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AMD’s RX 7900 XTX Beats the NVIDIA RTX 4090 in Starfield Despite Being $650 Cheaper

Bethesda’s next big RPG, Starfield, is out in early access for all those willing to shell out $100 for it. Despite not leveraging ray tracing, it’s a pretty-looking game with your usual Todd Howardesque quirks. Unlike previous titles from the Xbox Game Studio, this is an AMD partner title featuring FSR 2 from day 0. Luckily, most of us won’t need an upscaler, as the game runs quite well on most hardware.

We tested Starfield on the fastest NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards (with a Core i9-13900KF and 32GB of DDR5-6000 memory) and got interesting results. The game runs much better on Radeon cards (no surprise there), with similarly priced GeForce offerings being notably slower across all resolutions. Before we begin, remember that in a massive open-world game like Starfield, the performance will vary substantially from scene to scene.

Some areas will be more CPU-bound, reducing (or eliminating) the performance delta between different GPUs. We recorded the frame rates in the starting area of the game. With plenty of shadows, ambient occlusion, and indirect lighting, our GPUs were fully strained at 4K, often approaching their peak TBPs.

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is the fastest card in this game, netting 108 FPS at 4K Ultra with 0.2% lows of 83 FPS, a solid and consistent outcome. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 comes in second with an average of 106 FPS and lows of 81 FPS. You do not see a $959 GPU beating a $1,599 flagship every day. The Radeon RX 7900 XT nets 89 FPS with lows of 65.6 FPS. Finally, the RTX 3080 Ti stops just short of 60 FPS with lows of 45 FPS.

By far, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX offers the smoothest performance with the time delta between 92% frametime values being less than 2ms. The RTX 4090 manages 82%, with the 7900 XT reaching 86-87%. That said, the latter does run into a patch of 8ms ft deltas longer than every other GPU.

Despite being slightly CPU-bound, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX retains and extends its lead over the GeForce RTX 4090 at 1440p. The former averages 162.6 FPS, while the latter is restricted to 154.3 FPS. There’s a delta of 12 FPS between the 0.2% lows, but that’s not interesting. The $750 RX 7900 XT is nearly as fast as the RTX 4090 ($1,599), courtesy of a higher CPU overhead and lack of GeForce GameReady drivers. The RTX 3080 Ti is slightly slower than the competition, with an average of less than 100 FPS.

Starfield pushes even the fastest GPUs to their limits (power limits, at least). The Radeon RX 7900 XTX consumes ~350W on average, with a peak of 468W. The GeForce RTX 4090 averages 410W with an upper limit of 435W. The RX 7900 XTX averages over 300W, while the RTX 3080 Ti comes in at just 350W.

Areej Syed

Processors, PC gaming, and the past. I have been writing about computer hardware for over seven years with more than 5000 published articles. Started off during engineering college and haven't stopped since. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Divinity, Torment, Baldur's Gate and so much more... Contact: areejs12@hardwaretimes.com.
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