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AMD reverses course, will keep making Radeon reference designs

Team Red gamers who lamented AMD’s decision to stop making its in-house Radeon RX 6000 series of GPUs will have one more reason to be thankful this holiday season. Citing the overwhelming popularity of its latest GPUs, AMD had reversed course, with the company confirming it will continue to manufacture the reference designs of its Radeon RX 6000, RX 6800 XT and RX 6900 XT graphics cards.

“We’ve just officially extended the reference design builds indefinitely due to popular demand,” Scott Herkelman, AMD corporate vice president of Radeon graphics  wrote in a Twitter response to a user question.

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Prior to today’s confirmation that AMD will continue to make its own reference boards indefinitely, it was previously believed that the company would stop production, but partners would be free to use the design or market their own board designs with custom coolers. In November, Herkelman revealed on Twitter that the company would continue making its reference designs only through “early 2021.”

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT

Herkelman’s recent about-face on Twitter is definitely welcome news for gamers looking to add liquid cooling to their GPUs. Aftermarket parts to support liquid cooling — like water blocks — are expensive to manufacture, so accessories companies typically base their solutions and designs on reference cards to save on costs.

In the past, AMD’s decision to stop manufacturing its boards and reference designs would not have been so material. However, given the high demand and short supply of the recent Radeon GPUs, many gamers interested in AMD’s latest graphics cards have not been able to acquire one, and enthusiasts who may want a liquid-cooled GPU would have been left out in the cold had AMD followed through on its plans to stop making reference designs.

AMD Radeon RX 6000
Image used with permission by copyright holder

AMD’s GPU reference designs are akin to rival Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards. AMD has garnered a lot of positive press for the performance of its Radeon RX 6000 family. These GPUs are among the first from AMD to support ray tracing, a feature that allows AMD to take on rival Nvidia in the high-end graphics card market.

Along with the global pandemic, which is reshaping the way the world works, strong performance of the Radeon RX 6000 is creating unprecedented demand for AMD’s GPU. And despite poking fun at rival Nvidia, AMD is experiencing the same shortage issue that plagues its competitor. Early reviews show that the Radeon RX 6000 delivers significant improvements over the prior-generation cards, and AMD’s high-end cards are very competitive against Nvidia’s RTX 3000 family.

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Chuong Nguyen
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