Asus’ TUF graphics cards have made a name for themselves “quietly”. Unlike the best Strix cards, TUF graphics cards are increasingly being engineered to be quiet with a discrete aesthetic. And this latest generation is big. Very large! That’s what it takes to cool a 450W RTX 4090. The Radeon RX 7900 XTX is not as demanding as a normal Nvidia RTX 4090 (opens in new tab)So if the mega-sized TUF cooler can handle an RTX 4090, it should easily handle the 355W 7900-XTX.
If you haven’t checked out our review yet AMD Radeon RX7900XTX, now would be a good time. It’s worth taking a look at to delve deeper into the innovative architecture that AMD has brought to consumer gaming graphics. The chiplets and the connection AMD has built to get them to talk to each other without sacrificing too much performance is nothing short of amazing.
It is now generally accepted that the 7900 XTX is very competitive with Nvidia RTX4080 in gridded games, but the reference card has to make compromises due to its compact size and AMD’s desire not to sacrifice too much energy efficiency.
The Asus TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition (opens in new tab) aims to address the reference card’s shortcomings and allow the Navi 31 GPU to reach lower temperatures and higher clock speeds without sacrificing energy efficiency or resorting to unreasonable noise levels.
Is this silent giant an attractive option? As we’ve seen, the competition is stiff, as exemplified by the excellent Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 7900 XTX Vapor-X (opens in new tab). Although this is more of a Strix competitor, it’s roughly the same price as the TUF, so the Asus has to excel if it wants to win a recommendation.
Specifications of the Asus TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition
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The core specifications are the same for all RX 7900 XTX. The TUF 7900 XTX comes with the Navi 31 chip with all seven chiplets fully unlocked. This means that all 96 GCD (Graphics Compute Die) processing units are activated – 12 more than the RX 7900 XT’s 84 (opens in new tab). The XTX features 6,144 stream processors, 96 beam accelerators and 192 AI processors.
The card features 24GB of GDDR6 memory at 20Gbps over a 384-bit memory interface and offers a total of 960GB/s of memory bandwidth.
Specifications of the Asus TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition
GPU: Navi 31
Shader Units: 6.144
Increase clock frequency: 2.565MHz
storage capacity: 24GB GDDR6
Storage speed: 20 Gbps
Outputs: 3x DisplayPort 2.1, 1x HDMI 2.1
Power Connections: 3x 8-pin
Price: $1,199 (opens in new tab)| £1,239 (opens in new tab) | AU$2,199 (opens in new tab)
The clocks of the TUF 7900 XTX are above those of the reference card with a boost clock of up to 2565MHz. That’s actually not much higher than the reference card’s 2499 MHz and much lower than the Sapphire Nitro+’s 2680 MHz. However, Asus offers a software OC mode that increases the boost clock to 2615 MHz.
The highlight of the card is its cooler. It’s effectively a quad-slot card, and at 14 inches long and 6.2 inches tall, it’s certainly not a card for small form factor systems. But I really like the design. Its gray matte finish adds a touch of class. Asus didn’t go overboard with the RGB either, with just a small element and logo on the right side of the card.
The cooler is clearly designed for cards in the 450W range. It includes a simple base plate and a heat pipe design with seven heat pipes that conduct heat to the fins. Thermal padding helps cool the memory chips and parts of the VRM circuitry.
As with most premium tier cards, the TUF 7900 XTX comes with a metal backplate. However, I have found that the backplate gets very hot during use, too hot to touch. Good airflow will take care of that, but it’s something to be aware of. Luckily, most modern PC cases have front-to-back airflow, so depending on the case, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The video outputs consist of three DP 2.1 and a single HDMI 2.1 connector. Asus has omitted the USB Type-C connection on the reference cards.
The circuit board is quite powerful. It contains a 17+4 phase VRM with 70a stages. That’s more than enough to power an overclocked Navi 31 GPU. Power is supplied via triple 8-pin power connectors. It also includes a dual BIOS with performance and sleep modes, although the latter is entirely unnecessary as the default mode is already quiet.
