NVIDIA’s and AMD’s latest GPU generations are upon us, and probably the most relevant comparison for many gamers looking to upgrade their graphics card right now is the 4080 vs 7900 XT.
These are currently two of the best graphics cards on the market, offering near-flagship performance without the eye-watering price tag of the RTX 4090. They’re still expensive—the 4080 more so—but that’s just the state of the market at the moment, thanks in large part to the GPU shortage.
While the RTX 4080 and RX 7900 XTX don’t quite offer RTX 4090-level performance, they offer more than enough performance for almost all gamers at any mainstream resolution and refresh rate.
The two cards are also strikingly similar performance-wise, though this varies depending on the game in question. There are differences between the two GPUs, however, and these differences might impact whether you’re willing to spend the extra on an RTX 4080 or stick with the 7900 XTX.
Also Read: RTX 4080 vs 4090: Is NVIDIA’s Fastest GPU Worth the Extra Cost?
RTX 4080 Advantages
- Exceptional performance across all resolutions
- Runs cooler
- DLSS 3
- Better ray tracing performance
- No wholesaler recall of overheating cards
RX 7900 XTX Advantages
- $200 (17%) cheaper
- Impressive performance across all resolutions
- Innovative new chiplet design
- Better memory configuration
- 2x 8-pin connection, no 12VHPWR adapter
What is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080?
NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4080 is a high-end GPU that launched in November 2022. Manufactured using TSMC’s 4N fabrication process, this ‘Ada Lovelace’ architecture GPU offers true next-gen graphics tech and performance at an admittedly steep price.
It outperforms all of NVIDIA’s 30-series and AMD’s 6000-series graphics cards. This is true for traditional rasterization, ray tracing, or upscaling. It also has several new technologies and features compared to the previous generation of GPUs.
What is the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX?
AMD’s Radeon RX 7900 XTX is a high-end GPU that launched in December 2022, a month after the RTX 4080. Manufactured (mostly) using TSMC’s N5 process, this ‘RDNA 3’ architecture GPU competes with the RTX 4080 on both price and performance fronts.
The RX 7900 XTX is built using an innovative chiplet design, where a Graphics Compute Die (GCD), which houses the main graphics processing hardware, connects via Infinity Links to six separate Memory Compute Dies (MCDs).
Like the 4080, the 7900 XTX outperforms all NVIDIA’s and AMD’s previous generation graphics cards in rasterization and ray tracing performance. It’s also ready to support next-gen upscaling tech as soon as AMD releases FSR 3 sometime in 2023.
AMD vs NVIDIA Features
NVIDIA and AMD have brought many new or upgraded features and technologies to the table in this latest generation of GPUs:
- NVIDIA’s DLSS 3
- AMD’s FSR 3-ready AI cores
- AV1 Encoding
- Improved ray tracing cores
Probably the most impressive piece of next-gen tech to come out of this GPU generation is NVIDIA’s DLSS 3. DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) lets you take a game rendered at low resolution and upscale it to native resolution, improving performance.
DLSS 3, however, now uses AI to generate frames between the ones your GPU renders, greatly increasing your frame rate. AMD cards currently lack this capability, but AMD says that FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution) 3 will release sometime in 2023 and do basically the same thing.
Another new thing that both GPUs offer is the ability to encode in the fast AV1 format. Previous GPUs could decode in AV1, but the 4080 and 7900 XTX have the hardware to support encoding in it, too.
Finally, both RDNA 3 and Ada Lovelace architectures offer improved ray tracing capabilities. AMD’s Ray Accelerator cores have been improved to improve ray tracing efficiency, and NVIDIA’s RT Cores have been similarly improved, notably by implementing Shader Execution Reordering (SER).
On top of this, there are several older manufacturer-specific features that we should keep in mind when comparing the 7900 XTX vs 4080:
- NVIDIA GSync
- AMD FreeSync
- NVIDIA DLDSR
- AMD VSR
- NVIDIA Reflex and NULL
- AMD Anti-Lag
If you want a GSync monitor and won’t consider GSync Compatible or FreeSync monitors, then you’ll have to go for an NVIDIA GPU, as GSync is still GPU-locked thanks to NVIDIA’s proprietary GSync monitor hardware.
