The Bottom Line
- + AMD flagship 4K gaming performance
- + Ray-tracing improvements are great compared to RDNA 2
- + ASUS TUF design is excellent for thermals and cooling
- + Easy OC and dual BIOS
- + DisplayPort 2.1 is here
- - Larger than the reference 7900 XTX models
- - Power hungry even when compared to the RTX 4090
- - Idles at higher-than-expected power usage
- - RT, FSR 2, and content creation chops a step behind NVIDIA
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
The dust has settled regarding the new generation of graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA, at least for the high-end flagship models. On the NVIDIA side, the GeForce RTX 4090 (alongside the RTX 4080) was the first to arrive on the scene, and it did so like an earthquake - with a seismic leap forward in 4K game performance. But the RTX 4090 performance comes at a cost, with the MSRP sitting at an eye-watering USD 1599.
For AMD and its flagship Radeon RX 7900 XTX RDNA 3-based GPU, the company decided to go a different route. Offer performance that might not match the heights of the RTX 4090 but instead go up against the RTX 4080 and its MSRP of USD 1199. Still slay when it comes to 4K gaming but delivers that at a more friendly price of USD 999 while still having 24GB of VRAM. Not that spending that much on a GPU is what you'd consider 'friendly.'
It's hard to talk about the current state of high-end enthusiast graphics cards without looking at things like price, but even so, it's always best to review and critique anything tech, primarily on its merits. For GPUs, that's its build quality, underlying architecture, features, power efficiency, and in-game performance.
The ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition is the first custom Radeon RX 7000 Series GPU from the hardware maker, and falling under the TUF branding, there's the expectation that it will outperform AMD's reference model. It does.
When it comes to things like cooling, temperatures, and overall performance, the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition is as impressive as it is formidable in size. This is a 3.63-slot GPU, so it is massive. Of course, this review will present many (upon many) comparisons between these two variants, as well as how it stacks up to the GeForce RTX 40 Series flagship GPUs. And look at the everchanging "most powerful GPUs on the planet" ranking. Spoiler alert, ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition sits high on the charts.
As an OC Edition, ASUS also offers a quick and easy way via the card's dual-BIOS setup and software to overclock the GPU. But before we get into that, it's worth going over AMD's latest GPU architecture - RDNA 3. Or you could skip to the benchmark results to get your fps-chart fix.
The RDNA 3 Generation
"The world's first chiplet gaming GPU" is how AMD described its new RDNA 3-based GPUs when it lifted the lid on the new Radeon RX 7000 Series. In layperson's terms, the GPU chip isn't just one big square or die anymore, with billions of transistors all arranged in a single layout. Like with its Ryzen CPU range, which embraced chiplet design to great effect (look at how Ryzen has grown in popularity over the years), bringing this design philosophy into the GPU space felt like the natural evolution for AMD's Radeon brand.
For RDNA 3, what was once a single Graphics Compute Die (GCD) has now split into a GCD plus a Memory Cache Die (MCD). The GCD still makes up most of the hardware grunt and uses the newer 5nm process technology - a step up from RDNA 2's 7nm process. Interestingly, the MCD uses 6nm process technology, which allows AMD to keep costs down as the complexity and cost of manufacturing high-end tech continue to rise. And to mitigate any performance impact that could arise from going the chiplet route, AMD has also managed to include the "fastest chiplet interconnect in the world," with speeds of 5.3 TB/s.
AMD's RDNA 3 architecture also features second-generation AMD Infinity Cache, another CPU-like feature designed to boost performance in 1440p and 4K gaming - a "bandwidth amplifier" that sits alongside the GDDR6 memory interface. It helps alleviate the need for more expensive and power-hungry memory buses and is one of those forward-thinking designs we love seeing.
RDNA 3 represents a significant leap forward for AMD regarding ray-tracing and AI accelerators too. RDNA 3 GPUs like the Radeon RX 7900 XT and Radeon RX 7900 XTX feature the second generation of dedicated RT hardware and new hardware-based AI acceleration. Real-time ray tracing is hardware intensive; this is one area many were looking for AMD to improve compared to RDNA 2. Which, admittedly, was the company's first attempt at hardware-based ray tracing.
