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AMD announces Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs

AMD is taking on Nvidia’s top-end cards with its latest GPUs

AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su holding up the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics card on stage Photo: AMD

On Wednesday, AMD hosted a reveal event for the company’s new Radeon RX 6000 line of graphics cards. The new cards are billed as “the most powerful gaming graphics cards ever built by AMD,” and should be the company’s answer to next-gen hardware both from consoles and from its GPU rival Nvidia.

The flagship card in AMD’s new lineup is the Radeon RX 6800 XT, which will perform roughly on the same level as Nvidia’s RTX 3080, according to AMD. While the performance in games that AMD showed off during the presentation is pretty similar at both 4K and 1440p resolution, the Radeon RX 6800 XT does have the RTX 3080 beat in raw specs, with 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM and a maximum clock speed of 2.25 GHz.

The Radeon RX 6800 XT will be available on Nov. 18 for $649, which is $50 less than the starting price of the RTX 3080.

AMD also revealed another other GPU from the RX 6000 line that should put up some pretty impressive performance at a lower price.

That’s the Radeon RX 6800, which AMD chose to compare with Nvidia’s last-generation RTX 2080 Ti during the stream. The RX 6800 matches the 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM of the RX 6800 XT, but has a slightly lower clock speed. In AMD’s graphics comparisons, the RX 6800 was able to beat or match the 2080 Ti in a number of games, and at a $579 price tag, it’s much cheaper than Nvidia’s top-of-the-line 2019 card. However, Nvidia’s new RTX 3070, which launches Oct. 29, has fairly similar performance to the RTX 2080 Ti — and, likely, the RX 6800 — while it’s priced at only $499. The Radeon RX 6800 will be available on Nov. 18.

a product render of two AMD Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards, the RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT
Renders of AMD’s new RX 6800 (left) and RX 6800 XT graphics cards.
Image: AMD via Polygon

The stream’s big finale was a bit of a surprise, as AMD announced its own high-end GPU: the Radeon RX 6900 XT. This card is positioned against Nvidia’s RTX 3090, and will be the top of the RX 6000 line. The RX 6900 XT once again comes with 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM, and comes in at a far lower price than Nvidia’s $1,499 RTX 3090. The Radeon RX 6900 XT will be available on Dec. 8.

Both the RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT draw 300 W of power, while the RX 6800 XT is rated at 250 W. It’s also worth noting that all three of AMD’s new GPUs contain 16 GB of GDDR6 memory, which is not as fast as the newer GDDR6X RAM in the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090. Check out AMD’s website for a full specs comparison between the three cards.

One thing that AMD didn’t spend much time discussing was real-time ray tracing, one of the most sought-after features in cutting-edge GPUs. The feature only got a passing mention in the company’s presentation, but there could be a good reason for that. The Verge reports that AMD is working on its own supersampling technology — similar to Nvidia’s DLSS — which would help reduce the technical strain of real-time ray tracing, and increase in-game performance when the feature is turned on. However, AMD is reportedly planning to make its supersampling technique open rather than proprietary, so it could be available on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X as well as PCs.

Alongside the new Ryzen 5000 CPUs that AMD revealed a few months ago, this new line of Radeon RX 6000 GPUs should set AMD up well for the next generation of gaming. We’ll have to put them through their paces when the cards are in the wild — and of course, considering the severe shortages of Nvidia’s RTX 3000-series GPUs, AMD’s ability to meet demand is another open question at this point.

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