After the more recent Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 and GeForce RTX 3060 Ti cards, jumping up to a $1000 graphics card feels ludicrous. Sure, it's fast and can sometimes even beat Nvidia's top-shelf RTX 3090. Overall, however, the RX 6900 XT fails to impress relative to the RX 6800 XT. It's such an incremental bump in performance that it hardly seems worth the trouble. That's assuming that there are enough cards to meet the demand, which of course there aren't.
By the numbers, the RX 6900 XT is only 4 to 7 percent faster than the RX 6800 XT, but it officially costs over 50 percent more. Okay, sure, you can't find the 6800 XT in stock for $649 right now, but at some point (hopefully before RDNA3 arrives), that will no longer be the case. If you want the best high-end AMD graphics card, our pick still goes to the RX 6800 XT. But if you're open to other options, AMD has a tougher time of things.
Toss out ray tracing performance, and the RX 6900 XT looks very competitive, chalking up several wins against the RTX 3090. But if you're willing to spend over a grand on a new graphics card for gaming purposes, we simply can't overlook the ray tracing performance, not to mention the large number of games with DLSS support. Yes, FidelityFX Super Resolution is now here, and it works with every GPU, but it doesn't look quite as good as DLSS 2.0 and it's not in nearly as many games, particularly games that really need it. However, even without DLSS, the RTX 3080 already leads the 6900 XT by an average of 25 percent at 1440p in ray tracing games.
It's also interesting to note that, for all the complaints about the lack of RTX 30-series GPUs, all of the Nvidia cards (except the most recent RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti) actually show up in the Steam Hardware Survey. We still don't know what sort of fuzzy statistics Steam might be using, as Valve has never been particularly transparent about the data behind the HW survey. If it's not fully random and instead sent out queries to anyone with a new 'unknown' GPU during the past month or two, that could explain things. Still, not a single RX 6000-series GPU shows up, while the RTX 3070 has basically caught up to the RX 580 (AMD's highest ranked GPU on the list).
As a professional card, the RX 6900 XT again has some potential. There are certain applications where AMD is more generous than Nvidia when it comes to optimized drivers. If you happen to use one of those apps, this could be the best overall value, but again the 6800 XT has the exact same features and specs, only with a few fewer shader cores.
That's the real difficulty with the top of the pecking order. You often get radically diminishing returns going from the second- or third-tier GPU to the fastest card. The RTX 3090 has the same problem, and we don't recommend it as a general gaming solution for the same reasons. But really, anyone wanting a new GPU is likely going to be waiting for prices to come down, whatever their GPU of choice. When even the RTX 3060 and RX 6700 XT sell for over $700, it's best to hang on to whatever you already have.
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