Today's review is of the PowerColor Radeon RX 6800 Red Dragon graphics card. The Red Dragon brand by PowerColor strikes a balance between the enthusiast-focused Red Devil brand and the vanilla reference-design, and the new Fighter series. Competition in this segment comes from the likes of the Sapphire Pulse and ASUS TUF Gaming. The Radeon RX 6800 is the most affordable of AMD's "Big Navi" GPU family so far, and at a starting price of $580 for the reference-version, AMD is confident that it beats the GeForce RTX 3070. This should mean maxed out gaming with raytracing at 1440p, while the card is fairly capable of 4K UHD gaming with high settings.
If you're gaming at 1440p or below, the Radeon RX 6800 has an interesting proposition—maxed out gaming, perhaps even at higher refresh rates while offering more future-proofing than an RTX 3070 on account of its 16 GB of faster video memory. Like the RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT, the RX 6800 is based on the new RDNA2 graphics architecture, which meets the full DirectX 12 Ultimate feature set, including real-time raytracing, variable-rate shading, mesh shaders, and sampler feedback. This is also the same architecture powering both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, which means it's easy for game developers to optimize for this architecture on the PC. Raytracing requires an enormous amount of compute power, which AMD has nearly doubled over the previous generation. A by-product of all this compute power is a dramatic increase in conventional raster 3D performance, which enables AMD to finally compete with NVIDIA in the high-end segment.
The Radeon RX 6800 is based on the same 7 nm "Navi 21" silicon as the RX 6900 XT, but is heavily cut down. 60 out of 80 RDNA2 compute units physically present on the silicon are enabled, working out to 3,840 stream processors and 60 Ray Accelerators. There are proportionate reductions to other components, such as the TMU count being down to 240, and the ROP count down to 96 (from 128). However, what hasn't changed is the memory sub-system. You get 16 GB of memory using the fastest JEDEC-standard 16 Gbps memory chips across a 256-bit wide memory bus—the same configuration as the RX 6900 XT. This is faster than the 14 Gbps GDDR6 setup on the RTX 3070, and AMD takes things a step further by deploying a fast on-die L3 cache it calls Infinity Cache. This is a 128 MB scratchpad for the GPU that operates at 2 TB/s in concert with the GDDR6 memory.
As we mentioned earlier, the PowerColor Radeon RX 6800 Red Dragon can still be considered a premium custom-design product even though it's not as loaded as the flagship Red Devil. You still get a triple-slot cooling solution that uses a large aluminium fin-stack heatsink, a triple fan setup with idle fan stop, and an all-metal shroud and backplate design that looks good in a case. The card is factory overclocked, with its faster OC BIOS running the card at up to 2170 MHz boost (vs. 2105 MHz reference) and a quieter BIOS running it at up to 2140 MHz. The card is currently out of stock everywhere. We did a bit of research and found that it can be found online for $950, which actually makes it one of the most affordable RX 6800 cards out there.