Tested: 5 things to know about AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT

AMD’s next-gen Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards are here, and they’re amazing. The $579 Radeon RX 6800 and $649 Radeon RX 6800 XT bring a fierce battle to Nvidia’s flagship GeForce CPUs, offering flat-out outstanding performance, a vastly improved cooling solution, and more.

We’ve already dug deep into AMD’s fresh RDNA 2 architecture, and delivered our comprehensive verdict on the Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT. Check those out if you want more detailed info, but for the quickest hit, here are the five things you need to know about AMD’s new Radeon RX 6800-series graphics cards.

1. They’re wicked-fast

Both of these cards absolutely scream while gaming—even at 4K resolution with all the eye candy cranked. The Radeon RX 6800 beats the GeForce RTX 3070 in every gaming benchmark we threw at it, except for in Total War: Troy, which strongly favors Nvidia’s architecture. The Radeon RX 6800 XT trades blows with the GeForce RTX 3080 at 4K for $50 less.

hzd Brad Chacos/IDG

Performance in Horizon Zero Dawn

Just as vitally, Nvidia’s new graphics cards perform their best at 4K resolution. AMD’s Radeon RX 6800-series GPUs scale down to lower resolutions with much more potency. If you’re planning to pair your graphics card with a high-refresh rate 1440p or 1080p monitor, you’ll get more frames out of AMD’s graphics cards—especially at 1080p resolution, where the Radeon RX 6800-series surges past Nvidia’s performance in many games.

2. They have a lot of memory

Nvidia opted to give the GeForce RTX 3070 8GB of GDDR6 memory, and the RTX 3080 has 10GB of faster GDDR6X. That’s fine for most of today’s games, but if you’re playing at higher resolutions it might feel a bit cramped in a year or two. We’re already seeing some games exceed 8GB of VRAM usage even at 1440p with ray tracing active, and Doom Eternal can go over 10GB with its Nightmare settings.

infinity cache latency AMD

The ample 16GB of GDDR6 in the Radeon RX 6800-series GPUs is augmented by AMD’s Infinity Cache technology.

AMD outfit the Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT with a beefy 16GB of GDDR6, so memory capacity shouldn’t be a concern for these graphics cards even if demands continue creeping up. Better yet, that massive memory configuration is bolstered by a 128MB “Infinity Cache” located on the GPU itself. The Infinity Cache can handle a lot of the data for a given frame right on the die, lowering latency and energy costs. You can find a lot more info about the technical details in our RDNA 2 architecture deep dive.

3. They have ray tracing, but not DLSS

Yep, AMD does ray tracing now. Like Nvidia’s rival GeForce RTX GPUs, RDNA 2 bakes dedicated ray acceleration hardware into each Radeon compute unit. AMD’s debut offering is fast enough to let you game at both 1440p and 1080p with ray tracing on and visual options mostly cranked to the max.

RDNA 2 isn’t as efficient at ray tracing as Nvidia’s second-gen technology, though. Turning on ray tracing drops frame rates by roughly 38 to 45 percent on the Radeon RX 6800-series cards, compared to 28 to 37 percent on the GeForce GPUs. That said, Nvidia’s cards are hit harder in Watch Dogs: Legion, with their limited memory capacity the likely culprit.

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