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AMD’s latest, greatest Radeon graphics card $600 cheaper than Nvidia’s top RTX 4090

Chiplet-based RNDA 3 GPU fans have been waiting for

AMD has come out swinging at Nvidia with new flagship Radeon graphics cards that are cheaper than its rival's fresh GeForce RTX products.

Calling its latest products the "world's most advanced" gaming cards, the Silicon Valley-based chip designer said on Thursday that the 24GB Radeon RX 7900 XTX and 20GB Radeon RX 7900 XT will hit the market on December 13 with suggested retail prices of $999 and $899, respectively.

That puts AMD's new Radeon cards well below the $1,599 suggested pricing of Nvidia's new 24GB GeForce RTX 4090 and the $1,119 pricing of the 16GB GeForce RTX 4080. Remember that Nv "unlaunched" the $899 12GB GeForce RTX 4080 following criticism that its use of the 4080 naming scheme was misleading since it has a different GPU die with lower specs than the 16GB variant.

This will likely be welcome news to anyone looking for a high-powered graphics card that didn't want to spend more than a thousand dollars, though that's assuming prices don't change and you're satisfied with the performance. Right now, it's a $600 difference between the 24GB RTX 4090 and RX 7900 XTX.

The specs, the performance, the features

So what about the specs and performance?

Based on AMD's new RDNA 3 architecture, the RX 7900 XTX comes with 96 compute units, a 2.3GHz "game clock" 24GB of 384-bit GDDR6 memory, and a total board power of 355 watts. Its clock rate can burst as high as 2.5GHz. The RX 7900 XT comes with 84 compute units, a 2GHz "game clock," 20GB of 320-bit GDDR6 memory, and a total board power of 300 watts. Its boost max speed is 2.4GHz.

As for how this will actually translate into better performance for games, AMD claimed the RX 7900 XTX will hit 62 frames per second in Cyberpunk 2077 with the highest real-time ray-tracing settings enabled at a 4K resolution. This is in contrast to the 42 frames per second capable of the previous-generation flagship card, the RX 6950 XT.

The company also boasted of major frame boosts with the RX 7900 XTX for other games with high settings, with the card running 60 percent faster for Doom Eternal with ray tracing, 50 percent faster for Resident Evil: Village with ray tracing, and 50 percent faster for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

When it comes to running games with very high frame rates, AMD said it can hit impressive heights, thanks in part to the cards' support for DisplayPort 2.1 and its FidelityFX Super Resolution technology, which upscales game graphics to a higher resolution without a performance hit.

The use of DisplayPort 2.1 means the RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT can exceed refresh rate limits of DisplayPort 1.4, which means frame rates that can reach higher than previous graphics cards but only if the monitor supports DisplayPort 2.1.

For instance, AMD said the RX 7900 XTX can exceed the 240Hz limit of games running at 4K resolutions with DisplayPort 1.4 and hit 275 frames per second in Hitman 3, which is also boosted by FidelityFX Super Resolution. With DisplayPort 2.1, AMD also said the RX 7900 XTX can hit 295 frames per second in Apex Legends, 355 frames per second in Overwatch 2 and 704 frames per second in Valorant.

Based on the new chiplet-based RDNA 3 architecture

The RX 7900 XTX and RX 7X 7900 XT are the first GPUs of their kind to be made from chiplets – or multiple connected dies within a single processor package. AMD said this approach allowed it to use the "right process technology for the right job." As such, AMD used a 5nm process for the graphics compute die and a 6nm process for the memory cache die.

On the graphics compute die, AMD baked in RDNA 3 compute units, a new display engine, and a new dual media engine that encodes and decodes video streams. Within each compute unit are 64 dual-issue stream processors, two dedicated AI accelerators, and a second-generation ray-tracing accelerator.

This gives the RDNA 3 graphics compute die 61 teraflops in "raw compute performance" compared to the 23 teraflops of FP32 that the previous-generation RDNA 2 was capable of, according to AMD.

The new dual media engine means the RDNA 3 GPU can do simultaneous video encoding and decoding for AVC and HEVC formats in addition to 8K, 60 frames-per-second AV1 encoding and decoding.

In addition to supporting DisplayPort 2.1, the new AMD Radiance Display engine comes with a display link bandwidth of up to 54 Gbps as well as support for 12 bit-per-channel color, which allows the new graphics cards to support up to 68 billion colors, or so it says in the marketing bumf.

As for the memory cache dies, each one has a 64-bit memory controller and uses AMD's second-generation Infinity Cache, which supports a peak bandwidth of 5.3 terabytes per second.

Unfortunately for anyone who's looking for a cheaper Radeon RX card using RDNA 3, it seems you'll have to wait longer. But at the very least, AMD's pricing scheme seems to indicate that more affordable cards are on the way. ®

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