AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Review: Powerful and Pricey

A small step up from RX 6800 XT performance, a bigger step up in price.

AMD Radeon 6900 XT
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Given what we've seen so far, it's a safe bet that Nvidia will maintain its lead in ray tracing benchmarks. The RX 6900 XT may close the gap a bit, but 10 percent more shader cores can only go so far. For these DXR tests, we'll mostly be looking at the RTX 30-series and the RX 6000-series GPUs, though we do have RTX 2080 Ti results as well. For reference, the RTX 2080 Super is just a bit slower than the RTX 3060 Ti, while the remaining 20-series GPUs scale down from there.

Our format is the same as above, just with eight additional games (tests) — and we'll forego any further commentary on Dirt 5 and Watch Dogs Legion since we already covered those. Considering Nvidia was the only ray tracing solution in town up until the RX 6800 XT launch, most of these games are Nvidia promoted titles. Any ray tracing effects are also inherently targeted at Nvidia's hardware. 

10 Game Average

Ray tracing continues to be extremely demanding, especially at higher resolutions without something like DLSS to help reduce the complexity. The RTX 3090 only averages 41 fps across the test suite, while the 3080 averages 36 fps. The 3080 ends up being 20-30 percent faster than the RX 6900 XT, and the 3090 is 35-50 percent faster than AMD's top GPU. If you're hoping to go all-in on ray tracing games in the next couple of years, you can actually make a pretty good argument for just going whole hog and buying the 3090. We also took an early look at Cyberpunk 2077 performance, which even in not-quite-final code looks great. The RT effects do add something to the game world, but you pretty much need DLSS to get 60 fps with most RTX cards. 

3DMark Port Royal

3DMark Port Royal ends up on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the performance gap between Nvidia and AMD GPUs. The RTX 3090 is consistently around 35 percent faster than the 6900 XT, while the 3080 is about 18 percent faster. 3DMark isn't a game, though it's a very common benchmark, so we wanted to at least use it as a point of reference. 


Boundary is a benchmark of an upcoming game, and it uses Unreal Engine with a bunch of ray tracing effects. The result is very taxing on even the fastest GPUs, especially without DLSS. At 1080p, the 3080 is 47 percent faster than the 6900 XT, and that lead grows to 51 percent at 4K. The 3090 is 67 to 75 percent faster than the 6900 XT. With DLSS Quality mode, performance can improve another 40 percent or more. If this is what the future of ray traced games holds, AMD will absolutely need Super Resolution if it hopes to compete. 

COD: Black Ops Cold War

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War only uses ray tracing effects for shadows and ambient occlusion, and honestly, it doesn't make that big of a difference visually. Even so, it's extremely taxing, and AMD's RX 6000 cards all struggle to keep up with their RTX counterparts. The 3090 is 'only' 46 percent faster at 1080p, but that lead balloons to 88 percent at 4K, where the 3090 maintains a still decent 58 fps while the 6900 XT just barely averages 30 fps. 


Control remains one of our favorite examples of what ray tracing can add to a game, thanks to the office environment with lots of vertical glass surfaces that are partially reflective. Ray tracing is also used for diffuse lighting and ambient occlusion, and the result is once again a significant win for Nvidia's GPUs. The 3080 is 53-59 percent faster than the 6900 XT, depending on the resolution. AMD's top GPU can basically match the RTX 3060 Ti.

Crysis Remastered

Crysis Remastered's hybrid DirectX 11/DXR solution is a bit unusual, both in what was done and how it ends up performing. The 6900 XT ends up with a victory of sorts at 1080p, thanks to better minimum fps results, but then it falls behind the 3080 at 1440p and 4K. There's no DLSS support to boost Nvidia’s lead further, but the overall rendering quality in Crysis Remastered isn't particularly impressive compared to some of the other games.

Dirt 5

We already discussed Dirt 5 with DXR above, so we'll skip the commentary here. 


Turning on RT effects in Fortnite basically demands DLSS or some equivalent. The 3090 manages to break 60 fps at 1080p, but it's the only card to do so. AMD's 6900 XT is relatively close behind the 3080 this time, but it starts at 46 fps at 1080p and drops to sub-30 fps at 1440p before ending in the low-teens at 4K. Fortnite may look cartoony, but with RT enabled, it's one of the most demanding games around — based on its performance, at least. 


Metro Exodus was the first game to do global illumination via ray tracing, but the latest GPUs tend to run okay even with maxed-out settings. The 6900 XT hits 78 fps at 1080p and 57 fps at 1440p, then drops to 31 fps at 4K. The RTX 3080 is still 25-30 percent faster, but that's less than in some of the other games. Alternatively, AMD's 6900 XT and 6800 XT are just a bit faster than the RTX 3070 in this game. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is another one of the early RT-enabled games, using the tech for shadows only. It's actually not even that big of a visual change in many areas, but it's also not as big of a hit to framerates. Even at native resolution (without DLSS 1.0 on the Nvidia cards), most of the GPUs break 100 fps at 1080p, and the 6900 XT still puts up a solid 85 fps at 1440p. 4K trails off a bit at just 46 fps, but that's still playable, particularly if you have a FreeSync monitor. 

Watch Dogs Legion

Again, we covered Watch Dogs Legion above, so we'll skip the commentary here, other than to note that the 6900 XT comes in just behind the previous-gen RTX 2080 Ti and basically ties the RTX 3070. That's not a great result for a card that has twice as much memory and costs twice as much as well. 

Radeon RX 6900 XT: Blender and SPECviewperf 13