The newest video cards from AMD are promising big performance without breaking the bank
The second half of AMD’s “Where Gaming Begins” event aired yesterday, and if you haven’t caught on yet, the company is making some big moves. Earlier this month, the first half of this event aired and brought with it the reveal of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series CPU’s, a new generation of processors promising incredible performance without breaking consumers’ wallets.
Yesterday’s event focused on AMD’s other hardware focus: video cards. Nvidia already whipped PC gaming enthusiasts into a frenzy with its 3000 series cards, the 3070, 3080 and 3090. AMD has clearly seen that explosive, store-shelf emptying interest and come up with direct competitors to some of Nvidia’s cards with the Radeon 6000 series.
Mirroring Nvidia’s 3000 series cards, AMD’s 6000 series is broken up into three SKU’s, or tiers. The bottom tier, the RX 6800, is easily the least tempting among AMD’s offers, although it does promise great performance. Running at a base clock of 1815MHz and boosting all the way up to 2105MHz, the 6800 will also sport 16GB of GDDR6 memory and sip a lowly 250w. AMD decided to compare it to Nvidia’s 2080TI, which cost $1000 when it originally launched and performs similarly to Nvidia’s 3070. In all, the 6800 seems to perform great, although it costs quite a bit more than its Nvidia contemporary, the 3070. Priced at $580, it’s a whole $80 over the 3070’s $500.
The middle tier card AMD is offering is also a direct competitor with Nvidia’s 3800, the Radeon RX 6800XT. Sporting a 2015MHz base clock and 2250MHz boost clock, 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a total board power of only 300w, the 6800XT is offering performance comparable and sometimes even better than the 3800 at 4K while sucking back less power. To sweeten the pot just a bit more, the 6800XT will run consumers $649, undercutting the 3800 by $50.
AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su saved the best reveal for last though, a direct competitor to Nvidia’s overkill, top of the line 3900, a behemoth of a card that costs consumers a whopping $1500. AMD’s response is the $999 RX 6900XT (nice), which surprisingly has a lot in common with the 6800XT. The card runs at the same clocks, has the same VRAM inside, and even consumes the same amount of power, a mere 300w compared to the 3900’s 350w. The sole difference here is a greater number of compute units, which give the card a massive boost in performance that ends up being comparable to the 3090 when running games at 4K.
But there’s a big asterisk there. The RX 6900XT can only achieve that kind of performance when it’s making use of two new software features AMD also introduced during the show: rage mode and smart access memory. Rage mode is a new feature built into the software for all AMD video cards that instantly overclock the hardware, making use of extra headroom built into the machines. The second, smart access memory, is a new technique that can be used in computers running both Radeon 6000 series video cards and Ryzen 5000 series processors. When enabled in the BIOS of a motherboard, this new process gives the CPU access to all 16GB of memory in these video cards, boosting performance significantly.
In all, AMD’s showing yesterday was impressive. This new generation of Radeon graphics cards promises high performance for low costs. While we won’t know exactly how they perform until they get into the hands of folks that can properly test them, if all goes well, AMD might finally stop being the budget option for so many PC gamers, and turn into a proper competitor in the GPU market.
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