AMD RDNA 2 vs RDNA 3: RX 7900 GRE vs 6950 XT same power

The Radeon RX 7900 GRE and the Radeon RX 6950 XT are configured identically: the same number of shader units, the same memory interface, the same memory and everything else matches. This is perfect for examining the exact difference between the AMD RDNA 2 and RDNA 3 architectures.


AMD RDNA 2 vs. RDNA 3: An almost perfect comparison

When there is a new graphics card architecture, one of the most exciting questions is always to what extent the computing units have become faster – in our own series of measurements, not based on any theoretical information from the developers. In the test for the Radeon RX 7900 XT/XTX, however, this only worked halfway, Radeon RX 7900 XT and Radeon RX 6900 XT made it possible at least to some extent.

After this had provided a first insight into the extent to which RDNA 3 has become faster than RDNA 2, a perfect comparison between RDNA 2 and RDNA 3 is now possible with the new Radeon RX 7900 GRE (test), which is only intended for OEM systems, since the Graphics card is configured identically to the Radeon RX 6950 XT. In addition, both products can be operated with the same clock rates. The computing power is absolutely the same and the same applies to the memory bandwidth so that only the architecture decides on the differences.

AMD RDNA: There’s also the chipset factor

It is not possible to show the difference between RDNA 2 and RDNA 3 alone, even with this optimal comparison. Because the Navi 21 GPU on the Radeon RX 6950 XT is a monolithic design, while Navi 31 on the Radeon RX 7900 GRE is a chipset design. And that costs performance, as AMD itself admits. A monolithic RDNA 3 GPU would be correspondingly faster, so the article shows the comparison between RDNA 2 and RDNA 3 including chipsets. That is something to consider.

If you now throw Navi 33 or the Radeon RX 7600 (test) into the room as a monolithic RDNA 3 design: There is another catch here, because the graphics card is often limited by the 8 GB VRAM and the halved PCIe interface, so it is difficult to rule out that it is precisely that which is being measured and not the difference in architecture.

ImageNamePlatformStarting Price
RX 7900 GREAMD RX 7900amazon-icon-21121₹86,990 in India

$969.00 in USA

£846.00 in Europe

AMD RDNA: This is exactly compared

Since the Radeon RX 7900 GRE and the Radeon RX 6950 XT have the same number of execution units, the cards also offer the same computing power with the same clock. In order to align the frequency, ComputerBase made sure that both graphics cards work at almost exactly 2 GHz in all games. At the same time, the power limit was increased to a maximum in order to prevent any bottlenecks in this regard. However, the number of ROPs cannot be compensated for, because Navi 31 simply has 192 grid units, and Navi 21 only 128. It is uncertain how much of an influence this deficit has.

ComputerBase uses the current graphics card test system for the test series, and Adrenalin 23.7.2 is installed as the driver. The games used and the testing procedure is as usual, but there are minor differences.

For example, the editors reduce the ray tracing details in some games because they sometimes cost a lot of performance and push even very fast graphics cards to their limits. In order to be able to better assess any RT improvements in RDNA 3, there are in the corresponding games (Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Light 2, F1 22, Hogwarts Legacy, Metro Exodus, Returnal, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, The Callisto Protocol, The Witcher 3) another series of tests with maximum ray tracing details apart from path tracing.

In order not to let the frame rate sink too much, which quickly causes inaccuracies, FSR 2 “Quality” is added in all titles in which ray tracing is used. This also applies if pure raster graphics are used in the test series so that direct comparability in the respective game is guaranteed.

ImageNamePlatformStarting Price
RX 7900 GREAMD RX 7900amazon-icon-21121₹86,990 in India

$969.00 in USA

£846.00 in Europe

AMD RDNA: Rasterizer games in Ultra HD

In pure rasterizer games, the result is a bit sobering. RDNA 3 as a chipset design brings just 5 percent more average FPS in Ultra HD than a monolithic RDNA 2. Since it is unclear how much performance is lost through the actual chip design, it may well be that the real difference is quite a bit bigger. But what ultimately reaches the end customer is not all that impressive.

If you look at the individual games, you will quickly see that there are some massive differences. There are also some titles in which RDNA 3 performs even more slowly than RDNA 2, which then also explains the small average plus. It is unclear whether the culprit in this case is a problem or a peculiarity of RDNA 3 or the chiplet design.

The worst-case scenario is Uncharted 4, in which RDNA 3 can’t cope at all – here RDNA 2 is just 9 percent faster. RDNA 2 is also faster than The Witcher 3, but the difference is smaller at 3 percent. In Dying Light 2, F1 22, Hogwarts Legacy, Resident Evil 4 and The Last of Us Part I, both designs are equally fast.

