AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Review: Can AMD Take the Performance Crown?

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 5,290   +6,018
" The Radeon RX 6900 XT is kind of stuck in this strange place where it’s really bad value compared to the 6800 XT, good value compared to the RTX 3090, but people looking to invest in this class of GPU won’t care about value, they just want the best of the best and in our opinion that isn’t the 6900 XT. Who is going to buy the 6900 XT? Die-hard AMD fans and people who desperately want a 6800 XT but can’t find one and aren’t willing to wait. We're looking at you. "


When I started reading, I came here focused on just 3 things:

#1 Price
#2 How well it compared to my 3090 in Microsoft Flight Simulator (since ya'll don't use DCS World)
#3 Your conclusion.


I got 2/3 answers: $500 less than my 3090, but almost performs as well in 4K.

Because of the GPU scalping, it's almost impossible to buy anything around here. Microcenter's shelves are empty.

Hopefully, people will be able to actually get one now despite all the scalping going on.
 
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Irata

Posts: 1,739   +2,911
I think there are two main reasons for the 6900XT to exist:
- show that AMD can make a high end card
- to keep nVidia from charging too much in the high end while lowering prices in the low and mid range to combat AMD's cards.

You could see this last gen where prices were dropped across the board / Super models were introduced to combat the 5000 series but in the 2080+ territory not much changed.
 
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neeyik

Posts: 1,881   +2,199
Staff member
I think there are two main reasons for the 6900XT to exist:
Three reasons, really. The yields for Navi 21 just aren't high enough for fully enabled dies to be used for 6800 XT models, as they'd barely ship enough out to make it worthwhile, and prosumer AMD graphics cards are likely to switch to CNDA too. There's only the one chip of the latter, but more will come. So AMD were stuck with a bunch of 80 CU Navi 21 dies - not enough to for 6800s, not much use in the professional market - that needed to go into something.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,407   +2,506
6900XT running 2.55GHz sustained when overclocked and 2.8GHz peak. Wow. That's 27 billion transistors!

Only four scant years ago I remember reading the world record OC for a GPU was 2.885GHz on a GTX1060, although it did edge up to over 3GHz slowly. Hand picked cards, gallons of LN2 on hand. Four years later there is a monster GPU with SIX TIMES the transistor count virtually capable of doing those clocks- on its stock air cooler!

Either TSMC's process is that good now or these are some cherry picked dies. Probably a bit of both but all the same that's impressive. Someone better be putting one on ice right now and seeing how far it'll go.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,800   +2,155
TechSpot Elite
"Here we’re seeing that the 6900 XT comes in 47% more costly per frame when compared to the 6800 XT, so that’s kind of terrible."
- Steve Walton, 2020 (Always kind and polite, nearly to a fault)


You know that you've watched a lot of Hardware Unboxed videos when you read one of Steve's articles and every word you read sounds Aussie. It's like watching one of his vids. :laughing:

GREAT REVIEW AS ALWAYS STEVE! :D(y) (Y)
 
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Irata

Posts: 1,739   +2,911
Three reasons, really. The yields for Navi 21 just aren't high enough for fully enabled dies to be used for 6800 XT models, as they'd barely ship enough out to make it worthwhile, and prosumer AMD graphics cards are likely to switch to CNDA too. There's only the one chip of the latter, but more will come. So AMD were stuck with a bunch of 80 CU Navi 21 dies - not enough to for 6800s, not much use in the professional market - that needed to go into something.
While I agree on the prosumer / yield point, I still feel that Navi 21 exists to show that AMD is back in the high end (maybe as preparation for their next gen) and to keep nVidia in check as far as what they can charge.
 

Nargg

Posts: 50   +75
I read nothing about the special memory access ability of the new AMD silicon. I bet these scores will drastically change once the devs up their game on programming for this awesome feature. Especially on ray tracing.

Overall, I don't get the price negativity of the reviewer here. Basically equal in performance to a 3090, but $500 cheaper? Why the bias? Memory amounts don't seem to matter much in these games with tested cards, as the amount the AMD cards have appears to be plenty enough. More ram is likely a waste of money. So, if that's the only rough point, it seems kind of a bad point. Very bad point, and likely just nVidia trying to look good where it's moot.

For me, the sweet spot still appears to be the 6800. I've never bought the top of the line, and been just fine. Playing with a 2070 on a 4K monitor at 4K right now, I'm getting higher numbers in most games at the same settings as this review, which makes me wonder about that too.

Now, just to wait for the scalpers/bitcoin guys to become saturated, so the availability and price are what they should be....
 

Gastec

Posts: 144   +68
"Products like the RTX 3080 and 6800 XT are likely quite reasonably priced"
Reasonably priced compared to what kind of monthly income/salary?
 
