AMD has a new flagship in town: the mighty RX 6950 XT. Our AMD RX 6950 XT review shows that it’s an excellent gaming graphics card that excels with its low price. Nvidia’s competing flagship, the RTX 3090, is much more expensive. We threw both cards into the ring to see if Nvidia’s premium is worth it.
For gamers, the answer is no. If you want to do more than gaming, though, Nvidia’s GPU offers features that the RX 6950 XT just can’t compete with.
Nvidia launched the RTX 3090 launched on September 24, 2020, for a list price of $1,500. Due to inflated GPU prices, cards sell for a little more than that in 2022. At the time of writing, we found cards in stock between $1,700 and $2,000 (as well as plenty of RTX 3090 Ti models around the $2,000 mark).
AMD’s RX 6950 XT is much newer, launching on May 10, 2022. It’s significantly cheaper, too. The list price is only $1,100, and we found multiple models in stock at that price. AMD’s cards haven’t seen the steep price increases that Nvidia’s have, so we expect the RX 6950 XT will continue to sell for around $1,100.
Even being generous to the RTX 3090, there’s about a $500 difference in price. At the extreme, that jumps to a $900 difference, which is enough money to build a whole new PC. Although the RX 6950 XT has some weaknesses, it’s hard ignoring the value it offers compared to the RTX 3090. It’s newer, cheaper, and more readily available, so the RX 6950 XT easily wins this section.
It’s not useful comparing specs between AMD and Nvidia — they use different architectures, so core counts and clock speeds mean essentially nothing when put side-by-side. However, there are some significant differences when it comes to power and memory, as you can see in the chart below. I also included specs for the base RX 6900 XT for reference.
|RX 6950 XT||RTX 3090||RX 6900 XT|
|GPU||Navi 21||GA102||Navi 21|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x16||PCIe 4.0 x16||PCIe 4.0 x16|
|CUDA cores/stream processors||5,120||10,496||5,120|
|Ray tracing cores/accelerators||80||82||80|
|Memory||16GB GDDR6||24GB GDDR6X||16GB GDDR6|
Starting with power, only 15 watts separate the RX 6950 XT and RTX 3090 on paper. In practice, AMD’s card rarely goes above its 335W limit, while the RTX 3090 can climb to 400W when pushed. These are both power-hungry cards, so make sure to pair them with one of the best PC power supplies.
For memory, the RTX 3090 comes with 8GB more than the RX 6950 XT, which doesn’t make a difference when gaming. The bigger difference is that the RTX 3090 uses GDDR6X memory, which is much faster and increases memory bandwidth by around 62% compared to the RX 6950 XT. That’s despite the faster GDDR6 modules on the RX 6950 XT, which boosts bandwidth over the base model by 12.5%.
That might seem like a slam dunk for the RTX 3090, but it depends on what you’re using the card for. In gaming, the extra bandwidth does effectively nothing. However, in memory-intensive tasks like complicated 3D rendering and data science, memory bandwidth means everything. In those tasks, the RTX 3090 is a clear winner.
You can see how the RX 6950 XT and RTX 3090 stack up with our average above. Overall, AMD’s card leads by about 4% at 4K in our suite of games, which is massively impressive considering its price. In raw frame rates without ray tracing, the RX 6950 XT is the pick for gaming performance.
The devil is in the details, though. In the table below, you can see that Nvidia’s card still leads in Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. It leads massively in ray tracing, too. Nvidia has much better ray tracing performance this generation, and the RX 6950 XT doesn’t change that. The RTX 3090 also has access to Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), but it could face some competition from FidelityFX Super Resolution 2.0 (FSR 2.0) soon.
|RX 6950 XT||RTX 3090|
|3DMark Time Spy||18,611||17,078|
|3DMark Fire Strike||42,692||37,380|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||73 fps||75 fps|
|Fortnite||80 fps||69 fps|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||68 fps||63 fps|
|Forza Horizon 4||165 fps||153 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077||42 fps||46 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077 w/ RT||12 fps||21 fps|
|Far Cry 6||89 fps||82 fps|
It depends on the games you play and the features you want access to. Although the RTX 3090 has features like DLSS and better ray tracing, it still underperforms compared to the RX 6950 XT in the vast majority of games. And it’s significantly more expensive, running as much as $900 above AMD’s card.
Beyond gaming, the RTX 3090 shines. Nvidia cards have access to CUDA and Optix rendering, which make them much better for GPU-intensive tasks like Blender. The increased memory bandwidth on the RTX 3090 helps a lot for data science tasks, blowing away the RX 6950 XT across the board.
|RX 6950 XT||RTX 3090|
|PugetBench for Premiere Pro||658||882|
The RX 6950 XT isn’t a bad option for these tasks, but it’s clearly built for gaming first. If you’re concerned with content creation and non-gaming workloads primarily, stick with the RTX 3090.
On the other hand, gamers shouldn’t feel the need to spend up for Nvidia’s GPU. Although it wins in some benchmarks, the RX 6950 XT performs better and represents a much better value, despite its shortcomings with ray tracing and upscaling.
There isn’t a definitive winner in this comparison because there’s too much that separates the RX 6950 XT from the RTX 3090. Gamers should stick with AMD’s card due to its higher average performance and much more attractive price. However, the RTX 3090 shoots ahead with better memory bandwidth and content creation performance, even if it carries a higher price tag.
The lack of non-gaming features may be a deal breaker, and that’s what this comparison comes down to. If price is a concern, we recommend looking at the RTX 3080 Ti if you need access to Nvidia’s features but can’t stomach the price tag of the RTX 3090. For everyone else, stick with the RX 6950 XT.
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