Sapphire RX 7900 XTX Nitro+ Vapor-X Review: More Is More

Better cooling, lots of RGB lighting, and no faulty vapor chambers.

Sapphire RX 7900 XTX Nitro+ Vapor-X
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Sapphire RX 7900 XTX delivers the usual factory overclock with a large cooler to cope with the higher clocks and significantly higher power consumption. You can run at lower settings, but then why bother with an extreme model in the first place?

Pros

  • +

    Great cooling and performance

  • +

    Lots of RGB lighting (if you like that)

  • +

    Good build quality

Cons

  • -

    High power use for minimal performance gains

  • -

    Costs more than other 7900 XTX cards

  • -

    Relatively limited availability at present

  • -

    Too much RGB for some people

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The Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT launch wasn't quite enough to claim the pole position in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, and now we've learned a few batches of reference 7900 XTX cards shipped with vapor chamber issues. The Sapphire RX 7900 XTX Nitro+ Vapor-X has no such problems, promising the usual bump in performance thanks to higher clocks and a better cooler — and slightly higher power draw as well. How does it fare when compared with the best graphics cards, and can you find cards in stock anywhere?

As with other third-party AIB (add-in board) partner cards, the only real changes relative to the reference designs will come in the form of cooling and aesthetics, potentially with a bump in clock speeds and power limits. Sapphire's RX 7900 XTX Nitro+ follows that pattern to a T: 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
AMD and Nvidia GPU Specifications
Graphics CardSapphire 7900 XTX Nitro+RX 7900 XTXRX 7900 XTRTX 4090RTX 4080RTX 4070 Ti
ArchitectureNavi 31Navi 31Navi 31AD102AD103AD104
Process TechnologyTSMC N5 + N6TSMC N5 + N6TSMC N5 + N6TSMC 4NTSMC 4NTSMC 4N
Transistors (Billion)45.6 + 6x 2.0545.6 + 6x 2.0545.6 + 5x 2.0576.345.935.8
Die size (mm^2)300 + 222300 + 222300 + 185608.4378.6294.5
SMs9696841287660
GPU Shaders1228812288107521638497287680
Tensor CoresN/AN/AN/A512304240
Ray Tracing "Cores"9696841287660
Boost Clock (MHz)268025002400252025052610
VRAM Speed (Gbps)2020202122.421
VRAM (GB)242420241612
VRAM Bus Width384384320384256192
L2 Cache969680726448
ROPs19219219217611280
TMUs384384336512304240
TFLOPS FP3265.961.451.682.648.740.1
TFLOPS FP16 (FP8/INT8)132 (132)123 (123)103 (103)661 (1321)390 (780)321 (641)
Bandwidth (GBps)9609608001008717504
TBP (watts)420355300450320285
Launch DateDec 2022Dec 2022Dec 2022Oct 2022Nov 2022Jan 2023
Launch Price$1,099 $999 $899 $1,599 $1,199 $799

Sapphire prices its Vapor-X model $100 above the reference card, with a $1,099 price point. MSRPs mean next to nothing, unfortunately, and Newegg has a listing for $1,522.97 (opens in new tab) — plus $49.99 in shipping, to add insult to injury. (It's from a third party seller, naturally.) Not that the reference 7900 XTX is any better, currently listed for $1,439.99 from a different third party seller (opens in new tab).

Hopefully the supply and pricing will improve in the coming months, but right now the 7900 XTX cards are all quite overpriced. The 7900 XTX typically beats the RTX 4080 in rasterization performance while trailing by a significant amount in complex ray tracing games, but RTX 4080 cards start at $1,269.99 (opens in new tab). That's more than we'd like but also about $200 less than the 7900 XTX for the time being.

If you want to learn more about AMD's RDNA 3 architecture, that article's a good place to start. Sapphire's design doesn't radically change anything, so we mostly know what to expect, but let's go ahead and check out the card itself and take it apart. 

Jarred Walton

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.

