You might remember that we published a piece two months back about how Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 series graphics cards are making an unprecedented leap in performance. Well, AMD has just struck back! They announced their new Radeon RX 6000 series cards on October 28, and it looks like we’re about to see some real competition in the GPU market if the specs are as good as AMD says they are.
This is big news because graphics cards are the most important component when it comes to PC gaming. Unfortunately, they’re also the most expensive. The Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti was considered the best of the best until recently, but the MSRP is $1,200. Nvidia outdid themselves with their new 3000 series cards. They’ve made three new GPUs, all of which outperform the 2080 Ti, and two of which undercut its price.
Now AMD is making similar promises, so we’re going to break down everything we know about these new cards and why we think AMD is finally making Nvidia sweat!
RDNA 2 Architecture
According to AMD’s website:
“AMD RDNA 2 architecture introduces significant architecture advancements in the form of an enhanced compute unit, new visual pipeline, and all-new AMD Infinity Cache, enabling high-resolution gaming performance with vivid visuals.”
This architecture is the foundation of the graphics found in the PS5, the Xbox Series S/X, and now in their new 6000 series Radeon GPUs.
One of the most impressive things about it is how efficiently it utilizes power. RDNA 2 generates up to 54% more performance-per-watt than the RDNA 1 architecture featured in their 5000 series cards. They’ve also made some major improvements to their Infinity Cache, delivering 3.25 times the effective bandwidth of GDDR6 RAM.
The cherry on top? AMD now has raytracing!
AMD Radeon 6000 Series
Now for a breakdown of each card’s specs and how they stack up against Nvidia.
Radeon RX 6800
The entry-level graphics card
Compute Units: 60 | Ray Accelerators: 60 | Game Frequency: 1815 MHz | Infinity Cache: 128 MB | Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 | Release Date: November 18, 2020 | MSRP: $579
During their press release, AMD spent most of their time comparing this card to the 2080 Ti, probably because the RTX 3070 hadn’t been released yet at the time. It matched Nvidia’s former flagship across multiple games, pulling ahead of it in a few cases, all while maintaining a lower watt usage.
It’s hard to gauge this particular card’s viability until we see it compared to the 3070. It has double the VRAM of the 3070, though it’s worth noting that this is the only bracket where Nvidia’s card is set at a lower price.
Radeon RX 6800 XT
The mid-range graphics card
Compute Units: 72 | Ray Accelerators: 72 | Game Frequency: 2015 MHz | Infinity Cache: 128 MB | Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 | Release Date: November 18, 2020 | MSRP: $649
This is the card AMD seemed most excited about. The 6800 XT is expected to match performance with the RTX 3080. In fact, AMD’s charts show the 6800 XT beating the 3080 in eight out of ten games while using 20W less power. The extra 6 GB GDDR6 doesn’t hurt either.
This seems like the price bracket where AMD is trying their hardest to undercut Nvidia. The card is faster, has more RAM, uses less power, and (to add insult to injury) clocks in at $50 cheaper.
Radeon RX 6900 XT
The top-tier graphics card
Compute Units: 80 | Ray Accelerators: 80 | Game Frequency: 2015 MHz | Infinity Cache: 128 MB | Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 | Release Date: December 8, 2020 | MSRP: $999
AMD’s new flagship card is expected to trade blows with Nvidia’s RTX 3090. The RX 6900 XT has slightly better framerates than the 3090 while using the same power resources. It has 8 GB less VRAM, making it more specific to gaming than creative workflows and AI, which would make use of the 24 GB in the 3090.
Don’t get too excited, though. JayzTwoCents of YouTube pointed out that all of the charts used in the announcement showed the 6900 XT using their new one-click overclock, “Rage Mode.” This slants the results in AMD’s favor, as only their card was overclocked in the demonstration, though it won’t be possible to say by how much until they’re both on the market for independent testing.
As Jay says, though, “Considering the fact that it only costs 66% of a 3090, I’m fairly certain it’s going to be more than 66% of the performance.”
AMD 6000 Series: Verdict
As we said in our Nvidia piece, you should always wait for independent testing before committing to a major purchase. AMD’s word is all we have to go on that their cards perform as well as they say, and it’s always in the manufacturer’s best interest to skew testing results in their own favor.
That said, we think there’s reason to be excited about Radeon 6000. These cards seem genuinely competitive with Nvidia’s 3000 series (actually outperforming many of them while using less power), and more competition is always good for the consumer. It’s encouraging to know that Microsoft and Sony both chose to put their faith in AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, as that implies that they’ve both found it worthy of a major investment.
The 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM across all three cards is also promising as we’ve seen a trend of games becoming more and more VRAM bound in recent years. This gives AMD some headroom for future-proofing. All in all, we’re impressed, and we look forward to seeing these cards in action.