Nvidia’s new release, the RTX 4070, shakes things up in the GPU market. After a long spell of only releasing overpriced graphics cards, Nvidia seems to have altered its pricing strategy for the RTX 4070. While it’s hard to call it cheap, it’s certainly affordable, and it offers performance that makes it a good midrange option.
However, Nvidia’s latest addition to the ranking of the best graphics cards has an unexpected rival in the previous generation of GPUs. AMD’s RX 6950 XT is similarly priced, but can it keep up with the RTX 4070? Check out our benchmarks and find out how these two cards stack up against each other.
Pricing and availability
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The RTX 4070 hit the shelves on April 13, 2023. Nvidia didn’t make much of an announcement prior to its release — well, not unless you count the fact that it accidentally leaked it. Nvidia’s own Founders Edition is priced at $600, but some of Nvidia’s partners may release more expensive models. The two we tested ourselves were both $600.
When you consider the rest of the Ada Lovelace lineup out so far, Nvidia’s RTX 4070 is fairly reasonably priced. It’s $100 cheaper than the RTX 3080 at launch, although it is also $100 more expensive than the RTX 3070. Still, with GPUs like the $1,600 RTX 4090 or the $1,200 RTX 4080, the RTX 4070 is practically a steal. It marks Nvidia’s entrance into the midrange segment in this generation, after months of only catering to the high-end portion of the market.
AMD’s RX 6950 XT is almost a year older than Nvidia’s RTX 4070 and it belongs to an older generation of GPUs, but it is the flagship in its generation. It launched on May 10, 2022, as a late follow-up to the RX 6900 XT. The list price was then set to $700, but these days, you can usually find the RX 6950 XT for around .
|GeForce RTX 4070||Radeon RX 6950 XT|
|Architecture||There’s Lovelace||RDNA 2|
|Process node||5nm TSMC||7nm TSMC|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6X||16GB GDDR6|
|TGP||200 watts||335 watts|
Comparing the specifications of Nvidia and AMD graphics cards is never easy. Both have such different architectures, it’s not possible to compare each specification on a one-to-one basis and draw accurate conclusions. With that said, there are a few differences here that are worth a closer look.
The total graphics power (TGP) is a major one. Although AMD cards have historically been a little less power-hungry than Nvidia, what we’re seeing here shows a remarkably tame TGP for the RTX 4070. Although the RX 6950 XT is a flagship card and can be expected to draw more power, it’s nice to see Nvidia stick to just 200 watts. The RTX 4070 actually consumes less power than its predecessor (RTX 3070 with 220W) and significantly less than the RTX 4070 Ti (285W).
The RX 6950 XT packs more memory and has a wider bus. However, AMD continues to use the slower GDDR6 memory type instead of the GDDR6X Nvidia moved on to in the previous generation.
Aside from specs, each GPU offers different features and capabilities simply due to being an AMD or Nvidia model. The RX 6950 XT supports AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), while the RTX 4070 offers up Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling 3 (DLSS). DLSS 3 is exclusive to RTX 40-series GPUs and includes frame generation, so it’s a pretty big boost for Nvidia.
Thanks to our own testing of the RTX 4070 and the RX 6950 XT, we were able to get an accurate overview of their performance. Each GPU was aimed at a different part of the market, but they’re actually fairly close when all you care about are raw numbers — in this case, frames per second (fps) in various scenarios, or synthetic benchmarks.
First, we tested the RTX 4070 in 3DMark Port Royal and Time Spy. Right off the bat, the gap between AMD and Nvidia shows. In the DirectX 12 Time Spy test, the RTX 4070 was around 14% slower than the RX 6950 XT. On the other hand, Nvidia’s GPU caught up nicely in Port Royal, beating AMD by around 8%. As is often the case, Nvidia takes the lead when ray tracing is brought into the equation, so it’s no wonder that Nvidia won in Port Royal, which is a ray tracing benchmark.
Running a Blender test tells a different story — Nvidia’s lead is huge here, and the RTX 4070 specifically does a good job compared to its predecessors. While AMD GPUs barely even make the chart, the RTX 4070 is around 50% faster than the RTX 3070 Ti.
