ASRock Radeon RX 6700 XT Phantom Gaming D Review - The Fastest RX 6700 XT 21

ASRock Radeon RX 6700 XT Phantom Gaming D Review - The Fastest RX 6700 XT

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Value and Conclusion

  • Newegg has the ASRock RX 6700 XT Gaming OC listed for $480, but not in stock yet. I suspect $480 is just the theoretical MSRP, and once stock comes in, it's either instantly sold out at that price and/or gets marked up significantly. Given current market conditions, we expect a price of at least $820.
  • First RX 6700 XT custom design with performance gains from factory OC
  • Performance comparable to RTX 3070 and RTX 2080 Ti
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Idle fan stop
  • Great temperatures
  • Good overclocking potential
  • Hardware-accelerated raytracing
  • Smart Access Memory / Resizable BAR boost performance
  • 12 GB VRAM
  • Backplate included
  • Support for HDMI 2.1, AV1 decode
  • PCI-Express 4.0
  • AMD FidelityFX
  • 7 nanometer production process
  • Very limited supply
  • Actual market price much higher than MSRP
  • Raytracing performance loss much bigger than on NVIDIA
  • GPU and memory overclocking artificially limited by the driver
With the Radeon RX 6700 XT, AMD is releasing a highly competitive SKU for the upper midrange—a segment for which NVIDIA launched two cards recently, the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti. This market is very important because it defines the serious gamer willing to spend a little bit extra for higher FPS or better image quality without going overboard. The Radeon RX 6700 XT uses the Navi 22 GPU, while the Radeon RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT are powered by Navi 21. Both are built on the same RDNA2 architecture with support for raytracing and a 7 nanometer production process—Navi 22 is basically a cut-in-half Navi 21 with 192-bit memory. The only deviation is that the L3 Cache (Infinity Cache) is 96 MB on Navi 22, while it is 128 MB on Navi 21.

On average, over our brand-new, 22-game-strong test suite, the ASRock RX 6700 XT Phantom Gaming D ran 2% faster than the AMD reference RX 6700 XT, across all three of our tested resolutions. What makes this a surprising achievement is that the ASRock Phantom Gaming D is the first Radeon RX 6700 XT custom design with any meaningful gains from the out-of-the-box overclock. I've thus far tested seven RX 6700 XT cards from all the big brands—ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, PowerColor, Sapphire, and ASRock. Yet only ASRock, the youngest AMD board partner, solved this problem to offer you a tangible factory overclock. Some AIBs have told me that this is an AMD limitation...guess not. I am not sure what ASRock's secret sauce is, it doesn't seem to be the PCB design, which is fairly close to reference. It's also not the driver—I made absolutely certain to use the exact same driver and settings as for my launch reviews.

Overall, performance sits right between two NVIDIA Ampere cards. The ASRock RX 6700 XT is 9% faster than the NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti, and only 2% behind the RTX 3070. Compared to AMD's own Radeon RX 6800, the performance difference is 14%. An important result I want to highlight is that the RX 6700 XT is able to nearly match the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti—isn't that a huge achievement? Just a few months ago, most people wouldn't have dared to dream of AMD's x7xx card competing with NVIDIA's last-generation flagship.

With those performance numbers, the Radeon RX 6700 XT is the perfect choice for the huge 1440p gamer crowd out there; the card also has enough muscle to run many titles at 4K 60 FPS, especially if you are willing to dial down settings a little bit. The RX 6700 XT is also a great choice for 1080p Full HD if you want to drive a high-refresh-rate monitor with 120 or 144 Hz. AMD's new card has support for raytracing, but unlike the competition from NVIDIA, it lacks hardware units for many RT tasks, which means NVIDIA has the upper hand in terms of performance. RT performance varies greatly between the titles we've tested; I'd say you can roughly expect RTX 2080 raytracing performance from the RX 6700 XT, which is not bad at all. It really comes down to how essential you consider RT support. If you consider it an optional "better than Ultra" setting, it is not paramount to you yet—RT performance won't be a dealbreaker if you may or may not activate it. If you believe RT is the future and want to be ready for games to come, NVIDIA looks like the better option, also because they have the DLSS upscaling technology, which cushions the raytracing performance hit at the cost of a little bit of image quality.

