AMD Radeon RX 6800 review: entry-level 4K

By | November 18, 2020
AMD Radeon RX 6800 review: entry-level 4K

AMD Radeon RX 6800 assessment: entry-level 4K

After we reviewed the $499 Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, we known as it the 1440p candy spot. At that decision, you don’t must compromise on a single graphical setting in your video games, just like how the larger $699 RTX 3080 doesn’t make you compromise at 4K. However at this time, we’re taking one other take a look at the 3070 alongside its new competitor, the $579 AMD Radeon RX 6800 — as a result of if you happen to are keen to compromise, these two playing cards might remodel your present rig into a good 4K machine.

That’s one thing I’ve been ready for. Two years in the past, I invested in a 4K OLED TV. It’s probably the most attractive display in my home by far. I barely justified the $2,000 buy by arguing my spouse and I spend the vast majority of our free time planted on the sofa. Secretly, I hoped it might double as a 4K monitor for my gaming PC as properly.

However my secondhand GeForce GTX 1080 merely didn’t have the muscle to play latest video games at 4K. Despite the fact that I’m usually the type of penny-pinching gamer keen to sacrifice some eye sweet for a clean body fee, my tweaks weren’t sufficient: solely on the very lowest settings, with potato-grade textures, did new video games look vaguely playable. On the time, the one card that might competently repair that was the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, however I wasn’t about to spend one other $1,000-plus after I was already two grand within the gap.

For roughly half that value, I can now slot both of those playing cards into my five-year-old gaming PC and get a satisfying 4K expertise in all however probably the most intensive video games. I’m truly now toying with the thought of promoting my PS5 to purchase one in all these as a substitute.

So what you’re about to learn isn’t a typical graphics card assessment. As a substitute, it’s a fast and soiled AMD Radeon RX 6800 versus Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 shootout.

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AMD Radeon RX 6800 (left), Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 (proper).

The panorama

If you happen to haven’t adopted graphics playing cards for a bit, it is best to know there are at present 4 in competition: the $699 Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, the $499 Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, the $649 AMD Radeon RTX 6800 XT, and the $579 Radeon RX 6800.

None of these costs matter until you possibly can truly discover a card, after all, however roughly talking: Nvidia’s $699 flagship RTX 3080 is the primary no-compromise 4K gaming GPU, and at this time, my colleague Tom Warren’s assessment of the $649 Radeon RX 6800 XT exhibits that — for the primary time in years — AMD can truly meet or beat Nvidia’s flagship, and for $50 much less as well.

If you happen to’re the type of one who’s constructing a brand-new PC particularly for gaming, you may wish to significantly contemplate these flagship GPUs, significantly contemplating the hole between AMD’s two playing cards is simply $70. However if you happen to’re on a funds, solely have room for a twin-slot card, and / or don’t have a 750-watt energy provide (a consideration for small-form-factor PCs particularly, as there’s just a few mini-PSUs that highly effective available on the market), I believe you’ll be pleasantly shocked by what the RX 6800 and RTX 3070 have to supply.

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The RX 6800’s backplate, with uncovered Phillips head screws.

The take a look at

I slotted every of the playing cards into my present gaming rig: an Ncase M1 principally full of getting old components, together with an Intel Core i5-6600K overclocked to 4.4GHz, a Gigabyte Z170 mini-ITX motherboard, 32GB of pretty normal DDR4-2666 RAM, and a 700W SFX-L energy provide. (Each AMD and Nvidia advocate a 650W PSU for these particular playing cards, which remains to be lots.)

Whereas the Ncase M1 is well-known for becoming a big selection of graphics playing cards regardless of its diminutive 12.7-liter body, you may wish to take into consideration the RTX 3070 Founder’s Version if you happen to’re anxious a few tighter match. Not solely is it a full inch shorter than the RX 6800 (9.5 inches versus 10.5 inches) and barely slimmer, the Nvidia card can also be a bit quieter underneath load — each by way of the RX 6800 having a considerably louder hum and audibly ramping its fan up and down a tad extra usually in the midst of a benchmark.

So far as warmth’s involved, it’s a toss-up: each GPU sensors measured 72 levels Celsius in the midst of a looped benchmark. That’s good, significantly given AMD’s latest historical past of working sizzling. In any other case, each designs appear pretty enticing to me, and I don’t thoughts AMD buying and selling away one in all its DisplayPorts for a monitor-capable USB-C connector as a substitute. My getting old PC construct solely has one USB-C port as it’s, and I’d be pleased to have one with 27W charging (as this does) for my telephone or pill. Every nonetheless has HDMI 2.1 and a pair of DisplayPorts and that’s adequate for me.

