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AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT Review: Big Navi Goes on a Diet

Navi 22 joins the GPU party, trimming core counts, die size, and price

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

It feels like so much has happened in just the few short months since the launch of Big Navi. In December, all we had to worry about was limited supply and scalpers hoovering up what few graphics cards there were, only to see cards show up on eBay at significant price premiums. Now we have to deal with all of that, plus coin mining fueled shortages and even higher prices.

If all of the Nvidia Ampere and AMD RDNA2 GPUs were available at prices close to MSRP, the RX 6700 XT would look a bit overpriced. It's basically a match for the RTX 3060 Ti, without the option for DLSS and weaker ray tracing performance, at an $80 price premium. Calling this an RTX 3070 competitor is a bit too ambitious, unless you limit testing to AMD-promoted games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Borderlands 3, Dirt 5, etc. But now? Now there are a lot of gamers who would happily pay $479 for an RX 6700 XT — and they're not likely to find one in stock.

AMD's Navi 22 chip takes over from the previous generation Navi 10 chip, packing in new features and a large Infinity Cache that results in 33% larger die. It's not just ray tracing and cache, though, as VRS, mesh shaders, and a reworked pipeline that can hit significantly higher clocks are all part of the package. If nothing else, the clocks on AMD's RDNA2 parts are certainly impressive, and the 6700 XT typically runs at clocks around 40% higher than RX 5700 XT. Combined with the other architectural tweaks and enhancements, that yields gaming performance that's around 30% faster, plus 50% more VRAM to ensure you won't hit memory limits in the most voracious of games.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Is that enough? At 'official' prices — which are basically just fantasyland right now — we'd call this a good card, but we'd point to the RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT as better overall picks. More memory, more cores, better performance, and not that much more expensive. We'd also give the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 an edge over the 6700 XT, due to features, performance, and pricing (in that order). Except, right now, the Navi 21 and Ampere cards are all selling at more than double their MSRPs on eBay, and finding cards at retail continues to be a problem.

There's also the next-gen console factor to consider. We're big proponents of PC gaming, but you can get a very good gaming experience from an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. In fact, the RX 6700 XT ends up as a very close match to the Xbox Series X GPU: Fewer cores and higher clocks make it a net wash. Of course, all the next-gen consoles keep selling out as well, but at least miners aren't snapping them up, which means you can find the consoles for around $600. Given a choice between $600 for an Xbox or potentially $800 (what the RTX 3060 currently sells for on eBay) for an RX 6700 XT, sadly, we would have to say the consoles are the better deal right now from a pure gaming perspective. Unless you want to mine when you're not gaming to offset the cost of the card, maybe?

There's no question the Radeon RX 6700 XT represents a potent card at a reasonable price. Rather, the question is how many cards will actually be available for anywhere close to AMD's official launch price. We suspect that, just like with the other RDNA2 cards, the answer will be "not nearly enough." Even if mining weren't making a bad situation worse, the latest GPUs would likely still be hard to come by, and shortages on various tech components — including GPUs, memory, substrates, and even automobile and smartphone chips — are currently projected to last until 2022.

The good news is that, as a smaller chip, AMD planned for higher sales back when it ordered Navi 22 wafers. If AMD follows the usual pattern, there will probably be twice as many RX 6700 XT cards as all the Navi 21 cards combined. Maybe the less impressive mining performance will make them less attractive to miners as well. Unfortunately, we doubt that will be the case. That means if you can find one for sale at MSRP tomorrow, you should probably just buy it — even if you don't want it, you can almost certainly find someone who will buy it off of you at a decent markup. Or you could just be a good friend and trade it to someone at cost, since getting one will be more like winning the lotto than just navigating through the usual checkout procedures.

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Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • bigdragon
    These benchmarks show better performance than most of the others I've read this week. There's a few surprises in this review given that other sites showed performance in the 3060 to 3060 Ti range consistently. Seeing the 6700 XT beat the 3070 in a few tests is unexpected. I suppose that means AMD has been hard at work tweaking their drivers for better performance. The power consumption doesn't look as bad as I had been led to believe either. Looks like a solid GPU.

    I think the 6700 XT could be a good replacement for my 1070. However, do I really want to waste even more time fighting bots, adding to cart only to be unable to checkout, or being led to believe I have a shot at getting a GPU when I really never did? No. I'm not waking up early to watch a page that instantly flips from "coming soon" to "sold out" again.
    Reply
  • tennis2
    Mining Performance -
    In the case of the RX 6700 XT, we settled on 50% maximum GPU clocks (which doesn't actually mean 50%, but whatever — actually clocks settled in around 2.13GHz)
    Sooo, you don't actually know how to detune the CPU, or? Hint - toggle that "advanced control" slider to ON.

