AMD RX 6800 / XT: analyzing the pros and cons based on reviews around the Net
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The first reviews for the new RX 6800 GPUs from AMD are in, and it looks like Team Red delivered on what was promised in the initial reveal for the most part. Performance-wise, the new cards are clearly an important step in the right direction for AMD and can easily compete with Nvidia’s Ampere cards. Did Nvidia lose the performance crown? Well, we need to see what the RX 6900 XT is bringing to the table before giving a final verdict, but, as it stands right now, the crown is still in Team Green’s possession, even if by a very small margin. We can, however, safely say that AMD is already breathing down on Nvidia’s neck, and Team Green should carefully consider its plans for the next-gen GPUs.
First off, let us take a look at the strong points for the new AMD GPUs:
- The RX 6800 is clearly faster than the RTX 3070 by 10% on average without the extra performance offered by Smart Access Memory, not much of a tug of war here. Does it justify the additional $70? If it is paired with the new Ryzen 5000 CPUs for the extra SAM performance, then the answer is definitely yes.
- All the reviews pretty much agree that the Navi 21 GPUs seem to have been designed to excel at 1440p resolutions. That is not to say that 4K performance is subpar. Not at all. The RX 6800 XT cards do indeed win in some titles running in 4K. However, the AMD GPUs without a doubt dominate the 1440p tests and the sheer raster performance is quite impressive.
- 16 GB VRAM, 'nuff said.
- Another plus for the AMD cards is the stock cooling system that is very efficient and not too noisy at the same time. It even allows the RX 6800 XT cards to be overclocked to slightly over 2.5 GHz without exceeding 75 degrees C ( die temp) / 95 C (hotspot temp). The undervolting potential is also good.
- Power draw is significantly lower in full load compared to Nvidia’s cards. For instance, the RX 6800 XT would draw 56 W less than the RTX 3080. Performance-per-watt is clearly boosted by the use of 7 nm tech.
- H.265 video encoding is faster on the AMD cards, especially for 4K videos
Besides the 4K caveats on the RX 6800 XT cards, the cons list comprises issues that are mostly software-related:
- Based on the charts compiled by 3DCenter.org, the RX 6800 XT is overall 6.9% slower than the RTX 3080 in 4K. It does see some notable wins, nonetheless, and the difference is reduced to around 2% when using SAM.
- Ray tracing performance is not comparable to what Nvidia is currently offering. It’s not all doom and gloom, as it does match the RTX 2080 Ti performance and occasionally exceeds it, which is no mere feat for a first try at RT from AMD.
- Instability issues caused by buggy drivers. For instance, some testers experienced extremely poor performance in Control 4K with RT effects enabled.
- No DLSS-like feature for now. AMD promises it will launch the FidelityFX Super Resolution soon.
- The AMD cards cannot match the performance of the Nvidia ones in CUDA-enabled 3D rendering dedicated software.
- Game video capture is affecting the overall performance, causing stutters and frame drops and the exported videos are corrupted.
Now, as it turns out, the launch stocks for AMD’s cards are not that great, despite the promises made by Frank Azor a month ago. We are waiting to see if the AIB versions would fix this issue next week. In any case, we reckon that the RX 6800 card would be the better deal for most gamers, since they can put the $70 difference towards a better CPU. We will have to revisit the performance metrics once AMD releases its own DLSS-like tech, plus we should not forget about the upcoming clash of the titans disputed between the RX 6900 XT and RTX 3090 in early December.