Final words and conclusion
From the moment you get your hands on the brand-new NITRO+, you will be impressed by how well-made and impressive it is. The increased power budget and clock speed make this Radeon exceptionally quick right out of the box. It outperforms the RX 7900 XTX , which results in an average of 4% better. The Radeon RX 7900 Series has two Achilles' heels. First, AMD relies extensively (possibly excessively) on the extra L3 cache (infinity cache); caching does assist tremendously, but mainly for CPU/fillrate/driver-constrained scenarios and not so much high resolutions like UHD at 3840x2160. Consequently, AMD performs exceptionally well at resolutions up to 2560x1440; however, in Ultra HD, where brute raw horsepower is required, the dynamic can change quickly. The second Achilles heel is Raytyracing performance. Here AMD is still not at the same performance level as NVIDIA, as they are making bigger steps with each generational update, albeit with the XTX; it's not bad, though and certainly much better than the XT. Combining these two facts drags down UHD performance in very specific render workloads; however, it certainly isn't drowning. Now that we have established these points, we need to position the card, and here AMD wins, frame for frame rendered AMD has a cheaper (yeah, I said cheaper, not cheap) solution. AMD's Raytracing performance can be assisted and thus improved using technologies like FSR2. In many scenarios, this card competes with the 4080, which is a very good place to be in for $999. In lower than UHD resolutions, it can even keep up with the 4090 thanks to the excessive L3 cache. This product outperforms the previous 6900 series significantly in terms of raw shader performance. The cost of all this fun is $999, and yeah, that is the starting price for solely the reference model. Graphics cards have entered a pricing zone that most consumers can no longer afford. PC gaming has grown increasingly pricey, prompting players to seek other solutions. However, we are pleased with the performance we observed overall.
You've seen the numbers, and we've already let the cat out of the bag. It all comes down to gaming performance and, of course, rendering quality. The RX 7900 XTX provides more value for the money than seen from the 4080, as we're getting close to raw performance levels that easily enable gaming at 4K resolution. Most enthusiast gamers play at UWHD, QHD, or UHD monitor resolutions. This card is designed for precisely that kind of gamer.
The old rasterizer engine breaks right through the previous limit of extreme performance. Realistically the 7900 XTX often sits at the performance level of a 4080. This chart is based on raw shader engine performance; when NVIDIA flicks on Raytracing and DLSS3 with its frame generator, AMD will be left behind, even with FSR2. However, in general, we're happy with what we're seeing performance-wise for the XTX. The Sapphire Nitro+ model brings in another 5-6%.
Cooling & noise levels
The performance mode BIOS after a while, breaches a more moderate 36 DBa. Considering that the silent mode runs your games as fast as performance mode, and the card remains under 65 degrees C, why even bother with performance BIOS mode? FLIR imaging doesn't show anything scary. Also, keep in mind that if you go for a custom card from a board partner, the power consumption levels will likely be higher due to increased TGPs and stuff like RGB and liquid cooling pumps.
Remember that the Radeon RX 7900 XTX is a high-end gaming product that still uses much power. Under full load, the reference edition uses about 350 Watts (average TBP). This Wattage is directly related to how much heat the GPU, which sits inside a closed case, gives off. The 431W (TBP) this card uses is massive, even passing the 4090.
Any card will exhibit a notch of coil whine once is reaches a high FPS. Is it annoying? It's at a level you can hear it when you hit extremely high framerates. In a closed chassis, that noise would fade away in the background. However, you can hear the coil whine/squeal with an open chassis. Graphics cards all make this in some sort or form, especially at high framerates this can be perceived. It's as good as it can get, and we have not been bothered by it.
The reference edition costs USD 999, which is a lot of money still for something that can be used to play PC games. It's a more appealing offer compared to the RTX 4080 and 4090 if that MSRP holds ground, and here in, we have a lot of doubt. indications are that only a low volume of these cards will be available at launch. Most likely, AIB cards will cost even more. Now, I can say all kinds of rude things about prices, but these products will still sell no matter what I say. We expect that this model will sell at an MSRP 1199 USD.
The card tweaks well; on the unlocked BIOS you, however get even more TGP available. The power limiter (allowed wattage) at +15% helps out, so that's your first and quickest option to tweak. You get extra perf on the card's default power budget. The boost clock frequency can take a suitable 3250 MHz but end up dynamically at ~2900 MHz (frequencies vary per game title as they are dynamic). The memory could be tweaked to ~21.5 Gbps, so all these accumulated values brought ~8% additional performance on challenging GPU situations, measured from reference performance.
The all-new NITRO+ is a stunning piece of equipment and the fastest 7900 XTX we tested to date; the second you have it in your hands, you'll be impressed. With an out-of-the-box boost clock of 2,680MHz and a higher energy allowance make, this is a super fast Radeon. That higher energy budget, however, is excessive as we measured 431W as total board power. The card, however remains pretty silent and cools excellently. To maximise RDNA3's potential, Sapphire provides two types of custom boards, the top dog of which is the Nitro+. The RX 7900 XTX's goal is to support QHD and 4K UHD resolutions, and Sapphire's adaptation accomplishes this. It is well-made and looks great. We anticipate such characteristics, and while Sapphire's out-of-the-box performance gap is relatively small, several attributes allow the custom card to stand out in comparison to a reference model with a sweet RGB lighting implementation and two BIOS options. Having said that, what Sapphire provides here has pleasantly surprised us, and even impressed us a little. The XTX is a serious step up in terms of overall performance and features, at UHD it is struggling to compete with NVIDIA's flagship product, the GeForce RTX 4090. Realistically that differential is roughly 20%. So as long as the price is reasonable, that is acceptable and yeah, at 1099-1149 USD for the model as tested, it remains that, reasonable. Thanks to the infinity cache, it's sometimes even passing that 4090; however, that applies to lower resolutions, fillrate and CPU-bound situations. The actual performance for a card of this calibre needs to be sought in the UHD performance domain, and there it's sometimes lacking a little. It's still highly competitive with the RTX 4080 and, add to that, less expensive than the RTX 4080. The series 7900 XTX products will provide suitable Ultra HD performance at a more affordable price and be an excellent energy-efficient product while at it. Pure Raytracing performance is a notch slower than the competition; however, you can make up a lot of performance if that game supports FSR. But likewise, NVIDIA can apply DLSS3. Price-wise, this card offers good value over the RTX 4080, which starts at $1199. Since there will be so few 7900 XTX units available at the first launch wave, we highly doubt you will be able to buy one at MSRP. Prices in the EU will be well beyond 1250 EUR. This purebred stallion has high energy requirements and serves a limited clientele. Is it a good idea to buy this item? In our opinion, the price tag is a bit much, and you would be better off waiting for the next GeForce RTX 4070 or 7800. In conclusion, Sapphire nailed it with the new Nitro+ design and features; nevertheless, the default extra performance for this factory-tweaked model is ~5%. If you are truly into silent operation and amazing design, then we can recommend this card over the reference model for sure. We are happy with this card's performance and its beautiful looks, and pricing overall remain trivial, though.
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