As flagship models, the Radeon RX 7900 XT and Radeon RX 7900 XTX are designed for high-end 4K gaming, and with that, they're the first graphics cards to support the new DisplayPort 2.1 spec. The latest DisplayPort interface supports up to 4K 480Hz and even 8K 165Hz, which makes it more of a future-proofing measure than something applicable today. But the real benefit comes with 12-bit HDR support and full Rec2020 coverage for improved color accuracy and detail. The first DisplayPort 2.1 displays are set to arrive soon.
RDNA 3 also introduces hardware-based AV1 encoding to step up its video game for content creators, which means better quality video using the same bitrate. Very cool. For gamers, the introduction of AMD FSR 2 rendering is fully supported here and helps improve performance in intensive games. FSR 2 support might not be as widespread as NVIDIA DLSS, but its recent addition to games like Cyberpunk 2077 and F1 22 is a great sign. Plus, as the tech is fully supported on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 (with both consoles using AMD graphics hardware), in-game FSR support should grow as time passes.
AMD has yet to formally showcase or reveal what its DLSS 3-like Frame Generation technology will look like or whether it will be exclusive to RDNA 3-based hardware, so we'll have to wait and see on that front. Ultimately, RDNA 3 is an impressive leap forward for AMD, bringing massive changes to the underlying hardware while delivering a sizable performance leap over the previous RDNA 2 generation.
Specs and Test System
Here we can see how the specs and hardware stack up for the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX compared to the previous generation and the standard Radeon RX 7900 XT. This data is relevant to all reference models.
For the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition, the game and boost clock speeds increase even further when in OC mode. That said, OC mode does push the power rating up to 375W (it can go even higher than this with ASUS's GPU Tweak software), which is a noticeable increase over the 355W found in the reference specs and design. The ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition includes triple 8-power connectors, opening the door to substantial overclocking potential.
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX
- Model: ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition
- Interface: PCI Express 4.0
- Stream Processors: 6144
- OC Mode: Up to 2615 MHz (Boost Clock)/Up to 2455 MHz (Game Clock)
- Default Mode: Up to 2565 MHz (Boost Clock)/Up to 2395 MHz (Game Clock)
- Memory: 24GB GDDR6
- Memory Speed: 20 Gbps
- Memory Interface: 384-bit
- Display Connections: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 2.1
- Dimensions: 352.9 x 158.2 x 72.6 mm (3.63 slots)
- Power Connectors: 3 x 8-pin
- Recommended PSU: 850W
- RGB: ASUS AURA Sync
- What's in the Box: ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition GPU, 1 x TUF certificate of Reliability, 1 x TUF Gaming Graphics Card Holder, 1 x TUF Velcro Hook & Loop, 1 x Collection card, 1 x Thank you card, 1 x Speedsetup Manual
Kosta's Test System
- Motherboard: MSI MPG X670E Carbon Wi-Fi
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
- RAM: 64GB (2x32GB) Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 5200MHz
- SSD: Kingston FURY Renegade PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD 2TB
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 Tempered Glass Snow
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Physical Design and Cooling
The ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition is built like a tank, a sentiment only partly born from the chunky size of the GPU. The angular shape, clean lines, and brushed metal all give off the look of some high-end piece of military hardware, so it's not surprising to learn that the hardware design features 'military-grade capacitors' for durability.
These new TUF Gaming Radeon cards feature advanced cooling, introducing larger fans, bigger heatsinks, and multiple ventilation points to dissipate heat better. The by-product of going bigger means better cooling, and on that note, ASUS notes that the larger fans (which spin counterclockwise) and dual-ball bearings propel 14% more air through the GPU. This leads to lower temperatures and overall noise when idle or in use, and we'll get to those results later.
Even in OC Mode, the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition runs cooler and quieter than AMD's reference model - which is fantastic. There's even a silent mode for when the GPU temps sit below 55 degrees, where no fan spinning means no noise. The fan speed curve is also quite balanced, with initial speeds being very slow and not something you notice. And when you've got a metal shroud and backplate, there's no denying that the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition more than lives up to its TUF branding.
Finally, there's a dose of some RGB lighting on the edge of the GPU, which complements the overall physical design and is AURA-compatible so that it will sync up with other hardware.
But enough about lights and military-grade capacitors; let's get to the benchmarks!
