Despite my initial enthusiasm for AMD and my contemplation of using their components in my upcoming PC build, I ultimately ended up purchasing one of Nvidia’s premier graphics cards. Ironically, the Nvidia GPU I selected could be considered one of their lesser offerings when it comes to value. While it undeniably delivers exceptional performance, its cost-to-performance ratio leaves much to be desired, making it a suboptimal choice in terms of value.
Specifically, I’m referring to the RTX 4080. While it unquestionably excels in handling any game thrown at it, as attested in our RTX 4080 review, its price tag of $1,200 is a considerable $500 increase over the previous generation’s RTX 3080.
Do I have any regrets? Surprisingly, no. I still believe that, despite its lackluster value, the Nvidia GPU I selected is a superior option compared to what AMD had available at the time. However, if I were making the same decision today, AMD might have made me reconsider.
I had fervently hoped to support AMD when I initially heard about their Radeon RX 7900 XTX, which had me excited and nearly convinced to switch allegiances after years of exclusively purchasing Nvidia products. My allegiance wasn’t necessarily tied to brand loyalty; rather, Nvidia had consistently outperformed AMD in terms of GPU quality for several years. However, with the introduction of RDNA 2, AMD began to regain my interest. The RX 7900 XTX solidified my desire to support the underdog and give AMD another chance.
Yet, here I am, somewhat reluctantly owning an RTX 4080 – a GPU with a pricing model that doesn’t quite add up. It’s expensive, and its performance doesn’t entirely justify its inflated price tag. Some might argue that I’ve lost my rationality, but I made a deliberate decision when purchasing the RTX 4080, fully aware of its shortcomings.
To be clear, I still maintain that it was the better choice compared to the RX 7900 XTX.
However, my choice of the RTX 4080 was influenced, to a great extent, by Nvidia’s pricing strategy. Their dominant position in the market seems to have made them complacent, as they maintain exorbitant pricing without any apparent intention to change.
Regrettably, the RX 7900 XTX lacked certain features that made the RX 7800 XT an intriguing alternative, ultimately tempting me back into Nvidia’s fold.
The RX 7900 XTX is undoubtedly an excellent GPU, and it even outperforms the RTX 4080 in some games. Nonetheless, as our review indicates, it falls approximately 6% behind the RTX 4080 when it comes to 4K gaming with ray tracing enabled. While this result is commendable, especially given AMD’s historical struggles with ray tracing, it’s not a decisive factor. These two cards are relatively comparable.
Nvidia gains an edge with Deep Learning Super Sampling 3 (DLSS 3), an upscaling technology capable of generating complete frames rather than just pixels. It’s potent enough to enable an RTX 4070 to achieve higher frame rates than an RTX 4090.
While DLSS 3 isn’t universally supported, it’s highly impressive and, despite its imperfections, surpasses AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution 2 (FSR 2).
AMD now offers FSR 3, marking a step in the right direction. Unlike DLSS 3, FSR 3 is compatible with any GPU. While it’s a positive move by AMD to make it more accessible, it also means that owning an AMD graphics card isn’t a prerequisite to benefit from it. DLSS 3 remains exclusive to Nvidia’s RTX 40-series, and some GPUs in that lineup primarily serve as vessels for Nvidia’s AI-driven frame generation, such as the RTX 4060 Ti.
In summary, we have two GPUs with comparable performance, but only one has access to Nvidia’s technology stack. Ray tracing becomes an attractive feature at this level, and DLSS 3 is enticing if it’s reasonably priced.
Herein lies the issue: the price gap between the RX 7900 XTX and the RTX 4080 wasn’t significant enough for me to forego DLSS 3 and enhanced ray tracing. The RTX 4080’s recommended list price is $1,200, while the 7900 XTX is priced at $1,000. In practice, many RTX 4080 models are available for around $1,100, while the RX 7900 XTX costs between $950 and $1,020. When you’re already investing over $2,000 in a computer, adding an extra $100 for a more impressive GPU seems less of a concern than in a budget-oriented PC build.
