The Bottom Line
- + 1080p and 1440p that handily beats the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti
- + Great physical design and cooling by Sapphire
- + FSR 3 shows promise as a DLSS 3 competitor
- - Ray-tracing is still not quite there for AMD
- - FSR at 1440p is inferior to DLSS
- - 4K performance drop-off is huge
- - Price makes the Radeon RX 7800 XT look like the better option
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
AMD launched its mid-range and enthusiast GPU combo - the Radeon RX 7700 XT and Radeon RX 7800 XT - in early September. Even though it's only been a matter of weeks since these two GPUs hit the scene, a few things have happened to make this review of the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT 12GB a little different from the Sapphire PULSE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT we reviewed at launch. The big one, of course, is that AMD has finally launched its DLSS 3 Frame Generation competitor, with FSR 3 now available in a few select titles.
DLSS 3 and Frame Generation is a key part of the GeForce RTX 40 Series lineup. As seen with the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti and GeForce RTX 4070 (two cards you'd consider the Radeon RX 7700 XT's main competition), it can offer excellent gaming performance at 1440p and even 1080p.
FSR 3, or AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution, has been something we've been waiting to see in action since it was announced alongside the flagship Radeon RX 7900 XTX. As part of this review of the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT, we're finally ready to share our thoughts on how it looks, feels, and delivers in two titles - Forspoken and Immortals of Aveum. FSR 3 differs from DLSS 3 in that it works on all GPUs, but it's still a technology developed for the current RDNA 3 generation of Radeon products.
Of course, the main focus of the review will be on the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT's overall performance across our 15-game benchmark suite, its thermal performance, and overall physical design. And, as we've seen in other Radeon RX 7700 XT models and Sapphire cards, the results are impressive.
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. That said, the Radeon RX 7600 entry-level models using the 'Navi 33' GPU follow a more traditional single-chip setup using 6nm process technology to help keep costs down. But with the same RDNA 3 architecture.
AMD's groundbreaking chiplet design can be found in the 'Navi 32' and 'Navi 31' GPUs - Radeon RX 7700 XT, 7800 XT, 7900 XT, and 7900 XTX. 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 also represents a significant leap forward for AMD regarding ray-tracing and AI accelerators. RDNA 3 GPUs 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.
RDNA 3 GPUs are the first graphics cards supporting 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.
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 addition to games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Starfield 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.
In late 2023, AMD introduced its DLSS 3-like FSR 3 frame generation technology, which uses generated frames and low-latency tech to boost perceived performance. With FSR 3 in its infancy, it's a technology set to mature in the coming months and years.
FSR 3, like FSR 2, will be platform agnostic in that it will work across AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel hardware - but on RDNA 3 and Radeon GPUs, it will take advantage of the new Anti-Lag+ to reduce latency (something NVIDIA alleviates by pairing DLSS 3 with its Reflex latency reduction technology). 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 7700 XT and 7800 XT - compared to the previous generation's AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT and 6800 XT.
AMD's new RDNA 3-powered Radeon RX 7700 XT is the successor to the RDNA 2-powered Radeon RX 6700 XT, a card that hit a similar 1440p sweet spot for gamers. Compared to its previous-gen counterpart, the Radeon RX 7700 XT features a 35% increase in specs like the Stream Processor count and the total number of Compute Units and Ray Accelerators. It's the sort of generation uplift, at least in terms of specifications, that you expect - with the bonus of things like dedicated AI accelerators (a new RDNA 3 feature).
That said, the overall clock speeds have remained about the same gen-on-gen, with the newer Radeon RX 7700 XT clocked slightly slower than the Radeon RX 6700 XT. As a more premium model, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT ships with a very modest out-of-the-box increase to the Boost GPU Clock speed - a 1.6% increase to 2584 MHz from the reference spec of 2544 MHz. Technically, it's an overclock, but not really.
Memory is another area where the Radeon RX 7700 XT takes a small step back from the Radeon RX 6700 XT, where even though you're looking at a similar capacity - 12GB of GDDR6 - the 192-bit interface is slower than the 256-bit interface of the Radeon RX 6700 XT. The reduction in AMD Infinity Cache can be chalked up to more efficient second-generation tech, so that's fine.
Efficiency, though, is an area where the Radeon RX 7700 XT disappoints, especially compared to the previous generation's Radeon RX 6700 XT and what we've seen across NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 40 Series. The 240W power rating for the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT isn't all that high for a modern graphics card that delivers performance and high-fidelity visuals. However, it reinforces our findings that there has been very little progress for RDNA 3 regarding power efficiency - where we also see this and other RDNA 3 cards idling much higher than expected.
