AMD finally revealed its much-awaited RDNA 2 based Radeon RX 6000 series during a live stream on October 28. Based on the specs the company has released the new cards are taking aim straight at Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 series.
For years, Nvidia was seen to be the clear leader in the enthusiast graphics card market. AMD’s offering, while usually cheaper, often underperformed in benchmarks compared to the formers.
That seems to be coming to an end with the new RX 6000 series of graphics cards, with AMD looking to go head to head with Nvidia with three new cards: the Radeon RX 6800 XT, the RX 6800 and finally the RX 3900 XT. These cards, which run on the same RDNA 2 architecture powering the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, will be the first AMD cards with hardware-accelerated ray tracing.
AMD is aiming the Radeon RX 6800 XT right at Nvidia’s flagship GeForce RTX 3080, promising 4K and 1440p gaming on par or better than Nvidia’s card. The RX 6800 XT comes with 16GB of GDDR6 memory, a 2015Mhz base clock, a 2250Mhz boost clock, 20.74 teraflops of GPU performance, and 72 compute units overall. With a $649 (Php 31,400) SRP, AMD’s card undercuts Nvidia’s by around $50 (Php 2,500).
In AMD’s own benchmarks, the RX 6800 XT beats the RTX 3080 in Battlefield V, Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Forza Horizon 4. Meanwhile, it matches the latter on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Gears 5, and Doom Eternal. Interestingly enough, it’s doing all this while drawing less power, only up to 300 watts compared to the 320 watts of the Nvidia card.
The RX 6800, on the other hand, is aiming for Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Ti, and most likely the upcoming RTX 3070 (based on Nvidia’s performance claims for the latter). It comes equipped with 60 compute units, a 1815Mhz base clock, 2105Mhz boost clock, 16.17 teraflops of GPU performance, and 16GB of GDDR6 memory. With a $579 (Php 28,000) price, it does cost slightly more than the two Nvidia cards, though AMD’s numbers do indicate a noticeable performance advantage compared to, at least, the RTX 2080 Ti.
As with its bigger brother, the RX 6800 also fares well against its equivalent Nvidia card in AMD’s benchmarks, matching the RTX 2080 Ti in the games AMD picked.
That said, the real test is against Nvidia’s recently released RTX 3070. Should the RX 6800 be able to match that card, then it’ll end up being another great choice for budget-minded gamers.
The RX 6900 XT, on the other hand, massively undercuts the RTX 3090 that it’s poised to take one, with an SRP of only $999 (Php 48,300) compared to the latter’s $1,499 (Php 72,500). The caveat, however, is that the RX 6900 XT has less onboard memory with only 16 GB of GDDR6 (the same as the other two cards) versus 24 GB for the RTX 3090.
What AMD has done is bump up the compute units to 80, though the core clock remains at 2015Mhz with a boost of 2250Mhz, resulting in 23.04 teraflops of GPU performance.
Compared to the other new AMD cards on offer, the RX 6900 XT’s performance against its Nvidia counterpart is a lot more mixed in AMD’s benchmarks. The former beats the RTX 3090 in Battlefield V, Gears 5 and Forza Horizon 4 but loses out in matches in other titles.
As noted above, all three cards are coming with 16GB of GDDR6. In addition, AMD is saving a but by opting to avoid moving to the more power-hungry high-speed modules.
To make up for this, the company is looking for efficiency improvements using what it calls “Infinity Cache.” This is a high-speed 128MB cache based on the L3 CPU cache design seen in its coming Zen 3-based Ryzen 5 CPUs. Optimized for graphics and promising twice the bandwidth, this cache should allow the new Radeon cards to feed data into the rendering pipeline more efficiently, providing performance gains without significantly increasing power draw.
In addition, since the cards are based on RDNA2, they will support Microsoft’s DirectX12 Ultimate APIs as well as DirectStorage once that becomes available. Once the latter is fully enabled in Windows sometime next year, load times on certain NVMe drives should be further reduced.
Finally, AMD has a new super sampling feature, similar to Nvidia’s DLSS, that’s currently in testing. The company is promising that this feature will be open and cross-platform—meaning it could also come to PS5 and Xbox Series. Unfortunately, this feature will not be ready for the launch of the RX 6000 series cards.
It seems like almost a lifetime ago since AMD last had video cards that equaled the best from Nvidia. With the new RX 6000 cards—alongside the upcoming, Intel-beating Ryzen 5 CPUs—the company is looking to once again become the chipmaker of choice for gamers and enthusiasts alike.