    Power efficiency is poor as expected. Meh. That tiny chainsaw whacked off a few too many CUs.
    Reply
  • oenomel
    Admin said:
    The Radeon RX 6700 XT takes a step down from Big Navi, trimming the fat and coming in at $479 (in theory). Availability and actual street pricing are the keys to success, as the card otherwise looks promising. Here's our full review.

    AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT Review: Big Navi Goes on a Diet : Read more
    Who really cares? They won't be available for months if ever?
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    tennis2 said:
    Mining Performance -
    Sooo, you don't actually know how to detune the CPU, or? Hint - toggle that "advanced control" slider to ON.

    Power efficiency is poor as expected. Meh. That tiny chainsaw whacked off a few too many CUs.
    And if you knew how AMD's drivers and tuning section work, you'd understand that toggling that "advanced control" slider just changes the percentage into a MHz number. Hint - toggle the "condescending tone" slider to OFF.

    But I did make an error: I was looking at the memory clock, not the GPU clock, when I thought the GPU was still running at 2.13GHz. I've done a bit more investigating, now that I'm more awake (it was a late night, again — typical GPU launch). With the slider at 40% (which gives a MHz number of something like 1048MHz), I got nearly the same mining performance as with the slider at 65% (1702MHz). Here are three screenshots, showing 40%, 50%, and 65% Max Frequency settings (but with advanced control ticked on so you can see the MHz values). This is with the Sapphire Nitro+, so the clocks are slightly higher than the reference card, but the performance is pretty similar (actually, the reference card was perhaps slightly faster at mining for some reason — only like 0.3MH/s, but still.)

    I've updated the text to remove the note about the max frequency not appearing to work properly. It does, my bad, the description of the tuned settings was and is still correct: 50% Max Freq, 112% power, 2150MHz GDDR6, slightly steeper fan curve, 115-120W.

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  • Wendigo
    We're interested in hearing your thoughts on what features matter most as well. We know AMD and Nvidia make plenty of noise about certain technologies, but we question how many people actually use the tech. If you have strong feelings for or against a particular tech, let us know in the comments section.
    To answer your question, I would say that the most interesting AMD feature is Chill. Sure, it's useless if you're only looking for max FPS or benchmark scores. But on a practical standpoint, for the average gamer, it works wonder. This is particularly true when used with a Freesync monitor and setting the Chill min and max values to the range supported by the monitor, thus always keeping the FPS in the Freesync range. There's no obvious difference when playing most games (particularly for the average gamer not involved in competitive esports), but the card then runs significantly cooler and thus quieter, making for a overall more pleasant gaming experience.
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    Asus released their 6700 XT cards about an hour ago...for $350 over AMD's MSRP. The 6700 XT is an absolutely horrific value at $829. The stupid things still sold out almost instantly. Plenty of humans on Twitter complaining about bots buying everything up and immediately flipping the cards on Ebay. AMD and Asus have a lot of explaining to do.

    My 1070 is now worth double what I paid for it. I'm going to sell it this weekend and forget about AAA gaming for the rest of the year. Plenty of indie games get by happily with lower-end GPUs or iGPs.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    bigdragon said:
    AMD and Asus have a lot of explaining to do.
    No explaining to do here, it is simply the free market at work. Demand is higher than supply? Raise prices until equilibrium is reached.
    Reply
  • deesider
    InvalidError said:
    No explaining to do here, it is simply the free market at work. Demand is higher than supply? Raise prices until equilibrium is reached.
    Not sure what the OP was hoping for - a golden ticket system like Willy Wonka?!
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    InvalidError said:
    No explaining to do here, it is simply the free market at work. Demand is higher than supply? Raise prices until equilibrium is reached.
    AMD's release date isn't until 9 AM EDT tomorrow morning -- not today. There were also no promised anti-bot measures in place, again, as usual. AMD's AIB's are also far more aggressive about marking up Radeon prices as compared to RTX prices.
    deesider said:
    Not sure what the OP was hoping for - a golden ticket system like Willy Wonka?!
    Yeah, that would be swell.

    What I seriously want to do is just checkout with 1 GPU without the GPU being ripped out of my cart mid-checkout or the vendor cancelling the order after it's been placed.
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    bigdragon said:
    AMD's release date isn't until 9 AM EDT tomorrow morning -- not today. There were also no promised anti-bot measures in place, again, as usual. AMD's AIB's are also far more aggressive about marking up Radeon prices as compared to RTX prices.
    I forgot what time they went on sale and checked within 5 minutes of the release and they are sold out online everywhere. You can get a couple different ones from a physical Microcenter location as they are in store only. Two of those are at MSRP even.
    Reply