AMD’s Radeon 7 is the first high-end video card from the company in years, using a 7nm process to deliver improved performance and power efficiency. AMD are positioning it against Nvidia’s second-tier card, the RTX 2080, with the same price of $700/£600. That should allow it to perform well at 1080p and 1440p, with a solid 4K/60 possible in some titles as well. So how does the Radeon 7 compare to Nvidia’s best consumer card, the £999/$999 RTX 2080 Ti? Obviously the Nvidia card has an advantage here in terms of overall horsepower, but can the Radeon 7 make it close or even win out in any games?
That’s the question this article is intended to answer. We’ll look at how the two cards compare in a range of modern games from 1080p to 4K, to see exactly how much extra performance you can expect by going with Nvidia’s top-tier option over AMD’s and whether the upgrade is actually worthwhile.
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As well as looking at traditional in-game performance numbers, we’ll also take a brief look at how the two cards compare in terms of features. The Nvidia RTX cards get their name from their ability to perform real-time ray tracing, and there are other features to be aware of too. Finally, we’ll wrap up with a look at how much these graphics cards are currently going for and which options are available.
Does the Radeon 7 stand a chance against the RTX 2080 Ti?
Radeon 7 vs RTX 2080 Ti: feature comparison
While the Radeon 7 is significantly more powerful than its predecessor, the Vega 64, it still uses the same architecture and boasts largely the same features. Most importantly, Radeon 7 users are able to use FreeSync monitors, allowing the output of your graphics card and the refresh rate of your monitor to be synced without introducing significant latency. Nvidia recently added FreeSync support to its own graphics cards, but some models seem to play nicer with AMD hardware so it’s still a feature worth mentioning.
You also get AMD’s Wattman software, which offers an intuitive way to overclock and customise the operation of your Radeon 7 graphics card, and the AMD Link app, which allows you to adjust these settings via your phone. For game recording and streaming, AMD offer ReLive, while multi-monitor gaming is made possible by the AMD Eyefinity standard.
The Radeon 7 is also equipped with substantially more video memory than its competitor, despite being the cheaper product. AMD has included 16GB of HBM2 memory, which could make the Radeon card a better choice for productivity and content creation workloads. For example, editing 4K video footage can quickly exhaust your graphics card’s onboard memory, so moving from 11GB of GDDR6 on the RTX 2080 Ti to 16GB of HBM2 on the Radeon 7 could provide a performance advantage.
It’s also worth running through what the RTX 2080 Ti is offering. The headline feature is real-time ray tracing, a computationally expensive process that results in realistic lights and shadows. This effect has only been shown off in Battlefield 5 and a few demos, but it can provide a big visual upgrade.
The performance penalty from enabling ray tracing in games can be offset by another new technology included in RTX cards called DLSS. This stands for deep learning super sampling, and it essentially allows games to be rendered at a lower resolution, then upscaled by an algorithm trained on what the game should look like. This can boost frame-rates by around 40 per cent with minimal degradation to visual quality, so it’s a nice feature to have. Sadly, like real-time ray tracing, this feature has only been supported in a handful of new games and demos thus far.
The RTX 2080 Ti also supports new shading models that can boost performance in various ways – again, depending on developer support. There’s also a USB-C VirtualLink connector for connecting next-generation VR headsets with a single cable and DisplayPort 1.4 which supports 8K 60Hz displays. A sixth-generation Nvidia encoder should also reduce CPU utilisation while recording or streaming games. Finally, mentioned earlier, the RTX 2080 Ti and other recent Nvidia cards now support both FreeSync and G-Sync variable refresh rate monitors, allowing Nvidia users to pick and choose from a wider array of options than their AMD counterparts.
Ultimately, the Radeon 7 offers fewer features than the RTX 2080 Ti, but the Nvidia card is hamstrung somewhat by a lack of developer support for its most important technologies.
Radeon 7 vs RTX 2080 Ti: game benchmarks
While it’s interesting to see how these two cards compare in terms of features, the most important criteria for many users will be how they actually handle traditional games. We have tested the Radeon 7 and RTX 2080 Ti in ten different recent titles, at 1080p, 1440p and 4K. We’ve also included the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 in this comparison, so you have a bit more context for the performance numbers you see for each card.