If I have one regret, it’s not saving more and stretching my budget further to acquire the (surprisingly better value) RTX 4090. On the other hand, like most individuals, I don’t truly require such a high-end GPU.
Had the RX 7900 XTX been more competitively priced, it might have gained more popularity. I know I wouldn’t have hesitated if it fell in the $800 to $850 range. Nvidia’s RTX 4080 was already excessively priced, so if AMD had adopted a more reasonable pricing strategy, it would have made more sense to opt for AMD. Unfortunately, both manufacturers opted for high prices, and I ended up choosing the contentious RTX 4080 despite my initial intentions.
This brings us to the new RX 7800 XT, which isn’t the class of GPU I originally considered for my next PC build, but it’s evident that AMD didn’t succumb to the pricing trend this time.
The RX 7800 XT is precisely the GPU I’ve longed to see. Priced at just $500, it decisively outperforms Nvidia’s RTX 4070, not to mention the RTX 4060 Ti. At its intended resolution of 1440p, it boasts an average performance lead of 9% over the 4070. Moreover, it outpaces its Nvidia counterpart by 6% at 4K. While this may not sound substantial, considering the $100 price difference, it becomes a significant advantage.
We also observe more promising results in ray tracing at 1440p, which is encouraging. AMD’s progress in the ray tracing arena has been gradual, but the 7800 XT manages to keep up with the 4070 in several games, maintaining an average of 74 frames per second (fps) in Returnal with ray tracing enabled at 1440p. Nvidia’s slight edge with 76 fps on average in the same game makes no practical difference during gameplay. Resident Evil 4 presents a similar scenario, with both cards achieving an identical average of 93.3 fps.
Cyberpunk 2077 remains a title where AMD lags significantly behind, reaching an average of 27 fps compared to Nvidia’s 38.8 fps. Despite this, I’m still impressed with AMD’s strides in the ray tracing department.
One would expect a $1,000 GPU to handle 4K gaming and ray tracing effortlessly, an expectation the RX 7900 XTX couldn’t meet. However, when a GPU half the price manages to outperform a higher-priced competitor, it’s a noteworthy achievement.
The ongoing VRAM debate is also worth mentioning. While the RX 7900 XTX boasts an impressive 24GB of video memory, equivalent to Nvidia’s flagship RTX 4090, it matters less in this tier. The RTX 4080, with its 16GB of VRAM, still provides ample resources for even the most demanding games. Nonetheless, at these lower GPU tiers, both the 7800 XT and the 7700 XT shine compared to their VRAM-deprived counterparts. The RTX 4070 offers 12GB, but anything lower only provides 8GB.
The RX 7800 XT is what the RX 7900 XTX should have been. It offers exceptional value, making it challenging to recommend any other graphics card at this price point. It delivers impressive performance for its price, doesn’t disappoint in terms of ray tracing, and benefits from AMD’s FSR 3, accessible to all AMD GPUs. At $500, it’s a refreshing addition to the current GPU market saturated with overpriced options.
With that said, I still stand by my choice of the overpriced RTX 4080.
Why? Because AMD has yet to present a compelling alternative in that performance tier. I sought a GPU capable of handling 4K gaming, delivering high frame rates with ray tracing, and offering additional features. Unfortunately, the RX 7900 XTX couldn’t meet these criteria while also being significantly cheaper than the GPU I ultimately selected.
The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT represents a step in the right direction for AMD, which is why I’m not disappointed about the prospect of AMD potentially bypassing the high-end segment in their next-gen graphics cards. If I were in the market for a 1440p GPU, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose AMD this time.
As it stands, I’ll stick with my less-than-ideal value RTX 4080 and hope that AMD continues along this path in the future, because the RX 7800 XT is undoubtedly the way to go.