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT
- Model: Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT 12GB
- Interface: PCI Express 4.0
- Stream Processors: 3456
- Compute Units/Ray Accelerators/AI Accelerators: 54/54/108
- Clock Speeds: Boost Clock: Up to 2584 MHz, Game Clock: 2226 MHz
- Memory: 12GB GDDR6
- Memory Speed: 18 Gbps
- Memory Interface: 192-bit
- Display Connections: 2 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x DisplayPort 2.1
- Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin
- Total Board Power: 240W
- What's in the Box: Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT 12GB, Graphics Card Supporter, Quick Installation Guide
Kosta's Test System
- Motherboard: MSI MPG X670E Carbon Wi-Fi
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
- RAM: 64GB (2x32GB) Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 5200MHz
- SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB
- 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 Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT is easily one of the best-looking Radeon RX 7700 XT GPUs currently available, and I'm not saying that because I'm a huge fan of the new all-white GPU trend. That's part of it, but the patterns surrounding the angular fans, the open top with red Sapphire branding (that lights up), and the metal backplate combine to make it look like a slick spaceship.
Of course, looks aren't the main draw of a GPU, but in the age of most PC cases featuring tempered glass side panels, looks do play a role in choosing a new graphics card for many people. Thankfully, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT backs this up with impressive cooling and near-silent performance when gaming.
In addition to the all-aluminum backplate, you've got digital power delivery, fuse protection, and a copper PCB for stability.
The angular axial fans not only look cool but also feature a dual ball bearing design for longer life and a double-layer design that increases downward air pressure for better airflow. That comment about near-silent design is no joke; during a stress test with stock settings, the overall fan speed sat below 850 RPM or around 22% of the total speed.
If there's one downside to the design, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT's 320mm length is quite long for a mid-range offering. On the plus side, you're looking at a 2.5-slot thickness. It ships with a GPU bracket, so it's not compact - a shame.
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.
This is all a way of saying that the 15 in-game benchmarks we've chosen (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.
Results include DLSS and FSR 2, where possible, as both technologies are the sorts of things, especially in 1440p and 4K, which you'd turn on. Six of the 15 game benchmarks also feature ray tracing. 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. AMD FSR 2 and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Cyberpunk 2077: Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR 2 and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Cyberpunk 2077 (RT): Ray tracing Ultra quality setting, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR 2 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. NVIDIA DLSS results included.
- F1 22 (RT): Ultra High-quality setting with ray tracing, one lap of the Bahrain track benchmarked. AMD FSR 2 and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Forza Horizon 5 (RT): Extreme quality setting with ray tracing enabled, in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR 2 and NVIDIA DLSS results are included.
- Hitman (RT): Ultra-quality settings with ray-tracing, Dubai scene benchmarked. AMD FSR 2 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. NVIDIA DLSS results included.
- Rainbow Six Extraction: Ultra quality settings and in-game benchmark tool used. NVIDIA DLSS results included.
- Red Dead Redemption 2: Maximum quality settings, with in-game benchmark tool used. AMD FSR 2 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 - 1080p Results
In all the marketing and press materials provided, AMD positions the Radeon RX 7700 XT as a GPU tailor-made for 1440p gaming. Still, 1080p results matter and are always worth digging into to see how they stack up. With an average frame rate of 135 FPS across our 15-game benchmark suite, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT delivers impressive results - sitting 11.6% higher than the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti.
However, with the Radeon RX 7700 XT's MSRP sitting at USD 449 and the Radeon RX 7800 XT's sitting at USD 499, the 1080p performance is roughly 13.5% slower than the more premium RDNA 3 offering. As far as GPUs go, this sort of gap isn't a bad thing, but with the price between the two cards being so close, the Radeon RX 7700 XT's 1080p performance is at a level where it makes the Radeon RX 7800 XT look like the more attractive option.
It's also worth noting that even though the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT is priced lower than the GeForce RTX 4070, there are a few games where it outperforms NVIDIA's option by a noticeable margin - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Borderlands 3 being the most notable.
14 Game Average FPS - 1440p Results
With an average frame rate of 99 FPS (just one frame shy of triple digits!) at 1440p, the performance drop-off when switching to this resolution sits at 26.7%. This is enough for the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT to hit triple digits in several games while increasing its performance lead over the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti (8GB) to 17.8% while maintaining roughly the same distance (13.9%) behind the more premium Radeon RX 7800 XT.
In games without ray-tracing, the performance lead over the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti increases - a whopping 50% in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, 32% in Cyberpunk 2077, and 18% in Red Dead Redemption II. Turn on RT, and it's a different story; the Radeon RX 7700 XT begins to crack under the pressure. However, the 8GB of VRAM limitation on the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti makes the 1440p results between the two cards similar; the RTX 4060 Ti is best suited to 1080p ray-tracing over 1440p.
It's clear that 1440p is where the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT excels, and there are titles where RT performance is respectable. Forza Horizon 5 hits an average of 110 FPS, and F1 22 hits 81 FPS (which climbs to 138 FPS with FSR 2 upscaling). The performance drop-off from 1080p isn't massive either, so this is a GPU you'd pair with a 1440p or Ultrawide display.
15 Game Average FPS - 4K Results
The Achilles heel seems to be 4K gaming, with the performance drop-off when making the resolution jump from 1440p sitting at 46.5%. This is pretty huge, and compared to the Radeon RX 7800 XT, the 17.2% between the two cards is the difference between being able to hit 60 FPS in some games versus sitting well below that. Ray tracing at this resolution, even with FSR, is not advised.