Read More: G-Sync vs FreeSync: Which Adaptive Sync Tech is Better?
Both AMD and NVIDIA have similar options for downscaling (VSR and DLDSR, respectively) and input latency reduction (Anti-Lag, and Reflex or NULL, respectively). NVIDIA has a slight upper hand though, as they have Reflex which works better than the other options but must be implemented by game devs.
4080 vs 7900 XTX: Price Comparison
The RTX 4080 has an MSRP of $1,199, and the RX 7900 XTX has an MSRP of $999. This means that, at recommended pricing, the 4080 is $200 (20%) more expensive than the 7900 XTX (or the 7900 XTX is 17% cheaper relative to the 4080).
In practice, unless you can find a Founders Edition (FE) 4080 or reference 7900 XTX in stock, you might have to spend more for one of these cards. Custom models are often more expensive than reference MSRPs.
At the time of writing, you’ll most likely pick up an RTX 4080 for between $1,270-$2,000, and an RX 7900 XTX for between $999-1,450. Thankfully, if you can find these cards at the lower end of their price ranges, neither should cost much more than their MSRPs right now.
Because the 4080 and 7900 XTX are of a new GPU generation, there aren’t too many alternatives if you want similar performance.
On the upper end, you could opt for an RTX 4090. The 4090 is currently the fastest graphics card on the market, delivering flagship performance by all metrics. But it also costs a lot more with an MSRP of $1,599.
On the lower end, you could opt for the $899 RX 7900 XT (note the lack of an ‘X’). This is essentially a pared down 7900 XTX, in every important respect, be it memory configuration, clock speed, Stream Processor count, or Ray Accelerator count. This roughly translates to a 20% loss in gaming performance for a $100 saving compared to the 7900 XTX.
Graphics Card Specs
|RTX 4080||RX 7900 XTX|
|CUDA Cores / Stream Processors||9,728||6,144|
|Tensor Cores / AI Cores||304||192|
|RT Cores / Ray Accelerators||76||96|
|Stream Multiprocessors / Compute Units||76||96|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6X||24GB GDDR6|
|Clock speed (base/boost)||2.21GHz / 2.51GHz||1.86GHz / 2.5GHz|
|Power connector (reference)||1x 16-pin (12VHPWR adapter)||2x 8-pin|
While it’s not advisable to infer too much from directly comparing AMD and NVIDIA GPU specs because of their radically different architectures, we can note a couple of things.
First, there’s rough parity between the two cards’ boost clock speeds, although these aren’t set in stone when it comes to real-world gaming—both GPUs can boost above or below these rated speeds for periods of time depending on the situation.
Second, the RX 7900 XTX has a much better memory configuration, offering 8GB more capacity and over 200GB more bandwidth.
There isn’t much more than this that we should infer too much from. Shader core, ray tracing core, and AI core counts, for example, mean next to nothing without the context of the design that underlies them.
A final thing to note is that the 7900 XTX supports DisplayPort 2.1 while the 4080 only supports DisplayPort 1.4a. This means the 7900 XTX can display up to 4K 480Hz or 8K 165Hz, while the 4080 can only display up to 4K 240Hz or 8K 60Hz.
|RTX 4080||RX 7900 XTX|
|Height||61mm (3 slots)||51.5mm (2.5 slots)|
Both the 4080 and 7900 XTX are big cards, but the RTX 4080 is much bigger—in fact, it’s the same size as the more powerful RTX 4090 because it shares the same PCB and cooler design.
While neither card will free up a third PCIe slot (the 2.5-slot 7900 XTX will still take up part of the third slot), the slightly smaller frame of the RX 7900 XTX might free up some extra room in your case and make building a little easier.
