New year, new hardware. At least that’s how it’s going to be in the next few months. What with Nvidia and AMD duking it out in the graphics processing unit (GPU) market. Both GPU giants currently have their aces out; for Nvidia, it’s the GeForce RTX 4090, and for AMD, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX. This begs the question RTX 4090 vs RX 7900 XTX?
It’s a tough call. But if you’ve weighed both options too much already, here’s a quick answer:
- If you want the best in terms of graphics capabilities, the RTX 4090 wins.
- If you care too much about budget, then the RX 7900 XTX wins.
Those are the best strengths of each of the aforementioned hardware. Both are the top GPUs right now and are in direct competition against each other.
RELATED: Is the Intel Arc GPU Worth It?
However, they have other qualities, specs, and features that might make you inclined more toward them or the other. If you haven’t weighed down the pros and cons of each hardware, then allow us to help you before you commit to your gaming or work GPU for the next five years or so.
Let’s compare the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Why Go for the GeForce RTX 4090?
Nvidia has long had an established status quo in the GPU market. Their GPUs are generally more powerful and more capable when it comes to maximizing graphical fidelity in video games.
Their GPUs ever since the RTX 2000 series back in 2018 have had ray tracing cores, allowing them to process ray tracing more efficiently than any consumer-grade GPU right now.
Moreover, they have other proprietary tech features such as the DLSS which increases FPS at the cost of a negligible resolution quality hit (blurrier image). Frankly, AMD is slow in keeping up with this kind of feature, making Nvidia’s advantage quite valuable for a lot of gamers.
Consequently, this market status and domination has led them to become too overconfident in their product’s prices; since 2018, they have consistently raised the MSRP of their GPUs with each new generational release.
Ray Tracing and DLSS Are the Primary Selling Point
As mentioned above, Nvidia is the best option if you want ray tracing. It has the best performance you can experience in video games if you want to enable the ray tracing option (assuming the game supports ray tracing).
Technically, you could still enable ray tracing on AMD GPUs, but they have poorer performance compared to Nvidia’s offerings in the same settings or preset. Sadly, the RX 7900 XTX still has this AMD shortcoming. It might take a while for AMD to keep up with this kind of tech from Nvidia.
The initial benchmarks for the RX 7900 XTX barely put it near Nvidia’s RTX 3090 Ti in terms of ray tracing performance which isn’t really impressive considering its performance gap from the RTX 4090.
Coupled with the new DLSS 3.0 tech from the RTX 4090, then the performance margin becomes even wider between it and the RX 7900 XTX.
What About Rasterization/Non-ray-Traced Performance? RTX 4090 Still Wins
So what if ray tracing was disabled and the two flagship GPUs were to compete in traditional rasterization performance? It still doesn’t look good for AMD.
Average results in rasterization benchmarks put the RTX 4090 around 15 to 20 percent faster and more powerful compared to the RX 7900 XTX. This translates to an advantage of around 20 to 30 FPS more, which is quite valuable, especially for esports titles.
At best, the AMD RX 7900 XTX is only as good as the Nvidia RTX 4080 which is a tier below the RTX 4090.
So for performance, the RTX 4090’s advantage is undeniable.
Why Choose the Radeon RX 7900 XTX?
They marked up the price of their flagship GPU by quite a bit starting with the RTX 3000 series. During a time of economic uncertainty and inflation or recession, this was seen as a rather aggressive and uncaring move. That’s why the iron was hot for AMD and all they needed to do was strike.
So they did. The price range for their RX 7900 XTX GPU was more or less similar or comparable to their last-gen GPU prices. This move likely puts a lot of pressure on Nvidia, especially since the RT 7900 XTX is no slouch when it comes to gaming performance.
AMD once again is playing the role of the GPU underdog and catering to the more budget-oriented or conscious crowd which is arguably a large part of the GPU market.
AMD Has More Reasonable Pricing
Just how much is AMD’s RX 7900 XTX? The MSRP is around $999 which is still the same as the previous-gen RX 6900 XT flagship card from AMD.
By comparison, Nvidia’s RTX 4090 sits at an MSRP of $1,599– 60 percent more expensive compared to the RX 7900 XTX. In other words, the RX 7900 XTX is 60 percent more affordable compared to the RTX 4090, at least for MSRP prices.
Do note that OEM manufacturers and scalpers might affect the price and it will be common to see prices higher than MSRP.
RX 7900 XTX Performance Isn’t That Far Off
Since Nvidia’s RTX 4090 is 60 percent more expensive compared to the RX 7900 XTX, is it 60 percent more powerful as well? No. As we mentioned before, on average, the RTX 4090 is only 15 to 20 percent more powerful than the RX 7900 XTX in rasterized performance.
The ray-traced performance tells a different story, and that’s where the RTX 4090 might warrant a fair justification for its price. However, there are more games that don’t support ray tracing than games that do.
The RX 7900 XTX’s performance is on par with the RTX 4080, not the RTX 4090– that’s for rasterized performance.
The funny thing is, the RTX 4080’s price MSRP is a whopping $1,199 which is 20 percent more expensive compared to the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX. But you won’t be getting 20 percent more performance since the RTX 4080 and the RX 7900 XTX trade blows with each other in rasterization.
But this is a contest between the RTX 4090 and the RX 7900 XTX, not the RTX 4080. And looking at the two GPUs’ power consumption, it’s clear that the RX 7900 XTX is meant to compete with the RTX 4090. Still…
AMD Consumes Less Power
Based on benchmarks and tests, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX consumes only around 460+ watts of power under full load. This is significantly more than the RTX 4080s 400-watt power consumption. But it’s a lot less than the RTX 4090’s 520+ watt power consumption. Those numbers are from 4K tests for Dying Light 2.
Consuming less power means there’s less heat output and thus, more efficient cooling. The RX 7900 XTX has less of a tendency to act as a room heater compared to the RTX 4090.
Of course, the most obvious benefit here is the lower monthly or yearly electricity bill for those who picked the RX 7900 XTX over the RTX 4090. So that’s a lot more savings than just the initial 60 percent average lower price.
Cons of Each GPU
Now the ugly part for each GPU. We’ve already discussed some of them above, so here’s a quick summary of the bad parts of both the RTX 4090 and the RX 7900 XTX.
Disadvantages of the RTX 4090:
- Significantly higher price (60 percent) that’s somewhat unjustified unless ray tracing is involved.
- Consumes too much power, leading to higher electricity bills.
- Larger GPU size could lead to bad compatibility for smaller cases.
- There aren’t that many games that support ray tracing.
Disadvantages of the RX 7900 XTX:
- Ray tracing performance is still poor.
- AMD Radeon lags behind in features and tech.
Again, keep in mind that scalper pricing and inflated OEM pricing due to taxes aren’t taken into account here yet since those factors vary from region to region. But overall, if you don’t value ray tracing too much, then the obvious choice here is AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX for its more practical benefits.
But if you want the best graphical experience for gaming today (ray tracing included), then the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is the winner.
We hope that settles the RTX 4090 vs RX 7900 XTX debate and as always, it’s your wallet or needs that will choose the winner. We’re just here to nudge you in the right direction.