Skip to main content

How the AMD RX 6800 XT runs 9% faster than it did at launch

At launch, AMD’s RDNA 2-powered RX 6000 cards performed slightly worse than Nvidia’s RTX 30-series range. The RX 6900 XT ran about 10% slower than the competing RTX 3090, and the RX 6800 XT ran about 6% slower than the competing RTX 3080. Through various optimizations, however, the tables have turned. According to some testing data, AMD’s cards now run up to 9% faster depending on the resolution and card.

An analysis from 3DCenter shows the performance gains AMD has achieved over the past several months. Using benchmarks from various outlets in December 2020, it found that the RTX 3080 performed about 3.5% better at Full HD and 1440p. Using data from June 2021, the performance gap has flipped in AMD’s favor, with the RX 6800 XT performing 5% better at Full HD and 3.1% better at 1440p.

A bar graph showing an AMD and Nvidia performance comparison over time from December 2020 to June 2021.
3DCenter

Performance increases are only natural for graphics cards, as driver optimizations squeeze out extra performance, and updated benchmarking rigs contribute to more impressive results. As 3D Center points out, though, there are other factors at work for AMD. Both AMD and Nvidia saw performance gains between December 2020 and June 2021, but AMD saw more of an improvement.

Smart Access Memory (SAM) plays a big role. This feature allows Ryzen 5000 and select Ryzen 3000 processors to access all of the video memory on RX 6000 cards. Nvidia has a similar feature called Resizable Bar. Both features achieve the same goal, but benchmarks show an average 7% improvement with SAM and only a 1% improvement with Resizable Bar.

Get your weekly teardown of the tech behind PC gaming
Check your inbox!

This difference alone shows the gap described by 3DCenter. Combined with driver optimizations and better test benches, the power of SAM is starting to show through. It’s not a massive improvement, but still enough for AMD to claim the performance crown at certain resolutions.

There are a couple of caveats to 3DCenter’s analysis, though. The first is that the benchmarks only account for rasterized performance, so the data doesn’t consider ray-tracing results. RX 6000 cards have performed worse than RTX 3000 cards in ray tracing benchmarks due to the fact that Nvidia offers DLSS (an upscaling technology that’s essential for ray tracing). AMD recently released a DLSS competitor in the form of FidelityFX Super Resolution, though it’s too soon to draw any firm ray tracing comparisons between the two brands.

Resolution is also a point of contention. It’s true that AMD’s cards have seen a performance improvement across the board, but more so at Full HD and 1440p. At 4K, AMD’s cards have improved in the range of 3%, which is the same performance gain Nvidia cards have seen over the past few months.

Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
Here’s how AMD counters Nvidia’s big RTX Super launch
RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT on a pink background.

Well done, AMD. Today is a big day for Nvidia -- after all, today is when the RTX 4070 Super hits the shelves. So what does AMD do? It serves up a huge price cut on one of its top graphics cards in this generation to strike back at Nvidia and counter its big release. Coincidence? No way. But will this price tag be low enough when Nvidia launches the RTX 4070 Ti Super?

AMD's RX 7900 XT is the GPU that's now a lot cheaper, with an official price of $750, but some models are as cheap as $710. It initially launched at $900 and was never the most popular option out of AMD's two flagships. The RX 7900 XTX, priced at just $100 more, often made more sense due to its greatly improved performance. As such, the RX 7900 XT was a bit of a forgotten entry in AMD's lineup. Its price quickly plummeted to $800 and even lower at certain retailers.

Read more
Please, don’t buy an AMD GPU right now
RX 7900 XTX slotted into a test bench.

It's basically a foregone conclusion that Nvidia is launching new Super GPUs next week at CES. We have no official announcement from Nvidia, outside of a keynote presentation at the event, but a mountain of evidence shows that Team Green may be gearing up to launch three new graphics cards. But what about Team Red?

We have heard murmurs that AMD is set to launch a budget-focused RX 7600 XT soon, but the rumor mill has been quiet about a slate of new graphics cards. Even with a pile of graphics cards in stock at reasonable prices and few indications that AMD is going to upend its GPU lineup, it's best to wait a couple of weeks before picking up a new AMD GPU.
Super AMD GPUs? Unlikely

Read more
AMD might have a new graphics card next month, too
AMD RX 7600 on a pink background.

We weren't expecting to hear much about AMD's graphics cards in January, but a new rumor suggests we'll see a new GPU in just a few weeks. AMD is prepping the RX 7600 XT, according to Benchlife's sources (via VideoCardz). It's apparently an updated version of AMD's budget-focused RX 7600, sporting more VRAM and perhaps a better die.

To understand the rumored card, we have to look at the RX 7600 we already have. It's an 8GB graphics card based on the Navi 33 GPU. The card already maxes out the capabilities of the GPU with 32 Compute Units (CUs), equaling 2,048 cores. If AMD is preparing an RX 7600 XT, there are two possibilities. Either it will use the same maxed-out Navi 33 GPU or a stripped-down version of the Navi 32 GPU we see in cards like the RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT. Hopefully, the latter is true. Although the RX 7600 is a solid 1080p graphics card, it remains about 30% slower than the next step up in AMD's lineup.

Read more