AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT Review - NVIDIA is in Trouble 486

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT Review - NVIDIA is in Trouble

RDNA2 Architecture »


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The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT review is here! It's been a while since the 2019 launch of the "Navi" Radeon RX 5700 RDNA series, which disrupted NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20-series performance segment line. That forced them to the RTX 20-series SUPER Series, but NVIDIA still had a huge lead in performance and efficiency. AMD has been working on the new RDNA2 architecture not only to power its next-generation Radeon GPUs, but also next-generation consoles, such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. This is what makes RDNA2 very relevant to game engine developers, as modern games are developed for consoles first because that's where the money is. Having the same architecture on both console and PC will mean it's easier to optimize for the latter, with minimal effort. The Radeon RX 6800 series is AMD's first discrete GPU to meet DirectX 12 Ultimate requirements, which include raytracing and variable-rate shading.

NVIDIA more than doubled the shader counts of its GeForce "Ampere" GPUs over the previous generation since it sought to make "RTX on" frame rates roughly match the "RTX off" frame rates of "Turing." Since this is AMD's first Radeon to feature real-time raytracing, a doubling of the shader count for "Big Navi" over the RX 5700 was also expected, and double them AMD did. When we started watching AMD's live-stream announcement for the new RX 6000 series in late October, after having reviewed the RTX 3080, little did we expect AMD to launch a "high-end" GPU. What was unraveled in that stream was jaw-dropping, with AMD claiming its RX 6000 series chips to go up against NVIDIA's fastest, and being competitively priced as well. The Radeon RX 6800 XT in this review was being compared to the RTX 3080, and the RX 6800 (also being reviewed today) to the RTX 2080 Ti, which is essentially the RTX 3070. The flagship RX 6900 XT is purported to compete with the RTX 3090—it will launch later this year. We would have called BS on these straightaway if AMD hadn't priced these cards well upwards of $500—AMD is confident about the performance of these cards being enough for such a heavy price tag in NVIDIA's league.

The Radeon RX 6800 XT, along with the RX 6800, is based on the 7 nm "Navi 21" RDNA2 silicon with an 80% increase in compute units over the RX 5700 XT. Each of these RDNA2 compute units has raytracing hardware. AMD also doubled the memory amount to 16 GB, although the memory bus is still 256-bit, and the company is using JEDEC-standard 16 Gbps GDDR6 (512 GB/s). Shouldn't that starve the silicon of memory bandwidth? AMD could have sought out broader memory buses, or even taken the HBM-MCM route, which would have hit the company's price-cutting headroom against NVIDIA, but the company changed tactics by introducing a clever new component called Infinity Cache, which we'll talk more about in the Architecture section. AMD is offering the Radeon RX 6800 XT at $649, or $50 less than the RTX 3080. AMD is marketing the RX 6800 XT as the card to buy for maxed out gaming at 4K Ultra HD resolution—the same use case the RTX 3080 is meant for. In this review, we put the Radeon RX 6800 XT through its paces to test all of AMD's performance claims to tell you if AMD is back in the high-end game.

Radeon RX 6800 XT Market Segment Analysis
RX Vega 64$400 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti$6503584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$3702560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070$3402304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super$4502560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$6803840641802 MHzN/A1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080$6002944641515 MHz1710 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super$6903072641650 MHz1815 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$10004352881350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
RTX 3070$5005888961500 MHz1725 MHz1750 MHzGA10417400M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800$5803840961815 MHz2105 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800 XT$65046081282015 MHz2250 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3080$7008704961440 MHz1710 MHz1188 MHzGA10228000M10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit
RTX 3090$1500104961121395 MHz1695 MHz1219 MHzGA10228000M24 GB, GDDR6X, 384-bit
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