AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Review

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AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Review

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The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT marks Team Red’s boldest move yet to steal the high-end GPU market from arch-rival Nvidia. Aimed squarely at enthusiasts who want the very best gaming experiences at ultra-high definitions, this powerful GPU has been developed to go toe-to-toe with Nvidia’s powerful RTX 3090.

For the past few years, AMD has concentrated on budget and mid-range GPUs, even getting ready to launch a new Radeon RX 6000 GPU later today that could also be in the mid-range sphere. That arrives in the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT a welcome one, joining the likes of the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT and the AMD Radeon RX 6800 to compete against Nvidia’s greatest hits. 

With the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT now officially launched, here’s everything we know so far about AMD’s exciting new GPU.

Specifications of Radeon RX 6900 XT


GPUNavi 21 XTX
Manufacturing Process7 nm
Compute Units80
Shading Units‎5,120
Texture Mapping Units320
Base Clock1,825 MHz
Game Clock2,015 MHz
Boost Clock‎2,250 MHz
Memory Bus Width‎256-bit
Memory Bandwidth512 GB/s
Memory Size16 GB GDDR6
TBP300 W

Verdict

It would appear that AMD has bagged another victory for itself. The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is not only great in performance but also has really good pricing. That is, of course, limited to the reference cards. We’re yet to see how AIBs will price their SKUs in the coming weeks. Performance is at par and sometimes even better than the RTX 3090 but the new RDNA2 cards don’t have great OpenGL performance. Not that a lot of video games use OpenGL these days, but folks interested in the GPGPU performance might be a bit disappointed with the same. And lastly, there’s the ray-tracing benchmark which pegs the RX 6900 XT a little behind the RTX 3090. Visually, they don’t seem that far apart so that’s fine in our books. For a price of INR 94,388, the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is a great 4K gaming card.

Pros

  • Neck and neck with the RTX 3090
  • Great power efficiency
  • Decent pricing in India for the reference models
  • Biggest Navi
  • Decent overclocking
  • Does well in certain Proviz workloads

Cons

  • Not that different from 6800 XT
  • Expensive
  • Expect very limited quantities
  • Launch stock is very low
  • OpenGL performance below par



Radeon RX 6900 XT Price

AMD is pitching the RX 6900 XT against Nvidia’s RTX 3090. That card is one of the most expensive GPUs you can buy, starting at $1,499 (£1,399, around AU$2,030) for Nvidia’s Founders Edition.

As we expected, the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is priced a bit below that at $999 (about £770, AU$1,400), maintaining AMD’s habit of undercutting Nvidia.

One thing to note is that while Nvidia’s GPUs come in various variants from other manufacturers, at the moment there’s just one model of RX 6900 XT from AMD itself, so there won’t be different price points for the GPU. Also, you can see HP Victus 16.1″ Gaming Laptop Review

3D Mark

In 3DMark, we prefer the Fire Strike Ultra benchmark since the Extreme and normal runs have started producing ridiculous scores with newer GPUs. The other benchmark within 3DMark which we use is Time Spy and we run both, the normal run and the extreme run. Here, we’re showcasing Fire Strike Ultra and Time Spy scores. The Radeon RX 6900 XT beats the NVIDIA RTX 3090 with a decent margin. Considering that the latter is a $1,499 card, this isn’t a huge lead but the AMD card certainly offers more value for money. The Radeon RX 6800 XT and 6800 aren’t that far behind.

3d mark

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Time Spy also sees the RX 6900 XT maintain a healthy lead over the more expensive RTX 3090 from NVIDIA. The Radeon RX 6900 XT replaces the RTX 3090 from the top position on the scoreboard with the RTX 3080 in tow and the RX 6800 XT right behind it. Then comes the RX 6800 and after a decent gap lies the RTX 3070.

