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Radeon 7900 XT vs. RTX 4080: Why Pay 33% MORE For Slightly More Performance?

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

We recently unboxed this RX 7900 XT and finally it’s time to show you the benchmarking results. In this review, I will be comparing it to its predecessor RX 6900 XT and a somewhat competitor: the RTX 4080. The RX 7900 XT is priced at $800 USD, which is significantly cheaper than the RTX 4080, priced at $1200. Even though the RX 7900 XT may not be as fast as the RTX 4080, it's important to consider the trade-offs between performance and price.

But before we get into the details, let me just say that the new AMD card is an option for somewhat budget-conscious high end gamers who want solid performance without completely breaking the bank. If you're like me and want to keep this competition going, keep reading to learn more.

For all the tests we are using our AMD platform with Ryzen 7700X CPU, keeping all components (apart from the graphics cards) the same.

First, we will do a deep-dive in terms of raw performance, power efficiency and cooling. Then check gaming benchmarks and answer the main question - should you consider getting RX 7900 XT? We will include chapters so you can skip to the section most interesting to you.

With this in mind, we jump right into it! In 3DMark Time Spy Extreme loop test we found the new card hit 2.4 GHz which is about 400 MHz higher than last gen but is also 400 MHz short from RTX 4080. To be fair though - clock speeds between different generations and especially different manufacturers cannot be compared like for like.

What is interesting - temperature of RX 7900 XT is actually slightly lower and peaking at 61 degrees Celsius and this is not because it has a crazy fan profile. It runs at 40.1 dBA with stock fan profile which seems to be the trend with the recent cards and is a nice improvement over 45 dBa on the 6900 XT.

AMD has made some significant claims with this generation of up to 54% performance per watt improvements. In our test we compared 6900 XT and 7900 XT as well as RTX 4080 and, honestly speaking, did not find that. I know AMD aimed that more at the XTX model but let me show you what we found.

For this test to isolate any graphic card software reporting issues we plugged them all into NVIDIA PCAT v2 and tracked data multiple times per second. What we found was that RX 7900 XT on average was pulling more power than both other cards which was a little worrying, but that is just one variable - more power could also mean more performance and yes that is the case, but let's check the power graph over time first.

Here you can see how much power these cards are pulling and while RX 7900 XT was advertised to have 300W Typical Board Power, it will actually be released with 315W TBP, but as you can see here it can pull way more than that - our card peaked at 357W. On the other hand, 6900XT peaked at 345W and RTX 4080 at 335W.

And the kicker to the story is performance per Watt. Here we have about 24% improvement over 6900 XT which is nice, but RTX 4080 actually has 19% performance per Watt advantage over the RX 7900 XT.

This is important for the actual benchmarks that we will go into shortly. The one problem I had while benchmarking - the tool I use for most game data logging currently does not support AMD Radeon telemetry data which means I am not able to provide performance per Watt calculations on the fly from the individual games. However - shout out to the developers of CapFrameX for developing this tool, it saves me and many other people loads of time as well as improves data accuracy tremendously.

With this in mind let's jump into the game benchmarks!

The new Radeon RX 7900 XT graphics card shows an average FPS improvement of 4% in Horizon Zero Dawn at 1440p compared to its predecessor, the 6900 XT. However, the RTX 4080 performs 12% better on average FPS and 9% better on 1 percentiles.

At 4K resolution, the 7900 XT has an average FPS improvement of 11.2% over the 6900 XT and 9% on 1 percentiles, while the RTX 4080 leads by 20% and 12% respectively.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the 7900 XT has a 16% improvement on average FPS at 1440p, but a 9% decrease on 1 percentiles compared to the 6900 XT. The RTX 4080 leads by 27% on average FPS and 45% on 1 percentiles at this resolution.

At 4K this card seems to perform a little bit better and has 19% lead over 6900 XT on average FPS and 3% on 1 percentiles. The difference here with RTX 4080 is exactly the same as 1440p.

Next we have a much lighter title - World War Z where we wanted to test 1080p performance and see if we would be limited by the CPU. At first glance both AMD cards perform the same making me think we are CPU limited, until we see RTX 4080 with 15% lead on average FPS and 13% lead on 1 percentiles.

In 1440p performance between cards moves around and 7900 XT has 9% lead over last gen 6900 XT on average FPS and 7% lead on 1 percentiles. RTX 4080 has only 8% lead on average FPS and 9% on 1 percentiles.

At 4K we see 7900 XT leading by 9% over the last gen card on average FPS and 18% on 1 percentiles while RTX 4080 is taking 12% lead on average FPS and just 3% lead on 1 percentiles.

