Radeon RX 6800 (XT): A competitive release, but not really better

Please do not get the wrong message from the title: AMD’s graphics card release today was a success. For the first time in years AMD’s top cards sit right next to Nvidia’s top cards. And this time those are not a year old release that is about to be replaced, the RTX 3000 cards are so new that they are still basically nowhere in stock.

Strong performance

But there was speculation before the release rumoring a clear win above the 3080 and 3070, and that did not happen. Benchmarks released today show the Radeon RX 6800 XT and the Radeon RX 6800, with 300W and 250W TDP, in between the GeForce RTX 3080 and 3070. The bigger 6800 XT is close (but below) to the 3080, the smaller 6800 non-XT beats the 3070:

Performance chart: GeForce RTX 3080: 9.15, Radeon RX 6800 XT: 8.43, Radeon RX 6800: 7.99, GeForce RTX 3070: 7.02, GeForce RTX 2070 Super: 5.14, Radeon RX 5700 XT: 4.47

That result makes the release competitive, since it matches with the official prices. The 6800 XT might be a bit weaker than the RTX 3080, but it also is supposed to be a bit cheaper and needs a bit less energy. The 6800 is a bit more expensive than the RTX 3070, but it is also faster.

And one big difference between AMD and Nvidia gets less pronounced with this release: Finally AMD supports hardware raytracing. It does cost more performance than when the RTX cards enable that feature, but at least it is there and the performance is not too bad.

Conclusion: Good news

All good news for builders with a high budget. The new AMD cards promise to be valid alternatives, with advantages (like a free Linux driver, energy usage and a more complete FreeSync support) and drawbacks (like a missing equivalent to DLSS 2.0 and worse raytracing performance). They will also add to the currently very limited supply of high end cards, likely making it a lot easier to actually buy one, be it one of the AMD cards or a RTX 3070/3080 instead.

If you want to read more about these cards, I recommend these reviews: