The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is here! This is the company's new flagship graphics card, targeted at maxed out gaming at 4K UHD resolution with raytracing enabled. The Radeon RX 6900 XT was announced alongside the RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 back in October—today is the launch. The new RX 6900 XT is based on the same 7 nm Navi 21 silicon, but maxes it out with all its shaders enabled, the highest clock speeds among the three cards, and the highest possible overclocking headroom. AMD in its October announcement for the RX 6000 series stunned the gaming community by announcing that its latest cards offer competitive performance with NVIDIA—the RX 6800 XT is in the same performance league as the RTX 3080, and the RX 6900 XT gets close to the RTX 3090 while beating the RTX 3080.
For the most part, the RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 lived up to their hype, with the RX 6800 beating the RTX 3070 and the RX 6800 XT trading blows with the RTX 3080, but only in the majority of our game tests that lack real-time raytracing. With raytracing enabled, the RX 6800 series cards perform closer to previous-generation high-end "Turing" models, such as the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti. Still, there's enough for AMD to claim a return to the high-end graphics segment after many years. The new RX 6900 XT being launched today offers the very best from this generation and is targeted at enthusiasts or gamers who want the best AMD has to offer for 4K gaming.
The Radeon RX 6900 XT is being launched at an SEP price of $999, which lets it sit in the vast pricing gorge between the $700 RTX 3080 and $1,500 RTX 3090. If AMD is claiming that the card trades blows with the RTX 3090, it must beat the RTX 3080 to justify the $300 higher price and get close enough to the RTX 3090 to lure in buyers with the $500 lower price.
The RX 6900 XT is based on AMD's new RDNA2 graphics architecture, which debuted earlier this year with the GPU that powers the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. This is important for AMD's RX 6000 series, as game developers build their game engines around consoles first since that's where the money is, and it minimizes effort for them to optimize their games for the RDNA2 architecture on the PC. The biggest feature addition with RDNA2 is full DirectX 12 Ultimate API support, which includes real-time raytracing using the DXR API, Mesh Shaders, Variable Rate Shading (both tier-1 and tier-2), and Sampler Feedback. AMD has also bolstered the card's feature set with an updated Radeon Anti-Lag, support for DirectStorage API, and resizable BAR (Smart Access Memory).
In this review, we take a very close look at the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. In its launch presentation, AMD claimed that the RX 6900 XT performs in the same league as NVIDIA's RTX 3090, but this claim came with a big asterisk—the Smart Access Memory and Radeon Rage mode overclocking features were enabled. In this review, we test the RX 6900 XT out of the box, at stock settings and on our regular VGA test bed, as well as add a data point measured on a Ryzen 9 5900X-powered machine with SAM enabled to show if the RX 6900 XT is capable of competing with the RTX 3090.