AMD and its partners plan to begin sales of the company's flagship Radeon RX 7900 XT and Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards on December 13. Based on a media report, most RDNA 3 products will be reference designs on that date. Still, some custom-built models will also make it to the market.
Earlier this week, a post over Board Channel forums suggested that only reference design Radeon RX 7900-series graphics cards will be available at the launch date on December 13. Custom designs from add-in-board (AIB) makers will only hit the market one or two weeks later, according to the post, which means that such cards might miss the lucrative holiday season in the U.S. and Europe. But this is not entirely correct.
As it turns out, custom-designed Radeon RX 7900 XT and Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards from at least two manufacturers will be available starting December 13, according to information obtained by ComputerBase.de. Meanwhile, the website stresses that some other manufacturers admitted that they will only offer reference design models on December 13 and will follow up with custom boards later.
Enough Motivation, Not Enough Time
The Radeon RX 7900-series launch schedule was tight for makers of graphics cards, based on information from ComputerBase, so they did not have enough time to develop custom versions of the Radeon RX 7900 XT as well as the Radeon RX 7900 XTX.
It should be noted that all the information we have about the status of custom-designed Radeon RX 7900-series graphics cards comes from third parties, so we cannot draw an objective conclusion here. But we can speculate for a bit.
Makers of graphics cards develop custom versions of their products to differentiate from their rivals in terms of performance and features and sell their parts at a higher-than-MSRP price to maximize profitability. Some designs are created to lower costs, but this is hardly the case with the first wave of AMD's Radeon RX 7900-series products that will retail for $899 - $999 or higher.
To build performance-enhanced high-end graphics boards, companies need quite some time to experiment with GPUs and memory in their possession, their printed circuit board (PCB) configuration, and cooling system performance to ensure that the final products can operate at desired clocks stably for an extended amount of time without failures.
Since AMD's RDNA 3-based Navi 31 graphics processor features two separate clock domains (for stream processors and everything else), there are many things for graphics card makers to experiment with, which takes time. In addition, since there are many moving parts to play with, AIB makers may opt to expand their high-end lineups with more SKUs to have enough time to test hardware in different configurations but, at the same time, roll out some SKUs ahead of the others. This is perhaps why Asus might be prepping as many as eight ROG Strix Radeon RX 7900-series (XT and XTX models) graphics boards.
Three AIB Makers
Meanwhile, it looks like initially, Asus will release TUF Gaming-branded Radeon RX 7900 XT and Radeon RX 7900 XTX boards. Those cards will feature an enhanced-PCB design with three eight-pin auxiliary PCIe power connectors to provide them with some additional overclocking potential and therefore enable higher performance for those who do not want to settle with reference designs. Yet, Asus positions its TUF Gaming-badged products below its ROG Strix boards, so the latter is poised to offer higher performance.
In addition to Asus, only two AIB manufacturers — PowerColor and Sapphire — have teased their custom Radeon RX 7900-series graphics cards. Meanwhile, the board makers committed to releasing AMD's Radeon RX 7900 products, including ASRock, Biostar, Gigabyte, MSI, Vastarmor, XFX, and Yeston.
PowerColor demonstrated elements of its top-of-the-range Radeon RX 7900-series Red Devil offering and Radeon RX 7900-series Hellhound product that will sit below the mighty range-topping board. Given that the Hellhound-branded card has only two eight-pin auxiliary PCIe power connectors, we would suggest that this device is not aimed at overclockers who tend to squeeze every last bit of performance from their graphics cards.
By contrast, Sapphire showed design elements of its Nitro-series Radeon RX 7900 graphics board. The AIB features a modern and cleanly designed cooling system. Still, one has to remember that Sapphire's Nitro family usually comprises moderately factory-overclocked products that are better than reference designs, but this is about it. Sapphire's range-topping offerings belong to the company's Toxic lineup. They are equipped with exotic cooling systems, come with industry-leading clocks, and offer tangibly higher performance than reference designs. Yet, Sapphire has not even teased a Toxic Radeon RX 7900-series product.
So far, we have seen only one announcement of custom Radeon RX 7900-series graphics cards: the TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XT and XTX from Asus. Considering that the company was the first to reveal its custom RDNA 3 boards, we expect it to start selling them sooner rather than later. We do not know whether Asus intends to make them available on December 13.
PowerColor and Sapphire have only teased their upcoming Radeon RX 7900-series products so far, but neither company has made any announcements. We are not going to speculate when we could expect PowerColor's Red Devil/Hellhound Radeon RX 7900-series or Sapphire's Nitro Radeon RX 7900-series to arrive. Still, we can presume that the companies are optimistic about their launch date and believe it is time for a tease.
As for other makers, they still have 19 days to show their custom designs and if they are ready to ship those boards, ship them by air to markets they want to address. Meanwhile, since AIB makers reportedly complain about the tight schedule for custom Radeon RX 7900-series boards, we would instead assume that it will take a little longer for custom Radeon RX 7900-series cards to hit the market.
Once you go over that magical $1000 price point, cards sit if they aren't the best. Look at at the 4080s sitting there. And if they try to sell these slower cards at 4080 prices, it will be a blood bath. Rebates will showing up in six months time.
History also proves this. The 6800XT was roughly the same speed as the 3080 and $50 MSRP cheaper. We saw what penetration NVIDIA had in sell through at that price. Even during the mining boom NVIDIA sold more for more money. It's mind share and the RT performance that NVIDIA has. And now the 6800XT is much cheaper than the 3080, which are still hard to find at MSRP of $700. Obviously raw rasterization is not the only determination on sales.
Fancy coolers, rgb lights and different power systems rarely result in more than a couple percent bump. They are not worth it unless you want a show piece to brag. Reference always delivers the best bang per buck by a long shot.
If any video card mfg are reading this, here are my three words of advice during the recession: Don't be stupid.
I wonder if this was a side deal with AMD's blessing __ I would suspect Sapphire gets first dibs on specs for custom designs.
BUT ... I do not really know the in's and out's of their wheeling and dealing.
People would probably pay it for the Sapphire Nitro+ cards.
Its hard to feel sorry for you when a 4080 costs $AUD 2500 or more, now. I am curious what prices the reference cards will be here.
All the leaks I have seen point to the XTX being as fast as the 4090 in raster, while being about the same as the 4080 in ray tracing, while being sold at below 4080 prices. I guess we'll find out soon when 3rd party reviews are released online before the cards become available for sale. Which makes the 7900 XTX and XT much better value for money in my book if true.