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AMD Radeon RX 6800 Review 2021

Along with AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, we are happy to welcome all new AMD Radeon RX 6800 – a new addition to the AMD GPU family. Nvidia GPUs have been dominating the market since ages with their top-notch graphics cards. This, however, serves as an alternate option to Nvidia’s GPUs.

Well, the thing is that the last-gen cards offered by AMD like RX 5700, Radeon VII or the Radeon RX 5700 XT couldn’t even come close to Nvidia’s GPUs – in terms of performance. Now, AMD Radeon RX 6800 is here with the premium features like Ray Tracing (RT) and all, hence, the red team can now fairly compete with Nvidia – it might also outperform the RTX 3070. But, let’s try not to get too excited.

We just really wanted AMD to hold its traditional low price. Sadly, the Red team is asking for about 80 bucks more at a final price tag of $579 for the AMD Radeon RX 6800, next to the RTX 3070 499 bucks. It costs 10 percent more for around 5-15 percent more output. It’s already a reasonably priced high-end product, and a positive indication of more good things to come from AMD.

AMD Radeon RX 6800 – Price & Availability

Going up for the aftermarket board partner designs, AMD has released the Radeon RX 6800 with a price tag of $549 to $579 bucks. In competition to this GPU, we have the Green team’s GeForce RTX 3070 – coming with VRAM which is half of what AMD is offering but then again the price is lower too – it will end up costing you less than $499 bucks.

If you still would like to go up while being loyal to AMD, we have the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT for you – but, of course, it will cost you more; around 649 bucks. At this price, the Red team gives a fair competition to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.

But we do expect the results to get much better over time as the drivers evolve. These two graphics cards are easily designed to offer outstanding 4K gaming performance. The lower-priced graphics card by AMD, though, is by far the best-buy option for the overwhelming majority, since the RX 6800 XT is much more expensive than RX 6800.

Let’s Talk about Features and Chipset

Based on the AMD’s rDNA 2 design – AMD Radeon RX 6800 has the same tech which is used in the new-gen gaming consoles like the PS-5 and Xbox Series X. So, if we critically look at it, it doesn’t matter much right now – but it most certainly will – in this decade. Because this architecture has the potential to impact the optimization of the new and upcoming PC games of the next generation.

It is necessary, though, for this reason, to bear in mind that both PS4 and Xbox One have used AMD graphics, which didn’t significantly improve the optimization for games in PC over the last decade.

The first generation of RDNA has two massive variations in comparison to the current one, although interestingly – both have been designed using the same method of 7 nm (nanometer).

The first variation is the presence of the infinity cache. This is essentially a global GPU cache that increases video memory bandwidth. This renders GDDR6 much better than GDDR6X and consumes less electricity on the 256-bit bus. This increases the bandwidth theoretically 2.4 times per watt over the GDDR6 on a 256-bit bus.

Then, of course, Ray Accelerators have been used by the red team, one in every of the 60 computing devices. As far as the overall ray tracing output is concerned – let us tell you this – the Radeon RX 6800 is slightly slower than the RTX 3070 in Metro Exodus, with Ray Tracing enabled and DLSS disabled. DLSS – an exclusive technology for Nvidia that AMD doesn’t have as of right now. So if you turn the DLSS on – the performance gap widens.

Besides these two variations – the rest of the architecture is very close between AMD and Nvidia. There are 64 Stream Processors for each computes unit, with a total of 3,840 for the Radeon RX 6800. However, we have noticed how AMD has worked tirelessly to increase productivity and they are still trying to increase the frequency.

Also, it is a bit unclear how AMD sets the frequency on their graphics cards, but in fact, it is very beneficial. You will see two frequencies, the Game Clock and the Boost Clock if you look at the spec sheet. The Boost Clock is just the maximum frequency – used mainly in the quick bursting workloads. The Game Clock, however, is around where AMD relies most of the time on a graphics card: this is where the magic happens.

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 is equipped with a 1.815MHz Game Clock and a 2.105MHz Boost Clock. Yet we witnessed clock speeds over the Boost Clock during our evaluation, which were maintained quite smoothly.

