Nvidia has had its RTX 4000 series out for a few months now, and AMD has finally released its answer. So we picked up a new RDNA 3 card to give you the Radeon RX 7900 review.
The brand new reference design has made a point of not being like the new RTX 4090 or RTX 4080 in terms of size or price. So it comes down to what it can offer against it.
We look forward to a good performance of the cards. Since AMD has promised a lot of improvements, it should be an excellent alternative to disrupt Nvidia’s hold on the market.
AMD Radeon RX7900 XT
core clock speed
1.5GHz base, 2GHz play, 2.4GHz boost
packaging and design
AMD’s packaging sticks to the basics in its packaging, which is nice. Without all the extra frills and the protective film that just gets thrown away anyway. Because nowadays it is no longer a necessity.
The graphics card sits snuggly in the foil and is difficult to get out. But that keeps it from rattling around there with no extras needed. It also sits slightly at an angle to make coming out a little easier.
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There aren’t even port covers for the IO on the back, which can get in the way if you forget to remove it and try to install it. Although there is a cover for the PCIe slot, the important data pins remain protected.
When you remove the card from the box you are left pretty much empty. All that remains is a small compartment for small documents. This makes the whole unpacking process much easier and less stressful without so much waste.
Now for the map design, these have further improved from the previous design. By removing all the silver highlights, the entire design is now hidden. With only an all black coloring on the map.
You only get a red line next to the power connectors on the side. And the metallic IO cover that easily picks up any thumbprint after handling.
Another feature of the card is that it only uses two PCIe 8-pin power connectors. Excluding new 12-pin power connectors from the new ATX 3.0 specification, which caused some problems if not installed properly.
This also means that the card does not have a large TBP and cooler. That means it also only measures 276mm in length, 135mm in width and 51mm in thickness (2.5 slots). But it feels dense and weighs 1,519kg in this small pack size.
So there shouldn’t be any problems with its cooling. With its tightly packed heatsink and three fans enclosed to keep it cool. As well as a metal backplate to dissipate the heat so as not to restrict it.
The design of the card is rather edgy with sharp edges. And angles to complement the gothic all-black design. But still it stands out and has great quality.
1.5GHz base, 2GHz play, 2.4GHz boost
1x HDMI 2.1, 2x DP 2.1, 1x USB-C
Much cheaper than its Nvidia counterparts for similar performance
Sleek and stealthy all black design that is very elegant and blends in well
Low TBP and power consumption with a great cooling design that keeps the card size small
It still lacks some ray tracing performance, although it has improved
The RX 7900 XT is one of the first two cards in the RDNA 3 architecture lineup. Another goal is to improve performance and optionality as a choice of a good GPU.
This new generation disassembles their graphics chips. In an MCM design (multi-chip module), the graphics chip is divided into several chiplets. Gives a greatly improved yield from the silicon with smaller sizes.
Now the manufacturing process has been further improved and uses TSMC’s 5nm and 6nm processes. This is divided between GCD and MCD respectively. It then measures 300mm2 and 220mm2.
For the 7900 XT, it contains 84 Compute Units, 84 Ray Accelerators, 168 AI Accelerators (a new member of the graphics family), as well as 5,376 Stream Processors and 192 ROPs. These have the potential to hit a 2GHz music box and boost up to 2.4GHz.
Now the Infinity Cache is down to 80MB, but the card now has 20GB of GDDR6 memory in it. With a clock rate of 20 Gbit/s and a 320-bit memory bus, it has a bandwidth of 800 GB/s. AMD saves both power and money by not using GDDR6X memory, which may not have the biggest performance gains.
Even though AM5 is ready for PCIe 5 expansions, the new cards still only use PCIe 4.0. Still probable is the fact that costs will be saved and the cards will probably not use the full bandwidth potential. Now the board power is 315W. A slight increase since the announcement of improved performance at not too great an additional cost.
While it still falls under the 4080’s 320W and a lot less than the 4090’s 450W. The reason it can keep its size down, and the limited power ports. Although custom maps will likely expand the number.