Benchmarks - 15 Game Averages
The Games and Tests
In 2023 PC gaming is a complicated and varied space, from indie games to major blockbuster releases and titles that push hardware and technology to their limit with the adoption of effects like real-time ray-tracing. It makes no sense to see how something like the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition handles a game like Vampire Survivors, which runs perfectly fine on all GPUs due to its use of 16-bit-style sprites.
This is all a way of saying that the 15 in-game benchmarks we've chosen (and run at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K) represent a wide range of styles, not only in terms of genres, like first-person shooters and racing games but also in the API technology (DirectX 11, 12) and cutting-edge features like ray tracing and upscaling technology. Where possible, results include DLSS and FSR 2, as both technologies are the sorts of things, especially in 4K, which you'd turn on.
Six out of the 15 game benchmarks also feature ray tracing, so this is a great way to see the additional benefit of AMD's FSR 2 tech - even with something as powerful as the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition. Also, each title is set to ultra-equivalent quality settings to push GPU hardware and minimize CPU bottlenecks at higher resolutions.
Also, it's just fun to max out a game's visual settings and see the results. Here's the breakdown of games, graphics settings, and what's being tested.
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Ultra High-quality settings, with the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Borderlands 3: Ultra quality settings, with the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II: Ultra quality setting, in-game multiplayer benchmark tool used.
- Cyberpunk 2077: Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Cyberpunk 2077 (RT): Ray tracing Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- DOOM Eternal (RT): Ultra Nightmare quality setting with ray-tracing enabled, the opening of Mars Core campaign level used to benchmark.
- F1 22 (RT): Ultra High-quality setting with ray tracing, one lap of the Bahrain track benchmarked. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Forza Horizon 5 (RT): Extreme quality setting with ray tracing enabled, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Hitman (RT): Ultra-quality settings with ray-tracing, Dubai scene benchmarked. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Horizon Zero Dawn: Ultimate quality setting, in-game benchmark used.
- Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (RT): Ultra quality setting with ray tracing enabled, the in-game benchmark tool used.
- Rainbow Six Extraction: Ultra quality settings and in-game benchmark tool used.
- Red Dead Redemption 2: Maximum quality settings, with in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- The Division 2: Ultra quality settings with in-game benchmark tool used.
- Total War: Warhammer III: Ultra-quality settings with the in-game Battle Benchmark tool used.
15 Game Average FPS - 4K Results
With GPUs like the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition, we're now at a point where high frame-rate 4K gaming is possible and impressive. Here we can see that ASUS's card is roughly 3% faster than the reference model, which is negligible - but it does put overall 4K performance on par with the GeForce RTX 4080.
Of course, the fact that the GeForce RTX 4090 is 33% faster than the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition and the RTX 4080 is a little disappointing, but that card is in a category all its own.
Individual game results vary, especially regarding titles with ray tracing. Still, it's an impressive showing when you can game in 4K at 100 fps without turning down graphics settings.
15 Game Average FPS - 1440p Results
AMD's RDNA 2 excelled when it came to 1440p gaming, and RDNA 3 looks to be no different. The ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition slightly edges out the GeForce RTX 4080 and offers a minor improvement over the reference model.
Interestingly, individual game results showcase that the latest generation of flagship GPUs are running into bottlenecks at 1440p, so you'd probably want to pair the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition with a 4K display (or ultrawide) if you pick one up.
15 Game Average FPS - 1080p Results
When looking at cards like the Radeon RX 7900 XTX, the 1080p performance is impressive. Still, you're looking at diminishing returns with all high-end GPUs delivering excellent results - even the GeForce RTX 3080.
Benchmarks - 3DMark FireStrike
3DMark FireStrike is a DirectX 11 test that has been around for many years and covers quite a large portion of games released over the past decade - at least in terms of the API and graphics technologies used. The three tests cover the resolutions - 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. And with that, the 4K-based FireStrike Ultra results paint an interesting picture for the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition. A roughly 20% higher score here than the GeForce RTX 4080 is impressive.
Benchmarks - 3DMark TimeSpy and Port Royal
The FireStrike performance gap closes between the 7900 XTX and the RTX 4080 in TimeSpy, which is DirectX 12-based and more relevant to games released in the last couple of years. Here the two cards perform roughly the same.