In Borderlands 3 at 1080p 7900 XT is leading by 17% over 6900 XT on average FPS and 5% on 1 percentiles. RTX 4080 here is 9% faster on average FPS and 13% faster on 1 percentiles.

In 1440p the lead from 7900 XT increases to 20% on average FPS and 9% on 1 percentiles. RTX 4080 is 9% faster on average FPS and 12% on 1 percentiles.

In 4k the gap between two AMD cards increases to 22% on average FPS and 15% on 1 percentiles. I am starting to see a trend here - it seems the new infinity cache that AMD put into these cards is really helping out with the higher resolution gaming. Here RTX 4080 is 7% faster on average FPS as well as 1 percentiles.

So far I am struggling to see massive performance improvements from last generation. For sure in some places it is 15-20% faster than 6900 XT and to be frank it does have a 100 USD lower price than the launch price of that card, but I was expecting a little bit more.

AMD also did mention much improved RT performance. For this we have two games, starting with Formula 1 2022 and here with maxed out quality and ray tracing settings at 4K we have 46% improvement over 6900 XT on average FPS and 35% improvement on 1 percentiles. RTX 4080 on the other hand has further 30% improved on average FPS and 38% improved 1 percentiles.

This places the new 7900 XT essentially at RTX 3080 level which is a full generation behind and personally I would say this game needs over 60 FPS to enjoy so I would recommend turning down the settings.

The alternative is to use DLSS and FSR to improve performance through some upscaling magic. In this game we can enable FSR version 1 as well as DLSS 2 and 3 which includes frame generation. AMD did mention that its next generation FSR will have support for frame generation, but since it is not available now - we can’t test it.

In F1 with upscaling enabled both AMD cards are now in good shape and 7900 XT has 30% lead in average FPS producing over 120 FPS, but only has 79 FPS on 1 percentiles. On the other hand this is where Nvidia RTX cards shine. With DLSS 2 alone RTX 4080 is 18% faster on average FPS and 28% faster on 1 percentiles.

If we turn on frame generation, the lead grows to 36% on average FPS and a whopping 80% on 1 percentiles. That is a very significant difference.

Now let's check out one last game - Cyberpunk 2077, which is by far the heaviest RT game in our arsenal. Here without any upscaling 7900 XT has 44% improvement over last generation on average FPS and 39% improvement on 1 percentiles. While that is a nice improvement, this game is a slideshow regardless.

Even RTX 4080 struggles here which has 80% higher average FPS and 98% higher 1 percentiles. We yet again see the new AMD card have similar performance with last gen RTX 3080.

Turning on upscaling improves performance significantly and 7900 XT now has 31% lead on average FPS over 6900 XT and 33% on 1 percentiles. On the other hand RTX 4080 just with DLSS 2 has 69% improvement on average FPS and 69% improvement on 1 percentiles. With these framerates I would say this game is playable but for a truly good experience here I would say you either need to go up to DLSS 3 or turn down the settings.

Before we get to the conclusion I have few words to say about using these cards in production machines. As it stands right now, many of the tools either don’t support it or are still in early stages of development and don’t have finished versions. For example Blender now supports the new card but I struggled to get consistent results while running the tests.

The other big one is AV1 encoding - we really wanted to compare it against NVIDIA but there are very limited ways of doing so, meaning we will need to wait for more software and more importantly streaming services to start supporting it before we chime in on this.

Now let's summarise this. The RX 7900 XT is a high end graphics card that costs 800 USD. It offers reasonable performance in games, with an average of 19% improvement over the 6900 XT on all games and a 13% improvement on non-ray tracing titles. While the 7900 XT may not offer the level of performance that some users may have expected at this price point, it does provide a decent level of performance uplift from last gen.

In terms of value for money, the 7900 XT offers a reasonable amount of performance per dollar spent but if you recently bought a 6900 XT then I would probably recommend against upgrading. However, users looking for the best possible performance may want to consider other options, such as the RTX 4080, which offers 23% better performance on all games and 14% better performance on non-ray tracing games.

But here we are no longer talking performance per dollar as you get 23% better performance for 50% more money. If Nvidia dropped the price to 1000 USD then I would say these cards would be very much even and I would recommend 4080 as you get all that Ray Tracing performance as well as more supported creator features.

I doubt they will drop the prices though. The more likely scenario will be releasing a card tier lower like 4070 which will likely be around 900 USD and perform similarly to the 7900 XT, but we will have to wait and see.

Let us know in the comments below on what you think about this launch and would you be picking up the new AMD Radeon cards?


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