Power Draw and Thermals
Both GPUs have similar TDPs (or TGPs). While AMD recommends an 800W PSU for the 7900 XTX, NVIDIA recommends a 750W one for the 4080. Note that both cards should use less than their TDPs most of the time, while gaming—but this doesn’t mean you should skimp on power supply capacity.
Also Read: The Best Power Supplies Right Now
Comparing the 4080 FE to the reference 7900 XTX, we see the charm of the 4080’s cooling design. Most online tests report that the 4080 FE runs cooler than the 7900 XTX. However, these results will differ drastically once we throw custom AIB models into the mix.
We must also note that AMD has recently admitted (via TomsHardware) that some 7900 XTX graphics cards have had problems with the “thermal solution” used in the card’s design, which has caused overheating and throttling. AMD Support is working to resolve this with affected customers, and some wholesalers have reportedly started recalling cards.
4080 vs 7900 XTX: Gaming Performance
To compare the 7900 XTX vs 4080, we’ve taken benchmark results from other reviews online such as those from PCGamer, TomsHardware, and TechPowerUp. We’ve averaged out absolute framerate comparisons and individual game framerate percentage differentials, compiling them to give a better idea how these cards perform on different gaming PCs.
Also Read: 1080p vs. 1440p vs. 4K: Which Resolution Is Best for Gaming?
However, we should remember that these results are averages, and actual framerate differentials vary from game to game. Some games favour NVIDIA cards, and others favour AMD ones. If you want to know which card is best for a specific game, look up benchmark comparisons for that game online.
Framerates averaged from multiple online benchmarks.
On average, the RX 7900 XTX performs about 2.3% better than the RTX 4080 at 1080p.
There’s a discrepancy between the absolute framerate comparison charted here and the relative (percentage) performance difference just stated. This is because the percentage difference averages out all the relative performance differences between the two cards in different games, while the absolute framerate comparison is skewed by one or two wins by the 4080 where both cards had very high frame rates.
Regardless, what we see in either case is that the RX 7900 XTX and RTX 4080 perform almost identically at 1080p, because at this resolution games are very CPU-bound. Both cards are overkill for most gamers at 1080p, pushing well beyond high refresh rate framerates in moderately demanding titles at maximum settings.
If you’re playing more graphically demanding competitive shooters, either card is a great option for high refresh rate gaming. If you have a specific game (or games) in mind, check benchmarks for that specific game to see whether it favors AMD or NVIDIA cards.
Framerates averaged from multiple online benchmarks.
On average, the RTX 4080 performs about 5.1% better than the RX 7900 XT at 1440p.
Both the RTX 4080 and RX 7900 XTX perform similarly at 1440p, just like at 1080p. Both should net enough raw performance to drive all but the most demanding games at very high refresh rates. If you’re gaming on a 1440p, 144Hz monitor, either card should serve you well even in most very demanding titles.
Also Read: Is 1440P Worth it for Gaming?
While the RTX 4080 edges ahead of the 7900 XTX on average at this resolution, this is very game-dependent. For instance, while the RTX 4080 fares better in Rainbow Six Siege, the RX 7900 XTX performs better in Borderlands 3. There are few games where the difference is substantial enough to warrant concern, though.
Framerates averaged from multiple online benchmarks.
On average, the RTX 4080 performs about 6.5% better than the RX 7900 XT at 4K.
Just like at 1440p, at 4K the RTX 4080 edges ahead of the RX 7900 XT, but only by a small margin. At this resolution, these cards should get you over 120fps in most titles on max settings, and you should be able to surpass 144fps even in quite demanding titles if you drop your settings just a little.
Also Read: Is 4K Worth it for Gaming? Why Most Gamers Don’t Need a 4K Monitor
Because this is a resolution where framerate differences will matter more (because framerates are lower, and an increase is therefore more noticeable), if you’re looking to game at 4K, it might make sense to opt for the better-performing GPU, even if relative performance gains are slight.
However, as with results at other resolutions, which GPU performs better depends heavily on the game in question. The 4080 and 7900 XTX are simply too close to each other in terms of performance to call one the ‘better performing’ card.
