AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT review

AMD's top-tier RDNA 2 graphics card packs plenty of performance but its ray tracing isn't as strong as Nvidia and at current pricing it's not good value.

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The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT launched with a $999 price but was already going for $1,200 when we first reviewed it. Proportionally, its price hasn’t increased as far as the GPUs immediately below it. As such, its current inflated price of $1,350 makes it not terrible value compared to some cards but it’s still overall a tough sell in the current inflated graphics card price climate.

There isn’t an enormous difference between the Radeon RX 6900 XT and the 6800 XT. Both cards have 16GB of 2GHz (16GHz effective) GDDR6 memory attached to a 256-bit wide memory interface, giving you a total memory bandwidth of 512GB/sec, along with 128MB of AMD’s Infinity Cache.

Both cards also use the same GA102 GPU clocked at the same frequency, it’s just that the Radeon RX 6900 XT GPU has 80 of its compute units enabled, compared with 72 on the 6800 XT. That gives it eight more Ray Accelerators, along with 512 more stream processors for a total of 5,120.

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The result is a GPU that offers a chunk more parallel processing power, but doesn’t push up the power consumption. Indeed, there was a difference of just 2W between the two cards in our test system, with the 6900 XT drawing over 50W less than the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti at full load. The Radeon RX 6900 XT has slightly higher cooling requirements than the 6800 XT, though, with the AMD reference card having a wider heatsink design.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT frame rate and power draw

As with the Radeon RX 6800 XT, the 6900 XT is a monster in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It was the only card to hit our frame rate target at 4K in recent testing, and if you enable resizable BAR it averages 67fps with a 51fps 99th percentile result. Thanks to its formidable raw shader power, it also coped well with Doom Eternal, out-performing the RTX 3080 Ti at 1,920 x 1,080 and 2,560 x 1,440.

Unlike the RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT, the 6900 XT also hit our frame rate target in Metro Exodus at 4K, and it out-performed the latter in Cyberpunk 2077 at Ultra settings at 2,560 x 1,440, with a great average of 79fps.

As with other RDNA2 GPUs, though, ray tracing is the Radeon RX 6900 XT’s problem, despite having 80 Ray Accelerators. It couldn’t even play Cyberpunk 2077 with Medium ray tracing at 1,920 x 1,080, and it lacks a hardware-based AI resolution scaling system such as DLSS. It performed better in Metro Exodus, with a decent 48fps 99th percentile and 73fps average at 2,560 x 1,440 with High ray tracing, but the RTX 3080 Ti was 18fps faster, plus it lets you even step up to 4K in this game if you enable DLSS.

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AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT pros and cons

Pros

  • Top-notch performance in some games
  • Decent 4K performance
  • Good power-efficiency

Cons

  • Poor ray tracing performance
  • RTX 3080 Ti generally quicker at 4K
  • It’s still expensive

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT specs

The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT spec list is:

GPU Navi 21
Stream processors 5,120
ROPs 128
Ray accelerators 80 (1st-gen)
Base clock 2015 MHz
Boost clock 2250 MHz
Memory  16GB GDDR6
Memory bus 256-bit
Memory bandwidth 512 GB/s
Interface 8x PCIe 4

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT price

The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT price is $1350 (£1350), making it very expensive and higher than MSRP at time of review.

Price: Expect to pay $1350 (£1350)

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT review conclusion

In the current market, the Radeon RX 6900 XT is now surprisingly competitive. Its ray tracing performance can’t match Nvidia’s latest RTX GPUs, and it lacks DLSS, but it does have some awesome shader power. If you love Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – this card will play it smoothly with all the settings maxed out at 4K.

The Radeon RX 6900 XT’s main problem is that Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Ti also hasn’t had the same sort of price bump as other GPUs, is generally quicker at 4K, and has much better ray-tracing abilities. If you really don’t care about ray tracing, this is a fast gaming card, but the RTX 3080 Ti offers a better balance for an extra $140.

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AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT rating

A decent 4K gaming GPU with a lot of rasterisation power, but it’s worth spending the extra money on the RTX 3080 Ti.

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