3d mark time spy

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Blender GPGPU Render

Blender is a great benchmark that makes good use of the GPGPU parallelism within modern GPU microarchitectures. The results of this benchmark should be interpreted in an inverse manner. Lower scores are better and we see the RTX 3090 leading the set followed by other CUDA cards. The new RDNA2 cards start off from the 4th position with the RX 6900 XT followed by the RX 6800 XT. Also, you can see Gigabyte Aorus Fv43u Gaming Monitor Review

BLENDER GPGPU RENDER

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Basemark GPU

Basemark GPU is a nice benchmark to compare the performance of different graphics APIs between cards. We can use the same textures with OpenGL, Vulkan, and DirectX 12 to see if the graphics card excels at any particular API more than the rest or if the performance is consistent across the board. The RX 6800 comes third, behind the RTX 3090 and the RTX 3080. NVIDIA cards have a clear advantage in this benchmark and the gap between the RTX 3070 and the RX 6800 has narrowed. What stood out for us was the OpenGL performance as the RDNA 2 cards tanked compared to the competition and are showing only a meager generational improvement. 

BASEMARK GPU

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Indigobench

This is the latest synthetic to be added to our test suite. IndigoBench is based on the Indigo 4 rendering engine that’s available for popular software such as SketchUp, Blender, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Revit, and Maya. It uses OpenCL and can benchmark both, the CPU and GPU together or individually. We prefer to test just the GPU with the software and the score provided is in terms of .M samples/s’. The RTX 3090 and the RTX 3080 maintain a lead here whereas the RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 come in at the third and fourth positions. The performance difference between the RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 is also quite narrow.

INDIGOBENCH

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Unigine Superposition

Unigine Superposition is the other popular DX11 benchmark that we prefer to use alongside 3DMark. We run it on the Extreme Quality preset and use the scoring metric for delineating the performance between graphics cards. The NVIDIA cards retain the lead again but with a much narrow margin. The RX 6800 XT and the RTX 3080 are almost equivalent in this benchmark.

UNIGINE SUPERPOSITION

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Borderlands 3

Gearbox’s latest game in the Borderlands franchise uses Unreal Engine 4 and allows you to switch between DirectX 11 and 12. The game has an inbuilt benchmark that takes you through an array of stressful scenarios. The DirectX 12 version is quite flaky and we prefer to use the DirectX 11 API while benchmarking the game and all our existing data is based on the DX11 version so there’s no point switching now.

BORDERLANDS 3

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Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding has been a recent addition to the PC scene and had been a PlayStation exclusive until July 2020. Being a console game, the game engine is quite optimized to make use of the scarce resources one gets with consoles. However, when 505 Games ported the game to PC, you wouldn’t end up calling the game a console port. The Decima game engine is capable of rendering up to 4K and can use high dynamic-range imaging and is also geared for the upcoming next-gen PlayStation console. It’s also the same engine used by Horizon Zero Dawn. Also, you can see GTX 2060 or GTX 3060 Which Graphics Card is the Most Appropriate for Your Needs?

DEATH STRANDING

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider

We run Shadow of the Tomb Raider in DirectX12 mode. It ends up consuming a little more memory as most games support both DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. The preset is set to the highest quality and HBAO+ enabled. The in-game benchmark tool takes us through several scenes which feature open spaces as well as closed spaces with lots of world detail aside from the central character.

SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER

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Battlefield V

Both GPU manufacturers like to showcase the performance of their GPUs in this popular AAA game by EA. It’s one of the most popular FPS titles and has had a long legacy of incorporating new GPU hardware and software APIs. We run the benchmark on Ultra mode with most of the bells and whistles turned on.

BATTLEFIELD V

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Metro Exodus

Another AAA FPS title on our list, Metro Exodus is built on the 4A Engine and is graphically intensive. The game features a mix of large open levels and small spaces, and the graphics engine is capable of making current-gen flagship GPUs crawl. At the same time, it has enough flexibility that the console versions are quite optimized. We run the game’s built-in benchmark for these tests.

METRO EXODUS

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Red Dead Redemption 2

RDR2 is useful for seeing how games that utilize the Vulkan API run on modern graphics cards. At this point, it’s a two-year-old title from Rockstar with a great single-player campaign. It’s an RPG set in the Wild West era and has a massive interactive open world. 

RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2

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Resident Evil 3 (2020)

Resident Evil 3 (2020) is the third title in the current Resident Evil reboot and uses the same engine as the last two reboots. The game features several replay opportunities for the player to respond to threats in different ways. Performance scaling isn’t as linear in RE3 as other games and is very optimized since consoles are the primary market for this game.

