Our new test PC uses an Nvidia PCAT v2 device, and we've switched from the Powenetics hardware and software we've previously used to PCAT, as it gives us far more data without the need to run separate tests. PCAT with FrameView allows us to capture power, temperature, and GPU clocks from our full gaming suite. The charts below are the geometric mean across all 15 games, though we also have full tables showing the individual results further down the page.
If you're wondering: No, PCAT does not favor Nvidia GPUs in any measurable way. We checked power with our previous setup for the same workload and compared that with the PCAT, and any differences were well within the margin of error (less than 1%). PCAT is external hardware that simply monitors the power draw of the PCIe power cables as well as the PCIe x16 slot by sitting between the PSU/motherboard and the graphics card.
We have separate charts for 1080p medium, 1080p ultra, 1440p ultra, and 4K ultra below. We'll just take them in that order for this review. We also have noise level test results further down the page.
AMD's RX 7700 XT has a 245W official TBP (total board power), and in testing it averaged 218W at 1080p medium up to 239W at 4K ultra. More telling is that the similarly performing RX 6800 averaged 211W at 1080p medium up to 238W at 4K ultra. In other words, the new RX 7700 XT can't even clearly exceed the efficiency level of the previous generation RX 6800.
We have to think that a lot of the power must be going into the GPU chiplet interconnect — "a lot" being relative. With a 5nm GCD and 6nm MCDs, you'd normally expect a net improvement in efficiency, and that has generally been the case with the higher tier RX 7000-series parts. But perhaps the RX 7700 XT shows the limits of the scaling; certainly, using 93% of the TGP of the 7800 XT while delivering 85% of the performance (give or take) isn't a great result.
Nvidia's competing cards use far less power, with the RTX 4060 Ti averaging 137W to 147W across our test suite. That's about 80W less power while gaming, give or take, and AMD still has some idle power issues with certain monitors — I know, for example, that when connected to an Acer Predator X27 G-Sync monitor, the 7700 XT idles at 40W or more. As bad as that might seem, the 7900 XTX is worse, drawing 80–90 watts at idle with that particular screen. Oops.
For now, if you're trying to get optimal efficiency, Nvidia's RTX 40-series GPUs are way ahead of anything AMD offers.
GPU clock speeds aren't extremely important, but it's interesting to see where they land. Take the RX 7700 XT, which has an official game clock of 2544 MHz. With Nvidia and Intel GPUs, you can normally expect the cards to meet or exceed the stated boost clock, but that's not always true with AMD's RDNA 3 GPUs.
The closest we got for our entire 15-game suite to that game clock was at 1080p medium, where the XFX card averaged 2538 MHz. Higher resolutions and settings dropped the average clocks a bit, with a result of 2508 MHz at 4K ultra.
You can see all of the average clocks for each game and setting tested in a table further down the page. The key takeaway is that AMD's stated Game Clock looks to be reasonably accurate but often overshoots the mark. Nvidia's stated boost clocks, meanwhile, often end up being 100–200 MHz lower than our real-world measurements.
The XFX RX 7700 XT isn't what we'd call a beautiful card, but one thing it does have in ample supply is cooling potential. The peak temperature across our full test suite was 63C, and many games stayed below 60C (with an ambient temperature of around 22C).
Just as important as having low temperatures is keeping noise levels down. Triple fans combined with a large radiator should get the job down, and that's what we found with our noise testing.
Unlike the reference RX 7800 XT, the XFX 7700 XT noise results are quite good. It's not the quietest card we've tested, but after prolonged testing it stabilized at about 40 dB(A). The fans were just barely moving, at 23% fan speed — below what you can manually set in MSI Afterburner. There are quieter GPUs, but not by much unless they opt to go fanless, which is a whole other can of worms.
For reference, our noise test consists of running Metro Exodus Enhanced, as it's one of the more power hungry games. We load a save, with graphics set to appropriately strenuous levels (1440p ultra in this case), and then let the game sit for at least 15 minutes before checking noise levels. We place the SPL (sound pressure level) meter 10cm from the card, with the mic aimed at the center of the back fan. This helps minimize the impact of other noise sources, like the fans on the CPU cooler. The noise floor of our test environment and equipment is around 31–32 dB(A).
Given the gaming tests were only pushing 23% fan speed, you can imagine there's plenty of room for more cooling if the card needs it. We also test with a static fan speed of 75%, which ratcheted up the noise level to 67.4 dB(A). That's one of the loudest results we've encountered, but you're unlike to hit such high fan speeds unless you intentionally mess with the fan curves.
Here's the full rundown of all of our testing, including performance per watt and performance per dollar metrics. The prices are based on the best retail price we can find for a new card, at the time of writing. These values can fluctuate, especially on previous generation cards — the RX 6950 XT, 6900 XT, 6800 XT, and 6800 have all changed by about $20–$30 in the past couple of weeks, with only the 6950 XT having gone up in price.
It's also worth noting that, unofficially, the base price for the RTX 4060 Ti 16GB has dropped to $449. Whether that will be a long-term change and we can expect to see such cards maintain that price level, or if it's just short-term shenanigans ahead of the RX 7800/7700 XT launch, remains to be seen. For now, that means the RTX 4060 Ti 16GB costs as much as the RX 7700 XT, while the 8GB card holds a $50 pricing advantage.
Based on the current retail prices, the best GPU value of the cards we've listed above (at 1440p and in FPS/$) is the RTX 4060, followed by the RTX 4060 Ti. RX 7800 XT ranks third, then the RX 6700 XT, 6750 XT, and finally the RX 7700 XT. The "value" metric may not be the best indicator of ranking, but it's interesting regardless.
As for efficiency, again at 1440p in terms of FPS/W, the RTX 40-series GPUs range from 0.35 to 0.39 FPS/W, while AMD's closest is the RX 7800 XT at 0.28 FPS/W, then the RX 7700 XT at 0.25 FPS/W. The previous generation RX 6000-series parts range from 0.19 to 0.25 FPS/W, so AMD did improve in efficiency, just not as much as Nvidia in this generation.