AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT Review: Shooting for the Top

RDNA 3 dons a halo for its coming out party

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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 GPUs are also used with professional applications, AI training and inferencing, and more. I really wanted to run some AI benchmarks — like, really wanted to do that — but I couldn't find anything suitable that would work on the RX 7900 series. Sigh.

Part of that was due to the newness of the platform. I tested Stable Diffusion recently and got that working on both Nvidia and AMD GPUs, but AMD had to run under Linux and it used a ROCm and HIP package. That package wasn't updated to support Navi 31 / RDNA 3, unfortunately, which meant Stable Diffusion testing was out (for now). The same thing happened with another potential candidate (PugetBench-miniGPT) so, once again, I don't have any good AI benchmarks… yet.

That leaves professional 3D rendering applications that leverage ray tracing hardware, and Blender at least works on AMD GPUs. We've also got the SPECviewperf 2020 v3 test suite. Let's start with that.

SPECviewperf 2020 consists of eight different benchmarks, and we use the geometric mean from those tests to generate an aggregate "overall" score. Note that this is not an official score, but it gives equal weight to the individual tests and provides a nice high-level overview of performance. Few professionals use all of these programs, however, so it's generally more important to look at the results for the applications you plan to use.

AMD released updated OpenGL drivers earlier this year that greatly improved performance in certain professional applications, and that shows up in SPECviewperf. Using our aggregate score, even the lowly RX 6800 XT comes out ahead of Nvidia's fastest GPU. A few tests, like catia-06, creo-03, medical-03, and especially snx-04 generally favor AMD's GPUs. In fact, only 3dsmax-07 and solidworks-07 really favor Nvidia's GeForce RTX line right now, with energy-03 and maya-06 also giving the RTX 4090 the win.

That's because AMD tends to be a bit more generous with professional application optimizations on consumer hardware. Nvidia prefers to keep its fully optimized professional drivers locked behind the professional paywall — you'll need to fork out for an RTX 6000 to see how Nvidia fares with fully unlocked drivers. 

Moving on to 3D rendering with the latest Blender Benchmark, we're running Blender 3.40 and three tests. Blender 3.40's Cycles X engine can run on AMD, Nvidia, and even Intel Arc GPUs. However, it's more like running ray tracing via GPU shaders as opposed to actually using the ray tracing hardware built into modern cards — unless you have an Nvidia card and use the Optix library — though it sounds like Blender 5.x will change that.

AMD's RX 7900 series cards show some definite improvements over the RX 6950 XT, but the 7900 XTX still falls slightly behind Nvidia's old Titan RTX in two of the three tests. That's despite AMD nearly doubling performance. We'll have to see if AMD can continue to close the gap with future releases.

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • -Fran-
    Thanks for the review!

    I'm reading it now, but I've watched numbers in other places. My initial reaction is lukewarm* TBH. I expected a bit more, but they're not terrible either. They did fall short of AMD's promise though. They indeed oversell the capabilities on raster, but were pretty on point for RT increases.

    Still, this card better have a "fine wine" effect down the line and the MSRP may just be well justified. This being said, it is still too expensive. for what it is.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    That's probably because this is the most competitive AMD has been in the consumer graphics market in quite some time.

    Not sure how this was determined, but I would argue this is a step backwards in almost every situation from the 6000 series. Also, it should be pointed out that there is something going on with the power consumption of the 7000 series in non-gaming situations that will affect many users. Looks like the memory isn't down clocking or something.