When it comes to display outputs, this generation is the first to feature the new DisplayPort 2.1 specification. Since displays are expected to be equipped with it in early 2023, it offers a lot of future security. And the reference card has two of those, along with an HDMI 2.1 and a USB Type-C port. So there is a lot of flexibility in what you can use as a display.
Price-wise, this is another area where AMD wants to be very competitive. The MSRP of the 7900 XT is $899. While it’s on the pricier side, it’s not as expensive as the competition.
So as long as the performance and features are there, it’s a very good spot for the GPU. Especially since the 4080 wasn’t such a hot product as there is plenty of stock available unlike the 4090 which was hotter in demand.
RX 7900 XT thermals and cooling
The graphics card is well designed thermally. With great performance under load. In our tests, its results show a lot. Because under full load the card never went over 61℃. A different philosophy compared to the Ryzen 7000 CPUs.
The fans spin with a maximum of 1,771 rpm, but not at an inappropriate volume. This also means that the temperature curve is very good, with the temperature dropping back to 40℃ within five minutes.
These cards also have a temperature sensor in the fans. This measures the ambient temperature entering the card to cool it. This allows you to better control the fan curves with some additional data on which they are based.
RX 7900 XT benchmark
For the most important part, let’s look at how the map behaves in games. While we didn’t have the cards available or the time to test it against GPUs, it should give you a good understanding of what it can accomplish.
Our test stand
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 7950X
- Cooler: Asus ROG RYUJIN II 360
- Memory: 2x 16GB Trident Z5 Neo DDR5
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair X670E Hero
- Power supply: ASUS ROG Thor 1000W
- Case: Cooler Master MF 700
So, in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we’re getting solid performance across the board on ultra settings. With 1080p performance averaging 175 FPS, 1440p at 145 and 4k at 90 FPS. The 0.1% is due to our testing method rather than actual card performance.
CS:GO is a very easy to use esports game. And so it’s no surprise that this top-end card blows through the frames. And so 1080p reaches 724 FPS, 1440p averages 555 FPS and 4k reaches 313 FPS.
Cyberpunk 2077 gives a first look at the generation’s ray tracing performance. With a promised uplift in it. But it’s still a major obstacle as the Ultra and Psycho levels really drive it nuts. So 1080p performance drops from a great 171 FPS to 51 with ray tracing. While 1440p goes from 119 to 32 FPS. While the playable 62 drops to just 15 at 4k. Probably the game benefits from waiting for the FSR.
Doom Eternal has a much lower ray tracing effect, although the high frame rate can hide the effects as such. Since the 426 frames at 1080p almost halve to 264 with RT. While the 349 drops to 208 at 1440p and 195 at 4K to 115 FPS. All of this is still a great gaming experience.
Far Cry 6 is a lot less intense in its ray tracing and so we’re seeing over 100 FPS overall across the board. Except, of course, for the 87 FPS it drops to with 4k ray tracing, which is still a good performance with ultra settings that can be dialed in.
Fortnite is definitely not meant to be played epic and on the highest settings. But those are still reasonable frame rates, despite dropping below 50 at 4k. So it can be set to more sensible options.
Overwatch 2 is relatively new, but it’s still an esports title built for performance. And so the high numbers give you a great opportunity to look your best with almost 400 FPS at 1080p, almost 300 at 1440p and 160 at 4k.
Rainbow Six Siege is in a similar park, with well over 144Hz across the board. With the potential for much higher numbers if required.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider also sees higher frame rates. Although the graphs from scene loads can be skewed between benchmarks, it can be deceiving and runs much smoother.
There is also a pure performance plastic tested in 3DMark. This is a quick and basic way to compare how the chart is performing and see it in relation to other cards. It definitely shows the elevation in the map.
Overall, the card is a strong contender when it comes to pure gaming performance. AMD has seen a big improvement in the software and driver department, so using its cards is no longer a disadvantage.
Frame rates have improved along with ray tracing performance. So it was a good increase in what they can offer. Above all, they focused on the price. As long as stock can follow, it will be a good alternative as it’s cheaper than what Nvidia has to offer.
Therefore, nowadays it has become more important to cost less and operate at a lower cost. That’s as long as the rest of the folks can see, but we like what Radeon has to offer these days and look forward to the competition on lower-end cards as well.