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
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AMD's RDNA 3 cards are now here, with some good improvements but also a few surprises. All of the talk about the innovative chiplet architecture effectively boils down to AMD saving money compared to a monolithic design, and perhaps giving up some performance in the process. We'd be very curious to see how fast the same design would have been if AMD had skipped chiplets, but chiplets is what we're getting.

AMD has delivered two rather different cards for the RX 7900 series launch. The halo card is the far more desirable option in my mind. Yes, it costs $100 extra, but that's only an 11% price increase. For the extra money, you get 17% higher performance and 20% more memory. Compare that to the RX 6000-series launch.

RX 6800 XT was ostensibly priced at $649 while the RX 6900 XT had the same memory and ultimately just 7% higher performance across our test suite, for $999. That's what we used to see: a big jump in price for the final, relatively small performance increase. Both Nvidia and now AMD have apparently ditched that approach this generation.

We can't help but think the past two years of GPU shortages has led some of the bean counters into thinking graphics cards should cost more. Street prices are likely to be over $1,000 for most of the 7900 series custom AIB designs, unless the supply is so good that it outstrips demand.

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Speaking of, there are rumors circulating that AMD will have at least 200K cards for sale starting tomorrow, December 13. We're not sure how many RTX 4090 and 4080 cards were ready for those launches, but 200K seems far more ambitious than what we've seen from AMD in the past. That's probably because this feels like the most competitive AMD GPU we've seen in the consumer graphics market in quite some time. Too bad so many of us can't afford $899, never mind the $1,199+ that Nvidia's asking.

The 4-star review score incidentally applies to the RX 7900 XTX, as it's the better of the two cards. We rate the RX 7900 XT as a 3-star card, or maybe 3.5-star. The loss in performance just to save $100 on a card that costs nearly a grand (and possibly more after tax plus higher AIB model pricing) doesn't seem that great. Knock off another $100 or more and the 7900 XT becomes a different story.

If you're not in the market for a graphics card that costs twice as much as the current generation consoles, don't worry. Nvidia's RTX 4070 Ti is apparently right around the corner, and where there's a Ti, there's bound to be a vanilla RTX 4070 model as well. Hopefully those will start pushing prices down closer to $500. And if Nvidia doesn't go there soon, AMD almost certainly will with Navi 32 and "RX 7700" (or similar) cards some time in the first quarter of 2023.

Ultimately, the RX 7900 series helps to narrow the gap that Nvidia opened up with the RTX 4090 and 4080. If you want the fastest card possible, never mind price, power, or any other considerations, the RTX 4090 still reigns supreme. 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.

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