Note that while we have included 1080p tests for completeness, we do not recommend using this class of graphics hardware at 1080p. We ran into CPU bottlenecking in many of our tests, even using a test system with a Core i7 8700K processor pinned to 4.7GHz, which can introduce greater run-to-run variance than normal. In most games and resolutions an Intel Core i5 or Ryzen 5 or better will provide adequate performance, but for high refresh rate gaming at 1080p and 1440p we still strongly recommend going with a Core i7 or Core i9 processor.
To give you a better idea of these cards’ raw performance, you can also see a selection of their specifications in the table below. While AMD’s Radeon 7 is a true reference card that operates at stock speeds, the Founders Edition RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 we’re using have modest overclocks out of the box – and cost more than entry-level boards made by Nvidia’s partners. That means that the Radeon 7 will be more competitive against entry-level RTX 2080 Ti cards around that $999 price point than these benchmark results indicate.
|Radeon 7||RTX 2080 Ti FE||RTX 2080 FE||GTX 1080 Ti|
|VRAM||16GB HBM2||11GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||11GB GDDR5X|
Our testing results are shown using the unique Digital Foundry benchmarking system, which is available only on the desktop version of this page – sorry, mobile users! A YouTube video will show you the scene that we tested each card on, with live frame-rate and frame time data embedded below. You can use the controls to the right of the video to add or remove different cards and resolutions.
Below the real-time telemetry, you can find quick summaries for the entire run, including the handy lowest one per cent and lowest five per cent figures which give you an idea of each card’s worst-case performance and overall stability. It’s worth remembering that to see these different figures, you need to mouse over the image. You can also click the chart to toggle between absolute figures and percentages.
Without further ado, let’s get into the benchmarks!
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The first game up is Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a late 2018 release that sees players doing fun murders in ancient Hellas. The open world and detailed texture work makes this a challenging benchmark, but the Radeon 7 acquits itself with a 60+ average frame-rate at 1080p. The RTX 2080 Ti is still ahead by 31 per cent, mind you. There’s a similar gap between the two cards as we move to 1440p and 4K, with the Radeon 7 managing 55fps at 1440p and 39fps at 4K.
AC Odyssey: Ultra High, TAA
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Next is Assassin’s Creed Unity, where AMD hardware has historically struggled thanks to poor handling of the depth of field effect that occurs several times during our benchmark. It’s clear that the Radeon 7 doesn’t buck this trend, with very low worst one per cent frame-rates that unfortunately overwhelm the strong results when the effect isn’t being used. Ultimately, the Radeon 7 sits behind the GTX 1080 Ti, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti here, with 109fps at 1080p, 74fps at 1440p and 40fps at 4K. The Radeon 7 falls behind the RTX 2080 Ti convincingly here, with a gap of 52 per cent at 4K.
AC Unity: Ultra High, FXAA
The first time that the Radeon 7 comes close to the RTX 2080 Ti is in this benchmark, Battlefield 1. The Radeon 7 manages 177fps at 1080p compared to 191fps for the considerably more expensive Nvidia card; both cards are fast enough to take full advantage of a 144Hz monitor here. The eight per cent advantage for the RTX 2080 Ti at 1080p grows to 15 per cent at 1440p though, with the RTX 2080 Ti ending up 22 per cent ahead at 4K. Still, the 85fps average at 4K is a great result for the Radeon 7.
Battlefield 1: Ultra, TAA
Crysis 3 is an older game, released in 2013, yet a tougher challenge for AMD’s new top dog. The GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 are nearly 10 per cent ahead at 4K, while the RTX 2080 Ti leads the Radeon 7 by 39 per cent at the same resolution. All four cards in this test are more than playable at 4K, but only the RTX 2080 Ti manages to break that 4K/60 threshold.
Crysis 3: very high, SMAA T2X
Far Cry 5
Next up we have another recent release, Far Cry 5. This game is easier to render than Crysis 3, and the Radeon 7 is able to take advantage of the more modern engine to deliver more competitive performance. At 4K, the Radeon 7 and RTX 2080 are nearly identical in performance at 60fps average, with the RTX 2080 Ti sitting another 15fps further ahead. That’s a lead of about 25 per cent for the the RTX 2080 Ti over the Radeon 7, one of the better results we’ve seen for the AMD card.
Far Cry 5: Ultra, TAA
Far Cry Primal
Next up is Far Cry Primal, a prehistoric take on the popular open world franchise released between Far Cry 4 and Far Cry 5. The Radeon 7 is competitive here, with the RTX 2080 Ti managing only a four per cent lead at 1080p. The RTX 2080 Ti is able to flex its legs at 1440p and 4K though, with the RTX 2080 Ti beating out the Radeon 7 by 24 and 27 per cent, respectively.
