The big picture: Team Red conceded the top-end performance tier to Nvidia when the RDNA 3 and Ada Lovelace desktop graphics cards launched last year. However, benchmarks show a much smaller gap between the two companies’ flagship laptop GPUs, especially in games utilizing Vulkan.
Recent Vulkan benchmarks show the Radeon RX 7900M faring surprisingly well against the mobile GeForce RTX 4090. The minor difference between the two cards is surprising, given the gulf between their respective desktop variants.
When AMD launched the Radeon RX 7000 series in late 2022, it quickly became evident that its top GPU – the RX 7900 XTX – would be closer to Team Green’s RTX 4080 than the famous 4090. The comparisons resulted in AMD’s RDNA 3 flagship debuting at $200 under Nvidia’s second-tier card. However, with its new flagship mobile card, launched last month, the laptop graphics crown might be within Team Red’s reach.
Benchmarks have begun appearing using the Alienware m18 laptop, which customers can configure with the RX 7900M or almost any RTX 4000 GPU. Although the options allow fairly direct comparisons between cards, all available Geekbench results for the 4090 pair it with Intel’s Core i9-13980HX, while 7900M posts use AMD’s Ryzen 9 7945HX. Both CPUs are enthusiast-class with the same number of threads, but readers should note the difference when comparing total benchmark scores.
Comparing compute tests on Vulkan and OpenCL suggests the mobile RTX 4090 struggles with the former. Most posts beat the RX 7900M’s 171430 score, but not by much, with results ranging between 148498 and 188477.
Meanwhile, Nvidia’s card thrashes the Radeon in OpenCL, with scores mostly ranging between 187377 and 208896 compared to the 7900M’s 144611. However, the Vulkan results are likely more significant because it’s a more popular API.
Recent notable releases supporting Vulkan include Counter-Strike 2 and Baldur’s Gate 3. Players interested in those titles and willing to spend around $3,000 on a gaming laptop might want to consider their options carefully.
In related news, the US ban on exporting the RTX 4090 to China has boosted sales of the 7900 XTX there. Dwindling pre-ban stock of Nvidia’s flagship is going for over $2,700 – hundreds of dollars above its US price. Meanwhile, AMD’s counterpart sells at or slightly below its American MSRP. Vendors have responded with minor price hikes that likely won’t dent its increasing desirability.