Nvidia swung the hammer with its 30-series graphics cards earlier this fall, and AMD just parried. The latest high-end Radeon GPUs should, according to AMD, go toe-to-toe with the latest from Team Green – at extremely persuasive prices. Here’s how AMD’s new cards compare to all the latest gaming hardware in 2020.
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AMD RX 6900 XT, 6800 XT, and 6800 vs Nvidia RTX 3090, 3080, and 3070
PC gamers have a big decision ahead of them: if you’re looking for a high-end card, both AMD and Nvidia look like compelling options, given the information at our fingertips. We were extremely impressed with Nvidia’s RTX 3080 and 3070, with the 3080 providing an easy 60 frames per second at 4K for most games, and the 3070 proving to be a great choice for high-refresh 1440p. AMD has taken clear aim at both of these cards, showing off numbers that boast impressive performance when compared to the competition.
The RX 6800 XT, for example, shows very similar performance to the RTX 3080 in AMD’s charts, with most games going beyond 60 frames per second at 4K Ultra settings, and triple digit framerates for 1440p. The 6800, AMD claims, actually has a noticeable edge over the RTX 2080 Ti – which is very similar to the newly-released 3070 – meaning AMD may actually have a leg up in the high midrange. (Though eagle-eyed readers will notice that AMD’s 6800 graphs turned on the Smart Access Memory feature, which gives the GPU a boost in systems using 5000-series Ryzen CPUs.) Finally, the RX 6900 XT hits similar framerates to the RTX 3090 in the games AMD showed off – though again, with Smart Access Memory and the auto-overclocking “Rage Mode” turned on. The company did not reveal any ray tracing performance numbers, which is a bit suspect – though only if you actually care about real-time ray tracing in your games.
Performance is only part of the story, though, since AMD is often gunning for that performance-per-dollar metric. The RX 6800 XT is priced $50 cheaper than the competing RTX 3080, which puts it in a good spot given the similar performance. Meanwhile, the RX 6900 XT is a whopping $500 cheaper than the RTX 3090 while again (according to AMD) offering similar performance, which is absolutely bonkers. The RX 6800 is a bit harder to pin down, since it’s $80 more expensive than the 3070 it claims to beat – if these numbers hold true, you’ll have to decide whether to spend the $80 on better performance or go with the slightly cheaper card from Nvidia.
The price to performance is compelling all the way down, but we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on these new GPUs to see how AMD’s claims actually stack up to reality. In addition, there are some less quantifiable elements at play: we need to get eyes on AMD’s FidelityFX to see how it compares to Nvidia’s DLSS, which is starting to prove very effective at keeping performance up for high resolution and ray traced games. In addition, AMD has a bit of a challenge to overcome given its reputation for buggy drivers, which reared its ugly head even in last gen’s 5700 series. Oh, and all this assumes you can actually get your hands on these cards, which is undoubtedly a big concern considering how low supply has been for Nvidia’s cards and the upcoming consoles.
What AMD’s New Cards Could Tell Us About Present and Future Consoles
Speaking of the consoles, it’s clear that AMD’s latest cards are more powerful than the GPUs in the soon-to-be-released Xbox Series X and PS5, which use the same RDNA 2 architecture. The RX 6800, the lowest performer of this trio, has 60 compute units at 1.8GHz, boosting up to 2.1GHz – that’s still more than the PS5’s 36 compute units at “up to” 2.23GHz, and the Xbox Series X’s 52 compute units at 1.825GHz. Plus, the 6800 doesn’t have to share its 16GB of GDDR6 memory with the rest of the system like the PS5 and Xbox Series X will. We don’t know how its on-board ray tracing hardware compares either, but it’s safe to say 6000 series owners will still get better performance than their console compatriots – though the Xbox Series X is closer in specs than I would have expected.
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Arguably more interesting is the peek this gives us at the next iterations of these consoles. Sure, the PS5 and Xbox Series X aren’t even out yet, but we can’t resist looking to the future, especially given the trends we saw last generation.
When the original PS4 and Xbox One launched in 2013, the R9 290, 290X, and 295X2 were AMD’s new hotness on the PC side of things. Those were $400, $550, and $1,500 cards, respectively, and all were more powerful than the GPUs in the new consoles. Fast forward to 2016, when the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X came around: they were packing GPUs that seemed to lie somewhere around AMD’s RX 470 and 480 in performance. As fate would have it, that’s in the ballpark of where that R9 290 performed a few years earlier. In other words, 2013’s high-midrange card trickled down to the consoles just in time for a mid-cycle refresh three years later.
This year’s consoles are awfully exciting, and they’re likely to stick around for a few years before we see anything new. But if Sony and Microsoft come out with similar “Pro”-style refreshes this time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them rocking performance near the RX 6800 or better. Given AMD’s claims that the 6800 is running some games near 4K 120fps, that’s awfully exciting to look forward to, even if you aren’t planning on buying one at launch.