7800 XT vs 4070: the battle for midrange bragging rights

With the release of the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, the midrange battle between the two best graphics cards in this class is finally joined after nearly a year of waiting. And what a slugfest it is.

Nvidia's midrange champ is a fantastic 1440p graphics card capable of advanced ray tracing and graphics upscaling, making 4K gaming a very tangible target for this card, despite its smaller 12GB VRAM pool.

The newly released AMD RX 7800 XT meanwhile is a pure rasterization powerhouse with greatly improved ray tracing performance, even if it still lags a generation behind Nvidia's rival offering in ray tracing performance.

And, with the introduction of AI accelerators in AMD RDNA 3 graphics architecture, the RX 7800 XT could even start tackling some of those workloads like generative AI which has been the exclusive domain of Team Green for years.

So, which card is worth your hard-earned money as you look to upgrade your rig? I've tested both of these cards extensively, so I'm going to break it down for you so you can make the right choice for your needs and budget.

7800 XT vs 4070: Price

An AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

There's no question that the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT wins the 7800 XT vs 4070 pricing round. Coming in at $499.99 (about £380 / AU$725), the RX 7800 XT is $100 cheaper than the RTX 4070, and given their relative performance to one another, the RX 7800 XT is simply the better value by far.

Unless you really need a card that can process Nvidia's CUDA instruction set, most of which are specific to creative industries and workloads like 3D rendering, you're going to get much more value out of the RX 7800 XT than the RTX 4070, as I'll get into in more detail in the performance section.

  • Winner: AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT

7800 XT vs 4070: Design

An Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card seated inside its retail packaging

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Given that most of the 7800 XT and 4070 cards you're going to find online are third-party offerings that vary in design (with some even sharing the same shrouds so as to look pretty much identical), it's hard to really give many design comparisons, though there are two minor points to bring up.

In the case of the RTX 4070, due to its 200W TGP, you'll find some cards (like the PNY GeForce RTX 4070 XLR8) that only need a single 8-pin power connector to run, which could be a major bonus if you've got a lot of expansion cards in your case and you're running low on free cables.

The RX 7800 XT, meanwhile, has a high enough TGP of 263W that no matter what card you go with, you'll need two 8-pin connectors to power it.

While that would seem to give the RTX 4070 an advantage here, it's also worth noting that the RTX 4070 outputs to DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.1, while the RX 7800 XT uses DisplayPort 2.1. That doesn't really matter much now, but DisplayPort 2.1 can output an 8K signal at 165Hz, while DisplayPort 1.4 is limited to 60Hz at 8K. 

There aren't a whole lot of 8K monitors out there as it is, and none are running faster than 60Hz right now, but one day they will, and the RX 7800 XT will be able to hit that faster rate where the RTX 4070 cannot. Will either of these cards be playing Cyberpunk 2077 in 8K? Not a chance, but you could still enjoy a smoother desktop experience and other 8K benefits. It's a small bit of future-proofing, but it will matter to some people.

  • Winner: Tie

7800 XT vs 4070: Performance

An AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

This is where things really break in the RX 7800 XT's favor. Pound for pound, the RX 7800 XT manages to squeeze in a win here with a roughly 2% overall performance advantage over the RTX 4070. 

In terms of synthetic performance, the RX 7800 XT wallops the RTX 4070 in rasterization by as much as 25% (in 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra), while keeping the RTX 4070 from completely running away in ray tracing workloads like 3DMark Speed Way, where it kept to within about 15% of Nvidia's winning score.

In terms of gaming performance, AMD's midrange card does a much better job playing at 4K, and in a surprise turn, FSR 2 actually manages to outperform DLSS 3 when not factoring in Frame Generation.

Nvidia's strength is in ray tracing though, and when gaming with ray tracing, the RX 7800 XT falls short of the RTX 4070, especially when factoring in upscaling at 1080p and 1440p. At 4K, however, the RX 7800 XT's native ray tracing performance is much closer to that of the RTX 4070's thanks to the latter's larger VRAM pool, and on average, the RX 7800 XT is only about 15% slower with ray tracing turned on and upscaling set to balanced.

And, to be clear, when it comes to creative workload performance, the RTX 4070 is the better graphics card by far, but if you're running creative workloads professionally, the RTX 4070 isn't the card for you anyway, and for casual creative work, most people wouldn't even notice the difference between the two, so the creative performance here has less impact than it would in the 7800 XT vs 4070 fight than it would if these cards were much further up the stack.

With that caveat thrown out there, these cards are effectively evenly matched performance-wise for 95% of the people who are looking to buy one of them. 

Ultimately, if ray tracing is your number one priority, then the RTX 4070 will give you better performance on that front. If you don't care about ray tracing, or don't mind turning the ray tracing settings down a notch or two, then the RX 7800 XT is going to give you much better performance. 

  • Winner: Tie

Which one should you buy?

An AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT on a table

(Image credit: Future / John Loeffler)

Honestly, the one question you need to ask yourself is whether you're going to need to do serious creative work on the card you buy. If so, then the RTX 4070 is the card to go for between these two, though really you need to get at least an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti for any serious content creation workloads. The RTX 4070 really just doesn't have the VRAM for commercial-scale creative work.

If you couldn't give a flip about Blender, Maya, or Adobe Premiere, then the RX 7800 XT is the best graphics card of the two, in my opinion. You get better performance from the RX 7800 XT on the vast majority of PC games out there since only a few games have ray tracing, and only a few of them lean very heavily into it. Even then, the RX 7800 XT can still work beautifully with ray tracing given some settings tweaks and FSR 2 (we haven't even seen what FSR 3 can do yet).

Ultimately, the price of the RX 7800 XT and its compelling performance make it the best 1440p graphics card of this generation, and it's one you definitely don't want to pass up.

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).