AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX Vs Nvidia RTX 4080: Which Should You Buy?


AMD’s (NASDAQ:AMD) Radeon RX 7900 series graphics cards are now available and we’ll be taing a look to see how they perform against Nvidia’s latest cards below, starting with the RX 7900 XTX.

This is AMD’s new flagship graphics card, retailing for $999 and has more CUs, a higher clock speed, more memory, a wider 384-bit interface and higher total board power than the RX 7900 XT, with the latter retailing for $100 less as a result.

The quetion is, which one should you get and is the RX 7900 XTX a better option than Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4080? We’ll be looking to answer that question here as well as looking at how much power the crad draws, its thermals and the impact of AMD’s FSR on boosting frame rates compared to Nvidia’s DLSS.

Test system

I used an Intel Core i9-12900K CPU, 32GB Kingston DDR5 memory, an Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex motherboard, Thermaltake Toughpower GF3 1350W PSU and Solidigm P41 Plus 2TB M.2 SSD along with the latest version of Windows 11. Frame rates were recorded with Nvidia Frameview using either manual play throughs or the game’s own built-in benchmark.

Benchmarks

Below we can see Forza Horizon 5 at 1440p and here, the RX 6900 cards still offered exceptional value as they did at launch in Forza, with only the RTX 4090 offering higher performance. The RX 7900 XTX posted a higher minimum 99th percentile frame rate than the RTX 4080, but the latter offered a higher average frame rate.

At 4K, the same was true – the 7900 XTX was slightly ahead of the RTX 4080 on the minimum 99th percentile frame rate while the Nvidia card was ahead on the average frame rate. As an additional test, FSR was enabled, which provided a noticeable boost to frame rates, but still not enough to overhaul the RTX 4080 completely.

Below in Rainbow Six Extraction, the 7900 XTX finally had the measure of the RTX 4080 and was also signficiantly faster than the 7900 XT as well, easily justifying the extra $100 outlay over its sibling and offering a big upgrade from RTX 3000 or RX 6900 series cards.

At 4K the RTX 4080 stepped ahead on the minimum 99th percentile frame rate, but the 7900 XTX was ahead on the average frame rate, generally giving the cheaper 7900 XTX the advantage. It again justified the extra outlay over the 7900 XT too.

Below in Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition at 1440p with ray tracing enabled, The 7900 XTX was much faster on the minimum 99th percentile frame rate than the RTX 4080, but the latter was 11fps faster on the average frame rate. Again, that’s largely a win for the 7900 XTX, which was again much faster than the 7900 XT here too.

The RTX 4080 leapfrogged the 7900 XTX at 4K and the average frame rate was signficantly faster, while the 7900 XT was again noticeably slower offering questionable value compared to AMD’s new flagship.

At 4K again but with DLSS enabled (sadly AMD FSR isn’t available here) and we can see the impact of Nvidia’s frame rate-boosting technology, with even the RTX 3080 able to better both of AMD’s new cards. A lot depends on whether you want to use this or FSR, though, but it’s important to highlight a few examples of each for those that do.

Moving on to Watch Dogs and here at 1440p with DXR reflections enabled, AMD finally seems to have banished the gremlins that plagued it in DXR titles with the RX 6000 series as the 7900 XTX wasn’t far behind the RTX 4080 and comfortably beat everything else except the RTX 4090. You’d probably want to spend the extra $100 over the 7900 XT here too.

At 4K, there was very little between the RTX 4080 and 7900 XTX, but again, the latter was by far the better option over the 7900 XT and was also much faster than any previous generation card.

Throwing in DLSS again and once more the RTX 3080 is able to reign in the 7900 XTX while the RTX 4080 was able to offer nearly double the frame rates of either AMD card.

Switching to an FSR-enabled game now and Far Cry 6 is already a title that leans heavily towards AMD and unsuprisingly both 7900 series cards beat everything else at 1440p.

The RTX 4090 managed to split them at 4K and better the 7900 XTX’s average frame rate, but FSR comes to the rescue, offering huge benefits for both cards, although strangely the less powerful 7900 XT did better with FSR enabled than the 7900 XTX.

If FSR isn’t for you and you want maximum image quality perhaps with some DXR reflections thrown in, then the 7900 XTX is still a force to be reckoned with, easily outpacing the RTX 4080 and nearly matching the far more expensive RTX 4090 too.

Below in Halo Infinite’s Campaign mode at 1440p, AMD has some work to do here to get its cards to be competitive. Everything above the RTX 3090 was able to better the 7900 XTX and the RTX 4080 was definitely worth the extra cash and it’s worth noting that both DLSS and FSR will be coming to this game.

At 4K things weren’t much better for AMD with the RTX 4080 again enjoying a decent lead over the 7900 XTX, although the latter was generally quicker than the RTX 3090 and 3090 Ti overall.

Flight Simulator remains a stubborn title when it comes to boost frame rates, but the RTX 4080 offered a slightly higher average than the 7900 XTX while the 7900 XT was a little slower still at 1440p.

4K saw the RTX 4080 and 7900 XTX perform similarly with the 7900 XT close behind, but it’s pretty evident there are bottlenecks elsewhere in the system despite the test using using cutting-edge hardware.

The beta version of the game was supplied used in my original RTX 4000-series reviews and includes support for both DLSS 3.0 and FSR 2.2. Both are tested below, but in this latest version of the game and a slightly different benchmark, AMD actually pipped the RTX 4090 to the post with no frame rate trickering going on. FSR certainly helped both the 7900 XT and 7900 XTX too, but if you want maximum frame rates, you’ll need an RTX 4000-series card and DLSS 3.0.

Power and thermals

The 7900 XTX sat at around 65°C during benchmarking, but the cooler remained quiet and would certainly not be loud enough for even those with sensitive ears to be annoyed by except in a case with poor cooling. You also have the benefit of no flow-through fan compared to Nvidia cards.

Power consumption isn’t really something either AMD or Nvidia can shout about right now and below you can see the total system draw. Typically the rest of the system uses 100-150W, with the rest being drawn by the GPU. It’s not good news for either AMD card compared to the RTX 4080 although the 7900 XTX was at least faster in a number of titles. The 7900 XT doesn’t offer great performance per watt by comparison.

Conclusions

It’s not a clean sweep for AMD as the RTX 4080 is both faster in a number of games, in and out of ray tracing and in several examples, justifies the extra outlay too, especially if you’re prepared to use the latest version of DLSS.

The Radeon RX 7900 XTX does get the better of the Nvidia card, though, both in outright performance in a number of games, but more often in terms of value given it costs $100 less but either performed the same or close to the RTX 4080.

A lot will depend on the game, resolution and settings you use, with some favoring the 7900 XTX and othersthe RTX 4080. Ray tracing is generally one for Nvidia, but outside of this the 7900 XTX usually offers similar or better performance as well as better value. In addition, it’s also far smaller so will have fewer case and cooling compatibility issues. It’s also doubtful the RTX 4070 Ti wil cause too many issues for it, unlike the 7900 XT.



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