In the ever-evolving landscape of gaming hardware, AMD continues to make significant strides with its latest offering, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT. This midrange graphics card not only expands AMD's portfolio in the RDNA 3 generation but also caters to gamers looking for robust performance without breaking the bank. In this comprehensive review, we'll delve into numerous benchmarks to determine how well the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT stacks up against its fierce competitors, particularly from Nvidia.
A New Addition to AMD's Arsenal
The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT made its debut alongside the AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT at this year's Gamescom in Cologne. This strategic move completes AMD's impressive RX 7000 portfolio. There have been rumors suggesting that AMD is gearing up for the next graphics card generation, but for now, let's focus on the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT. This graphics card is primarily aimed at gamers who prefer playing at 1440p resolution.
Design and Build
For our testing purposes, we acquired the reference design of the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT. This model is available directly through AMD's online shop, priced at 552 Euros (or $499 in the US). It's worth noting that various models from different board partners, some equipped with more substantial cooling solutions, are also available. The reference model maintains the familiar AMD design aesthetics seen in the 7000 series. Its 2.5-slot design strikes a balance between compactness and efficient cooling, thanks to its two fans. With a length of just 27 cm (approximately 10.6 inches), the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT fits comfortably in relatively compact cases.
Under the Hood
Underneath the sleek exterior lies the Navi 32 XT graphics chip, boasting 3,840 shader units. In terms of VRAM, the card is generously equipped with 16 GB, a common trend for AMD. This places the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT as a direct successor to the AMD Radeon RX 6800. The new chipset design is also shared with its predecessor. Alongside the GCD with 200 mm² and four MCDs with 36.6 mm² each, the VRAM is connected via the MCDs, resulting in a 256-bit storage connection. Power-wise, the card requires two 6+2 pin PCIe power connections in the reference model, with a maximum power consumption of 263 watts. While this power consumption isn't particularly efficient, it's worth noting that in our comparisons, it fared worse than the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE, which was introduced earlier. However, acquiring the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE isn't straightforward, as it's currently only available through the purchase of a complete system or a PC upgrade kit consisting of a mainboard, CPU, and RAM.
In terms of external connections, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT offers the most current options available. Notably, it outpaces even Nvidia in this regard, as it features DisplayPort 2.1, a feature not yet available in Nvidia's lineup. In total, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT boasts 1x HDMI 2.1a and 3x DisplayPort 2.1 ports, allowing you to simultaneously connect up to four displays.
In professional applications, AMD has been making strides even with its "regular" graphics cards, outside of its specialized workstation GPUs. Compared to Nvidia, AMD has shown clear advantages. However, this means that the direct competitors for the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT are other AMD graphics cards. In head-to-head comparisons, especially in newer benchmarks like SPECviewperf 13 and SPECviewperf 2020v1, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT demonstrates its prowess. It appears to take advantage of these newer features, although it still lags slightly behind the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE in some aspects, which is also reflected in its labeling.
Beyond synthetic tests, gaming benchmarks provide valuable insights into real-world performance expectations. However, it's important to note that game performance can vary between AMD and Nvidia graphics cards. In our tests, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT faces tough competition, particularly from the KFA2 GeForce RTX 4070 EX Gamer. Overall, both models deliver similar performance, but AMD's in-house competitor, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE, manages to outperform the RX 7800 XT across various games. This comparison is intriguing because, on paper, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE boasts better power efficiency than the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT.
The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT generally meets its advertised goal of being a capable 1440p gaming GPU. However, in specific titles like F1 23, our test unit struggles to maintain an average of 60 FPS. This challenge is particularly pronounced in Ultra presets with simultaneous ray tracing enabled, where achieving higher frame rates becomes more demanding. Nonetheless, many games can be enjoyed at 2160p resolutions, albeit with some detailed sacrifices. While it may not be worthwhile for AMD Radeon RX 6800 users to upgrade, those with older AMD Radeon RX 5000 series cards will certainly notice a significant performance boost.
Raytracing remains a challenging aspect for AMD. Even with the RDNA 3 architecture, AMD still lags behind Nvidia in this department. However, this doesn't mean you should dismiss ray tracing entirely, as our benchmarks reveal. While ray tracing may require lowering the resolution for adequate frame rates, it still enhances the gaming experience. Compared to the AMD Radeon RX 6800, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT demonstrates notable performance improvements with activated ray tracing, sometimes reaching up to 30% higher frame rates. In comparison to Nvidia, our test unit can only compete with the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti.
AMD has equipped the Radeon RX 7800 XT with a fan stop mode, allowing the graphics card to remain completely silent during 2D operation. Under average load, we recorded a noise level of merely 31 dB(A), which subjectively feels very quiet. However, during stress tests, both fans ramp up significantly, resulting in a noise measurement of 43 dB(A) in an open setup. It's important to note that this noise level is expected to be lower in a closed case.
Temperatures and Power Consumption
The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT features a cooling system with a vapor chamber element cooled by two axial fans. This cooling solution generally performs well, maintaining temperatures comfortably below the 100°C (212°F) limit. In our worst-case scenario, we recorded a GPU hotspot value of 83°C (181°F). However, considering the card's specified power consumption of 263 watts, it raises questions as to why AMD opted for this cooling solution. On paper, both the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT and the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE consume a similar amount of power. However, our measurements suggest a different story. Under load, our test system equipped with the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT draws 425 watts, placing it on par with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti. This indicates that AMD falls behind Nvidia in terms of power efficiency. Nevertheless, in an in-house competition, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT fares better than the KFA2 GeForce RTX 4060 Ti EX in terms of power consumption efficiency.
As a result of the higher power consumption, AMD recommends using a power supply that can deliver at least 700 watts.
A Midrange Contender Overshadowed
The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT positions itself as a solid midrange choice for gamers targeting 1440p gaming experiences. It generally delivers the expected performance but faces fierce competition from both Nvidia and AMD's own lineup. While it shines in some aspects, like its VRAM capacity, it falls short in others, such as power efficiency. Surprisingly, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 GRE outperforms it in terms of both performance and cooling efficiency. So, the question remains, why choose the RX 7800 XT over the RX 7900 GRE? The answer might lie in availability and cost. The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT is available directly from AMD at a competitive price of 552 Euros (or $499 in the US), giving AMD an edge over Nvidia in terms of affordability.
Consider Your Upgrade Carefully
Switching to a new graphics card model is a significant decision, one that should be made thoughtfully to avoid disappointment. If you're currently using an AMD Radeon RX 6800 or RX 6800 XT, it might be wise to wait for the next generation of updates. Alternatively, you could consider upgrading to one of AMD's high-end models. Another factor to consider is the card's modern connections, including DisplayPort 2.1, even though the availability of displays supporting this feature is currently limited.
Price and Availability
The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT is listed for $499 on AMD's online shop, but it's currently out of stock. You can also find PowerColor or Sapphire AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT models on Amazon, starting from $519. It's important to keep an eye on availability if you're considering this graphics card.
In conclusion, the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT offers a compelling option for midrange gamers, particularly those aiming for a 1440p gaming experience. However, it's essential to weigh its strengths and weaknesses against the competition and your specific gaming needs before making a purchasing decision.