AMD Punches Back At Nvidia With RX 6000 Graphics Card Refresh

AMD Punches Back At Nvidia With RX 6000 Graphics Card Refresh
Image: AMD

AMD refreshed its Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards today, and the chipmaker isn’t holding any punches against Nvidia’s RTX line. The company outright claims the three new desktop cards introduced today, the RX 6650 XT, RX 6750 XT, and RX 6950 XT, outperform their equivalent GeForce RTX cards. Is that true? It depends on how you look at the numbers (I’ll get to that later).

Based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, these refreshes are essentially supercharged versions of the RX 6000 cards AMD revealed at the end of 2020. While this trio of cards shares specs with its predecessors, three main updates enable faster performance: higher game clocks, faster GDDR6 memory, and enhanced software.

Radeon RX 6650 XT, RX 6750 XT, RX 6950 XT price and release date

The Radeon RX 6950 XT, RX 6750 XT, and RX 6650 XT are available starting today. AMD says the RX 6650 XT will be priced at $US399 ($554), while the RX 6750 XT will cost $US549 ($762) and the RX 6950 XT will go for $US1,099 ($1,526). These will be available on AMD’s website and sold through its partners.

AMD RX 6X50 XT graphics cards (Image: AMD)

As we all know, these cards could very quickly sell out and be relisted for higher than MSRP immediately afterward, so be quick if you’re in the market for a high-performance GPU.

The Radeon RX 6650 is the only card replacing its predecessor, the RX 6600 XT, while the two higher-end models will be sold alongside their older counterparts. The RX 6800, by the way, isn’t going anywhere.

Radeon RX 6650 XT, RX 6750 XT, RX 6950 specs

The three refreshed cards have familiar specs to the RX 6000-series chips released more than a year ago, which is no surprise given that they are 7-nanometre chips based on RDNA 2.

AMD RX 6X50 XT graphics cards (Image: AMD)

The RX 6950 XT retains 80 compute units, 80 ray accelerators, 5,210 stream processors, 26.8 billion transistors, and 16GB of GDDR6 memory. The main difference is that the base GPU clock is up from 2,015 MHz to 2,100 MHz and the boost frequency is also getting a bump from 2250 MHz to 2310 MHz.

Similarly, the RX 6750 XT (12GB vRAM) jumps from a game clock speed of 2,424 to 2,495 MHz and boosts to 2600 MHz from 2,581 MHz. Lastly, the RX 6650 XT (8GB vRAM) jumps from a game clock of 2,359 MHz to 2,410 MHz and a boost of 2,589 MHz to 2,635 MHz. These chips also use faster GDDR6 memory.

Radeon RX 6650 XT, RX 6750 XT, RX 6950 power requirements

The RX 6950 XT operates at 335W, up from 300W, and AMD still recommends an 850W power supply for it. The RX 6750 XT operates at 250W (up from 230W), while the RX 6650 XT chews up 180W (up from 160W). The former needs a 650W supply while the latter requires a 500W supply.

AMD Radeon RX 6950 performance

AMD says the RX 6950 XT with 16GB of VRAM is competing with the Nvidia RTX 3090 GPU and can put up a fight against the RTX 3090 Ti. Where AMD claims a clear victory is in performance-to-wattage ratio; the RX 6950 XT operates at 335W, whereas the RTX 3090 runs at 350W and the 3090 Ti at 450W.

Based on AMD’s internal performance benchmarks, the RX 6950 XT topped the RTX 3090 in Doom Eternal, Far Cry 6, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Watch Dogs Legion, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

AMD RX 6950 XT (Image: AMD)

In most cases, the margins are thin. Set to 4K resolution at Ultra settings, the RX 6950 XT supposedly outpaces the RTX 3090 by a single frame (77 fps vs. 76 fps) in Deathloop, whereas the RX 6900 XT reached 74 fps. Similarly, in Forza Horizon 5, the new AMD GPU hits 69 fps, up three frames over the previous model and only four frames ahead of the RTX 3090. The margin is wider on some games; for example, the RTX 6950 XT hits 152 fps in F1 2021 while the RTX 3090 coasts at 120 fps.