RESIDENT EVIL 3 (2020)

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The Witcher 3

The latest in CDPR’s most recognizable series is a few years old at this point but scales really well. It also allows us to gauge the performance across multiple generations of GPUs. Given the older nature, this game runs on DirectX 11 and we keep most of the proprietary APIs turned off. Also, you can see Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition Full Review

The Witcher 3

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Ray Tracing

Port Royale is the hardware-accelerated ray-tracing benchmark from UL or FutureMark as they were previously known. Since both vendors, AMD and NVIDIA, now support hardware-accelerated ray-tracing and ray-tracing is finally catching on in the market, we felt it was apt to include the benchmark. Also, all older AMD GPUs and NVIDIA non-RTX GPUs have been excluded for obvious reasons.

Ray Tracing

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What does the AMD RX 6900 XT mean today?

If the RX 6900 XT is one thing: it’s a better proposition for gaming alone than an RTX 3090. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s a ‘gaming first’ graphics card that has few allusions to being something purpose-built for creative professionals. But would I buy it over an RTX 3080 for $300 more? Absolutely not. It’s still a victim of diminishing returns in the high-end graphics card market, whichever way you look at it.

It’s effectively the same problem Nvidia faces in launching a graphics card between the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080. The fact of it is, there’s not a huge difference between the two Ampere graphics cards in way of gaming performance, and any such Ti or Super card between the two would have to fall far closer to the RTX 3080’s $699 price tag than the RTX 3090’s $1,499 price tag to make any sense whatsoever.


What we’re seeing today is something much to the same effect. The RX 6900 XT is wedged between the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 in raw performance terms, yet sadly too often a found trading blows with the RTX 3080 to knock the RTX 3090 off its rather wobbly perch. It’s also considerably more expensive than the RTX 3080, and while it does manage to make the RTX 3090 appear even more ludicrous for gaming alone at its price, that wasn’t exactly difficult.

The fact of the matter is: The RTX 3080 already makes the RTX 3090 look bad for gaming, that’s why Nvidia went out of its way to bill that card as something more—effectively a Quadroon the cheap. That’s helped along by the sizeable memory buffer on the RTX 3090: 24GB of GDDR6X.

The RX 6900 XT doesn’t manage to win the battle in gaming, nor does it deliver stunning performance in excess of the RX 6800 XT. That’s again partially down to memory capacity—the RX 6000-series shares 16GB throughout—leaving just eight CUs to separate the two. The greater CU count offers a boon to performance, sure, but it’s hardly a reason to go for the $999 RX 6900 XT over the $649 RX 6800 XT.

And so the RX 6900 XT often ends up trading blows with the cheaper RTX 3080, a battle it doesn’t stand a chance of winning with ray tracing performance factored in; it doesn’t look to topple the RTX 3090 for procreators either, as it is not intended to be a replacement for AMD’s professional cards; and it struggles to offer much reason to go for it over the RX 6800 XT, a significantly better deal for much the same hardware.

Frankly, the RX 6900 XT hardly stood a chance. Which I now fear should’ve been obvious from the very beginning.


Yet I will say this in its favor: The RX 6900 XT delivering anything close to RTX 3090 performance is something of an engineering marvel from a company that for the longest time has washed its hands of high-performance graphics cards in favor of the volume mid-range market. The AMD has set itself up with a solid foundation with the so-called ‘Big Navi’, if only as a point to build upon with the coming generations.

I likely sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s an exciting time to be a PC gamer, no matter which company, or component, you look to. 

But perhaps this is again more praise for the RDNA 2 architecture more so than the RX 6900 XT itself—that which comes with a perhaps misplaced configuration and price point versus the competition.

Reviews
  • AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT
4.1

Summary

The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT marks Team Red’s boldest move yet to steal the high-end GPU market from arch-rival Nvidia. Aimed squarely at enthusiasts who want the very best gaming experiences at ultra-high definitions, this powerful GPU has been developed to go toe-to-toe with Nvidia’s powerful RTX 3090.

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