Yep - here we go again... Another AMD launch done and dusted, and this time with a number of unexpected, but certainly welcome surprises! All we can say is, after the Nvidia launch a few weeks back, this feels like déjà vu.
Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs are here. Now let's all be honest for a second: did anyone really expect AMD to truly compete on all fronts, specifically against the phenom that is Nvidia? Nvidia have dominated the GPU market for the longest time, especially when it comes to the high-end market.
AMD making significant financial headway
The AMD share price has rallied a monster 53% this year as of the writing of this article. Yes, that is 53% in 2020 - the most topsy turvy year in the last decade at the least. If there is one place you can count on to get all the latest news before it actually hits the media, check out the financial markets. No, we aren't joking either! The financial markets have a way of playing out scenarios long before they actually take place - as the saying goes "buy the rumor, sell the fact". And in the case of AMD, the share price climbed rapidly from July onwards this year, well before AMD's actual launch events in October. This is indicative of the market sentiment around AMD at present. The company is attracting investors (and speculators) like never before.
Now the interesting part is that this is all based on products that have actually not yet hit the market. It's all based on perceptions and on AMD's own benchmarks, which, suffice to say, will paint a rosy picture indeed. We're not being naysayers of course, but it is worth always playing devil's advocate in these things and to maintain some degree of skepticism until the products are actually laid bare before our eyes.
Will AMD be able to avoid the Nvidia mistake?
When Nvidia unveiled their RTX 30 series GPUs, it's safe to say that most gamers would've lost their minds. From the ridiculousness of a 3070 card matching the performance of the previous generation's monster 2080Ti at a fraction of the price, to the 3080 and 3090 cards making seamless 4K gaming a reality, it goes without saying that Nvidia sent some serious shockwaves through the industry.
However, when the cards eventually did launch, the excitement and hype rapidly turned to disappointment as stock shortages and scalping became the order of the day. As we write this, the situation is virtually unchanged, with 3080 cards showing no improvement whatsoever in terms of local availability. New models are being announced left, right and centre, and yet, how many of these are actually available? How many of these will ever reach our distant shores? Eventually some will, of course, but Nvidia has given us the perfect case study for what "overpromising and underdelivering" looks like.
Now, our good friend AMD enters the market. Is there any reason to believe that the AMD launch of its 6000 series cards will be any different? Of course, the company has made promises far and wide around having sufficient stock available on release date - but is this not just another case of the same promises Nvidia made without any followthrough? Based on rumours floating around, it seems this may very well be the case.
Whilst this is clearly disappointing for end consumers, we should see things stabilise with time. The reality is that with such dramatic increases in performance, we cannot possibly anticipate demand matching supply, as overzealous gamers will do whatever they can to get their hands on one of these precious products from either manufacturer! The products offer incredible value and rightfully are in exceptionally high demand.
Back to those 6000 GPUs...
Anyway, all the drama aside, these AMD offerings truly look to be a massive jump forward for our friends on the red side of the fence. One of the most surprising features of the launch was that AMD's Big Navi cards actually have ray-tracing technology too! It may not be hardware based like the Nvidia equivalents, but this is welcome news as it was one of the bigger carrots Nvidia held in front of gamers' noses until now.
Disclaimer: South African prices are currently well above what would be considered par on these under "normal" circumstances. There are a number of reasons for this, which you can see highlighted in this article. As such, we have instead used the USD recommended retail prices for the sake of comparison below.
4K Benchmarks (by Game):
1440p Benchmarks (by Game):
The benchmarks paint a pretty picture indeed, with all of AMD's cards showing remarkable performance gains over the previous generation. Let's look at each:
Radeon RX 6800 - $579
The Radeon RX 6800 variant is clearly positioned as a challenger to the 3070 from Nvidia. AMD was of course not able to directly compare the two in its presentation, due to the fact that the 3070 card was not officially released at that point, instead comparing the 6800 to the 2080Ti, which, as mentioned, is meant to be on par with the 3070. The GeForce RTX 3070 is however priced at only $499, giving it a boost in terms of value over the AMD rival.
The 6800 easily vanquishes the 2080Ti (and, by association, the 3070 in all likelihood) on every game tested, as you would expect. What is not expected is that the 6800 beats out the 3080 in some cases! And on Battlefield V in particular, it even cruises past the 3090! Crazy indeed, but it is also worth bearing in mind that some of these are "AMD games" too.
Radeon RX 6800 XT - $649
The Radeon RX 6800 XT variant is the direct competitor to Nvidia's RTX 3080s, which are the high-end card of choice for the Nvidia crew, bringing incredible performance at an even more incredible price point. Now however, the AMD RX 6800 XT comes in $50 cheaper - but will it be able to perform on par with the beastly 3080?
The 6800 XT performs admirably against the 3080, going head to head in all the games on the list, winning on some and losing on others. These are clearly direct competitors. What is interesting to note though, is that there is no mention of any raytracing settings being turned on in the benchmark compares. How much impact would this have on the outcome, one wonders? This is an especially pertinent point given that Nvidia has cashed in immensely on this effect, to the extent that the cards are even named "RTX" variants.
Radeon RX 6900 XT - $999
Lastly, the monstrous Radeon RX 6900 XT variant is clearly positioned as a challenger to the mighty RTX 3090 from Nvidia. These cards are outrageously expensive in South Africa, and are even harder to come by than their younger 3080 siblings. The performance however is truly a thing of beauty. No one had expected that AMD's best offering would in any way compare to this beast, but lo and behold - the 6900 XT stands tall!
Bearing in mind that this is a $500 cheaper card than the 3090, the results are truly amazing. Here we must note that the AMD Rage Mode setting was turned on in performing these tests. Rage Mode is essentially a one-click overclock provided by AMD and means that these results are not on a stock vs stock basis.
Nevertheless, the 6900 XT does the job and does it well indeed, beating the 3090 on almost all games on 1440p, but lagging behind in most of the 4K tests. Wow, we have some interesting times ahead of us!
There are some points to note (including some pinches of salt to the above):
These benchmarks are produced by AMD themselves. It goes without saying that they would have cherry-picked the results. Nevertheless, one would imagine they aren't too far out from the truth.
The benchmarks are done using a Ryzen 5950X, one of AMD's yet unreleased new CPUs that brings with it as much as a 11% gain on certain games based on something known as Smart Access Memory. To be able to make use of this stunning new feature, you would need to be running an AMD 500 series chipset motherboard, an AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPU, and an AMD Radeon RX 6000 GPU. (AMD is clearly working on capturing the entire build, and why not - they are finally leveraging their hand in both the CPU and GPU markets.
All of the indicators point to a true challenger to each of Nvidia's products, and this is immensely welcomed to the community at large, as it benefits us all in terms of pricing and (theoretically) availability.
The AMD Radeon 6000s should be available in South Africa soon. Feel free to reach out to us if you're looking to secure yours.