3DMark Port Royal is a synthetic ray-tracing benchmark, and here we see AMD falling behind NVIDIA, but even so, it's an impressive showing. The ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition is only 15% behind the GeForce RTX 4080, which is a testament to the improvements made regarding the second generation of Radeon hardware ray-tracing.
Benchmarks - 4K Gaming
Benchmarks - 1440p Gaming
Benchmarks - 1080p Gaming
Benchmarks Summary, Ray-Tracing Performance, and AMD FSR 2
With 15 titles tested, about a third of them with ray-tracing, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this is where the RDNA 3 flagship feels a generation behind NVIDIA's flagship GPU. There are exceptions, and the F1 22 results are impressive, with the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition performing better than the GeForce RTX 4080 at 4K. Okay, we're only talking about an extra 2 fps, which is well within the margin of error, but it's also 30% faster than the GeForce RTX 3090, which is still considered an excellent card for RTX On-style gaming.
On the opposite side of the spectrum sits Cyberpunk 2077 and Hitman 3, with both titles pushing ray tracing in many areas. In these titles, ray-tracing performance at 4K falls below the GeForce RTX 3090 - though the added benefit of FSR 2 does make both titles playable. Well, sort of. You'll need to play in 1440p in the case of Cyberpunk 2077. Or turn off RT and enjoy a whopping 245% increase in performance. This is the sort of game that is perfect for NVIDIA's DLSS 3, here's hoping AMD's frame-generation tech makes its way out soon.
Another interesting thing we noticed was that there wasn't a single game in the 15 titles tested at 4K where the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition managed to outperform the GeForce RTX 4090. The closest it gets is in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (which does beat the RTX 4090 at 1440p and 1080p) and, surprisingly, in Cyberpunk 2077 with ray-tracing turned off.
Temperature and Power Efficiency
Here's where the story changes, as AMD's high-end RDNA 3 GPUs do not seem to share the same efficiency gains seen in the competition. Using the same 15-game average and looking at power usage across 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, we can see a massive gulf between RDNA 3 and NVIDIA's Ada Lovelace architectures. The latter seems to be the exception delivering the sort of efficiency we didn't think was possible.
For the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition to perform on par with the GeForce RTX 4080 at 4K, it does so by utilizing, on average - 30% more power. And even though the GeForce RTX 4090 is rated at 450W (much higher than the 355W of the reference 79800 XTX), it keeps its juice-guzzling well in check, drawing less on average than ASUS's OC 7900 XTX.
If power efficiency is a significant concern for you, it might be worth considering. Also, the increase in power highlights that performance doesn't scale the more power you throw at a GPU. But as we're talking about a flagship graphics card with OC in the product name and three 8-pin connectors, it's no surprise that it's a little thirsty. It's also worth noting that the Radeon RX 7900 XTX still has issues with idling, as there were a few cases where we randomly saw a spike to 100W when idle - which is a little crazy. Hopefully, driver updates can fix this.
As far as temperature goes and cooling, it's all good news. Even in OC Mode, with the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition tapped out at 430W, the temperature was still around 60 degrees with a hot spot of 80 degrees. And that's with the fans at 43% speed, creating virtually no sound, and this was cooler and quieter than AMD's reference model.
As a flagship GPU, the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition is impressive in physical size and performance. It's chunky sure, but it's quiet, cool, and a bit of a sleeping giant. Better than the reference Radeon RX 7900 XTX in every way, it offers a nice overclock out of the box that can be pushed further with ASUS's intuitive GPU Tweak software.
Performance-wise, you're looking at 4K gaming that's roughly on par with the GeForce RTX 4080, which means it's a powerhouse. Ray-tracing performance is also impressive, with this ASUS model, in particular, showcasing the massive gains AMD has made with RDNA 3. It does fall behind the RTX 4080 in this aspect, and AMD FSR 2 rendering is less prevalent than NVIDIA DLSS - which is a shame. AMD has also stepped up its content creation game, but like ray-tracing, it is also a step behind NVIDIA.
If you're looking at picking up a Radeon RX 7900 XTX, you can't go wrong with the ASUS TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition. The build quality is excellent, the design itself looks fantastic, and the performance you get is impressive across-the-board. And even though we're in the age of crazy GPU prices, it comes in cheaper than the GeForce RTX 4080 and GeForce RTX 4090. And that's great to see.