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AMD Teases RX 6000 Performance: Big Navi Looks close to the RTX 3080

AMD just spilled the beans on its Zen 3 microarchitecture, providing the largest IPC uplift we've yet to see in the post-Zen AMD era. Nineteen percent higher IPC at the same power levels means AMD may finally lay claim to being the best CPU for gaming — it already owns the title for best multithreaded performance. That's all well and good, but Team Red isn't done yet. We know Big Navi is coming, and AMD provided some limited benchmarks at the end of its Zen 3 stream. We don't have detailed specs yet, though we have plenty of informed guesses and leaks. But now we have some official benchmarks of RDNA 2, running on AMD's new Zen 3 Ryzen 9 5900X.

There's a catch, of course: AMD didn't even say which Big Navi it's using. Theoretically, it could be the RX 6800 XT, but that seems dubious at best. This is almost certainly the RX 6900 XT, because just like AMD is leading the Zen 3 launch with 5950X and 5900X performance details, we expect it will show off the top part for Navi 21. We also don't know pricing on Big Navi, and AMD isn't demonstrating ray tracing performance (even though Call of Duty: Modern Warfare supports ray traced shadows).

AMD let us know in advance what games and settings it would be showing, so we've got some comparison points for the tests. Borderlands 3 was running at 4K using the badass preset and DX12, Gears 5 is also using DX12 and running at 4K ultra, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was running at 'ultra' (maxed out, except for ray tracing) settings at 4K. There's no built-in benchmark for Call of Duty, however, so we'll confine our comparisons to the first two.

Note that we're testing with our standard Core i9-9900K test PC. That shouldn't matter too much, since the benchmarks are at settings that will be largely GPU limited, even on more modest CPUs. Still, AMD's numbers are from a Ryzen 9 5900X test system, which likely puts the new card in the best light possible.

RX 6900 XT and Big Navi performance preview charts

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

RX 6900 XT and Big Navi performance preview charts

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We've filled in the presumed RX 6900 XT numbers from AMD's presentation, which AMD says were taken from the built-in benchmarks using the above settings. AMD didn't provide minimum fps numbers, so we've limited comparisons to average fps only. The takeaway? Big Navi is a serious threat -- provided pricing and availability don't hold it back.

Based on AMD's numbers — as always, apply some skepticism to any manufacturer provided test results — the presumed RX 6900 XT lands at the same level as the RTX 3080 in Borderlands 3, and comes up 8% slower than the 3080 in Gears 5. Perhaps more noteworthy is that it's 83% faster than the previous generation RX 5700 XT in Borderlands 3, and 88% faster in Gears 5.

These are probably better-than-average results for Big Navi. But even so, it shows Nvidia's Ampere GPUs likely aren't going to win every performance comparison. Price is still a major wildcard, however. There are rumors and speculation that the RX 6900 XT will launch at $600, perhaps as high as $650 or as low as $550. Most of those prices end up looking like AMD will take the price-to-performance crown from Ampere, especially if the RTX 3070 'only' manages to match RTX 2080 Ti performance.

AMD Big Navi teaser

(Image credit: AMD)

We do have questions about how fast Big Navi will be when it comes to ray tracing calculations. This will be gen1 ray tracing for AMD, so perhaps it can match Turing, but we doubt it will be as fast as Ampere. A more pertinent question: Will ray tracing even matter? We've been waiting for the killer ray tracing game for two years now. Control is the best example of the medium so far, and demos like Bright Memory Infinite and Boundary look promising, not to mention Cyberpunk 2077.

If ray tracing lands in a big way with coming games and finally makes for a sizable graphics upgrade, AMD will need to provide at least competitive ray tracing performance to keep pace with Nvidia. If ray tracing continues to be a major performance hit for only slightly improved graphics, though, it may not matter. We're hopeful that ray tracing will become more useful, considering the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X also support the feature, but it's still typically a massive tradeoff in performance for modest quality improvements.

