We have with us the AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT. This is the Made by AMD (MBA) reference-design card and not our first review of the RX 6950 XT—we've tested cards from MSI, Sapphire, and Gigabyte, but like every other known review of the RX 6950 XT on its May 10 launch date, those were custom-design cards because AMD did not sample out reference-design cards, and unlike what they did with the RX 6900 XT, we're learning that its add-in board (AIB) partners aren't reselling reference-design cards either.
The reference RX 6950 XT is being sold exclusively through the AMD website. One of our fans bought one and sent it over for testing on the condition that we don't take it apart, which we usually do not agree to. We agreed because we were curious to test AMD's power-related claims for the RX 6950 XT, particularly its 335 W typical board power at reference specifications, which would make the card highly efficient compared to the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti. The custom Radeon RX 6950 XT cards we reviewed were factory-overclocked and hence had higher power values than 335 W.
The Radeon RX 6950 XT leads a trio of new graphics card SKUs AMD is launching to update its product-stack for Summer 2022, with the others being the RX 6750 XT and RX 6650 XT. The new card sits on top of the AMD lineup, and the company claims it has what it takes to trade blows with NVIDIA's fastest, including outperforming the RTX 3090. The target market of the RX 6950 XT is the same as the RX 6900 XT—4K Ultra HD gaming with maxed out settings.
The Radeon RX 6950 XT in this review is based on the same RDNA2 graphics architecture as the other Radeon RX 6000 cards and built on the same 7 nm process as the RX 6900 XT. What's more, the two even share an identical core configuration as they max out the "Navi 21" silicon—5,120 stream processors across 80 RDNA2 compute units, 80 Ray Accelerators, 320 TMUs, and 128 ROPs. To create the RX 6950 XT, AMD innovated in three distinct directions.
First, AMD has given the RX 6950 XT higher engine clocks (GPU clocks), with the "game clocks" now set at 2100 MHz instead of 2015 MHz on the RX 6900 XT. This would put them roughly on par with an overclocked RX 6900 XT, but with the power-optimization of AMD. Second, AMD upgraded memory speed to 18 Gbps, instead of 16 Gbps on the RX 6900 XT. This results in a neat 12.5 percent increase in memory bandwidth, which is now 576 GB/s compared to 512 GB/s on the RX 6900 XT. The third set of innovations are at the firmware and software level. We've noticed improvements in CPU-limited scenarios, especially with DirectX 11 titles.
For all but the color scheme, the AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT reference design card looks identical to the RX 6900 XT and RX 6800 XT reference designs. The two-tone silver and black makes way for an all-black finish with chrome accents now in a gunmetal tone. The card only has two 8-pin PCIe power connectors, a configuration that's good for 375 W including slot-power, so AMD's typical board power claims are already worth a look.