AMD has chosen a radically different approach to designing their latest, and hopefully greatest, graphics cards. Like their CPU's, it's now built around a chiplet design, which means that the RDNA3 platform is not just a single physical chip, but several connected ones, and the 5.3TB/s interface makes it possible to scale and optimize in ways not previously thought possible.
Here we are taking a look at the two graphics cards in the 7900 series that have been released so far. They are both reference models from AMD themselves, but it will probably only be a matter of time because third party models also start flooding the market.
Currently the prices for the "small" XT model is an estimated £899 and up, while the XTX model starts at around £1049. While this price point might indicate that it will be a competitor to the as yet unreleased RTX 4070 from Nvidia, it's actually more of a RTX 4080/RTX 4080TI competitor - just at a much better price, without an annoying power adapter and having more effective design.
The XT-model comes with 20GB of RAM, while the XTX model has 24GB - both are by the way compatible with the new DisplayPort 2.1-outlet which experts suggest might lead to great improvements down the road. The design is compact with 2.5 slots and a 2x 8 pin power connection. It's not without reason that AMD is now for effective design. You'll get both USB-C and DisplayPort, and the latter supports UHBR 13.5. I don't know if these can be bought in stores yet, but the cards even support 4K 480Hz displays, where the complete 54GBps bandwidth is needed.
The most noticeable difference between the cards might very well be their physical dimensions. The XTX model is 2.5 cm higher and 2 cm wider than its smaller sibling, and the XT model feels about 30% smaller than the RTX 4080.
Both cards are constructed on the same platform, but there are noticeable differences in performance, which will be listed here, with the scores from the XT model preceding those of the XTX:
Both cards have a discreet and elegant black design with red highlights. Very industrial. There is a small difference in how the edges are rounded, but overall they look extremely similar. If you look closely, there are small white LED's behind the metal shield, but they are so unnoticeable that they feel almost unnecessary.
It seems the main goal for AMD with these cards has been to make 4K gaming mainstream, by reducing the price, and in such they might very well succeed. Both cards render 4K natively without any sorcery such as Nvidia's DLSS3 or AMD's own FSR2. They even support Rec2020 and 12 bit HDR, as well as the 8K 165Hz format.
Everything is controlled through AMD's Adrenalin software that has been getting quite an overhaul in recent years. There are plenty of features and optimization options on offer, and it gets regularly updated with specific settings for the latest games. You'll also find options such as AI-based enhancements of the image quality and encoding, for those who enjoy streaming. As an answer to DLSS3 and Nvidia Reflex, the AMD HYPR-RX is going to release early next year, basically providing similar features: performance boost, upscaling and lag reduction, all with just a single press of a button. AMD promises close to 70% more frames per second and latency reduced to about a third in select titles - we'll have to wait and see whether these numbers hold up.
The noise level was relatively low: 35dB for XT and 38dB for XTX. Differences in temperature were more marked. Both were about 35 degrees in idle, but where XT never surpassed 56 degrees, the XTX reached 68 degrees when pushed to the max. This is roughly the same as the RTX 4090 GPU's.
And now, let's take a look at the benchmarks. Once again, it's XT first, and then XTX.
Speedway: 5116 / 5774
Time Spy: 23882 / 25872
Time Spy Extreme:
12589 / 13865
13785 / 15397
When it comes to Ray Tracing AMD is usually lacking behind, but both cards manage to outperform a RTX 3090.
Blender BMW render:
1.03.20 / 1.03.09
OpenCL Score: 182556 / 219854
Vulkan Score: 177635 / 237769
In Vulkan both cards manage to beat RTX 4090.
1080p: 5929 / 6772
1440p: 3509 / 4260
Once again a test where the RTX3090 can't quite keep up.
Total War: Warhammer III
1080p: 181,8 / 197,1
1440p: 124,0 / 144,3
4K: 63,9 / 75,3
Assassin's Creed Valhalla
1080p: 219 / 228
1440p: 173 / 186
4K: 104 / 120
Fra Cry 6
1080p: 136 / 147
1440p: 135 / 141
4K: 93 / 105
In 4K only the XTX manage to exceed the RTX 4090, both in the other categories both cards outperforms Nvidia's card.
Red Dead Redemption 2
1080p: 164,08 / 194,64
1440p: 138,30 / 196,32
4K: 93,2 / 136,89
1080p: 236,2 / 222,9
1440p: 204,8 / 209,5
4K: 130,9 / 153,7
As in many other categories, the XT narrowly gets beaten by the RTX 4080, but the XTX quite comfortably manages to outpace them both.
1080p: 130,83 / 137,14
1440p: 109,45 / 117,58
4K: 77,38 / 87,84
In 1080p and 1440p both cards defeat the RTX 4080, but when Ray Tracing is enabled they, unsurprisingly, can't keep up with Nvidia. Still, in F1 2022 - a game that is optimized for DLSS3 and makes heavy use of Ray Tracing - both the RX 7900 XT og RX 7900 XTX manage to surpass 60fps, just as AMD promised. You get the same or perhaps even a better performance than the RTX 4080 and sometimes it even approaches the RTX 4090 - and that is with a much lower price and power usage.
In conclusion, is this worth a buy? Definitely. Instead of spending £1500 on a 4K graphics card, you'll get a similar, and in many cases better performance with an AMD RX 7900. And then you'll even have money to spare to buy a 4K monitor.