Wednesday, April 14, 2021

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT Review: A Curious Return to Mid-Range GPUs

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In a radical change of pace, AMD was targeting the high end of the GPU market with its first three RDNA 2 GPUs. The message was clear: he was ready to take on the best hardware from NVIDIA. Before that, AMD had spent the last few years aiming for mid-range and budget video cards, the kind of thing most gamers could realistically buy. The $ 479 Radeon RX 6700 XT is the company’s return to mid-range GPUs, though $ 80 more than its predecessor, the 5700XT. On paper, it’s a capable new entry, which can directly compete with NVIDIA’s $ 499 RTX 3070 and $ 399 RTX 3060 Ti.

But who am I kidding? These OEM prices are pure fantasy by the time these cards hit retailers. RTX 3070 cards typically sell for over $ 700 these days, if you find one in stock. And the supposedly affordable RTX 3060 often fetch over $ 600 (based on Newegg announcements). AMD isn’t immune to this curse either – the $ 649 RX 6800 XT often sells for over $ 1,000. Scalpers aren’t the only problem: The limited supply chain for chips and other components due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also pushed prices up dramatically. AMD says it aims to deliver more than 6,700 XT GPUs to retailers as its latest batch of cards, and that it will implement other (unnamed) strategies to avoid inventory issues.

Advantages

  • Solid 1440p speeds
  • Can handle a bit of 4K

The inconvenients

  • Low-gloss ray tracing performance
  • Loud fans
  • Availability (and retail price) still uncertain

Gallery: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT | 8 photos

All we can do is hope. For now, we’ll judge the 6700 XT based on its assumed introductory price, as we’ve done for every GPU over the past decade. In this regard, it’s quite convincing: the 6700 XT has 40 compute units, 12 GB of RAM and a game clock speed of 2.4 GHz. In comparison, the more expensive RX 6800 at $ 100 has 60 compute units, 16 GB of RAM, and a gaming frequency of 1.8 GHz. Clock speed isn’t everything, especially when you’ve got more graphics cores at work, but it’s clear AMD is trying to make up for any less hardware in the 6700 XT by upping things up a notch. (Its playing frequency is even 400Mhz higher than the top-of-the-line RX 6900 XT at $ 999!)

The card design, unsurprisingly, fits perfectly with the Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT. The big differences? It’s shorter than those beefy GPUs, and as a result, it only has two cooling fans. But even though it’s cheaper than the rest of the family, the 6700 XT still feels like a high-end device. Some may prefer the slightly more refined appearance of AMD’s latest generation GPUs, with their sleek blower coolers. But I’ll take a bit more garish aesthetic if that means the 6700 XT can disperse heat more efficiently. As for connectivity, you get the usual three DisplayPort 1.4 connections and an HDMI 2.1 port.

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

While the RX 6800 and 6800 XT were meant to show what AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture could do for 4K gaming, the 6700 XT is more focused on 1440p gameplay. That, along with its price, makes it the wisest card for gamers running 1080p or 1440p displays with high refresh rates. On my system, powered by an Intel Core i7-8700K and 32GB RAM, the 6700 XT managed to run Destiny 2 with graphics maximized in 1440p between 75 fps and 100 fps. If you sometimes wanted to play in 4K – maybe to run your raids on a living room TV – the AMD GPU comes out on top with speeds between 50 and 75 fps.

3DMark TimeSpy

Destiny 2

Hitman 2

Port Royal (ray tracing)

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT

11,198

1440p: 75 to 100 fps

4K: 50 to 75 fps

1440p: 129 fps

4K: 63 frames per second

5,920 / 27.4 fps

AMD Radeon RX 6800

13 146

1440p: 90 to 110 fps

4K: 90 to 110 fps

1440p: 140 fps

4K: 104 fps

7572/35 fps

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

15 345

1440p: 100 to 120 fps

4K: 100 to 120 fps

1440p: 144 fps

4K: 123 frames per second

9072/42 fps

NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti

11,308

1440p: 85 to 110 fps

4K: 45 to 60 fps

1440p: 124 fps

4K: 60 frames per second

6,989 / 32.36 fps

NVIDIA RTX 3070

12,520

1440p: 95 to 120 fps

4K: 70 to 80 fps

1440p: 119 fps

4K 70 fps

7,927/37 fps

The RX 6700 XT recorded roughly the same performance of 1440p in Hitman 2 like RTX 3060 Ti, but once again came out on top in 4K. That might sound like solid value, but if the RTX 3070 ever returns to its $ 499 price tag, it would be a much more capable performer in both of these ways. The 3DMark TimeSpy benchmark (which runs at 1440p) exposes the differences even more starkly: the RTX 3070 simply blows AMD’s card.

When it comes to ray tracing performance, I really wasn’t expecting much from the 6700 XT. It was essentially the Achilles heel of the RX 6800 and 6800 XT, and I couldn’t imagine AMD would somehow improve things with a cheaper GPU. In the 3DMark Port Royal benchmark, which specifically tests ray tracing performance, the 6700 XT scored 1,000 points lower than the RTX 3060 Ti, and an astounding 2,000 points lower than the RTX 3070. While playing Control, the AMD GPU struggled to maintain a constant 40fps speed with high graphics settings and ray tracing at 1440p. In comparison, the RTX 3070 was able to achieve 50 fps with the same settings and exceeded 65 fps once I enabled NVIDIA’s DLSS feature.

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