The vast majority of people are going to get the RTX 4070 for gaming, which is why we’ve spent the most time checking out how the RTX 4070 and the RX 6950 XT fare in gaming scenarios. While the RTX 4070 is advertised as a 1440p graphics card, AMD always made it clear that the RX 6950 XT was made to run games at 4K. In reality, the two GPUs are not far apart in 4K performance.
Across our entire test suite in 4K, the RTX 4070 was able to maintain 50.3 fps on average. That’s just inches behind the RTX 6950 XT, which averaged 52.2 fps. Still, AMD wins out here, but the gains vary between games. All in all, the RTX 4070 performs well in 4K for a GPU made for 1440p — it was about 35% faster than the RTX 3070 Ti.
This head-to-head rivalry ends when we introduce Nvidia’s DLSS 3. Not all games support it, but for the ones that do, the tech brings pretty insane results to every GPU it runs on. Even the midrange RTX 4070 benefits in a major way. In Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with DLSS 3 running, the RTX 4070 hit 86 fps while the RX 6950 XT maintained 42.5 fps on average, which is just a hair below the RTX 4070 without DLSS 3.
Moving down to 1440p, the two graphics cards continue to be fairly close, although strangely, the RX 6950 XT has a smaller lead in 4K than in 1440p. Still, the RTX 4070 averages 92.5 fps in the most demanding games out right now, and that’s a very comfortable spot at max settings. The RX 6950 XT is 6% faster with 97.9 fps.
With that said, we found that the RTX 4070 did a better job of handling our entire test suite at 1440p than it did at 4K, so the actual performance is better than it might seem at the first glance. At 4K, it had to rely on older titles to inflate the numbers; at 1440p, it did well with every game we’ve tested it in, which includes Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 5, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Gears Tactics, Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Bright Memory, and Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition.
We don’t recommend buying the RTX 4070 if you’re only going to play at 1080p — there are better budget graphics cards to help you with that. We still tested this resolution just to find out how it compares.
The RTX 4070 scores some big frame rates here, such as 143 in Assassin’s Creed Valhallabut it’s always behind or on par with the RX 6950 XT. With that said, the gap is not that significant, and the Nvidia GPU is able to compete with other Nvidia cards. The RTX 3080 Ti is left behind in nearly every test, which spells good news for Nvidia. Of course, this also means that AMD beats those GPUs too.
As mentioned, Nvidia remains king of ray tracing, and it’s not a surprise to see the RTX 4070 beat AMD by a good amount when ray tracing is enabled. In Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition at 1440p, the RTX 4070 scores 85.5 fps compared to AMD’s 79.5. AMD is able to outpace it with the RX 7900 XT, but that card is also significantly pricier than the RTX 4070.
Well done, Nvidia
Nvidia’s RTX 4070 and AMD’s RX 6950 XT are similar GPUs in a lot of ways. They trade blows in gaming scenarios and they’re both decently priced — the RX 6950 XT is normally only around $50 more expensive, and this isn’t even true for all of the models of RTX 4070. Some are bound to hit around the $650 mark, making the pricing almost a non-issue.
Still, it’s hard to forget that the RX 6950 XT is an older-gen GPU. It’s powerful and made for 4K, so it will run just about any game you throw at it, but it does lack some of the tech Nvidia managed to introduce in the RTX 40-series. It’s also beaten by its more expensive next-gen counterparts, the RX 7900 XTX and the RX 7900 XT.
In terms of pure gaming, you likely won’t see much of a difference between the RTX 4070 and the RX 6950 XT. AMD is better in some titles and Nvidia wins in others; all in all, the cards are really close, with AMD claiming a small lead. However, accounting for ray tracing is, once again, very important.
Without ray tracing, Nvidia’s RTX 4070 was around 15% slower across the board. This makes it fairly simple: if you care about ray tracing, you should stick to Nvidia. Similarly, the introduction of DLSS 3 makes the RTX 4070 an attractive option that unlocks a lot of potential in the games that support it.
If you’re not bothered by the somewhat subpar ray tracing and the lack of DLSS 3, AMD’s RX 6950 XT is still a safe pick — but if you care about those two things, Nvidia’s RTX 4070 marks a great comeback for the lineup and a much cheaper alternative to other RTX 40-series graphics cards.