AMD Big Navi teaser

(Image credit: AMD)

We're looking forward to testing the hardware and answering all of these questions once Big Navi launches. And on that note, there's still no official release date. AMD will reveal more details about the Big Navi / RDNA 2 / Navi 2x architecture on its October 28 livestream, and we'll likely get final specs, pricing, and a release date at that time. Based on what happened with Zen 3, we anticipate a mid-to-late November launch.

  • neojack
    i expected around 2080ti performance, but this looks even more promising.

    it's time to sell my 5700xt, definitely. i can use my backup rx480 for the time being.
    Reply
  • JTWrenn
    Really wondering what it will look like for next gen games that are optimized for AMD because of all of the console work they have been doing. Seems like they may get a boost from it, but hard to say given they were already in the last gen. Either way, tightening the race is good for consumers.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    All on all... competiton at 4K resultion is real! And that is the most important part. The second is prising. 3080 msrp is reasonable low... but there Are almost none at those prices so 6900 can cost near that $700 and still be competative considering prising! Those $550 Are pure fantasy! Old 5700 was $400, so new 6700 will be near $400 and this 6900 is douple the size of 6700 so the price could Also be douple or more! So $800 is very realistick target price for this gpu. But then $700 3080 msrp makes that tight spot... even most will cost $800 or more.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    If AMD really wants to win this generation, they'll make sure consumers can actually get a card.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    hotaru.hino said:
    If AMD really wants to win this generation, they'll make sure consumers can actually get a card.

    if this gpu is in reality as good as these leaks shows and the price is even semi reasonable... TSMC can not make these enough to fullfill the demand! Its is just impossible. Just look how good new Zen3 is... amd is gonna sell tons of those and still there is more demand than TSMC ever can produse those. This big Navi will be halo product that has much bigger demand than there is production! I Expect that most people have to wait 2021 to get their Zen3. Same is true with big Navi. TSMC 7nm is really good node, but the demand will be so huge that TSMC would have to chancel all other busines partners and still it would not be enough... and TSMC is going to make other stuff than AMD Also in this and next year.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    hannibal said:
    if this gpu is in reality as good as these leaks shows and the price is even semi reasonable... TSMC can not make these enough to fullfill the demand! Its is just impossible. Just look how good new Zen3 is... amd is gonna sell tons of those and still there is more demand than TSMC ever can produse those. This big Navi will be halo product that has much bigger demand than there is production! I Expect that most people have to wait 2021 to get their Zen3. Same is true with big Navi. TSMC 7nm is really good node, but the demand will be so huge that TSMC would have to chancel all other busines partners and still it would not be enough... and TSMC is going to make other stuff than AMD Also in this and next year.
    If AMD had stockpiled the hardware beforehand, then the issue of supply wouldn't be as bad. But I don't think they did that (or at least, definitely not enough).
    Reply
  • Homer J.
    Looks good for the 6900 but things we do not know yet are power consumption and VRAM size. If AMD can offer the 6900 with 12+ GB VRAM and less power consumption for 650$ then this would be serious competition for the RTX 3080.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    Homer J. said:
    Looks good for the 6900 but things we do not know yet are power consumption and VRAM size. If AMD can offer the 6900 with 12+ GB VRAM and less power consumption for 650$ then this would be serious competition for the RTX 3080.

    Looking at the powerplug it is near 300 watts. and rumors say it has 16GB VRAM.
    Reply
  • kal326
    The best news here is AMD is posed to put out something at least competitive. Sure it’s not up near a 3090, but that’s also a halo card.
    If they can get something 3080 level out by late next month it might ease demand on Nvidia cards in the near future. Meaning those that actually want them can get them and the scalpers have less incentive to keep trying to corner supply.
    Reply
  • JTWrenn
    Hell if they drop in December with actual real feasible quantities, and their site launches with a captcha....to some degree Amd could claim they launched their next gen line first.
    Reply