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Do any of you remember the good old times when a GPU launch was actually something to look forward to? It wasn’t that long ago when the card that AMD just announced was a pretty big deal and something to actually be excited about. Now with cryptocurrency mining and the scalpers finding ridiculous way to grab cards, you have plenty of right to be pissed off and so am I. This situation isn’t helping anyone, especially not in gamers. Either way, neither AMD nor NVIDIA can just sit around and wait for demand to get under control, so both are releasing new GPUs that hopefully will spread out the demand and allow people to actually get some cards as more stock becomes available in 2021.
Let’s just get straight to the point, everything we know about the RX 6700 XT that we can share with you today, some new cool announcements from AMD, and also why this might the RX 6700 XT might be one of the most important AMD graphics card launches in a really, really long time.
A Full Lineup
Let’s put the bitterness aside that usually surrounds all the GPU launches lately, and talk about why the RX 6700 XT is actually pretty exciting. This is the first time in what feels like forever that AMD is able to launch what looks to be a full top to bottom lineup of a brand new architecture. The last time this happened was not with the RX 5000 series, it was not with Vega, it was not with the RX 500 or the RX 400 series rebrands, and it wasn’t even with Fury since some were just rebrands of previous generation. You would have to go back to 2012 when the original Graphics Core Next 1 (GCN 1) architecture came out and the HD 7000 series. So yeah, this is a really big deal provided that AMD can actually follow through with the more affordable lineup on the lower ends SKUs. Hopefully this allows the whole market to be a little bit more saturated than it is today.
But what is the RX 6700 XT is all about? Well instead of using the Navi 21 core from the higher-end GPUs, it uses a smaller, more efficient, and easier to produce Navi 22 core. That easier to produce part is really important since it technically allows AMD to produce more of them and release hopefully more cards into the retail channel. Now specs wise that smaller core also leads to only 40 compute units, and if AMD is using the same layout as the larger dies, that means it will get 2560 stream processors. On paper that seems to be a pretty major cutdown versus the RX 6800, but the 6700 XT supposed to run at much, much higher clock speeds that hopefully will bridge that performance gap.
You should also know that while it will support Smart Access Memory, the RX 6700 series will not have the performance enhancing Rage Mode. It also has access to 12GB of GDDR6 operating on a 192-bit wide memory bus. While AMD did not really say anything about the speeds we would expect it to run at the same 16Gbps as the RX 6800 series. AMD’s memory sizes are making NVIDIA’s 10GB and 8GB look pretty bad, especially on paper. Another interesting thing is at 96MB the Infinity Cache doesn’t get as cut down as everything else, and that should help make up for the narrower interface. Now even though it has a lot less compute units than the RX 6800, the high core clocks mean pretty similar power consumption, so compared to NVIDIA cards the power consumption would probably be right in line with the RTX 3070. It looks like AMD is targeting this card at that high refresh rate 1440P space, which is exactly the same target as the RTX 3070.
I guess this is a good time to start talking about pricing, and when it will be available, because the RX 6700 XT will start at $480 USD and go upwards from there. The made by AMD will be an exclusive to the AMD.com store starting on March 18th, and that is the same day you will start seeing board partner revisions start popping up at retailers so get those refresh buttons ready. As for reviews we are allowed to publish them on March 17th, so make sure to subscribe and stay tuned for those, and at least you can see the benchmarks before being able to (attempt) to buy one. Now take this next thing with a huge grain of salt, but AMD told us they will be regularly restocking the RX 6700 XT reference designs on AMD.com. That is good news, especially given that we are expecting to see much higher in-stock volumes than before. And we have also seen their store restock the RX 6800 more regularly than sites like Newegg, but maybe it’s not as popular, who knows.
Now according to AMD’s very selective benchmarks, they are going to be offering RTX 3070 performance levels for about $20 less. A lot of games in here are handpicked since Radeon cards traditionally do well in them. Also these numbers are with Smart Access Memory enabled, and whatever API does best for that game for each GPU, so one could be running DX11 and the other could be DX12. You get the idea, this is an AMD presentation, what else can we expect? They also show us some performance against the RTX 2080 Super, and the GTX 1070 Ti as sort of an upgrade path. I can maybe see GTX 1070 owners thinking about upgrading, but if you are an RTX 2080 Super owner then there is no chance you are thinking of doing this upgrade thing every 18 months or so in the current GPU market. Even if I was running a GTX 1070 I would think about holding onto that a little longer.
Now there wasn’t much said about the reference card design, but it will use an 8 + 6-pin layout for power, and it’s about 10.5 inches long with a dual slot heatsink. One bit of bad news is that AMD removed the USB-C port that is found on the higher-end cards since they don’t figure the RX 6700 XT is going to be used for VR. I don’t understand this omission simply because this USB-C port gives you high bandwidth for external storage, and there is always a benefit regardless if you were trying to target VR gamers or not.
Board partners will have their own usual selection of cards that range from nicely compact to ridiculously huge and ugly, but at least there is something for everyone.
BIOS & Software Updates
All right, so that is the GPU, but here are also a few more small announcements. First of all, AMD is rolling out support for Smart Access Memory on the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs, but only when they are installed on a 500 series motherboard. They would not give us timelines regardless of how much we pressed on the official support on the 400 series chipsets. It feels like they are just sticking to their whole “it needs PCIe Gen4” story, even though that has been proven wrong. I guess it’s a matter of validation and AMD is letting their motherboard partners handle that whole validation on older chips.
Another thing people have been asking for is the Radeon Anti-Lag latency reducing feature to be rolled out to more APIs and that is finally happening since it will soon be compatible with DX 12 games. Next motion adaptive variable rate shading will be coming to the DX 12 titles as well, and it will be interesting to see how that stacks up to NVIDIA’s DLSS, but more on that in a future article.
And finally there was this little nugget that was hinted at CES, but confirmed here: We should start seeing laptops with RX 6000 series GPUs in the first half of the year. I really hope that they will turn out better than what Eber looked at with the RX 5000 series, because that was just a disappointment. What AMD really needs to do here is get those parts into better designs than what Dell offered, but at least it’s something else to look forward to.
So that wraps up this conversation until we can show you actual benchmarks of the RX 6700XT, but either way it is obvious that this GPU is going to be really important for AMD, probably the most important GPU launch of this year for them. Everyone is counting on their availability promise, and it will be a huge win if they can actually deliver. The biggest winner will be the company that will get a steady supply of GPUs into gamers hands. It looks like the RTX 6700 XT is going to fill that void, and hopefully what AMD has been saying ends up coming true.