Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT review: AMD’s ‘reasonable’ stab at 4K gaming

While I was eager to see how these new GPUs compared to NVIDIA’s, I had to go through several rounds of driver and motherboard BIOS updates on my Ryzen 9 7900X before both cards were stable enough to actually use . It’s something I sometimes run into when testing cutting-edge hardware (NVIDIA’s cards also required a BIOS update), but there were still problems with AMD’s cards even after that. Halo infinite, for example, refused to start matches with any of the cards. Sometimes my computer shut down completely while testing Cyberpunk 2077which required me to unplug my desktop and reset my BIOS before Windows would boot again.

I’ve benched AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards on this computer, equipped with a premium Corsair 1000W PSU, for the past few months without any stability issues. So it was a surprise to see how much havoc these GPUs could wreak. I haven’t seen other reviews complaining of similar issues, so I’ll write up my experience for early drivers. AMD just released a new driver that fixes a problem with high power consumption during video encoding, so I hope the company is also trying to fix the bugs I’m seeing.

No

3DMark TimeSpy Extreme

Port Royal (Ray Tracing)

Cyberpunk

Mixer

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

12,969

14,696/68 fps

4K FSR RT: 57fps

2,899

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT

11,688

13,247/61 fps

4K FSRT RT: 50 fps

3,516

NVIDIA RTX 4080

12,879

17780/82 fps

4K DLSS RT: 74fps

9,310

NVIDIA RTX 4090

16,464

25,405/117.62 fps

4K DLSS RT: 135 fps

12,335

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

7,713

9,104/42.15 fps

N/A

N/A

When running smoothly, the cards proved quite competitive with the RTX 4080. The 7900 XTX was on par with the 4080 in 3DMark’s TimeSpy Extreme benchmark and Geekbench 5’s Compute test. The 7900 XT scored 1,000 points lower on TimeSpy Extreme, which was 3,000 points higher than last year’s RTX 3080 Ti, but it was outperformed by that NVIDIA card when it came to Geekbench. Hitman 3 also ran blazingly fast on both cards at 4K, hitting 165fps and 180fps when I turned on FSR upscaling. Much like NVIDIA’s cards, there is no reason to run any game in 4K without the help of advanced upscaling technology.

The performance gap between AMD and NVIDIA appeared when I started dabbling with ray tracing. The 7900 XTX and XT scored well below the RTX 4080 in the 3DMark Port Royal benchmark (at least they managed to beat the 3080 Ti). I also only saw around 57 fps in Cyberpunk 2077 on Radeon 7900 XTX while gaming in 4K with full ray tracing and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution technology. Without FSR, that frame rate dropped to an unplayable 25 fps. The slower 7900 XT only managed to reach 50fps in 4K with FSR and ray tracing enabled.

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX (front) and XT (rear)

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Basically, if you’re keen on getting a graphics card that hits well over 60fps in 4K with ray tracing, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But if you can live with 1,440p, you’ll find more to like: the 7900 XTX hit 130fps in Cyberpunk with ray tracing, FSR and graphics settings maxed out, while the 7900 XT reached 114fps. That’s almost enough to max out a 120Hz gaming monitor! Personally, I still think 4K gaming is overrated – 1440p still looks great, and you may never notice the benefits of pushing more pixels. But I’ll admit that I’ve been spoiled by NVIDIA’s DLSS3 upscaling technology, which allowed me to reach 74 fps in Cyberpunk while playing in 4K with ray tracing. It’s as close to gaming heaven as I’ve ever been.

But there’s one thing you’ll find with these AMD GPUs that you won’t find with NVIDIA’s: Reasonable street prices. Even after launch, you can still have the 7900XT and XTX near retail. Many RTX 4080 models, meanwhile, are going for $1,500 at online retailers (assuming you can find them in stock at all). Spending close to $1,000 on a graphics card is still hard to pull off, but at least it makes more sense than going all the way to $1,500.

The Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT is a solid step forward for AMD, especially when it comes to 4K gaming. But I hope the company can get its driver situation in order and maybe bring out better ray tracing performance in the process. Most gamers are still better off waiting for AMD and NVIDIA’s next-generation mid-range cards, which are sure to launch soon. But if you’re an avowed AMD fan, you’ve finally gotten the high-end upgrade you’ve been waiting for.

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