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Frank Azor: Radeon RX 6500 XT's 4 GB VRAM makes it unattractive to crypto miners, 8 GB variant not being ruled out

AMD's decision to use just 4 GB GDDR6 VRAM on the Radeon RX 6500 XT is apparently to deter cryptocurrency miners. (Image Source: AMD)
AMD's decision to use just 4 GB GDDR6 VRAM on the Radeon RX 6500 XT is apparently to deter cryptocurrency miners. (Image Source: AMD)
AMD introduced the RX 6500 XT at CES 2022 targeting budget 1080p gamers, but the use of just 4 GB GDDR6 VRAM has come into question. AMD's Frank Azor clarified that the use of 4 GB VRAM was to deter cryptocurrency miners from subjecting gamers to an availability disadvantage. Azor said that AMD FSR and RSR combined with the RX 6500 XT's high boost clocks should enable smooth gaming at 1080p, though an 8 GB version down the line is not being ruled out.

AMD announced the 6 nm Radeon RX 6500 XT at CES 2022 — a US$199 card aimed at budget 1080p gamers. The RX 6500 XT offers a high boost frequency up to 2,815 MHz but comes with only 4 GB GDDR6 RAM. At a time when textures of new AAA games are quickly gobbling up all available VRAM, AMD's decision to go with just 4 GB has come as a surprise, especially given the fact that the RTX 3050 that was also announced at CES 2022 offers 8 GB VRAM but for US$50 more. However, this seems to be a calculated move on AMD's part.

Speaking to HotHardware, AMD's Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions Frank Azor said that the decision to go with 4 GB RAM for the RX 6500 XT is not without reason. Azor said that the RX 6500 XT was tested with several memory configurations including with 4 GB and 8 GB VRAM while also factoring in AMD technologies that were being developed in tandem such as FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and Radeon Super Resolution (RSR). So, for gamers who mostly game at 1080p medium to high settings, the 4 GB VRAM combined with the high boost clock shouldn't be much of a deterrent.

That being said, AMD could still explore launching an 8 GB version of the RX 6500 XT down the line if things go as planned.

The main reason for limiting the memory capacity was to deter cryptocurrency miners, who would probably feel a 4 GB card unattractive for mining vis-à-vis an 8 GB variant. Azor says that the strategy to discourage miners is being figured out on a continuous basis and that this is one way of enforcing a hard deterrent. We have seen before how most hash-rate limitations by Nvidia have been eventually bypassed by enthusiasts. Azor said,

I will also say that don't assume that four gigabytes will be the only graphics configurations of the 6500 XT that will ever exist...

If it works out, if we are right, this could actually be the perfect gamer and gamer-only graphics card. It's very affordable, it's got all modern technologies, it's got a memory config that hopefully miners will find unappealing, and it's a very small form factor in its shape and very aggressively priced and we hope that there'll be a lot of them on shelves. Every graphics card has been hated in the last two years so I am hoping we nail this one and people will love us for it. We'll see."

AMD's decision may eventually find resonance with gamers — as long as they can make good use of FSR and RSR. Unlike FSR that needs implementation by game developers, RSR, which does make use of FSR in the backend, can be turned on/off in the driver with just a toggle for the vast majority of games. It remains to be seen how well this actually works across various titles, but it's not a bad option to have.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 01 > Frank Azor: Radeon RX 6500 XT's 4 GB VRAM makes it unattractive to crypto miners, 8 GB variant not being ruled out
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2022-01- 9 (Update: 2022-01- 9)