Why it matters: Given its many limitations, the Radeon RX 6500 XT is hardly an exciting product. As it turns out, the Navi24 GPU was really only meant for laptops, and the missing media decoding and encoding capabilities were a cost-cutting measure linked to the upcoming Ryzen 6000 series Rembrandt APUs.
By now, it’s no secret that AMD’s recently released Radeon RX 6500 XT graphics card is widely regarded as the most disastrous product launch in the company’s recent history. We expected that Navi 24 would be a low-end GPU with modest capabilities. Still, the resulting desktop graphics card is a product that can only exist in today’s heated GPU market, where miners and scalpers make it difficult for gamers to upgrade their hardware.
John Bridgman, Principal Member of Technical Staff at AMD, focusing on Linux drivers, offered a small clarification on the Phoronix forums on why the RX 6500 XT is what it is. Bridgman explained the Navi24 GPU in the RX 6500 XT will primarily be used in laptops equipped with Ryzen 6000 series Rembrandt APUs.
"My impression was that it was just encode that was limited in Navi24, not decode - still not sure if that limitation is real or just a typo on the product page," he further noted. "Trying to find out a definitive answer."
Rembrandt APUs will have PCIe 4.0 support and a media engine capable of H.264/H.265 encoding as well as AV1 decoding. In other words, AMD thought the x4 limitation wouldn't matter since the card would likely only end up in laptop or desktop PCs with PCIe 4.0 support. However, this doesn't explain the omission of media decoding and encoding capabilities, which are pretty standard these days.
The official AMD position is that the RX 6500 XT was designed to be unattractive to miners due to its 64-bit memory bus and 4 gigabytes of VRAM. However, as our own Steven Walton explained in his extensive review of the card, the same limitations coupled with a weak, heavily cut down GPU and only two display outputs make this product a bad proposition for gamers even if they’d ever find it at or close to its $200 MSRP.
In any case, it looks like AMD made a product that is hardly a replacement for the entry-level RX 5500 XT and even the older RX 570 and RX 580 4GB cards. Even if it is available in large enough quantities, no one will be rushing to buy a $300 graphics card that doesn’t even come with video encoding and decoding capabilities.