AMD’s optimization testified to the fact that the GPU was able to double its size – from 251mm2 and 10.3 billion transistors for the 5700 XT to 519mm2 and 26.8 billion transistors for the RX 6800 – while the board’s capacity just rose from 225W to 250W. AMD Radeon RX 6800 GPU also increased its clock speeds. And during our tests, our energy consumption peaked at 213W, meaning that future driver upgrades and aftermarket board designs will provide more scope for increased performance.

However, the temperatures have largely gone lower – thanks to the latest cooler architecture. Temperatures seem to have averaged at 75C during our tests, with a GPU temperature of just 88C. It is important to note that the initial reading is the main thing that you should be focused on when looking at your GPUs temperatures. AMD has advised us that during regular gameplay, these new GPUs are supposed to go up to 110C and that it is normal and comes under the spec sheet figures – it won’t trigger any problems. And yes, don’t worry, your graphics card isn’t going to melt if you see these high figures.

AMD offers its Ryzen 6000-class processors with 2 ways to improve their performance: Rage Mode and Smart Access Memory. The former is not accessible on the Radeon RX 6800 mysteriously, however, it increases the power cap and the game time, giving your gameplay a slight advantage.

In order use this feature, a window will be created to alert you that messing with the GPU tuners will void your card’s guarantee, but don’t worry: AMD has told us all that Rage Mode is not going to void the warranty as long as you don’t overclock manually – just stick with Rage Mode and you are good to go.

Smart Access Memory provides the CPU with direct access to GPU memory, and not the typical just pre-mapped memory, for people with an AMD Ryzen 5000, a 500-series AMD motherboard, and either the Radeon RX 6800 or RX 6800 XT – they can access this feature. For a number of selected games, this will increase output up to a good 10%. It’s an amazing feature, but it’s a little hard and tricky to enable.

Just for the sake of discussing it, first, you will need to upgrade your BIOS, then go in and uninstall CSM – which ensures that if you don’t use a UEFI-compatible installation, you will need to reinstall your Windows 10 from the scratch. Second, you will need to enter the advanced BIOS tab and enable the Above 4G Decoding as well as the BAR Re-Size Support. This is why it is a feature in which experienced users are just advised to try. If you are a noob – just leave it be.

Because fortunately, the Radeon RX 6800 offers excellent efficiency even without SAM being turned on, so you really won’t lose anything if you don’t use it. But it is there for those of you who wish to benefit from the advanced functionality offered by the red team.

In addition to all of this, an excellent suite of features from AMD’s Fidelity-FX is here. It provides its users with a number of life-quality tools such as Radeon Boost which decreases resolution when running, boosting frame rates when you move too fast to note the decrease in image quality.

The one function we missed the most is something equal to the DLSS feature of Nvidia, especially this time with the inclusion of ray tracing. This technology is particularly helpful when playing ray tracing enabled games, as it helps to create the huge output difference that Ray Tracing provides. AMD has informed us all that they are currently working on an alternative which will hopefully be released by the time RDNA 3 is here.

However, the lack of Tensor Cores doesn’t only leave the DLSS feature behind. There’s no solution to Nvidia’s Broadcast too. Because of the pandemic, we are all operating at home nowadays, this technology, particularly if you work in a noisy or messy environment, is incredibly useful.

AMD Radeon RX 6800 Design

Thank God! AMD eventually left the blower design that was pummeling down the RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 reference architectures and chose to design a beefy three-ventilator shroud design. Not only does this make the graphics card cooler, but it’s a lot quieter under load as well.

Moreover, we have got 2 Display-ports, 1 HDMI 2.1 and 1 USB-C for output. This essentially includes any form of monitor display options you may need in 2021 and AMD has also opted for not decoupling the USB-C like Nvidia did with their ampere cards – unexplainably.

For electric power, you will get two 8-pin connectors that is an impressive move to attract everyone who has complained about the switch of Team Green to a 12-pin adaptor connector – well-played AMD.

Yet people would still be separated in terms of their opinion while judging the design aesthetically. This time around, AMD’s board design has a very 2012 aesthetic look. The side of the shroud is all black in color with the red trim and lettering, or whatever you see when the GPU physically gets connected to your machine. And the Radeon badge, of course, shines brightly in red colored lights.

