PowerColor Radeon RX 6800 Red Dragon Review 13

PowerColor Radeon RX 6800 Red Dragon Review



PowerColor Logo

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.

Radeon RX 6800 Review 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 3060 Ti$8004864801410 MHz1665 MHz1750 MHzGA10417400M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$10004352881350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
RTX 3070$8505888961500 MHz1725 MHz1750 MHzGA10417400M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800$9503840961815 MHz2105 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
PowerColor RX 6800
Red Dragon
$9503840961950 MHz2170 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX 6800 XT$120046081282015 MHz2250 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3080$11008704961440 MHz1710 MHz1188 MHzGA10228000M10 GB, GDDR6X, 320-bit
RX 6900 XT$155051201282015 MHz2250 MHz2000 MHzNavi 2126800M16 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 3090$2000104961121395 MHz1695 MHz1219 MHzGA10228000M24 GB, GDDR6X, 384-bit


Package Front
Package Back

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back
Graphics Card Front Angled

PowerColor opted for a clean look with straight edges. The dominant color is black, with some nice silver highlights around the two outer fans, which are larger than those in the middle. The metal backplate has a cutout that lets some air through.

Graphics Card Dimensions

Dimensions of the card are 31 x 13.5 cm, and it weighs 1449 g.

Graphics Card Height
Graphics Card Back Angled

Installation requires three slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity includes three standard DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.1.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

The card has two 8-pin power inputs. This configuration is rated for up to 375 W of power draw.

Multi-GPU Area

The AMD Radeon RX 6000 series doesn't support multi-GPU. Here, you see the BIOS switch, which lets you toggle between the default "OC" BIOS and a "silent" BIOS that runs the fans quieter, at slower speeds with higher temperature.

I really like the design of this switch; it's much bigger and not flimsy at all, unlike most of competing designs.

If you prefer to disable RGB effects, most other vendors require you to install their software—on the RX 6800 Red Dragon, a physical switch is available that makes this much easier.


Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

PowerColor's heatsink uses seven heatpipes and a large copper base that provides cooling for the GPU and memory chips. Thermal pads are installed as additional cooling surfaces to soak up heat from the VRM circuitry.

The backplate is made out of metal and protects the card against damage during installation and handling.

High-resolution PCB Pictures

These pictures are for the convenience of volt modders and people who would like to see all the finer details on the PCB. Feel free to link back to us and use these in your articles or forum posts.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

High-res versions are also available (front, back).

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Jul 3rd, 2022 17:32 EDT change timezone

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