ASRock has designed a cost-effective RX 6700 XT with the Phantom Gaming D that doesn't go overboard with cooling, yet has sufficient cooling power to beat the AMD reference card at both noise and temperatures. With just 66°C under full load, the card is one of the coolest RX 6700 XT cards we've tested so far—only the ASUS ROG Strix with its huge cooler achieves lower temperatures. However, noise levels are higher than most RX 6700 XT cards I've tested. With 33 dBA, the card isn't "loud" or "noisy" at all, just not nearly as whisper-quiet as some other cards. It seems ASRock focused a lot on achieving lower temperatures. Personally, I would have picked something more balanced, like 70°C or slightly above, which would have yielded much lower noise levels. The cooler itself is good, the test results of our apples-to-apples heatsink testing confirm that. So if you want lower noise from this card, you can easily do so with a customized fan curve at the cost of slightly higher temperatures; the cooler has plenty potential left. It's great to see that idle fan stop has become a standard capability nowadays—all Radeon RX 6700 XT cards, including the ASRock Phantom Gaming D in this review, will shut off their fans in idle, desktop work, and internet browsing.

AMD shocked the world with the energy efficiency of Navi 21, which beats even NVIDIA's Ampere. The Radeon RX 6700 XT with its Navi 22 GPU is highly efficient, too, but "only" matches NVIDIA's RTX 3080. It seems AMD pushed the design a bit above its optimum operating point for efficiency, possibly to sneak the RX 6700 XT right into the performance gap between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070. With 220 W during gaming, the RX 6700 XT is gentle in its power supply requirement, as basically any power supply from a known brand will power it just fine. The ASRock Phantom Gaming uses 10 watts more, or 5%, to deliver 2% factory OC performance—a reasonable and expected tradeoff. Power consumption in single-monitor idle and media playback has been improved considerably over Navi 21. AMD now only needs to figure out multi-monitor power, which is still higher than on any NVIDIA graphics card.

Unlike some other RX 6700 XT cards, overclocking worked very well on the Phantom Gaming D. We gained around 8% in real-life performance, which is the best OC result of all RX 6700 XT cards we've tested, also yielding the highest overclocked real-life performance—more ASRock secret sauce? Doesn't look like silicon lottery to me. Unfortunately, overclocking is held back by AMD's driver; I maxed out both the GPU clock and memory clock slider completely. AMD insisting on artificially capping the maximum overclocking potential of their products by limiting the slider length in Wattman is a slap in the face of overclockers. Memory overclocked to 2150 MHz was 100% stable on every single card we've reviewed, so why not give us more? Or set no limit at all, like NVIDIA.

The Radeon RX 6700 XT offers 12 GB of memory because the underlying memory architecture uses a 192-bit interface design. With a 192-bit interface, your design options are 6 GB and 12 GB unless you're willing to mix memory chips of mismatched capacity. Obviously, 6 GB VRAM is not enough for 2021 and beyond in this market segment, so AMD really had no choice here. The only alternative would have been to go with a 256-bit wide bus interface, which would have enabled 8 GB variants while increasing the manufacturing cost of the GPU and PCB. Looking at our benchmark results, I can't find a single instance where the 12 GB RX 6700 XT significantly beats the 8 GB RTX 3070—not even at 4K, so VRAM really is no issue. From a marketing perspective, "12 GB" on the RX 6700 XT is more than "8 GB" on the RTX 3070, so that could win AMD some customers, too.

According to AMD, the Radeon RX 6700 XT comes at an MSRP of $479, which didn't even last for a day. In my launch-day reviews, I speculated that we'd see pricing of around $700–$750 depending on how premium an RX 6700 XT variant is, and people sent me nice emails declaring me insane. The reality today is that the RX 6700 XT is completely sold out, and scalpers have listed them at $900 and above. At that price point, there's absolutely no reason to buy an RX 6700 XT, almost every alternative offers a better price/performance ratio. That's why I feel the pricing will settle closer to $800 in the near-term. All this is not ASRock's fault, of course. The problem is that AMD isn't able to produce enough graphics chips because their 7 nanometer allocation at TSMC has to be juggled between producing Ryzen, EPYC, PS5, Xbox X, and Radeon. ASRock's RX 6700 XT is a slightly more premium card than the AMD reference—I'd definitely be willing to pay $20 more for it than the baseline price. There are several alternatives, however, with the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 or a used RTX 2080 Ti or RTX 2080 Super even—it all comes down to pricing.
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May 17th, 2022 17:57 EDT change timezone

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