Talking about the front-end of the card, a silver streak circling the 3 fans – each with a ‘R’ mark – is linked by the black trim for Radeon. The silver stripe is bigger on the back and the base of the GPU can also be seen. This is not something we usually like on the graphics card, since damaging the card can be made easier, even though the cooling feature is much stronger due to it.

How’s the Performance?

For your reference, you can use the following system specs to test your AMD Radeon RX 6800:

  • Case: Praxis Wetbench
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Masterliquid 360P Silver Edition
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X (16-core, up to 4.9GHz)
  • Motherboard: ASRock X570 Taichi
  • Power Supply: Corsair AX1000
  • RAM: 64GB Corsair Dominator Platinum @ 3,200MHz
  • SSD: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro @ 1TB

Talking about the performance, AMD has really earned its increase in price. We felt it was a daring strategy when AMD revealed that the Radeon RX 6800 was costlier than the RTX 3070. However, it seems that AMD has gained this price boost – when it comes to raw performance.

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 overwhelms the GeForce RTX 3070 over the entire testing range and is very significant for its conventional rasterizing performance. The Radeon RX 6800 scored a spectacular 24 percent more than the Green Team’s RTX 3070 in 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra, which tests the 4K output with DirectX 11.

This performance gap relies naturally on the type of game itself. The RX 6800 is only 3 fps faster in Metro Exodus at 4K Ultra with the RT feature turned off, which has a slight 6 percent gap in output in comparison to the RTX 3070. But in DirectX 11, as shown by the Fire Strike Ultra test, the disparity increases dramatically.

In Far Cry 5 the Radeon RX 6800 is 27% faster and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 25% faster. All of these are of course streamlined games for AMD hardware, however, the figures seem to be intimidating.

But in several other games in our evaluation, this success lead gets smaller. For example, RX 6800 is only 10% faster than the RTX 3070 in Red Dead Redemption 2. And it’s just 5 percent quicker in Final Fantasy XV.

When the RT joins the equation, the plot switches entirely. Nvidia remains at the top and Nvidia has considerable benefit in both the 3DMark Port Royal and Metro Exodus RT test. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 in Port Royal scored 6% more than the Radeon RX 6800 and the 9% gap was seen in the favor of the green team in the Metro Exodus at 4K with the RT enabled and DLSS disabled.

Without any doubt – the AMD Radeon RX 6800 is totally better than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 for people who want something that has higher frame rates in typical game loads.

Regrettably, Team Red isn’t at the top yet. if you are hoping for an AMD graphics card that might just as well trace the rays better than Nvidia. But, within this era of the graphics card, AMD will still be able to achieve improved tracking results – hopefully.

However, one thing is sure: AMD returned to the high-end GPU market with the help of Big Navi. It has not overthrown Nvidia as it did with Intel just yet, but in the next few years, we will certainly see Team Red going in that direction.

Final Thoughts

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 represents AMD’s return to the big boy’s graphics card market, with 4K gaming support which is comparable to the RTX 3070. However, due to a lack of some features, especially those related to upscaling, ray tracing is a wash at 4K.

What we like:

  • → Improved and effective cooler
  • → Power consumption is less
  • → AMD’s ray tracing
  • → Finally, excellent performance

What we didn’t like:

  • → It’s more expensive than Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
  • → The design is divisive
  • → The ray-tracing performance is not up to the mark

Buy it if:

Solid 4K performance in gaming is all you want: The AMD Radeon RX 6800 has proven to be more than capable of delivering a good 4K 60 fps experience in a variety of our evaluations. It’s not as fast as the RTX 3080, but it’s faster than the RTX 3070 at that resolution.

You are good with messing around with your system BIOS: AMD’s Smart Access Memory architecture can boost the Radeon RX 6800’s efficiency, but you’ll need to be confident while tinkering with your BIOS, which not everybody is. If you know how to do it – go for it.

You need a ray tracing feature at 1440p res: If you’re not using a 4K display and just choose to play games at 1440p with ray tracing, the AMD Radeon RX 6800 will be more than capable to handle it efficiently.

Don’t buy it if:

You want 2 in 1 – 4K with RT: AMD still hasn’t got its hands on the DLSS tech. Till then it’s better for you to opt for Nvidia GPUs if you want a card that supports RT along with 4K res.

Your budget is tight: We suggest that you wait for an AMD Graphics RT Card if you are looking for a low-cost GPU.

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