Asus TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition benchmarks and performance
Both the 4080 and 7900 XTX have relative strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of the price, anyone who googles “RX 7900 XTX vs. RTX 4080” will find the comparative performance data insightful.
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I am continually blown away by how good high-end GPU coolers are these days. The Asus TUF 7900 XTX is right up there, delivering an amazingly low peak temperature of just 60°C. It achieves this in effective silence, albeit on an open test bench. In a case, the temperatures are slightly higher.
CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
motherboard: Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex
R.A.M: 2x 16GB G.Skill Trident-Z DDR5-6000 C36
Storage: 2TB Seagate FireCuda 530
Cooling: Cooler Master PL360 Flux 360mm AIO
Power adapter: Corsair AX1000
I thought the Sapphire Nitro+ Vapor-X cooler was the best AMD cooler I’ve come across, but the TUF cooler matches, if not outperforms. Again, be careful to keep that backplate cool as the components there don’t benefit from the monster GPU cooler.
Power consumption numbers show that the TUF card consumes about 25W less than the Sapphire, which would also explain Asus’ 100MHz lower boost clock speeds. It’s a big enough difference to show up consistently in the following performance numbers.
Synthetic game performance
1440p gaming performance
4K gaming performance
Analysis of the Asus TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition
When it comes to gaming performance, the results land about where I expected. Based on the limited benchmark data I have with the Reference 7900 XTX, the TUF is faster than the reference card while consistently lagging behind the Sapphire.
The TUF 7900 XTX and RTX 4080 line up about where I would expect them to. It’s the same story repeated endlessly. The 7900 XTX is very good at traditional rasterized titles, while the RTX 4080 is a generation ahead when it comes to ray tracing. If RT and the ever-improving DLSS 3 and frame-generation capabilities of Nvidia’s RTX 40 cards are important to you, then the 4080 is a formidable (albeit more expensive) and power-efficient competitor.
In some games, the TUF 7900 XTX is even competitive with the RTX 4090, but once you enable demanding ray tracing effects, the RTX 4090 clearly lags behind, as does the RTX 4080 to a lesser extent.
Is AMD Up for Some Driver Magic? Navi 31 is a radical consumer GPU and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for AMD and upcoming chiplet designs. 3D V-Cache GPU anyone?
Asus TUF Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX OC Edition Verdict
Aside from testing ten different 450W RTX 4090s, the Asus RX 7900 XTX TUF OC Edition has probably the best cooler I’ve come across. GPU manufacturers usually have to find a reasonable balance between low noise levels and low temperatures. If a card is too hot, its boost clocks can suffer. Striving for lower temperatures often means higher fan noise levels. The TUF 7900 XTX has no such dilemma. Aside from the backplate, the card never gets more than lukewarm and remains virtually silent. A win-win situation.
Build quality is excellent and the subtle matte metallic finish looks great. The board is way above specification and like all previous RX 7900s, sticks with the tried and tested 8-pin power connectors.
Asus clearly has some leeway to push the performance bar a bit higher for higher clock speeds, although its conservative boost clock is certainly intentional to position a yet-to-be-announced Strix card to fulfill the absolute performance role.
Whether the TUF is the right card for you depends on what you value most in a graphics card. For absolute performance there are higher clocked RX 7900 XTX cards – not to mention the superior RT performance and DLSS technology of the RTX 40 series cards. The higher clocked RX 7900 XTX tend to have a loss in power efficiency, but absolute performance at any price is not the be-all and end-all.
Even if it’s not the fastest RX 7900 XTX, you can be sure that you’re getting a well-engineered card with no significant noise, and these two factors will appeal to many gamers. Quiet computing fans can rejoice.
The TUF faces stiff competition. Premium tier cards like Sapphire Nitro+ or Gigabyte Aorus offer similar features and characteristics. Asus attracts loyal buyers, and those customers usually don’t mind paying a little more for an Asus product.
In the end, the Asus TUF 7900 XTX delivers very good 4K gaming performance and the cooler is just great. Who knows AMD might find something and release a powerful driver? Wouldn’t that shake things up a bit!