These benchmarks, it should be said, were hand-selected by AMD, so there could be cases where the Radeon RX 6950 XT falls short of the RTX 3090. The same goes for all other benchmarks in this article, regardless of the card. To its credit, AMD included a few of these instances: the Radeon is one frame off RTX pace in Cyberpunk 2077, and 4% below in Grand Theft Auto V. It also struggled in Deathloop at 1440p, reaching 93 fps compared with the RTX 3090’s 106 fps. Zooming out, the RTX 6950 XT adds around five to 10 frames compared with the RX 6900 XT in most games.

AMD RX 6950 XT (Image: AMD)

AMD is also claiming the RX 6950 XT delivers a much better price-to-performance ratio, but as we’ve learned over the past few years that prices on any GPU are moving targets. That said, if you can get the RX 6950 XT at its $US1,299 ($1,803) retail price, you’ll spend hundreds less than on an RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti, which are going for more than $US1,799 ($2,497) and $US1,999 ($2,775), respectively, based on the current market.

AMD Radeon RX 6750 XT performance

Moving down the stack, AMD is comparing the Radeon RX 6750 XT to the GeForce RTX 3070. The company admits the RX 6700 couldn’t keep pace with it, but claims this refresh pushes ahead of Nvidia’s option.

AMD RX 6950 XT (Image: AMD)

Benchmarks provided by AMD show the RX 6750 XT tops the RTX 3070 in many games by up to 21%, though most advantages are marginal and Nvidia’s card took the lead in a handful of games. Starting with the largest margin, the RX topped the RTX by 21% in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and 17% in Death Stranding but struggled in Overwatch (-11%) and in Control (-7%).

These numbers are pretty closely matched, and Nvidia actually wins when it comes to power consumption, operating at a lower 220W than the 250W RX 6750 XT. The RTX 3070, however, is selling for more than the new AMD card, though comparing market rates versus retail isn’t exactly fair. It’s also worth mentioning that Nvidia has released an RTX 3070 Ti that gets even better performance and doesn’t cost much more than the RTX 3070.

AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT performance

AMD pits the RX 6650 XT against the RTX 3060, and in this one, the Radeon is the clear winner in AMD’s benchmarks. It topped the RTX 3060 in each of the provided benchmarks, beating the RTX by up to 43% (in F1 2021 at 1080p). It outpaced the RTX 3060 in Borderlands 3 by 40%, Cyberpunk 2077 by 15%, and Far Cry 6 by 26%.

AMD RX 6950 XT (Image: AMD)

To give you an idea of real-world performance, the RX 6650 XT can supposedly play Deathloop at 100 fps on 1080p graphics settings when set to Ultra. Metro Exodus, Red Dead Redemption 2, and God of War, will run in the low-to-mid 60 fps range, while Battlefield 5, Hitman 3, and Apex Legends will easily reach beyond 150 fps at 1080p on Ultra.

We didn’t get any comparisons against the RTX 3060 Ti, which retails (but doesn’t currently sell) at the same price as the RX 6650 XT.

AMD software enhancements

Also arriving with these cards are updates to AMD’s software suite that are meant to improve gaming performance. The chipmaker says its 21.50 driver enables up to 13% faster performance, or 5% on average, over the 22.10 version (on the RX 6950 XT).

AMD RX 6950 XT (Image: AMD)

When it comes to the user experience, AMD is adding a sharpness slider to Super Resolution 1.1. The company also teased FSR 2.0, claiming Deathloop plays at 121 frames per second, up from 73 fps, when upscaled. Additional games planning to add future support for FSR 2.0 “in the coming months” include Asterigos, Delysium, EVE Online, Farming Simulator 22, Forspoken, Grounded, Microsoft Flight Simulator, NiShuiHan, Perfect World Remake, Swordsman Remake, and Unknown 9: Awakening.

Overall, these refreshed cards offer marginal updates to the previous versions and will hold over gamers who are in desperate need of a GPU. If you can find them at their retail price, these 6X50 cards could be good alternatives to Nvidia’s RTX 30-series products. However, if you can wait, AMD’s RDNA 3 (And Nvidia’s RTX 4000) graphics cards are on the horizon.

Editor’s note: This piece contains pricing and availability in US territories. We’ll update it with localised launch information once we hear from AMD.