    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    spongiemaster said:
    Not sure how this was determined, but I would argue this is a step backwards in almost every situation from the 6000 series. Also, it should be pointed out that there is something going on with the power consumption of the 7000 series in non-gaming situations that will affect many users. Looks like the memory isn't down clocking or something.
    I don't do a ton of power testing scenarios, so I'd have to look into that more... and I really need to go sleep. As for the "being competitive," AMD is pretty much on par with Nvidia's best in rasterization (similar to 6000-series), and it's at least narrowed the gap in ray tracing. Or maybe that's just my perception? Anyway, since basically Pascal, it's felt like AMD GPUs have been very behind Nvidia. Nvidia offers more performance and more features, at an admittedly higher price.
    Reply
  • Colif
    Steve appears to have recorded a 750watt transient on the xtx which makes me sit back and wonder what PSU you need. though I am not sure if that is peak system power or just the gpu itself.
    Reply
  • Elusive Ruse
    A bit of a cynical Pros/Cons section, no mention of XTX being a much better value over 4080 which is its direct competition?
    Performance falls within expected margins (reasonable expectations, not that of crazed fanboys). Beating 4080 in rasterization and falling short in RT and professional uses. I don't quite care for RT but the performance gap in Blender e.g. is still eyepopping. I have heard of Blender 3.5 offering big improvements, yet that's not the current reality of things. I also doubt this will be a better story for RNDA 3 in Maya (Arnold) either.
    Reply
  • shADy81
    I assume the 750 W transient GN recorded is for the full system? TPU are showing 455W spike for the XTX and 412 for the XT, lower than 6900 and 6800 by quite some way on their charts.

    They also downgraded their PSU recommendation to 650 W for both cards. Was 1000W on the 6900. I think I'd feel a bit close on 650 W even allowing for a good quality unit being able to supply more than rated for short times. 650 would surely be way to close for a 13900K system, what do they know that I dont?
    Reply
  • zecoeco
    spongiemaster said:
    Not sure how this was determined, but I would argue this is a step backwards in almost every situation from the 6000 series. Also, it should be pointed out that there is something going on with the power consumption of the 7000 series in non-gaming situations that will affect many users. Looks like the memory isn't down clocking or something.


    This is actually a bug that was already reported to AMD and they're already working on a fix.
    Reply
  • zecoeco
    "Chiplets don't actually improve performance (and may hurt it)"
    How on earth is this even a con? who said chiplets are for performance? chiplets are for cost saving.
    But what did y'all expect ? You just can't complain for this price point.. there you go, chiplets saved you $200 bucks + gave you 24GB of VRAM as bonus (versus 16GB on 4080)
    It is meant for GAMING so don't expect productivity performance, for many reasons including nvidia's cuda cores that has every major software optimized for it.
    RDNA is going the right direction with chiplets.. in an industry of increasing costs year after year.
    Chiplet design is a solution, and not a new groundbreaking feature that's meant to boost performance.
    Sadly, instead of working on the problem, nvidia decided to give excuses such as "Moore's law is dead".
    Reply
  • salgado18
    But for under a grand, right now the RX 7900 XTX delivers plenty to like and at least keeps pace with the more expensive RTX 4080. All you have to do is lose a good sized chunk of ray tracing performance, and hope that FSR2 can continue catching up to DLSS.
    That, I believe, is the reason AMD won't increase too much their market share in this generation. Yes, rasterization is comparable, so are power, memory, price and even upscaling performance/quality. But it is a bad card for raytracing, or at least that's the message, and between a full card and a crippled card, people will prefer the fully featured one. I know designing GPUs is a monstrously complex task, but they really needed to up their RT performance by at least 3x to be competitive. Now they will keep being "bang-for-buck", which is nice, but never "the best".

    Edit: by some rough calcs, if the XTX is ~40% faster without RT than the 6950, and ~50% faster with RT, then the generational improvement is ~7%? If so, then that's hardly any improvement at all. Great cards and all that, but I'm very disappointed with the lack of focus on RT.
    Reply
  • btmedic04
    salgado18 said:
    That, I believe, is the reason AMD won't increase too much their market share in this generation. Yes, rasterization is comparable, so are power, memory, price and even upscaling performance/quality. But it is a bad card for raytracing, or at least that's the message, and between a full card and a crippled card, people will prefer the fully featured one. I know designing GPUs is a monstrously complex task, but they really needed to up their RT performance by at least 3x to be competitive. Now they will keep being "bang-for-buck", which is nice, but never "the best".

    Edit: by some rough calcs, if the XTX is ~40% faster without RT than the 6950, and ~50% faster with RT, then the generational improvement is ~7%? If so, then that's hardly any improvement at all. Great cards and all that, but I'm very disappointed with the lack of focus on RT.

    AMD has a definite physical size advantage though which is something thats applicable to quite a few folks (myself included.) I hear what you are saying, but as a 3090 owner, 3090-like RT performance from the 7900xtx is still quite good for most people.
    Reply