Because AMD doesn’t need to beat the RTX 4090 to outperform Nvidia

Nvidia RTX 4090 is official and will be launched in a few weeks; if you can handle the $ 1,600 price tag, that is. Prices are rising for RTX 40 series GPUs across the board, from $ 100 on the low-end to $ 500 on the high-end. This puts Nvidia in a precarious position considering AMD’s RX 7000 GPUs are around the corner.

AMD has the opportunity to steal the crown for the best graphics card, one it hasn’t had in recent generations. Given the prohibitive prices of RTX 40 series GPUs right now, the RX 7000 could be the way to go in the next generation. And AMD doesn’t even need to beat Nvidia’s latest graphics cards to get there.

Competing with the last gen

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Nvidia made one thing clear with the announcement of the RTX 4090: the RTX 3080 is not going anywhere. As shown during the presentation of GeForce Beyond and reiterated to the press in a briefing, Nvidia sees in the RTX 3080 the GPU to buy for around $ 700, at least for the moment. As prices rise on the RTX 4080 and RTX 4090, the previous generation flagship will be buoyed for a while.

This is a great opportunity for AMD. If you’re in the market for a GPU under $ 1,000, the only 40-series option available is the 12GB RTX 4080, and again, you’re on the high end of flagship pricing. If AMD can beat the RTX 3080, a GPU that’s now two years old on a more inefficient node, at $ 700, that’s game over.

While Nvidia may continue to offer the best overall performance, very few gamers are actually interested in spending $ 900 for a GPU, let alone $ 1,600. And right now, Nvidia is telling gamers who don’t have that money to spend to stick to the latest generation options. I have to wonder how that messaging could be different if RTX 30 series GPUs weren’t so wickedly expensive in the last couple of years.

The AMD Radeon RX 6900 graphics card hovers against an AMD red and black background.

We still don’t have hard data on the performance of the RX 7000 GPUs – AMD will reveal them on November 3 – but Team Red has a fighting chance. The RX 6000 was the first time we really saw AMD achieve performance parity with Nvidia. AMD still has issues with ray tracing, that’s for sure, but if it’s able to maintain the performance trajectory suggested by the RX 6000 GPUs with better ray tracing support, it’s a winning ticket.

Cards like the RX 6950 XT show that AMD is able to compete at the highest levels of GPU performance, while maintaining lower prices than Nvidia. With Nvidia now raising prices, the delta between AMD and Nvidia offerings may be too good to pass up.

Backed in the corner

New Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU on a black and green background.
Nvidia

Part of this pricing situation is the work of Nvidia. If the RTX 4090 and the two RTX 4080 models came at next-generation prices, we would have a much more competitive GPU market. Just like the previous generation, it would be about weighing the pros and cons of features like Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and ray tracing performance for similarly priced cards.

But Nvidia wants to have her cake and eat it too. The company has been clear that they have excess stock of RTX 30 series graphics cards and there is not enough demand for them. By supporting the previous generation, at least until cheaper RTX 40 series graphics cards are available, Nvidia’s strategy appears to be to hold on to expected prices until it is able to surpass excess RTX 30 series stocks. .

This is certainly one way to tackle the problem, but it won’t necessarily work. It’s hard to imagine a situation where Nvidia GPU prices drop to a minimum – if RTX 40 series cards are expensive and RTX 30 series cards continue to sell at list price, second-hand prices will also continue to stay. elevated. But that doesn’t mean AMD can’t take the opportunity to deliver real value to gamers, which is becoming increasingly rare in the PC gaming world.

When there is performance and price parity between Nvidia and AMD, features make a difference. And for the past generation, Nvidia has mostly won that battle with DLSS. DLSS 3 looks tempting with its AI frame generation capabilities, but it loses some of the luster when it’s priced this high. If the pricing part gets unbalanced, AMD’s offerings start to look much more attractive even if they have some shortcomings compared to Nvidia.

Much more to come

dr.  Lisa Su in a brown sweater stands on the AMD stage
image: AMD together we anticipate the event

We don’t have any concrete details about the RX 7000 GPUs yet, other than the fact that they are coming and using RDNA 3 architecture. Anything could happen, so it’s important to wait until the RTX 40 and RX 7000 series cards are here before drawing any conclusions. definitive on the comparison.

However, I struggle to imagine that AMD will drop the ball. At best, the RX 6800 XT is also about 5% behind the RTX 3080, and most games don’t see any difference. Assuming AMD keeps the same price, it should release a worse GPU than its previous generation to lose against Nvidia. It is unlikely.

In a press briefing, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said “Moore’s Law is dead” as a way to justify the higher prices of RTX 40 series graphics cards. It may be true, but the competition is still. Viva. And as the next generation of graphics cards start rolling out, Nvidia doesn’t seem to be on the winning side.

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