This is not to say that you can't game in 4K on the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT; you'll need to tweak settings and enable upscaling tech like FSR 2.
Benchmarks - 3DMark FireStrike
3DMark FireStrike is a DirectX 11 test that we've been using to measure GPU performance for several years. DirectX 11 is an API that covers many games released over the past decade, so it's a relevant test. However, the results for the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT and other RDNA 3 GPUs don't quite reflect the reality of playing a wide range of games.
The three FireStrike tests cover the main three resolutions - 1080p, 1440p, and 4K and the 1440p score above places the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT slightly behind the GeForce RTX 4070 and roughly 30% ahead of the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti. Some games will deliver this type of result, but with DirectX 12 more prevalent and advanced rendering leading to tech like ray-tracing - it's not indicative of the bigger picture.
Benchmarks - 3DMark TimeSpy and Port Royal
With 3DMark TimeSpy being DirectX 12-based, it's a more relevant synthetic benchmark for modern games. Here, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT's score of 16344 also sits just below the GeForce RTX 4070 and is 11.9% lower than the Radeon RX 7800 XT. It's a result that more closely matches the average gaming benchmark results we found. And 11.9% is the exact price difference between the two cards.
3DMark Port Royal is a ray-tracing benchmark, and surprisingly, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT's score is higher than the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti. This is one area where we expected the Radeon RX 7700 XT to fall behind. Still, it's a testament to the improvements made by AMD - even if it still feels like, overall, RDNA 3's RT performance is two or three steps behind NVIDIA's Ada Lovelace generation.
However, it does depend on the game and the type of ray tracing. In RT-heavy titles like Cyberpunk 2077, Hitman, and, more recently, Alan Wake II, the Radeon RX 7700 XT does struggle. In games with only a simple implementation or effect, like reflections in Forza Horizon 5, performance is decent. Another wrinkle is the fact that even if RT performance between the Radeon RX 7700 XT and the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti is around the same in some games, DLSS delivers noticeably better image quality when enabled at 1080p or 1440p - the resolution realm these two cards reside.
Benchmarks - 1080p Gaming
Benchmarks - 1440p Gaming
Benchmarks - 4K Gaming
Benchmarks Summary - RT, FSR 2, and FSR 3
The Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT delivers a 1440p GPU for modern gaming, but its performance sits in a spot where more premium options like the Radeon RX 7800 XT and GeForce RTX 4070 begin to look more attractive. For those not interested in ray-tracing or performance-enhancing technology like DLSS, it is an attractive alternative to the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti - especially when it can crush certain games. AMD's FSR 2 is a viable option for 1440p gaming, but again, the image quality isn't on par with NVIDIA's tech.
The good news is that AMD has finally launched FSR 3, which includes Frame Generation and latency reduction technology similar (in a sense) to how NVIDIA's DLSS 3 with Frame Generation and Reflex technology works. The first two titles supporting the technology in-game are Forspoken from Square Enix and Immortals of Aveum from EA. From a pure performance-enhancing perspective, here's a look at the 1440p and 4K results of FSR 3.
Having walked away generally unimpressed with FSR 3 running on the entry-level Radeon RX 7600 at 1080p, FSR 2 Quality upscaling fares much better at 1440p and 4K. For both Forspoken and Immortals of Aveum, compared to native rendering, you're looking at up to a 2.5X increase in perceived performance. That's perceived because FSR 3 generates and inserts new frames, which adds latency and some artifacts.
The overall effect is impressive for the most part, but it does feel off in parts - amplifying the issues with FSR 2 upscaling. Enabling FSR 3's Frame Generation without the upscaling component does improve things, though the higher the input frame rate, the smoother and more consistent the overall effect is. In this early stage, the results are promising, and it'll be interesting to see how FSR 3 improves over time.
Temperature and Power Efficiency
Even though the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT easily outperforms the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti in most benchmarks across 1080p and 1440p gaming, it does so by using over 40% more power. The more powerful GeForce RTX 4070 uses considerably less power than the Radeon RX 7700 XT. So, if efficiency is an important measure (and it is), you've got another entry in the RDNA 3 lineup that disappoints in this department.
That said, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT's cooling performance is excellent - with fan speeds kept to just about inaudible levels under load. With three fans and high-quality cooling, the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT has no real issue maintaining a temperature of 60 degrees - even after several hours of use. The results you see above are using the card's stock settings, with software with a more aggressive fan curve and some overclocking that can push performance and thermal performance even higher.
When AMD launched the Radeon RX 7700 XT and Radeon RX 7800 XT, getting a free copy of the premium edition of Starfield on PC helped sweeten the deal. Now that the free Bethesda game deal is over, you're left with the GPU as it is and its overall price and performance about the competition. Which, as I've mentioned a few times now, includes the Radeon RX 7800 XT because the pricing between the two GPUs is pretty close.
However, there's still much to like about the Sapphire PURE AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT - from the stylish and robust physical design to the excellent 1440p performance in every game that isn't Cyberpunk 2077 with RT Ultra settings enabled.