We still feel like 1440p gaming is the sweet spot for most people. Reasonably high frame rates are possible on quite a few GPUs, high refresh rate displays with adaptive sync technology can be had for under $300, and even 144Hz IPS and VA panels are commonplace. In our 1080p testing, we noted that a lot of games couldn't break 144 fps even at the lower resolution, but G-Sync and FreeSync make that less of a concern. CPU bottlenecks also become less of a factor at the higher resolution. Which doesn't actually change the overall standings much.
At stock settings, the three custom 6800 XT cards are within 0.2 fps of each other, emphasizing once again how little difference there is among cards with the same GPU. The reference card does fall a bit off the pace, largely because it's using less power we'd wager, though even with our overclocked settings it can't quite close the gap. Interestingly, despite having three 8-pin PEG connectors and a large cooler, the ASRock card doesn't do any better than the Sapphire card — actually, it's a bit worse. It could be the luck of the draw, or just variance between benchmark runs, but our results consistently put the ASRock a bit below the other two AIB cards.
In the larger scheme of things, the overclocked 6800 XT cards continue to basically match the reference 6900 XT. The RTX 3090 starts to pull away from the other GPUs a bit, now that CPU bottlenecks are reduced, while the 6800 XT still leads the RTX 3080. It will be interesting to see what happens if Nvidia actually does release a 20GB 3080 (or 3080 Ti) card in the future, though the pricing on such a GPU would be higher than the current 3080. Well, theoretical 3080 prices, since most cards are selling for quite a bit more than MSRP and supplies are still very limited.
There's a bit more variation in performance this time, but nothing particularly noteworthy. The Sapphire Nitro+ takes the top spot in both stock and overclocked modes in several games, but most of the results are within 1-2 percent of each other at most (among the 6800 XT custom cards).
Looking at frame rates, even at stock clocks all of the games run at well over 60 fps, often into the 100+ fps range. Only a few break 144 fps, but again, that's why G-Sync and FreeSync are useful. There's one exception, naturally: Watch Dogs Legion with ray tracing enabled is a beast to run, as are most DXR games without DLSS. The 6800 XT can only manage high-30s performance, and it's worth mentioning that the DXR reflections on AMD and Nvidia still aren't the same. Check out the extra images in the gallery below to see what we're talking about.
The above are with the latest patches in place, and we're still getting a lot of differences between AMD and Nvidia DXR (DirectX Raytracing) quality. It's only used for reflections in Watch Dogs Legion, but you can see the differences in puddles, shiny metal surfaces, and various windows. It's as though AMD has greatly reduced the range of testing for ray triangle intersections, which could improve performance but at the cost of image quality.
Whether you want or need ray tracing is debatable, but with consoles now supporting the tech, we expect to see additional DXR games. Will they also support DLSS, or AMD's upcoming FidelityFX Super Resolution? And will they be 'dumbed down' for the console GPUs? Those are good questions, and considering the RX 6800 is faster than the Xbox Series X, we suspect limited RT effects on console games will be more common than more robust implementations like we've seen in Cyberpunk 2077.
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