You’ve gotta love an industry that keeps tossing out new gaming graphics processors that get snatched out of midair before you can catch them. The latest in what I hope is the last of these launches for a while is AMD’s Radeon RX 6700 XT, the new entry-level graphics card in the company’s generation. It follows the recently launched RX 6800, 6800 XT and 6900 and the GeForce RTX 3060, Nvidia’s introduced entry-level card that incorporates its latest Ampere architecture. Based on its $479 price and its overall performance, the 6700 XT competes with the similarly priced RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070.
The card ships March 18, with AMD offering both its own cards and third-party alternatives from all the usual suspects. It will also be available in regular retail PCs; HP has already announced that it’s planning to add the card as an option in its Omen 25L and 30L desktops at the end of March, along with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X option so you can take advantage of AMD’s Smart Memory Access. AMD recently expanded SMA support down to the older Ryzen 3000 series CPUs as well.
“Available” is a moving target for graphics cards these days. Pervasive shortages due to high demand by cryptocurrency miners, the efficiency of bots at snapping them up as fast as they go on sale, pandemic-related silicon shortages and other ancillary problems have made it nearly impossible for the rest of us to get our hands on any card worth buying and at a price that even remotely reflects the true worth of it. (A direct conversion of the price is laughable in this context, but $479 is approximately £340 or AU$610.)
Nvidia attempted to address the out-of-stock problem by throttling the RTX 3060’s mining-related performance, but soon after Nvidia itself accidentally circumvented the performance limiter with a driver update. (The driver was subsequently pulled.) I still expect the throttle to get hacked if the shortage goes on much longer. Which we expect.
AMD, on the other hand, is taking a more traditional supply-side approach which I don’t have a lot of confidence in: working with retailers to restrict sales to one per customer, making both third-party and its own cards simultaneously available at launch, keeping its own cards on sale for a longer period (it usually stops selling its own after a certain amount of time post launch) and other tactics.
|AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT|
|Memory bandwidth (GBps)||384|
|GPU clock (GHz, base/boost)||2.3/2.6|
|Memory interface||192 bit|
|Texture fill rate (gigatexels per second)||413|
|Texture mapping units||160|
|TGP/min PSU (watts)||230/650|
|Bus||PCIe 4.0 x 16|
|Size||2 slots; 10.5 inches (267mm) long|
|Ship date||March 18|
The RX 6700 XT is a strong 1440p performer, hovering around the RTX 3070’s spot. It generally lags that card but occasionally pulls ahead. Its one weak area looks like ray tracing, where it falls behind even the RTX 3060 on 3DMark’s DXR (DirectX ray tracing) test. Unsurprising, given that Nvidia’s got a generation of experience under its belt.
But with the 6700 XT, AMD continues to maintain its overall performance advantage over Nvidia’s competing consumer cards for professional graphics. It doesn’t require an optimized driver (like Nvidia’s Studio drivers) or proprietary API support (Nvidia CUDA). Toss in the 6700 XT’s 12GB of memory, and it’s an excellent choice at its nominal price for video editing, notably Premiere Pro (as measured by UL’s Procyon video editing benchmark, at least). It is bigger and more power hungry than the RTX 3070, however.
In the absence of rational real-world prices or availability, it’s hard to make any sort of blanket recommendation for any graphics card at the moment. As long as the Radeon RX 6700 XT’s price doesn’t get too high, whatever that means — though it will likely remain lower than equivalent or faster cards — it’s a good choice for 1440p gamers and creatives on a budget. Especially if you’re both.
|Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Ryzen 9 3900XT; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,600; 11GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti; 1TB SSD + 4TB HDD|
|MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti; 1TB SSD|
|MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2H20); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 12GB EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming; 1TB SSD|
|MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070 FE)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition; 1TB SSD|
|MSI Aegis RS (RX 6700 XT)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2H20); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 12GB AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT; 1TB SSD|
|MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800 XT)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT; 1TB SSD|
|MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800; 1TB SSD|
|MSI Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); (oc) 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super; 1TB SSD|
|Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); Intel Core i9-10900K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 10GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (EVGA); 1TB SSD + 500GB SSD|