  • zecoeco
    This one narrows the gap even more with the RTX 4090.
    It tells me that AMD can offer an RTX 4090 beating card with a lower price tag, but for some reason they're not interested in the beyond $1000 market.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Thank God Sapphire is actually cheaper in the EU than any other AMD partner XD

    Vis a vis, this card is the same price as PowerColor and Asus models.

    Such a great performer, but I don't like this design xP

    Regards.
    Reply
  • DavidLejdar
    Over here, Vapor-X sells for 1,499 Euro, and 7900 XTX for 1,269 Euro (including 19% VAT in both cases). And sure is quite a price difference for such a FPS difference. And then there is the RX 7900 XT, going for less than 1,000 Euro now.

    For the time being, I am fine with the RX 6700 XT (OC) though. At 1440p and ultra settings, I do get at least around 70 FPS in a number of games I tried so far.

    A better GPU would increase the FPS, but it won't improve the built-in graphical assets of many a game, which are ever so often designed to run on consoles, where even the PS5 comes "only" with a peak performance of 10.3 TFlops. And a PC port usually doesn't redesign all of it, which means that a RX 6700 XT with 12.4 TFlops is not easily falling behind in that regard, especially when alongside a resonable CPU and a Gen4 SSD (which the PS5 and Xbox already have, for the increased transfer rate as well for the lower latency).
    Reply
  • cknobman
    IMO Ray Tracing today is like 4k gaming was back in the 1080ti generation.
    Its possible but requires too many compromises and should only be used in specific cases.
    We need 1-2 more generations before ray tracing will be mainstream.

    So right now I could care less about ray tracing, especially at anything above 1080p.
    Reply
  • Elusive Ruse
    Good stuff Jarred, thanks. Great card but at anything above $1000 it's criminal. Not like a thousand dollars is a fair price mind you.
    Reply
  • redgarl
    So AMD AIBs card are costing more than reference cards and it is a con, but Nvidia ones are as worst but it is fine....

    You wonder why we can take you guys seriously?

    OCJYDJXDRHwView: https://youtu.be/OCJYDJXDRHw
    Reply
  • redgarl
    You cannot find a 4090 at MSRP. They orbit around 1800$. And in all honesty, the 7900XTX AIB card can OC and be between 10-15% from a 4090.
    Reply
  • redgarl
    The performance of this card is impressive, however the aesthetic is horrible. Even if the XFX model perform worst, it is still provide enough headroom for a similar OC, and at least, it is one of the best looking GPU available.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    Damn, if this was at MSRP I'd think about it, but it's a lot.

    A little issue I have is that I don't know why game engine companies don't have an option to turn on Ray Tracing on cut scenes only and then none during gameplay, I'd be down for that, not that there's much difference on how games look most games anyways.
    Reply
  • Exploding PSU
    Always liked Sapphire cards, and this one is no exception. I personally buy GPUs mostly on aesthetic (after considering pricing obviously), as performance-wise GPUs of the same series from different brands probably aren't really that different between each other, especially for a casual user like me. I mean, maybe a couple degrees difference in temperature or a single-digit percent in FPS, but honestly not enough for me to feel it.

    I liked the last year's model better (the Nitro Pure one), albeit I'm extremely impartial to white parts and random geometric shapes. The RGB look tasteful to me, albeit I personally wouldn't set it to rainbow colours and would settle to strictly static colour, kind of elegant.

    Hey, that's just my opinion. From my short experience hanging around the forums I know any mention of RGB would invite open combat on the comments so... just to be on the safe side, the "you do you" disclaimer.

    If I were in the market for a new GPU, I might consider picking this one up. But nah, I'm waiting for Yeston's turn.

    I made fun of the box art on Sapphire's RX 6950 XT Nitro+ Pure, and I'm happy to say the blue and black artwork on the 7900 XTX is less ugly. Not that it really matters once you unpack the card.

    Full transparency, the product packaging was part of the reason why I chose my current GPU. Yeah I know, doesn't make sense and all, but hey glad you mentioned the box... Cheers
    Reply