070 makes a significant leap, securing the third position on the performance chart and nearly matching the performance of the 4090 with DLSS 2 enabled. Additionally, the 4060 Ti, equipped with DLSS 3, is mostly beating 3080 and 3090 due to its better 1% lows.

At 4K resolution with upscaling enabled we now have playable frame rates on all cards as compared to just pure 4K earlier. But here we stumble into some implementation problems. It appears that DLSS 3 in this particular game has had persistent issues with 4K resolution, which prevent it from delivering a substantial performance boost over DLSS 2. Due to this limitation, the 7800 XT manages to take the lead over the 4070 in this context.

Now let’s jump into Cyberpunk 2077 starting with a non upscaled version at 1080p. In this scenario, it's apparent that unless you're equipped with a 7900 XTX or a higher-end GPU, achieving smooth gameplay can be a bit of a challenge. Interestingly, it's worth noting that both NVIDIA cards outpace the new AMD cards in this context.

There is no point of even showing 1440p or 4K so we will skip straight to upscaled results. At 1080p we do have very playable FPS with 4060 Ti taking a lead over both new AMD cards with a 10 FPS lead just with DLSS 2 enabled. The 4070 further widens its lead, and to add salt to the wound, both NVIDIA cards are faster than 7900 XTX with DLSS 3 enabled.

When we go up to 1440p - AMD 7700 XT falls short of 60 average FTS mark, likely resulting in noticeable frame rate dips, while 7800 XT is on the line of good enough. It is clear that in Cyberpunk NVIDIA cards are just plain old better, and the game appears to be more optimised for them.

This applies to both brands - certain games may perform more optimally on one brand's graphics card while others may favour the alternative. I would strongly recommend checking out what games you prefer playing and set your expectations before committing with any purchase. And ensure to do as much research as possible as some reviews may have different benchmarking set-up which may affect performance greatly.

Before we close this off - I've also collected some performance data in terms of productivity. Although it's worth noting that these cards aren't primarily tailored for creators, I'll provide a brief overview.

First, let's look at the Blender benchmark, where the 7700 XT clearly outperforms the previous-generation 6700 XT, and the 7800 XT closely trails the last-gen 6900 XT. However, these AMD cards are outpaced by NVIDIA's CUDA engine and get destroyed when comparing to OPTIX results.

In a real world example, here is our custom Blender render where 4060 Ti using Cuda is 6.5% faster than 7800 XT and it is 50% faster when using OPTIX.

Just like in gaming, productivity workloads can lean towards one brand over the other. In DaVinci Resolve, the new AMD cards exhibit strong performance in the Fusion benchmark, which brings them closer to the top. While this is a pretty niche win, it is still a win.

For those interested in buying these cards, we conducted acoustic tests in our studio with a noise floor of 35 dBa. The RX 7800 XT, the AMD variant, registered at 35.2 dBA, while the Sapphire Pulse 7700 XT didn't record anything above our noise floor, suggesting it's likely below 35 dBA. Both of these cards can be considered remarkably quiet during normal operation, which aligns with expectations for cards with TBP ratings in the range of 245-26345.

However, there are several crucial factors to consider before making a purchase. First and probably most important is what do you intend to use the card for, which games and at what resolution? Additionally, it's essential to assess your comfort level with utilising upscaling technologies like FSR and DLSS in your gaming experience.

Nvidia boasts an impressive frame generation technology that, while not flawless, works wonders and provides a highly convincing experience. On the other hand, AMD has recently announced their own frame generation tech, but it currently has limited support and will require time to mature into a valuable addition. There is also DLSS 3.5 on the horizon, which just shows that there is a lot of development in this field.

Another critical factor to consider is power efficiency. Currently NVIDIA cards are just plain better. With greater power efficiency comes lower heat generation, which necessitates either cheaper coolers or less noise.

Which leads us well to the conclusion. I immediately want to say that 7700 XT makes no sense at 450 USD. It should have been 400 dollars or less to be directly competing with RTX 4060 Ti which we all know is not a good value. On the flip side, the 7800 XT emerges as an intriguing option. It undercuts the RTX 4070 by about $100, and if your gaming preferences align with titles that favour AMD's architecture, then you will be very happy with a more cost effective solution. However, in games where AMD's performance is neutral or negatively affected by drivers, it becomes less of a clear-cut decision and more of a "can you live with it" scenario.

I feel AMD should have priced these cards more aggressively to capture the market while NVIDIA is focusing on the AI field. I won’t be surprised if they choose to reduce prices shortly after the initial release, following a similar approach as they did with the 7900 XT and XTX. In such a scenario, the 7800 XT could emerge as the preferred choice for mid-range builds.


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