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The GeForce RTX 3070 FE takes up much less house — however its 12-pin energy connector (with solely six actual pins and an adapter) is type of foolish.
Photograph by Sean Hollister / GadgetClock and Photograph by Sean Hollister / GadgetClock

However by way of efficiency, I’d decide the AMD card each time. Right here’s an apples-to-apples efficiency comparability between each playing cards and my authentic GTX 1080, all at 4K decision and most settings:

4K efficiency

Recreation GTX 1080 RTX 3070 RX 6800
Recreation GTX 1080 RTX 3070 RX 6800
AC: Odyssey 30 50 58
AC: Valhalla 26 46 50
Arkham Knight 56 111 111
Borderlands 3 (Badass) 23 45 54
Management 18 41 42
Management (RT) N/A 25 20
Management (RT+DLSS) N/A 40 N/A
COD: Warzone 42 77 86
Dying Stranding 45 78 91
DX: Mankind Divided 31 50 61
Gears 5 35 60 67
Microsoft Flight Simulator 19 25 26
Metro Exodus (Excessive) 14 25 27
Metro Exodus (Extremely+RT) N/A 35 31
Metro Exodus (RT+DLSS) N/A 50 N/A
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 31 60 68
SotR (RT) N/A 34 38
SotR (RT+DLSS) N/A 56 N/A
Watch Canine: Legion 20 42 42
The Witcher 3 30 66 80

Common FPS at 3840 x 2160, extremely spec until specified

Not solely does the Radeon RX 6800 provide double the body fee of my GTX 1080 in virtually each recreation, but it surely constantly beat Nvidia’s RTX 3070 in each title with ray tracing turned off. And if I’m being sincere, I’ve but to discover a single recreation the place the efficiency hit of ray tracing is value it for both sub-$600 card. Ray tracing is barely noticeable in Name of Responsibility: Warzone, feels off-putting to me in Management, and whereas it provides some environment to Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I wouldn’t commerce it for the crispness of native 4K decision.

And whereas Tom may inform you that Nvidia’s unique AI-upscaling DLSS method may give you sufficient headroom with the 3070 to show ray tracing on, I believe it additionally is determined by the scale of your show. With a smaller 4K monitor, I could be glad with the AI-upscaled 1440p you get with DLSS… however native 4K seems to be much better on the seven-foot distance I sit from my 65-inch tv.

It additionally doesn’t harm that the AMD card has 16GB of video reminiscence — Watch Canine: Legion already greater than maxes out the RTX 3070’s 8GB of VRAM at 4K extremely spec.

If you happen to take an in depth take a look at my efficiency chart above, you might discover that a few of these body charges appear a bit too low to play. However after I took these apples-to-apples comparisons with all the settings turned up, I went again to every recreation to learn how a lot I needed to flip them down for snug 4K at (or close to) 60fps. Frankly, I believe this chart makes my alternative even clearer:

Greatest playable spec at 4K (YMMV)

Recreation GTX 1080 RTX 3070 RX 6800
Recreation GTX 1080 RTX 3070 RX 6800
AC: Odyssey Low (solely 55fps) Excessive Very Excessive
AC: Valhalla Lowest (solely 42fps) Medium Excessive
Arkham Knight Excessive Highest Highest
Borderlands 3 Lowest Medium/Excessive Excessive/Extremely
Management* Lowest (solely 35fps) Medium Medium
COD: Warzone Lowest Most Most
Dying Stranding Low (solely 53fps) Most Most
Future 2 Low Most Most
DX: Mankind Divided Low (solely 50fps) Excessive Extremely
Gears 5 Low Excessive/Max Most
Microsoft Flight Simulator Lowest (sub-60fps) Lowest (sub-60fps) Lowest (sub-60fps)
Metro Exodus Low Low/Medium Excessive
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Lowest Highest (no RT) Highest (no RT)
Watch Canine: Legion Lowest (solely 40fps) Medium Excessive
The Witcher 3 Low Max (no hairworks) Max (no hairworks)

*Management feels fairly clean north of 45fps. If two specs are listed, the upper felt borderline.

In an older however succesful desktop like mine, both of those playing cards may give you 4K, however AMD’s card can notch a setting or two greater in a few of the extra demanding video games. Aside from Microsoft Flight Simulator, after all, the place my rig’s older 4-core, 4-thread CPU might be holding it again.

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Everybody’s a winner, however particularly AMD

I’m keen to wager plenty of PC avid gamers are in the identical boat as me: desirous about whether or not they need to plunk down money for a PS5 or Xbox Collection X to get their 4K repair or improve their gaming PC. If you happen to examine the record of GPUs nearly as good or higher than my GTX 1080 to the share of avid gamers who personal them within the newest Steam {Hardware} Survey, as many as 85 % don’t have the graphics card to do it at this time — however 80 % have a quad-core CPU or higher, and over 30 % have a CPU clocked over 3GHz.

If you will discover, afford, and energy a $699 RTX 3080 or $649 RX 6800 XT, it might give your present rig 4K efficiency in spades and a great deal of future-proofing too. However the existence of two cheaper playing cards that may do 4K with compromises could be a better promote. There, I’d give a slight edge to the RX 6800, despite the fact that Nvidia’s 3070 has lots going for it as properly. For an $80 premium, I desire the uncooked efficiency it provides, and it already appears clear its 16GB of video reminiscence may turn out to be useful.

However general, I believe everybody’s a winner right here. Like Tom says, competitors is nice, significantly at a time when everybody’s at house gaming and the perfect gear may be very exhausting to search out. It’s improbable that each AMD and Nvidia have GPUs that hit this tough underneath $600 as soon as once more, as a substitute of AMD solely being aggressive with funds gaming GPUs and letting Nvidia dominate the excessive finish.

I’m hoping that between these 4 playing cards and value factors, you’ll truly be capable to discover one if you would like one since pandemic demand doesn’t appear to be abating anytime quickly. If not, Nvidia and AMD are positive to announce some midrange 1080p and 1440p GPUs that might unfold that demand throughout a bigger lineup.

Pictures by Sean Hollister / GadgetClock

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