Computing

AMD RX 7900 XTX vs. Nvidia RTX 4090: The Ultimate Battle of Flagship GPUs

AMD has introduced its latest Radeon RX 7000-series to compete with Nvidia’s RTX 40-series. NVIDIA’s current leading GPU is the RTX 4090, a powerful but expensive card. As for AMD, it offers two high-end options: the RX 7900 XT and the RX 7900 XTX. How does AMD’s new flagship, the XTX, compare to Nvidia’s flagship?

If you’re wondering which GPU is the best of the best, you’re in the right place. We’ve thoroughly tested both cards and have the answer.

Pricing and Availability

Two AMD Radeon RX 7000 graphics cards on a pink surface.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Nvidia’s flagships are known for many things, but being affordable is not one of them. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 was released on October 12, 2022, with a starting price of $1,599 for the Founders Edition model. Custom versions from Nvidia’s partners, like MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus, can cost even more, reaching close to $2,000 in some cases.

Despite its high price, the GPU quickly sold out at most retailers. Scalpers are now trying to resell it at a significant markup, making it difficult to find the RTX 4090 at the recommended price. Hopefully, the price will stabilize over time.

AMD is typically more reasonable than Nvidia when it comes to pricing. This remains true for their new lineup. The RX 7900 XTX, announced on November 3 and released on December 13, is priced at $1,000. For reference, the slightly lower-end RX 7900 XT was released on the same day with a $900 price tag.

This makes AMD’s new flagship much more affordable. However, there are other factors to consider, such as specifications and performance, when comparing it to Nvidia’s cards.

Specs

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Both the RTX 4090 and the RX 7900 XTX introduce new technologies and architectures for their respective manufacturers. Nvidia’s RTX 4090 is built on the new Ada Lovelace Architecture and TSMC’s N4 manufacturing process. As for AMD, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX belongs to their latest RDNA 3 lineup, built on a 5nm process, and housing a Navi 31 XT GPU die.

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AMD has taken an interesting approach, similar to the Ryzen 7 5800X3D, by stacking a 5nm graphics compute die (GCD) and a 6nm memory cache die (MCD) on top of each other. This allows the GPU to deliver more power, aided by the significant 96MB of Infinity Cache.

While the RDNA 3 powers have improved the 7900 XTX compared to its predecessor, the 6900 XT, it still falls short of competing with Nvidia’s behemoth GPU. The AMD flagship is positioned against Nvidia’s RTX 4080 instead.

Here’s how the two flagships compare in terms of specifications.

Performance

Average 4K performance for RX 7900 XT and RX 7900 XTX.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We extensively tested both the RTX 4090 and the RX 7900 XTX in gaming and synthetic benchmarks.

The verdict is clear – both GPUs have their strengths, but the RTX 4090 is currently the most powerful card on the market. However, it comes at a high cost, and there are few games that can fully utilize its capabilities.

Nvidia’s flagship can smoothly run AAA games at max settings and 4K resolution. It even performs remarkably well, running Genshin Impact at 13K, although that might not be practical. On the other hand, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is a powerful graphics card perfectly suited for 4K gaming. However, when it comes to pure performance, it can’t compete with the RTX 4090.

In our 4K gaming tests, the RTX 4090 averaged a massive 113 frames per second (fps). In comparison, the RX 7900 XTX delivered an average of 76.4 fps. The RTX 4090 shows a remarkable 47% increase in performance. However, when comparing the RX 7900 XTX to the RTX 4080, the gap is much smaller, and Nvidia still comes out on top.

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The RTX 4090 provides a 48% increase over the RTX 3090 Ti and a 68% boost over the AMD RX 6950 XT. However, there’s no need to spend $1,600 on this GPU if you’re only planning to play at 1440p. There are excellent 1440p graphics cards available at a much lower price.

RX 7900 XT and RX 7900 XTX performance in Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Nvidia’s RTX 4090 also excels in ray tracing capabilities and features the latest DLSS 3, which can generate entire frames instead of just pixels. All these factors contribute to fantastic gaming performance, although at a higher cost.

Historically, AMD has struggled with ray tracing compared to Nvidia, and this remains true in this generation. We tested both cards by playing Cyberpunk 2077 in 4K with max settings and ray tracing enabled. The RTX 4090 delivered a playable 42.9 fps, while the RX 7900 XTX lagged behind with just 21.5 fps. Even the RTX 4080 performed better with 29 fps. Simply put, while AMD has improved its ray tracing skills, Nvidia remains the superior option in this regard.

Cost per frame for the RX 7900 XT and RX 7900 XTX.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

However, AMD has focused heavily on performance-per-watt and performance-per-dollar this time around. The RX 7900 XTX offers a balanced GPU and excellent value for 4K gaming, especially when it’s available at or close to its MSRP. As shown in the above chart, the RX 7900 XTX has the lowest price per frame.

It Depends on Your Needs

The RX 7900 XTX.
Image: AMD / AMD

Based on our tests, which GPU is better? Nvidia’s RTX 4090 or AMD’s RX 7900 XTX?

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The answer is not surprising – Nvidia’s RTX 4090 will remain at the top of the list of best graphics cards available until Nvidia releases a follow-up, such as an RTX 4090 Ti.

The RTX 4090 is an incredibly powerful GPU that can handle almost anything you throw at it. However, it comes at a high price and has faced some controversies during its short time on the market. It’s a massive card, and some users have reported issues with the power connector and cable melting under pressure. Although this problem only affects a small percentage of RTX 4090 owners, it’s a problem that AMD has entirely avoided by not using the same power connector.

While AMD’s RX 7900 XTX was not intended to compete directly with the RTX 4090, it remains a fantastic graphics card that offers excellent value when priced around $1,000. If you prioritize 4K gaming over ray tracing, the AMD card is a compelling alternative to both the RTX 4090 and the RTX 4080.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your budget and the level of top-tier performance you require. If you’re looking for better value, go for the RX 7900 XTX. If you prioritize raw performance, the RTX 4090 is undoubtedly the stronger GPU.

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