AMD’s RX 6900 XT and Nvidia’s RTX 3080 Ti are two of the best graphics cards you can buy today. Both are excellent for 4K gaming, but only one can win in this comparison. I threw both cards on my test bench to see how they stack up so you can find the best 4K GPU for your next gaming PC.
If you want to go deeper, make sure to read our RTX 3080 Ti review. We also have a roundup of the best GPU deals each month, so make sure to check that page to score a deal on one of these graphics cards.
|RTX 3080 Ti||RX 6900 XT|
|GPU||GA102-225||Navi 21 XTX|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x16||PCIe 4.0 x16|
|CUDA cores/shading units||10,240||5,120|
|Memory||12GB GDDR6X||16GB GDDR6|
GPU prices are dropping every day, meaning we can finally have a fair comparison between the RTX 3080 Ti and RX 6900 XT. The RTX 3080 Ti launched in mid-2021 for a list price of $1,200. It exploded in price due to the GPU shortage, but you can find it below list price now. The Gigabyte RTX 3080 Ti Gaming OC, for example, is around $1,100.
That’s on the low end, though. Some overclocked RTX 3080 Ti models scale up to around $1,350, and if you want a top-end model, you could spend close to $1,500. Still, there are multiple models available at or below list price. On the secondhand market, you can find models for around $1,000, saving you a couple of hundred dollars if you don’t mind a pre-owned card.
The RX 6900 XT is older, launching in late 2020, so it sells for less. The card released for $1,000, but the vast majority of models are available for less than that. The MSI RX 6900 XT Gaming X Trio — the model I tested for this comparison — is available for around $900, for example. You can save about $100 on the secondhand market, but you’ll need to scour for a deal.
A big reason why the RX 6900 XT is so much cheaper is that AMD recently released the RX 6950 XT. This model is a little faster and comes with a slightly higher price — around $1,100 for most models.
No matter if you look at list price or current prices, about $200 separates the RTX 3080 Ti and RX 6900 XT. Even if you find a deal on the RTX 3080 Ti, you’ll spend more for it than you will the RX 6900 XT on average.
I tested the RTX 3080 Ti and RX 6900 XT across a slew of titles in 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. All of my tests were run with a Ryzen 9 5950X and ReBAR or Smart Access Memory (SAM) enabled. These are both 4K graphics cards, but there’s very little difference at that resolution. The RX 6900 XT has a small 1.8% lead, which is barely notable.
It pulls ahead at lower resolutions. AMD’s card was 8.7% faster at 1440p and 13.7% faster at 1080p, which mainly shows the power of SAM. Even the best gaming processors will limit your GPU at lower resolutions, so I recommend shopping our list of the best 1080p graphics cards if you don’t plan on playing at 4K.
Although it looks like a clear win for the RX 6900 XT, the devil’s in the details. There are two titles where the RX 6900 XT has a dominating lead: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Forza Horizon 5, where the RX 6900 XT shows a 19% and 28.9% lead, respectively. These games usually favor AMD graphics cards, and their performance is bolstered even further by SAM.
The RTX 3080 Ti leads in the other four games I tested, but the advantages aren’t as stark. The biggest lead came in Rainbow Six Siege — I ran it with Vulkan instead of DirectX — where the RTX 3080 Ti shows a 10% lead. As typical of AMD versus Nvidia, performance comes down to if you want a large advantage in some games or a small advantage in most other games.
Assuming you’ll play at 4K, the RTX 3080 Ti and RX 6900 XT are nearly identical at rasterized performance. If you play a lot of different games and use an Intel processor instead of an AMD one, however, Nvidia’s card is the better option.
Ray tracing is where AMD and Nvidia cards show the biggest differences. The RTX 3080 Ti comes with dedicated ray tracing cores, while the RX 6900 XT packs a “ray accelerator” into each compute unit. The result is much lower ray tracing performance on AMD’s RX 6000 graphics cards.
You can see that in action in Cyberpunk 2077 and Metro Exodus above (two of the best PC games with ray tracing). Nvidia’s card leads 21.6% in Metro Exodus and a massive 46.2% in Cyberpunk 2077. Upscaling techniques help improve RT performance on both cards, but that’s another major area where they differ.
For ray tracing, you need a supersampling solution. The RTX 3080 Ti comes with Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), which uses the Tensor cores on the card to upscale the image from a lower resolution. DLSS is excellent, but it only works with RTX graphics cards.
AMD has FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), which works with any graphics card. It doesn’t look nearly as nice as DLSS, though, and you won’t find it in as many games. DLSS is still a major reason to buy Nvidia graphics cards, especially if you want to use ray tracing in demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077.
As you can read in our FSR versus DLSS comparison, though, AMD has a second version of FSR in the works that looks excellent. Right now, stick with the RTX 3080 Ti for DLSS and ray tracing. In the future, the RX 6900 XT could provide some serious competition.
Overall, I’d recommend the RX 6900 XT for most people. It’s cheaper, offers similar performance to the RTX 3080 Ti, and can shred through games with one of the best AMD processors. That doesn’t mean the RX 6900 XT is the best choice for everyone, though.
The RTX 3080 Ti may be more expensive, but DLSS and ray tracing performance are worth the price of admission. It depends on the games you want to play, but the RTX 3080 Ti is better positioned to handle the latest, most demanding games available on PC, even if it falls behind the RX 6900 XT in some titles.
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