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neeyik

Posts: 1,881   +2,199
Staff member
While I agree on the prosumer / yield point, I still feel that Navi 21 exists to show that AMD is back in the high end (maybe as preparation for their next gen) and to keep nVidia in check as far as what they can charge.
Oh, I agree with your point that AMD very much needed a best-of-the-best halo product to pitch against Nvidia, and for a lower price point. Had they an endless supply of 80 CU dies, though, that product would be the RX 6800 XT (in an 80 CU format). As it is, the dies had to go into something.

I read nothing about the special memory access ability of the new AMD silicon. I bet these scores will drastically change once the devs up their game on programming for this awesome feature. Especially on ray tracing.
Are you referring to SAM or Infinity Cache? If it's the former, it will have no effect on ray tracing, as the BLAS/TLAS are stored in cache/local memory. If it's the latter, then programmers have no direct access to it.

Overall, I don't get the price negativity of the reviewer here. Basically equal in performance to a 3090, but $500 cheaper? Why the bias?
Both products are ludicrously priced for the minor performance boost they have over their lesser siblings. The RX 6900 XT is 10% faster, on average at 4K, than the RX 6800 XT, yet it is 54% more expensive; the RTX 3090 is also 10% faster than the RTX 3080 but it's a ridiculous 114% more expensive. GDDR6X isn't that expensive!
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,800   +2,155
TechSpot Elite
Overall, I don't get the price negativity of the reviewer here. Basically equal in performance to a 3090, but $500 cheaper? Why the bias?
That "reviewer" is Steve Walton, the best benchmarker in the business. One of the things that makes him the best is his clear lack of bias. He ripped into the RTX 3090 just as badly if not worse when he reviewed it. He believes, and quite rightly, that neither of these cards should exist.

Being equal in performance and $500 cheaper than the RTX 3090 doesn't make you good, it just makes you "not as bad" while still being completely stupid. Sure, the RX 6900 XT looks good compared to the RTX 2080 Ti (when new) and RTX 3090 but looks absolutely horrible compared to anything else in the past two generations.

If I had either an RTX 3090 or an RX 6900 XT, I'd be embarrassed to admit it because nothing says "I'm clearly trying to compensate for something!" more than buying one of those cards.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,343   +3,436
I read nothing about the special memory access ability of the new AMD silicon. I bet these scores will drastically change once the devs up their game on programming for this awesome feature. Especially on ray tracing.

Overall, I don't get the price negativity of the reviewer here. Basically equal in performance to a 3090, but $500 cheaper? Why the bias? Memory amounts don't seem to matter much in these games with tested cards, as the amount the AMD cards have appears to be plenty enough. More ram is likely a waste of money. So, if that's the only rough point, it seems kind of a bad point. Very bad point, and likely just nVidia trying to look good where it's moot.

For me, the sweet spot still appears to be the 6800. I've never bought the top of the line, and been just fine. Playing with a 2070 on a 4K monitor at 4K right now, I'm getting higher numbers in most games at the same settings as this review, which makes me wonder about that too.

Now, just to wait for the scalpers/bitcoin guys to become saturated, so the availability and price are what they should be....
Where did you see bias? RX 6900 XT may be better value then RTX 3090 but that's not saying much. It is still terrible value as you can see in the graphs you probably didn't even look at, if you did everything would be clear as day. You get almost exactly the same performance with RX 6800 XT for way less money.
 

Badelhas

Posts: 123   +92
Great unbiased review! Congrats! I wished I could buy a 3070 to upgrade my 1070 but availability and current prices are just outrageous.
 

EdmondRC

Posts: 148   +126
Nvidia really needs to get more developers on board with DLSS. Control in 4K with ray tracing and DLSS enabled is a real treat, and it wouldn't be possible, at least not at a decent frame rate, without DLSS. It really is Nvidia's killer app and between the RT cores and DLSS, you can actually have real ray tracing in games now even at 4K. This is on a 3080 BTW. The game looks phenomenal and plays really smoothly even if it dips below 60 fps on occassion. I really can't tell the difference most of the time between DLSS and native, the only time I can really see the difference is there is some weird static on dark textures in control with DLSS enabled, but you only notice it if you stop to look. When you look at the 6900 XT here and the hit it takes compared to Nvidia with RT, then the advantage that you get with DLSS with practically no quality loss, Nvidia cards are still way more attractive at this point. AMD cards might be better for competitive gaming, but if you want to experience the best visuals games have to offer, its still Nvidia at the moment.
 

