Watch out, Nvidia: overclocked AMD RX 7900 XTX matches RTX 4090 performance

An AMD RX 7900 XTX graphics card seen from an overhead angle
(Image credit: AMD)

In a rather stunning move, TechPowerUp has managed to overclock an AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX to such a point where it can match the Nvidia RTX 4090 in the demanding Cyberpunk 2077 benchmark.

Now, let's not get carried away: on paper, a $999 GPU going toe to toe with a $1,599 card in gaming performance is, on paper, a massive loss for Nvidia. But this is just one test; TechPowerUp also found that their overclocked RX 7900 XTX wasn't able to reach the same performance as the RTX 4090 in other benchmarks, although performance was dramatically improved.

Still, it's very impressive - and not entirely unexpected. There have reportedly been clock speed issues with the Navi 31 die that powers the RX 7900 XTX, which allegedly limits its performance somewhat - something AMD could address with future driver updates. It's still not going to truly eclipse the 4090 (which will be getting new drivers of its own), but it's worth bearing in mind that AMD's flagship GPU isn't using 100% of its available power at present. TechPowerUp's mighty 3.2GHz overclock coaxes a lot more graphical grunt out of the card.

Analysis: Even more trouble for Nvidia

Nvidia has been plagued with problems surrounding the launch of its next-gen Lovelace graphics cards - from melting 4090 power adaptors to the hasty 'unlaunching' of the RTX 4080 12GB - and this feels like yet another issue for Team Green.

TechPowerUp used a factory-overclocked Asus TUF card for their testing, which was already slightly faster than the original AMD RX 7900 XTX we tested in our review. Factoring in the manual overclock (which involved a complex undervolting process to squeeze as much power from the GPU as possible), it was 23.1% faster than the competing RTX 4080 16GB.

Sure, this is comparing an overclocked card to a card running at reference clocks, but it's still troubling news for Nvidia. The RTX 4080 16GB has been decried by many for being underpowered for its hefty $1,199 price point, and this lends further credence to that argument: AMD's new top GPU is $200 cheaper and comfortably outperforms it in most areas.

Note that we said 'most' - the Nvidia card notably still wins out in Blender and other software that favors CUDA cores for performance. If you're looking for a GPU for professional creative work, Nvidia is still the way to go. However, these figures corroborate AMD's repeated claims that Radeon is the best choice for gamers.

This isn't likely to change until Nvidia provides more affordable cards, be that new RTX 4070 and 4060 models or via a price cut to the existing RTX 4080 16GB. Even then, Team Green is likely to be on the back foot: AMD's pricing curve gives it the advantage here, so we can expect Team Red's midrange and budget RX 7000 GPUs to be very competitively priced. In short: Nvidia has an uphill battle ahead of it. A lot of goodwill among gamers has been squandered due to the mess surrounding the new Lovelace cards, and AMD has been quick to capitalize on the situation.

Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.