Nvidia’s recent RTX 4080 didn’t get the warmest reception. It’s still the second fastest GPU you can buy, as you can read in my RTX 4080 review, but it’s overpriced. Many would-be PC builders are holding their cash until AMD releases its RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT in December.
AMD is looking to go with the RTX 4080, while offering its flagship cards for a few hundred dollars less than Nvidia is asking. We won’t know for sure if AMD can compete until the cards are there, but with the RTX 4080 now in hand, we can start to draw a picture.
And the situation does not look good for Nvidia.
What AMD says
I have to put a vital disclaimer up front. We don’t have the AMD RX 7900 XTX or RX 7900 XT yet, and we won’t know how the cards will perform until they’re released on December 13. All we need to do are two benchmark slides that AMD recently shared. I have no reason to believe they’re inaccurate, but at the very least, it’s best to assume that AMD picked the numbers that paint their product in the best light.
All this to say that I am deducing here, not prophesying.
With that out of the way, you can see AMD’s shared numbers for pixel and ray tracing performance above. Using the disclaimers at the end of the slides, I tried recreating AMD’s test setup with the RTX 4080 instead of the two new RX 7000 GPUs. Here’s what I landed on:
- AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
- 32GB Corsair Vengeance DDR5-6000
- Corsair MP400 NVMe 1TB SSD
- Gigabyte Aorus Master X670E Motherboard
- Windows 11 22H2
- Corsair H150i All-in-One Liquid Cooler
There are a lot of question marks that AMD hasn’t clarified in its testing, such as whether Resizable BAR is enabled and what game versions it’s running. Instead, I followed all the procedures I normally do for GPU reviews. I kept Resizeable BAR enabled and locked with the latest driver, game, and Windows updates.
I compared the RTX 4080 in titles shared by AMD with this benchmark. Critically, I only tested games that have a built-in benchmark to make my results as comparable as possible. I have no idea what areas AMD has tested in Dying Light 2 and Resident Evil Village, so I omitted them.
Although the RTX 4080 currently only takes a back seat to the RTX 4090 in terms of performance, that could change very soon. Based on the results I gathered, the AMD cards could outright beat the RTX 4080 at a lower price.
AMD labels its graphics with “maximum settings”, so I used the highest preset available in each of the games I tested. AMD’s new cards could cause an upset based on my results, with the RX 7900 XTX showing a consistent lead and the RX 7900 XT very close behind.
In Watch Dogs: Legion, the RTX 4080 was only a hair faster than the RX 7900 XT, but AMD’s data shows the RX 7900 XTX has a nearly 14% lead. Intelligent Access Memory (SAM) might play a small part in improving the RX 7900 XTX here, although the differences are slim to none at 4K.
Similarly, AMD figures show that the RX 7900 XTX is about 18% faster than the RTX 4080 in Cyberpunk 2077, with Nvidia’s card pressing a single-frame lead over the RX 7900 XT.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 This is where the RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT show a large lead (over 38%!). Although impressive, modern warfare 2 Massively favors recent GPUs from AMD, so this game is likely an exception.
Things are changing in the ray tracing department. AMD was significantly behind Nvidia with ray tracing in the previous generation. The RX 7900 XT and RX 7900 XTX promise improvements, but it looks like Nvidia will maintain its dominant position.
My RTX 4080 results are 66% ahead of the RX 7900 XT and 43% ahead of the RX 7900 XTX numbers shared by AMD Cyberpunk 2077. I tested with scaling disabled, as higher base performance will inevitably result in higher scaling performance. With Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), the RTX 4080 achieved over 80 frames per second (fps), beating AMD’s numbers with FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) by around 40%.
For Hitman 3 with ray tracing, AMD didn’t specify if it was running the Dartmoor or Dubai benchmark, so I ran both. Nvidia is ahead on both counts, but the question still remains whether the RTX 4080 takes a marginal victory or a decisive lead.
Should we wait for the RX 7900 XTX?
Nvidia has a price issue right now, not a performance issue. The RTX 4080 is still one of the best graphics cards you can buy, and if it replaced the $700 RTX 3080 at around the same price, it would wipe the floor with the RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT. But at $1,200, that’s not the case.
We still have to wait to test the RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT, but unless AMD’s numbers are 15% or more lower, it’s hard to see the RTX 4080 claiming a performance victory. Assuming AMD’s numbers are accurate, we could see performance parity between the RTX 4080 and RX 7900 XT, and even a performance lead for the RX 7900 XTX while costing $200 less.
Halftone performance isn’t all that matters. It looks like Nvidia will still claim the ray-tracing crown, and features like DLSS 3 are ahead of what AMD currently offers (even if DLSS 3 isn’t perfect). However, with a $200 gap and a performance gap for the RTX 4080, AMD’s RX 7900 XTX might tempt some long-time Nvidia users to switch to AMD.
All eyes are on December 13 for now. We’ll have a clear view of performance then, but even with this quick preview, AMD’s next-gen GPUs look very impressive.
This article is part of ReSpec – an ongoing bi-weekly column that features in-depth discussions, tips and reports on the technology behind PC gaming.
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