Buhaj47

Posts: 138   +236
I must say DLSS has changed the picture, why buy a 6900 XT for a grand if you can have a 3080 for less and it will work even better in titles supporting DLSS? And there will be more and more of those titles.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,724   +4,258
"That’s going to do it for our Radeon RX 6900 XT review. In short, don’t buy it, doing so will simply ensure that the next GPU generation is even more expensive. Then again, we said that about the RTX 3090 and they’ve been selling like hotcakes, so we guess budget gaming is doomed"

This is rediculously pessimistic hot take. The existence of mercedes hasnt made kia dissapear. The 2080ti didnt stop nvidia from creating the 1650, 1650 super, 1660, 1660 super, ece. The existence of 4k144hz monitors pushing $1000 pricetags hasnt stopped the release of decent sub $150 1080p monitors.
Where did you see bias? RX 6900 XT may be better value then RTX 3090 but that's not saying much. It is still terrible value as you can see in the graphs you probably didn't even look at, if you did everything would be clear as day. You get almost exactly the same performance with RX 6800 XT for way less money.
The ending is a great example. Steve bangs on about how terrible the value is compared to the 6800xt and suggesting that those buying the 6900xt are fools with more money then brains, whinging about how this is destroying budget gaming.

Compare that to the conclusion of the 3090. The 3090 is similarly faster then the 3080 as the 6900xt is to the 6800xt, while costing 100% more, compared to 60% more for the 6900xt. Not once in his conclusion does he complain about the 3090's rediculous price, nor does he say it's a poor value, nor does he deride those buying it as "Die-hard Nvidia fans" or people " people desperately waiting for a 3080 but cant wait" like he does here.

Why the unnecessary negativity over the 6900xt? Why didnt steve whine about Nvidia fans buying the 3090, or complain about its poor value over the 3080. He says the 3090 is more likely to be bought because "muh ray tracing" and "better performance", without realizing that high end buyers are not all mindless drones, he doesnt even consider the fact that the 6900xt offers rasterization performance within a few percent of the 3090 for 2/3rds the price. Again, there was no negative mention of hwo the 3090 cost 100% more then a 3080 and is only 10% faster, but its all he can bang on about here when talking about AMD. AMD has created a card that performs within a few % of the 3090, costs 2.3rds the price, and pulls way less power and has way more OC headroom, and all steve can whine about is "muh 6800xt".

That type of thing indicated bias towards nvidia. It's okay when nvidia makes a stupidly exensive halo card that's only single didgit percentages faster then the high end, but when AMD does it it's "budget gaming is doomed" and "dont buy this card".

Just in case someone tries to edit the articles later, here's the conclusions for the 3090 and the 6900xt. See if you can spy a huge difference in tone, despite the 3090 arguably being a WORSE value propisition then the 6900xt:

The GeForce RTX 3090 is not nearly as exciting as last week's RTX 3080 release, but as soon as Jensen said this was a Titan class product, we knew what we were in for. If you’re a PC gamer, the RTX 3090 doesn't really make much sense. The massive 24GB VRAM buffer has no appeal here, and despite Nvidia’s best efforts, 8K gaming just isn’t a thing, hell even 4K is still niche.

We did try out 8K gaming and it was impressive seeing 60 fps in Doom Eternal. It was also possible to average 60 fps in Control with the help of DLSS, rendering at 1440p, but then this is not true 8K gaming. Without DLSS, Control ran at 5 fps, so it’s a bit stretch claiming 8K gaming given for the most part you will require DLSS support for it to happen. Doom Eternal did work well, it looks great, and we saw VRAM usage hit 16GB -- actual usage, not just allocation.


Either way, we doubt gamers are keen for that 60 Hz 8K experience just yet. With most gamers targeting 1440p 144Hz, the RTX 3090 has little to offer over the 3080. This is also true when using a heavily overclocked Intel processor. Likewise, productivity tasks won't take full advantage of the RTX 3090 unless you can utilize that extra memory. If you do need 24 GB of VRAM, then the RTX 3090 is awesome. Previously you were looking at having to spend $2500 on a Titan RTX for the same memory capacity.

Lastly, the GeForce RTX 3090 Founders Edition model is truly outstanding and is probably going to be one of the best RTX 3090 graphics cards, if not the best.

The Radeon RX 6900 XT was never going to make sense, not unlike the GeForce RTX 3090, even though Nvidia's card does get you a lot more VRAM. Essentially, the Radeon RX 6900 XT is the same as a 6800 XT with a few extra cores enabled for a ~5-10% performance boost.