AMD RDNA 3 can also be significantly faster

But there are also games in which RDNA 3 is clearly ahead. The architecture gains the greatest advantage in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, where RDNA 3 is just 21 percent more powerful than RDNA 2 with the same computing power. There’s also a bigger advantage in A Plague Tale: Requiem at 13 percent, in Cyberpunk 2077 it’s 10 percent, and in Spider-Man: Miles Morales it’s 12 percent.

ImageNamePlatformStarting Price
RX 7900 GREAMD RX 7900amazon-icon-21121₹86,990 in India

$969.00 in USA

£846.00 in Europe

Ray tracing games in Ultra HD

If you switch on ray tracing with partially reduced details, not much changes. If the rasterizer rating is reduced to the games in which ray tracing is used, the plus of RDNA 3 is minimally reduced to 4 percent. With ray tracing, it’s a slightly higher 7 percent. Here you can see an effect of AMD’s improvements in the RT units, but it’s small.

With the rays, RDNA 3 is then always faster than RDNA 2 with the same computing power, albeit sometimes only slightly. In Dead Space, for example, the new design is just 2 percent faster, in F1 22 it is 3 percent and in Hogwarts Legacy only 1 percent.

But then there are also titles that increase significantly in terms of performance. Cyberpunk 2077 is 16 percent faster on RDNA 3, 20 percent faster in Returnal and 11 percent faster in Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Maximum ray tracing detail in Ultra HD

There is another jump when the RT details are maximized in games. With reduced RT settings, RDNA 3 is 8 percent faster (in the titles also tested with increased details), with ray tracing details cranked up, it’s a higher 12 percent. The more complex the RT implementation, the more the improvements in RDNA 3 seem to have an impact.

You can see that in the individual games. In Cyberpunk 2077, RDNA 3 increases by 23 percent compared to RDNA 2 in the test scenario, in Returnal it is 22 percent, in F1 22 still 13 percent and in Metro Exodus 14 percent. In the other games, RDNA 3 can set itself apart from the previous generation by less than 10 percent.

ImageNamePlatformStarting Price
RX 7900 GREAMD RX 7900amazon-icon-21121₹86,990 in India

$969.00 in USA

£846.00 in Europe

The exact differences in the various RT details

If you only compare the games with different ray tracing settings, you immediately notice that there is a system there: the more the RT details are screwed up, the more RDNA 3 can benefit from the changes.

In a direct comparison, it is even better. Cyberpunk 2077, in particular, reacts significantly to the changes in the RDNA 3 architecture: What is “only” 10 percent faster with rasterizer graphics increases by 16 percent with moderate RT settings and by 23 percent with high RT use.

Advantage of RDNA 3 over RDNA 2

raster graphicRT adjustedRT maximum
Cyberpunk 2077+10 percent+16 percent+23 percent
Dying Light 20 percent+9 percent+8 percent
F1 22+1 percent+3 percent+13 percent
Hogwarts legacy+1 percent+1 percent+7 percent
Metro ExodusNot possible+2 percent+14 percent
Returnal+9 percent+20 percent+22 percent
Spider-Man: MM+12 percent+11 percent+12 percent
The Callisto Protocol+7 percent+1 percent+7 percent
The Witcher 3-3 percent+7 percent+8 percent

Closing words

With the Radeon RX 7900 GRE and the Radeon RX 6950 XT, the performance difference between AMD’s RDNA 2 and RDNA 3 architecture can be almost perfectly determined. The chiplet design must not be forgotten, which inevitably costs some performance, but it doesn’t get any better. This demonstrates that RDNA 3 is not significantly faster than RDNA 2 with the same computer power. At least not on average.

There are quite a few titles in which the new technology is clearly ahead. In CoD: Modern Warfare 2, for example, it’s a good 21 percent. However, there are also games in which the predecessor works faster and several other games in which there is a tie. This pushes the cut down.

ImageNamePlatformStarting Price
RX 7900 GREAMD RX 7900amazon-icon-21121₹86,990 in India

$969.00 in USA

£846.00 in Europe

Ray tracing prefers AMD RDNA 3 over AMD RDNA 2.

It looks better when ray tracing is used because RDNA 3 can stand out a little more from the older design. The following usually applies, but not always: the more intensively ray tracing is used, the greater the benefit of the new architecture. There is definitely a system. With ray tracing, RDNA 3 is always more powerful than RDNA 2, but even then the plus is by no means always double-digit.

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