If you want to play Far Cry 6 at 4K, for example, TomsHardware’s testing shows you might go from 101fps to 122fps by switching from a 4080 to a 7900 XTX. Which games you want to play really does matter, especially so at this resolution.
Ray Tracing and Upscaling
Score taken from PCGamer’s testing (1440p charts).
Despite AMD’s improvements to its Ray Accelerators, the RTX 4080 still beats the RX 7900 XTX handily at ray tracing.
The 4080 traces rays about 24% faster than the 7900 XTX, but we shouldn’t compare these scores in a vacuum. The 7900 XTX demonstrates significant improvements in ray tracing compared to RDNA 2 cards—it’s just that NVIDIA’s 40-series GPUs have improved even more.
To put this into context, PCGamer’s testing also found that the RTX 3080 Ti hit a score of 12,990, which makes the 7900 XTX about 10.7% better at ray tracing than one of the best NVIDIA cards of the previous generation. If you had no qualms with the 30-series’ ray tracing ability, then the 7900 XTX should be more than enough for you.
But if you care about maximizing your ray tracing performance, opting for an RTX 4080 instead of a 7900 XTX is clearly the way to go.
When it comes to upscaling tech, there’s currently no contest: NVIDIA wins. DLSS 3’s frame generation blows DLSS 2 and FSR 2 out of the water, providing you’re getting high enough framerates to offset any latency.
But FSR 3 is likely just around the corner, and this could make AMD’s FSR competitive against NVIDIA’s DLSS once again. Until then, however, the 4080 is a clear winner.
Game Performance Summary
The 4080 and 7900 XTX perform similarly at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. At higher resolutions, the 4080 takes the lead, but the difference isn’t massive. In most cases, you should check how each card performs in the games you’re likely to play before making a purchasing decision, because certain games favour certain cards.
If you want the best ray tracing performance, however, then the RTX 4080 is a great option because it traces rays significantly faster than the 7900 XTX. But the 7900 XTX is no slouch in this regard, outperforming even high-end cards of the previous NVIDIA generation.
Across all resolutions, both GPUs should be powerful enough for high refresh rate gaming, although you may have to lower some settings in more demanding games to surpass 120fps or 144fps.
At 1080p, both cards are overkill for most gamers, and at 4K the more expensive RTX 4090 is sure to look inviting. But for 1440p gaming, both these cards are perfect high-end choices, promising great framerates even in demanding titles.
Verdict: Should You Buy the 4080 or 7900 XTX?
Because both the RTX 4080 and RX 7900 XTX perform almost identically at all three mainstream resolutions, it’s difficult to recommend one over the other from average performance alone. Instead, it makes much more sense to opt for whichever one nets higher framerates in the games you’re most likely to play.
But if you can’t pin down which games you’re likely to play, perhaps the 7900 XTX’s $200 cheaper price tag tips the scales. It’s not quite yesteryear GPU pricing, but compared to the past two years of GPU price fluctuations, it’s nothing to scoff at. If you’re looking for raw performance almost identical to the 4080 on average, but for less money, opting for a 7900 XTX is reasonable. Throw in its stellar memory config and you have a veritable bargain.
On the other hand, the NVIDIA GPU has better ray tracing performance, better upscaling (for now), and runs cooler—at least when only considering reference cards. And while AMD’s drivers and software are much better than they used to be, NVIDIA’s drivers and software is usually more reliable for most people.
And, of course, there’s the glaring current issue of overheating 7900 XTXs, so it might be best to wait for AMD to sort that out before buying the AMD GPU, or at least waiting to see an official count of affected cards.
Providing such issues get resolved, the best option is to opt for whichever card runs the games you like to play better. Otherwise, saving $200 and opting for a 7900 XTX is a reasonable choice, providing you don’t care too much about ray tracing and are willing to wait and see what AMD makes of FSR 3. If you do care about ray tracing and upscaling, though, the 4080 is probably a safer bet.