For the 6900 XT to make sense from a value perspective, it shouldn't exceed the $750 price point, assuming you could buy a 6800 XT for $650 which you really can’t right now, but we’re hoping for that come early 2021. In a world where GPU availability wasn’t an issue, there is literally zero reason to buy the 6900 XT. The same is also true for the RTX 3090 over the 3080, unless you required the extra VRAM for some reason. Short of that, there's no reason to spend much more money for the basically the same product.


Now, let's for a moment pretend that both products were reasonably priced, which one should you buy? If you’re gaming at 4K or care about ray tracing performance, then we think the RTX 3090 is the better product. It’s too early to call the ray tracing battle, but if you’re only interested in the games we have available today, then the GeForce GPU is the way to go.

For those gaming at 1440p or lower, the 6900 XT is typically the puncher card, though for the most part it’s too close to call. So if they were available at the same price, and it was a reasonable price, we feel the RTX 3090 would be the superior product. However, at $1,500 for the 3090 and $1,000 for the 6900 XT, the Radeon GPU is the better option, assuming you’re not heavily focused on ray tracing and we think that might be an issue for AMD with these extreme high-end GPUs.


Typically those with super deep pockets who don’t care that they’re spending 50% or more for 10% or less performance, probably won’t care if it costs $1,000 or $1,500, they’ll just go with the outright best product, and as we’ve said we think that product is the RTX 3090. It offers 50% more VRAM, more mature ray tracing support that’s currently yielding far better results, DLSS 2.0 support, and for the most part superior 4K performance.

The Radeon RX 6900 XT is kind of stuck in this strange place where it’s really bad value compared to the 6800 XT, good value compared to the RTX 3090, but people looking to invest in this class of GPU won’t care about value, they just want the best of the best and in our opinion that isn’t the 6900 XT. Who is going to buy the 6900 XT? Die-hard AMD fans and people who desperately want a 6800 XT but can’t find one and aren’t willing to wait. We're looking at you.

That’s going to do it for our Radeon RX 6900 XT review. In short, don’t buy it, doing so will simply ensure that the next GPU generation is even more expensive. Then again, we said that about the RTX 3090 and they’ve been selling like hotcakes, so we guess budget gaming is doomed.

" In short, don’t buy it, doing so will simply ensure that the next GPU generation is even more expensive. "

How interesting this line was only found in the $1000 6900xt review, and not the $1500 RTX 3090 review.
 
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Thanks for the review, Steve!

It's clear AMD missed the point of the ultra-high end niche that Nvidia has achieved with the 3090. Scalable compute capabilities with NVlink and 24gb of memory are the sole reason for the price premium. I'm not one of those that requires such an expensive part and the performance delta compared to the 3080 is laughable overall.

The strides AMD have taken over the years to be more competitive with their rivals is outstanding, in both CPU and GPU markets. DLSS is Nvidia's trump card at the moment along with slightly more performant RT. Can AMD offer something similar in the future?

Meanwhile I'm gonna wait (hopefully) only 6 to 8 weeks for the release of a 3080Ti, selling my 1080Ti to save a good 30% of the estimated cost.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
Minecraft RTX came out of Beta into full release today. I can’t imagine paying £1000 for a graphics card and finding it doesn’t run that game very well.

Ray tracing is relevant for some of us. The way I see it is if your paying top money for a card you really should be getting it.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,546   +3,038
TechSpot Elite
From what I'm seeing across the web is that the 6900 is better if you want to game without raytracing and won't be using it for productivity (lower memory). Otherwise, the 3090 is the top tier card if you have money to burn.

Still, good to see the competition heating up between the 2. Can only mean more power per dollar for consumers (on the reasonable side of things) lol
 

Thunder6230

Posts: 67   +40
It was said that the RT performance is sh!t until the devs gonna implement the new RT. I'm curious what will it mean in the real life. until then it's not important to check RT performance IMO.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,429   +2,051
It was said that the RT performance is sh!t until the devs gonna implement the new RT. I'm curious what will it mean in the real life. until then it's not important to check RT performance IMO.

This.

RT will be usable next gen and you will have more games that support it, I don't see the rush right now for it.
 

Makste

Posts: 145   +100
Nice review. The 6900XT is a good card but very expensive, the 3090 is a better card, but an abomination price wise.
Conclusion, any of the two lower siblings will do just fine.
 
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JimboJoneson

Posts: 304   +502
Minecraft RTX came out of Beta into full release today. I can’t imagine paying £1000 for a graphics card and finding it doesn’t run that game very well.

Ray tracing is relevant for some of us. The way I see it is if your paying top money for a card you really should be getting it.

Solution is simple: For those who want to buy a £1000 (or more) card to play minecraft with and are unwilling to play without raytracing, then they can buy the 3090.

Personally, I can't even imagine myself playing minecraft let alone paying over $1000 for video card to play it ... but to each their own.