2022 has proven to be an interesting year for graphics cards. Not only did Intel enter the fray with its Arc series, Nvidia unveiled the flagships for the new RTX 4000 series. And on Thursday, AMD showed off its upcoming Radeon 7000 series. And let me tell you, the latter is what has me the most excited.
I've always liked having the best consumer GPU I could get, though the shortage through the COVID-19 pandemic saw me stick with my 2080 Ti. I've worked on staying content with what I have, since my graphics card is more than sufficient for most of my 1440p gaming.
But I use Linux primarily, both for gaming and productivity. That presents a problem with my current hardware. In case you don't know, Nvidia doesn't like to play nice with Linux on a lot of systems, mine included. AMD, meanwhile, does, so I've been considering Team Red for my next upgrade.
Eyeing that power efficiency
The RTX 4090 draws a whopping 450W of power at stock clock speeds on the Founder's Edition. Partner cards may draw even more with higher clocks and larger coolers. But the 7900 XTX pulls 355W, substantially lower than Nvidia.
Furthermore, AMD claims to have more power-per-watt than previous generations, increasing the power efficiency. Coupled with 24GB of GDDR6 memory, the 7900 XTX looks set to beat the 4090 at performance-per-watt, but we don't know that for sure yet. The card doesn't launch for another month or so.
But I'm really excited about that 355W TDP because it means I don't have to go out and buy a new power supply for my PC. The one I have now has enough headroom for that GPU, my overclocked Ryzen 9 5950X, my SSD RAID array, and all the rest. I'd have to fork over a lot of money for more power with the 4090, one with the new ATX 3.0 tech.
Though my energy costs aren't too bad, I run a lot of computers in my house that all add up. Having a more power-efficient graphics card is not something I'll turn a blind eye to.
That price though
When Nvidia announced the 4090 and 4080 pricing, I'm sure I wasn't the only one who choked. The company showed a sense of greed and seeming contempt for its consumers, especially in a world where money is tight for most people.
But AMD came in to undercut Nvidia by $600 with the 7900 XTX. Now, we don't know how this card will compare to the 4090, but based on what AMD said, I think we could see near-4090 rasterization performance. I doubt the 7900 XTX will outdo the 4090, but I don't think that's what AMD wants.
Instead, Team Red is playing the smart game: enticing people to its side with much more reasonable pricing. With a flagship that costs a whopping $600 less than its competition, I'm willing to bet that AMD counted on turning heads; it sure turned mine.
AMD and Linux: Better together
I prefer Linux to macOS and especially Windows, so all of my personal machines run one distro or another. But if you aren't aware, Nvidia has historically not played nice with Linux. Things have improved over the last few years, but it's still a crapshoot as to when something will go wrong.
AMD, meanwhile, works well with Linux. Ever since switching to Linux on my gaming PC some years ago, I've looked on Radeon cards with envy for their ease of use. Up until last generation, AMD wasn't truly competitive with Nvidia, and I wanted the best I could get. But with the 6900 XT, AMD really started to close the gap.
And so I started to seriously consider switching to the other side, but then the GPU shortage began and by the time I could find a 6900 XT for a reasonable price, Radeon 7000 series rumors started picking up. Unlike my decision to stick with Ryzen 5000 for my CPU, waiting for the next round of graphics cards wouldn't cost more than the cards themselves.
Since I still use Linux for gaming — with a Windows dual-boot for Destiny 2 and Lost Ark — I want a card that offers as close to a seamless experience as I can get. Sure, AMD has driver problems pretty frequently, and likely will when the 7900 XTX launches, but I hope that there won't be problems with my display server like I have with Nvidia and Wayland right now. Some games outright refuse to launch unless I switch to X11.
I was leaning off the fence toward AMD anyway, but the 7900 XTX might just be the gust of wind I needed to side with Radeon.
Radeon 7900 XTX outlook
I will, of course, wait for all of the reviews before I start saving up the $999 I need. I love a trip to Micro Center, but not to drop that kind of money on a product I'm unsure of. When groups like Gamers Nexus and JazyTwoCents put out their benchmarks and testing results, then I'll take the 7900 XTX seriously.
Until then, I'll make do with my 2080 Ti, but I'm pretty confident that I'm upgrading this generation. And AMD may have finally convinced me to go with a Radeon card for the first time in ten years.