Will We See Big Performance From A Smaller Navi?
The 40 CU variant of AMD’s RDNA 2 lineup is here, with the Radeon RX 6700 XT sporting 2560 Streaming Processors, 12 GB of GDDR6 memory, and the highest stock GPU clocks we’ve ever seen. Clearly this will be more than a worthy successor to the 40 CU Radeon RX 5700 XT, but how does it fare against RTX 30 Series GPUs?
This is new silicon, rather than a “cut-down” version of GPU found in the previous RX 6800 cards, and AMD has stressed that this smaller Navi is all about 1440p gaming performance.
The new GPU’s lower CU count is accompanied by a 192-bit memory interface with the RX 6700 XT, down from a bus width of 256-bit with the previous RDNA 2 GPUs. Infinity Cache is also reduced, from 128 MB down to 96 MB with the smaller GPU.
Here’s another look at the RDNA 2 lineup with its newest family member:
|AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT||AMD Radeon RX 6800||AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT||AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6|
|Memory Interface||192 bit||256 bit||256 bit||256 bit|
|Game Clock||2424 MHz||1815 MHz||2015 MHz||2015 MHz|
|Boost Clock||Up to 2581||Up to 2105 MHz||Up to 2250 MHz||Up to 2250 MHz|
|Infinity Cache||96 MB||128 MB||128 MB||128 MB|
|Total Board Power||230W||250W||300W||300W|
As mentioned above, the drop to 40 CUs with the RX 6700 XT did necessitate the reduction in memory bandwidth, just as we saw from NVIDIA with the RTX 3060. Even with its 192-bit memory bus (each of the previous 6000 Series cards sported the same 16GB/256-bit combo) the RX 6700 XT still matches the RTX 3060’s 360GB/s bandwidth. And, as with the 3060, the RX 6700 XT offers 12GB of VRAM – with 6 GB obviously a no-go for the company that stresses VRAM usage in their marketing this generation.
But performance isn’t the biggest part of any graphics card launch anymore, by a long shot. (I’m talking about the “A” word.) Sadly, this is the 2020-2021 era of PC hardware, with silicon shortages and the evil twin forces of scalpers and miners. While we can only guess as to actual availability, at least those seeking AMD’s reference design for the new Radeon RX 6700 XT will only have to pay the list $479 price if they are able to purchase directly from AMD.com.
The RX 6700 XT Reference Card
While this is quite similar to the reference RX 6800 we looked at previously, the RX 6700 XT has a dual-fan cooler design and power delivery consists of one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI-E connection.
A fine looking card, in my opinion. I think AMD did a nice job with their industrial design this generation, and of course many enthusiasts welcomed the decision to move away from blower designs. Now let’s move on to measured performance.
We will focus almost exclusively on 2560×1440 resolution with this review, though I’ll throw in a couple of 4K benchmarks just to see how this card fares. There could/should be more titles in the lineup, no doubt, but my goal here is just to identify the relative performance of these GPUs; in particular where exactly the RX 6700 XT places between the RX 5700 XT and the RX 6800, and if it will trade blows with the RTX 3070.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (1800MHz FCLK)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO WIFI|
|Memory||HyperX Predator DDR4-3600 CL16 32GB (16GBx2)|
|Storage||Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (Version 1909)|
|Drivers||GeForce Game Ready Driver 452.06 – 461.64
Radeon Software Adrenalin 20.8.3 – 20.50
3DMark GPU Scores
First we’ll look at the synthetic results with 3DMark – with the 2560×1440 Time Spy and 3840×2160 Time Spy Extreme benchmarks.
In the 2560×1440 Time Spy test the RX 6700 XT comes out slightly ahead of the RTX 3060 Ti, but falls behind the 3060 Ti in the more demanding 3840×2160 Time Spy Extreme test. 3DMark doesn’t always reflect real-world results, so we move on to our first game engine benchmark with a DX12 title.
Just ahead of the RTX 3060 Ti here, but only by 2 FPS. The $479 price doesn’t seem as competitive as one might hope – but that’s in a world where the RTX 3060 Ti is actually available for $399.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Once again the RX 6700 XT sits between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070, and this time almost exactly in the middle. It really does feel like this should be a $449 card, even if that’s only a symbolic “list price” that we never see in the current climate.
Maybe results from a more AMD friendly benchmark will change my mind. Unfortunately, I could not get DiRT 5 to run with my frame capture tool after updating the game to the latest version (which also necessitated re-testing all of the GPUs as it included a performance update), and finally gave up as I was running out of time. Oh well, at least we have Division 2 and Far Cry 5.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Ok, this time it’s a virtual tie with the RTX 3060 Ti. I suspect that the “high” settings I’ve been using for the past year or so in this game is just not enough to push these GPUs hard enough, or make use of much VRAM. On to Far Cry 5.
Far Cry 5
Ah ha! With the game set to 3840×2160, ultra settings, and with the HD textures enabled, we finally have a much more impressive showing from the RX 6700 XT. Sure, this is an older title at this point (DX11, no less), and AMD cards tend to run this test very well, but we can still say that the 6700 XT is capable of besting the RTX 3070 in at least one scenario. And DiRT 5 was probably going to be the other, but there will be time for more games later.
The short version is that the RX 6700 XT consumes roughly the same amount of power as the RX 5700 XT – or within 6 watts, anyhow:
Total system power draw (with an X570/Ryzen 3900X platform) was 335W in my quick gaming load test (Metro Exodus at 4K/high), which places the RX 6700 XT – you guessed it – between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070.
As if we needed any proof, AMD’s RDNA 2-powered Radeon RX 6700 XT is a major upgrade over the RX 5700 XT at the same 40 CU count, and with less memory bandwidth to boot. Compared to NVIDIA’s current lineup the performance from AMD’s latest GPU is somewhere between an RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070, with higher performance possible in more AMD-friendly software titles.
In the end, however, the best GPU is still the one you can actually buy, and I don’t anticipate this card being widely available – and in any case it certainly won’t be found at the $479 list price beyond limited availability from AMD’s web store (and perhaps a Newegg Shuffle or two).
There’s more than a bit of trepidation involved in approaching any GPU review these days, as it seems like engagement is exclusively limited to availability complaints. I won’t dwell too heavily on this, just as I won’t go too far into list pricing. Personally I’d like to see this card at $449 based on initial testing, but that’s academic at this point. It’s a solid GPU, and I really like this generation’s reference design from AMD.
Here’s hoping that availability will be better with this launch. Good luck, and happy hunting!
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