We’ll shift away from the specific cards for the next several pages and look at gaming performance and other test results. We've tested all of the RX 6800 XT GPUs using AMD's most recent 20.12.1 drivers, and we'll include a few other GPUs as reference points in the charts. Our standard test bed hardware is listed to the right, and it includes a stock clocked (4.7 GHz all-core) Core i9-9900K processor with overclocked DDR4-3600 CL16 memory.
While our CPU reviews focus on performance with the CPUs at full stock, meaning DDR4-2666 memory on the 9900K, my take is that enthusiasts will at least enable the memory XMP profile, and DDR4-3600 kits are readily available. We looked at performance scaling with similar memory kits (all running at DDR4-3600) with Core i9-10900K and Ryzen 9 5900X, and while there are instances where the newer CPUs do better — particularly at 1080p — in general the top three current CPUs are all within spitting distance of each other.
Our testing for the RX 6800 XT cards will use our expanded test suite from recent reviews, which includes the same nine games that we've used for the past year, plus four newer releases. We've tested all of the games at 'ultra' settings (or whatever the highest preset is called — or in the case of Red Dead Redemption 2, we set all of the advanced settings to the minimum option and then set the basic settings to maximum).
Only two of the games we've tested have ray tracing enabled, and one of those (Dirt 5) is an AMD-promoted game using a still-in-beta DXR patch. We didn’t enable DLSS on any of the games, though it can boost performance quite a bit, especially at 4K. We also want to note that our testing suite is decidedly slanted toward AMD right now, with half of the games as AMD-promoted titles, and two of the newer additions (Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Dirt 5) relatively strongly favoring AMD. If you want to view the larger picture of how the various GPUs stack up, we recommend looking at the full set of results, including DXR testing that we've done in other articles, including the RX 6800 XT and 6800 launch review. Since we're mostly focused on the custom 6800 XT cards here, any inherent bias in our game selection is less of a factor.
We'll start with 1080p results and then move up to 1440p and 4K on the following pages, and wrap up with power and thermal testing. We have both stock and overclocked results for the four RX 6800 XT cards in the charts as well, which generally clump together. We'll focus our commentary on the main results, with the individual gaming charts as background detail.
Given the mix of games and APIs used, it's not too surprising that the top four GPUs (RTX 3090, RX 6900 XT, RX 6800 XT, and RX 3080) end up relatively close in performance. The overclocked 6800 XT cards end up tying the 3090 and 6900 XT, but we're also hitting CPU bottlenecks in many of the games. While you can make the argument that 1080p is still the most popular resolution, and it's also the only place where you can get 240 Hz and 360 Hz displays right now, the latter is really only beneficial for a few select esports games. Out of the 13 games we tested, only Strange Brigade (which isn't exactly a popular game) breaks 240 fps at 1080p, and five of the games don't even get above 144 fps at the settings we've used.
As far as the four 6800 XT cards go, the results are pretty close to margin of error differences. The Asus Strix LC does take first place at both stock and overclocked settings, and the AMD reference card does take fourth place, but in general, you wouldn't be able to tell the cards apart when actually playing games.
Looking at the individual games, there's a bit of variability in some instances, like The Division 2, but nothing that gives us any real indication that any of the custom cards are clearly superior. Aesthetics, availability, features, and pricing are going to be much greater factors than pure performance.
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