Far Cry Primal: Ultra, SMAA
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Ghost Recon Wildlands takes the dubious honour of being the most difficult benchmark in our current suite, at least on its most challenging ultra preset – for actual gameplay at high resolutions, we’d recommend sticking to very high or high for a much smoother result without a significant decrease in graphical fidelity. The Radeon 7 is none-too-strong at 1080p, delivering just 67fps while the RTX 2080 Ti manages 89fps, but the gap narrows as the resolution increases. At 4K, the Radeon 7 draws level with the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080, but the RTX 2080 Ti still beats it out by 26 per cent.
Ghost Recon Wildlands: Ultra, TAA
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a 2016 release with a helpful three-part integrated benchmark. While this isn’t a great predictor of in-game performance – the actual game is harder to run than the benchmark! – it is still a nice way to see how your graphics card can affect frame-rate in games of this era and complexity. The Radeon 7 comes in fourth place at 1080p, with the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 Ti in the top two slots. However, all four cards manage above 155fps average, which should be enough for what is a relatively slow-paced game. The RTX 2080 Ti holds more than a 30 per cent gap over the Radeon 7 throughout, with the Radeon 7 just barely missing out on a 60fps average at 4K.
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Very High, SMAA
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the thrilling conclusion to the most recent Tomb Raider reboot franchise in a lush Mesoamerican setting. The game also sports an in-game benchmark which is a better analogue for actual gameplay than its predecessor. The Radeon 7 is stronger in the new game too, pulling ahead of the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 at all resolutions we tested. The advantage of the RTX 2080 Ti over the Radeon 7 is 21 per cent at 1080p, but rises to 31 per cent at 4K. The 45fps average of the AMD card isn’t quite enough for an ideal 4K experience, so we’d recommend dropping down some settings to get a 60fps lock.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider DX12: Highest, TAA
The Witcher 3
We conclude with a horse ride through the grimy streets of Novigrad in The Witcher 3. The RTX 2080 Ti is faster than the Radeon 7 throughout, with a 15 per cent lead at 1080p and 31 per cent advantage at 4K. Once again, the Radeon 7 misses out on a 60fps average at 4K by only a narrow margin, so a few settings tweaks or a FreeSync monitor will be required to attain a smooth experience at this resolution.
The Witcher 3: Ultra, POST-AA, No Hairworks
Radeon 7 vs RTX 2080 Ti: price and availability
The Radeon 7 has a recommended retail price of $700/£600, compared to $1110/£950 for entry-level RTX 2080 Ti models and $1200/£1100 for the Founders Edition RTX 2080 Ti we tested. It’s worth keeping in mind that the AMD card is offered with three free games when purchased from select vendors: The Division 2, Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5. Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 Ti is offered with three titles of its own, Metro Exodus, Battlefield V and Anthem, again when bought from participating retailers. If you were planning to buy any of these games, you can mentally subtract their cost from that of the card.
It’s worth talking about the different models available for each graphics card too. First up, the Radeon 7: at present, this card is only available in reference designs made by AMD and its partners. Rumours before the release of the card suggested availability would be limited, but this hasn’t turned out to be a major issue thus far.
Meanwhile, the RTX 2080 Ti is available in both reference, Founders Edition and custom designs. Entry-level cards cost around $1100/£950, with Founders Edition cards at $1200/£1100 and high-end custom cards at even higher prices. Several months after launch, availability is good for each of these RTX 2080 Ti varieties.
So which is the better card for the money? The RTX 2080 Ti is certainly the performance and features champion, but it does cost significantly more than the Radeon 7 card. That means you should only consider it if you are assembling a high-end PC that isn’t scrimping on any other important components like the CPU, RAM and motherboard. However, the Radeon 7 still delivers strong performance, particularly at 4K, and its higher VRAM count could make it a good choice for users that want to mix creative workloads and gaming.
Want more on the Radeon 7? We encourage you to check out the Digital Foundry Radeon 7 review on Eurogamer or our Radeon 7 review video on YouTube for a more detailed investigation into AMD’s latest and greatest. You should also check out our Radeon 7 vs RTX 2080 comparison, which pits AMD’s latest against its closest Nvidia counterpart.
Which GPUs are worth buying? We’ve made our picks for the best graphics cards available, updated with the latest graphics cards as they’re released. As well as an overall performance champ, we name the best value graphics card and best cheap graphics card to guide your next upgrade.