AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT review

With masses of general shader performance, the RX 6800 XT is a compelling option for those who aren't fussed about ray tracing, but it doesn't come cheap.

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It seems weird the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT cost $649 when it launched this time last year. At the time, even that price seemed too expensive when it couldn’t out-perform the similarly-priced GeForce RTX 3080, but the price of both cards has now climbed stratospherically to well over a grand.

It’s based on AMD’s top-end Navi 21 GPU, with 72 compute units enabled, giving it 72 Ray Accelerators for ray tracing and a total of 4,608 stream processors. Like the Radeon RX 6900 XT, it also has 16GB of GDDR6 memory attached to a 256-bit wide memory interface.

With a 2GHz (16GHz effective) memory clock, that gives it a total memory bandwidth of 512GB/sec. That’s a long way behind the 760GB/sec of the RTX 3080 with its GDDR6X memory and 320-bit wide interface, but AMD has also equipped the Radeon RX 6800 XT with a massive 128MB of Infinity Cache to help close the gap, and it has 6GB more memory than the RTX 3080.

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AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT frame rate and power draw

The Radeon RX 6800 XT clearly has an awesome amount of shader power at its disposal. Its best showcase of this is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, where it even beats the GeForce RTX 3090 at 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440, and stays ahead of the RTX 3080 at 4K. If you enable resizable BAR, it even beats the RTX 3080 Ti at 4K, while exceeding our ideal frame rate target in this game.

The Radeon also stayed in front of the GeForce RTX 3080 in Doom Eternal at the lower two resolutions, clocking up an average of 449fps at 1,920 x 1,080. It couldn’t quite beat it at 4K, but the difference was small. Performance in Metro Exodus was also strong, where the 6800 XT again stayed ahead of the RTX 3080 at 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440, although there’s not much between them at 4K.

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Where the Radeon 6800 XT’s performance started to disappoint was when we enabled ray tracing. It couldn’t even hit a decent frame rate at 1,920 x 1,080 with Medium ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077, let alone at higher resolutions, while the RTX 3080 averaged 68fps at these settings and was also smoothly playable at 2,560 x 1,440 with DLSS enabled.

AMD has a resolution-scaling feature in the form of FidelityFX Super Resolution, but its GPUs don’t have any dedicated matrix processors (like Nvidia’s Tensor cores), so it works quite differently, with inferior image quality, and it’s not supported in any of our test games at the moment anyway.

The Radeon RX 6800 XT fared better in Metro Exodus with ray tracing, achieving a playable result at 2,560 x 1,440, which is a decent achievement. Again, though, the RTX 3080 is faster still, and you have the option to enable DLSS to squeeze out more performance.

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AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT pros and cons

Pros

  • Superb non-ray tracing performance
  • 16GB of memory
  • Cheaper than Nvidia competition

Cons

  • Massive price increase
  • Poor ray tracing performance
  • Starts to struggle at 4K

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT specs

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT spec list is:

GPU Navi 21
Stream processors 4,608
ROPs 128
Ray accelerators 72 (1st-gen)
Base clock 2015 MHz
Boost clock 2250 MHz
Memory  16GB GDDR6
Memory bus 256-bit
Memory bandwidth 512 GB/s
Interface 16x PCIe 4

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT price

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT price is $1050, making it very expensive and higher than MSRP at the time of review.

Price: Expect to pay $1050 (£1070)

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT review conclusion

If you don’t care about ray tracing, and your priority is fast frame rates, the Radeon RX 6800 XT is a solid GPU. It becomes a bit less competitive at 4K, but it beats the GeForce RTX 3080 in non-ray-traced games at 2,560 x 1,440 and 1,920 x 1,080.

However, the fact that it can’t play a game such as Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing even at 1080p is a serious shortfall at this price, and the lack of a hardware-accelerated resolution scaling option hurts it too. It might have 16GB of memory, but the 10GB GeForce RTX 3080 still offers a better overall balance of performance.

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AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT rating

Great shader performance and plenty of memory, but a huge price hike and a lack of ray tracing performance make it hard to recommend.

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