Skip to main content

ASRock RX 6900 XT Formula Review: Pushing the Limit

Big Navi in an even bigger package

ASRock RX 6900 XT Formula
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

As with other graphics cards that we've looked at during the past year or so, pricing and availability are generally completely messed up. ASRock's official MSRP on the RX 6900 XT Formula OC is apparently 'only' $1,700, though we've seen Newegg list it for as much as $1,900 in just the past two weeks. Still, the fact that it's available at all without dealing with the Newegg Shuffle or other shenanigans is at least some consolation. But then $1,700 is basically as much as you'd pay for an RX 6900 XT card off of eBay.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Is the ASRock RX 6900 XT Formula worth $1,700? Normally, this would be a hard pass, but in the present climate there will undoubtedly be some takers. Plus you can get Far Cry 6 and Resident Evil Village for free for the time being, potentially offsetting the cost a bit (assuming you want both games). Of course, part of the reason for the inflated GPU prices is Ethereum mining, and the RX 6900 XT only manages about 65 MH/s — not enough to command the sort of prices that we still see on RTX 3090, 3080 Ti, and 3080. For pure gaming performance, the RX 6900 XT manages to trade blows with Nvidia's top GPUs and might be worth the cost… unless you care about ray tracing, in which case the RTX 3080 Ti easily comes out ahead.

Ten months after the official launch, AMD's RX 6900 XT still occupies an interesting position. Skip ray tracing and run at 1440p or 1080p and performance basically matches and sometimes exceeds the RTX 3090, at lower prices than you'll find on Nvidia's halo card. If you're after 4K and maxed out settings, and you want to be able to enable ray tracing in the games that support it, AMD's Big Navi GPUs are decidedly less enticing. Even if you want an AMD card, there's also a case to be made for skipping the RX 6900 XT and stepping down to the RX 6800 XT — or there would be if either one were regularly in stock at prices closer to AMD's MSRP.

If you have $1,700 that needs to be spent on a graphics card upgrade, the ASRock RX 6900 XT Formula might be what you're after. It's also telling that RX 6900 XT cards are at present the only GPUs currently available at Newegg without going through the Shuffaluffagus shenanigans. That suggests people aren't champing at the bit waiting to buy AMD's top cards. The unfortunate state of affairs is that waiting for prices to come down and return to normal could mean delaying a GPU upgrade for another year or more.

If you opt for the ASRock 6900 XT, you'll get AMD's top offering, boosted to even higher levels of performance, but mind the power draw and case ventilation. Those who prefer less extreme prices and performance, or anyone who wants more RGB joy or ray tracing in their next PC build, should look elsewhere.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

MORE: GPU Benchmarks and Hierarchy

MORE: All Graphics Content

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.

  • husker
    For some the "sanity check" on this card might be the price. But for me, it's the power draw. Prices are set at the whim of market forces, but the huge power draw on this card is something built in by the engineers at ASRock. To me that was one advantage AMD had over Nvidia in this go-round: lower overall power draw which then leads to lower amounts of heat to dissipate, quieter cooling, etc.
    Reply
  • Kridian
    Priced too high. Big nope!
    Try again!
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    48dB at 52% fan speed and 60dB at 75%!

    Any GPU which requires headphones because it's so loud at NORMAL fan speeds is not even a consideration in my book. Tack on a 400w power draw and an insane pricetag and that's an easy three strikes.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    48dB at 52% fan speed and 60dB at 75%!

    Any GPU which requires headphones because it's so loud at NORMAL fan speeds is not even a consideration in my book. Tack on a 400w power draw and an insane pricetag and that's an easy three strikes.

    Yep that is crazy.

    If these cards ever come back into MSRP which may take a year or more I would only look at an AIO model. I'm liking the temps and noise level you would get with that Asus 3080ti.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Makaveli said:
    Yep that is crazy.

    If these cards ever come back into MSRP which may take a year or more I would only look at an AIO model. I'm liking the temps and noise level you would get with that Asus 3080ti.

    I never knew what I was missing until after I got my Fury Nano and now my 2070 Super, being able to game and still hear yourself whisper is amazing, especially with an AIO CPU cooler.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    I never knew what I was missing until after I got my Fury Nano and now my 2070 Super, being able to game and still hear yourself whisper is amazing, especially with an AIO CPU cooler.

    That is my plan already on AIO cpu cooler then want to go AIO gpu then nice quiet rig even at full load. I cannot stand fan noise and more specifically it ramping up.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Makaveli said:
    That is my plan already on AIO cpu cooler then want to go AIO gpu then nice quiet rig even at full load. I cannot stand fan noise and more specifically it ramping up.

    The only thing which kept me from going AIO on my GPU was the finite lifespan of the AIO system between the pump failing and the very slow but steady loss of coolant though evaporation.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    The only thing which kept me from going AIO on my GPU was the finite lifespan of the AIO system between the pump failing and the very slow but steady loss of coolant though evaporation.

    True is a trade off vs a full custom loop.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    48dB at 52% fan speed and 60dB at 75%!

    Any GPU which requires headphones because it's so loud at NORMAL fan speeds is not even a consideration in my book. Tack on a 400w power draw and an insane pricetag and that's an easy three strikes.
    The noise level is insane. 60 decibels is not funny at all and definitely something to recommend against buying this card. Even RTX 3090 with 450W power limit don't get fans that sound this loud. I've used a Sapphire RX 6800 XT Nitro+ with a 350W power limit, and the fans are nowhere near this loud even with it running at 70%. It is only when it hits 100% fan speed when I thought some siren went off in my computer.

    Price wise, I think AIB partners can price what they want, but chances of moving large number of units is slim to none, unless its a desperate miner. While GPU shortage is still a thing now and in the near future, I feel the RX 6900 XT's price have been pushed way off what its worth now. Which is why it is not uncommon to see RX 6900 XT and 6700 XT sitting on shelves with inflated prices.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    I have the 6900XT Nitro+ SE in my HTPC for VR and it's silent while operating and I've capped it to 280W. I torture tested it a while ago and never went over 85°C junction and 80°C GPU while using 300W. I was probably throttling regardless. I have it in a small-ish case, under the TV paired to a 5600X.

    Anyway, point is these cards can do pretty well in "hot" environments, which is something I can't say about the Ampere generation as I've had friends told me their cards run too hot even with full fans pointing at them and open cases. That's bonkers. Some of then throttle hard or just shut down at times.

    As for this card... I don't think it's worth it, just because the Sapphire 6900XT Nitro+ SE exists. And that card is close to vanilla 6900XT MSRP all the time. I bought it close to MSRP at least, so I'm quite happy with that. Could I have just gone for a 6800XT? Yes, but the Nitro+ was better to all alternatives, including 6800XTs, for a few extra shekels.

    Regards.
    Reply