AMD RDNA 3 flagship GPU could debut in December, but may fall short of Nvidia RTX 4090

AMD’s first RDNA 3 graphics cards will arrive in December, according to the latest rumor regarding the next-gen GPUs.

As Tom’s Hardware reports, this comes from known leaker ECSM on Bilibili (a Chinese video sharing platform), and while this person has been right about things on the grapevine in the past, we’d still take this with a whole lot of seasoning. Particularly as the speculation is couched in somewhat vague terms (post-translation, that is – bear that in mind too).

ECSM believes that the RX 7000 series will be revealed in November (sounds about right), with the first graphics cards coming out in the second half of December – right as the holiday season arrives, basically. And which models are coming, you may well ask?

The “first and second flagship” is the assertion from the leaker, which we take to mean the pair of graphics cards based on the top-end Navi 31 chip, presumably the RX 7900 XT and RX 7800 XT – but obviously this is the sketchier side of the speculation here.

The worrying bit is that ECSM floats the idea that in performance terms, the AMD flagship could find it “difficult to compete” with Nvidia’s RTX 4000 series – meaning the flagship RTX 4090, of course.

Analysis: Don’t panic – even if that’s true, RDNA 3 flagship could still be very competitive

It’s certainly true that for a long time now it has been rumored that AMD will release its next-gen flagship first when it comes to RDNA 3 graphics cards, so this marries with the info here, of course.

We were hoping for the first RX 7000 offering to turn up a little sooner than this, and indeed if this date is correct, AMD is only just squeaking in with having next-gen products on sale by the end of 2022 as promised.

As noted, it’s a tad concerning that ECSM is casting doubt on how the top-end RDNA 3 GPU will perform relative to the RTX 4090. In case you were wondering, one of the commenters on Bilibili actually queried whether this might be relating to ray-traced performance, or rasterization (traditional, without ray tracing) – and the leaker clarified that they meant both.

From what we’ve been hearing elsewhere, certainly AMD is not going to be able to compete on the ray tracing front, but hopefully with rasterization, things will be much closer. We can only put so much stock in rumors, though, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that these somewhat ominous noises are overly cautious bits of speculation. Although even if AMD’s flagship performance does struggle to compete with Nvidia, there’s still room to price GPUs to make for a compelling recipe on the price/performance front.

If performance per dollar is favorable to AMD – and indeed performance related to power consumption, which amounts to extra cost-savings over the longer-term, of course, particularly with jacked-up electricity prices – then Team Red could still have the wherewithal to set up a strong stall in the next-gen GPU arena.

Don’t forget that this is just the flagship end of the spectrum we’re talking about, too, which is a relatively niche proposition – and the mid-range battle (and indeed lower-end) could turn out very different.

Also, another tricky area will doubtless be stock, where there’ll always be question marks about how much RX 7900 XT supply AMD might be able to muster. Because as we’ve seen, Nvidia was rumored to have strong levels of RTX 4090 stock initially, but that’s not what we’ve seen thus far (keep an eye on our where to buy the RTX 4090 article if you want updates on where stock is filtering in).

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