Radeon RX 6800 & RX 6800 XT Review: AMD’s Back With Big Navi

AMD Radeon RX 6800 & 6800 XT Review: Compute, Render And Synthetic Tests

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards represented in this article on a pair of systems. One featured an ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard powered by a Core i9-10980XE 18-core / 36-thread processor and 32GB of HyperX DDR4 RAM clocked at 2,933MHz. The other was built-around an MSI X570 Godlike motherboard, equipped with a Ryzen 9 5950X and 16GB of G.SKILL DDR4 RAM clocked at 3,200MHz. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the UEFI and set all values to their "high performance" defaults, then we disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The memory's clock was dialed in to its optimal performance settings using its XMP profile and the solid state drive was then formatted and Windows 10 Professional x64 was installed and fully updated. When the Windows installation was complete, we installed all of the drivers, games, applications and benchmark tools necessary to complete our tests.

radeon 6800 front black

For all of the standard tests, the Radeon RX 6000 series cards were tested using their "Balanced" performance profile. "Rage" mode was enabled for a sampling of tests present in the overclocking section of this article, however. The new Radeons were also tested with and without Smart Access Memory enabled in an attempt to paint the most complete picture of performance.

radeon 6800 back black

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i9 Powered
Hardware Used:
Intel Core i9-10980XE
(3GHz - 4.4GHz, 18-Core)
ASUS X299 Prime (Intel X299 Chipset)
32GB Corsair DDR4-2933

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
(3.4GHz - 4.9GHz, 16-Core)
MSI X570 Godlike (AMD X570 Chipset)
16GB G.SKILL DDR4-3200

Samsung SSD 970 EVO
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 FE
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 FE
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FE
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
AMD Radeon RX 6800
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Relevant Software:
Windows 10 Pro x64 (v2004)
AMD Radeon Software v20.8.3
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v457.30

Benchmarks Used:
IndigoBench v4
LuxMark v4_alpha0
SiSoft SANDRA 2020
3DMark (Time Spy, Fire Strike, Port Royal, DXR)
Unigine Superposition
Crytek Neon Noir
Metro Exodus
Red Dead Redemption 2
Gears Tactics
F1 2020
FarCry: New Dawn

SiSoft SANDRA 2020
Cryptography And Image Processing OpenCL Performance Tests
SANDRA's GPGPU Image Processing benchmark runs through an array of filters on its reference data and offers up an aggregate score, derived from a number of individual results. CUDA and OpenCL code paths are available in these tests, but we used OpenCL on all cards to keep the playing field level. Previously, using the CUDA path with NVIDIA GPUs resulted in better performance, but OpenCL actually outperforms CUDA in these tests now...

sandra gpgu radeon 6800

The new Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT put up some monster numbers in SANDRA's image processing benchmark, besting NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3080 by a wide margin, to finish at the top of the charts.

LuxMark v4.0_alpha0
OpenCL Benchmark

LuxMark is a cross-platform, 
OpenCL-accelerated 3D rendering benchmark. It's a tool based on the open source LuxRender physically-based spectral rendering engine, which accurately models the transportation of light and supports high dynamic range. LuxRender features a number of material types to allow rendering of photo-realistic and artistic scenes. LuxRender is free software, licensed under the GPL, that offers plugins for packages like Blender, Maya, Cinema 4D and 3DS Max.

luxmark radeon rx6800 cards

The Radeon RX 6800 XT finishes just behind the GeForce RTX 3080 when rendering the Luxmark "Food" scene, but trails by a wider margin with the "Hall Bench" scene. The Radeon RX 6800 manages to outpace the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in both tests, the Ampere-based GeForce GTX 3070 beats the 6800 handily here.

GPU Rendering Performance
IndigoBench is based on Indigo 4's advanced rendering engine and offers both CPU and GPU rendering modes for its two built-in models. The standalone benchmark is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux and outputs results in M/Samples per second.

indigo radeon 6800

The Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT finish right in the middle of the pack here, according to the results with the "Supercar" model at least. With the more taxing "Bedroom" model, the Radeon RX 6800 XT scores a first place finish, with the RX 6800 trailing only the GeForce RTX 3080.

Unigine Superposition
Pseudo-DirectX / OpenGL Gaming
Superposition is a relatively new benchmark from Unigine, powered by the UNIGINE 2 Engine. It offers an array of benchmark modes, targeting gaming workloads as well as VR, with both DirectX and OpenGL code paths. There is an extreme hardware stability test built-in as well. Unigine Superposition uses the developer’s unique SSRTGI (Screen-Space Ray-Traced Global Illumination) dynamic lighting technology, along with high quality textures and models, to produce some stunning visuals. We ran Superposition in two modes using the DirectX code path – 1080p Extreme and VR Future -- to compare the performance of all of the graphics cards featured here.

unigine superposition
Unigine Superposition

unigine 1 radeon 6800 amd

unigine 2 radeon 6800 amd

Unigine Superposition's 1080P Extreme test has the new Radeon RX 6800 XT trailing the GeForce RTX 3080 by a few percentage points. The Radeon RX 6800 also trails its NVIDIA-built GeForce RTX contemporaries, but the delta separating the cards are much smaller. Enabling Smart Access Memory (SAM) has a minimal impact on performance here.

unigine 3 radeon 6800 amd

unigine 4 radeon 6800 amd

unigine 5 radeon 6800 amd

Enabling SAM in Superposition's VR Future test is a wash. In terms of the overall performance trend though, the Radeon RX 6800 XT once again trails the GeForce RTX 3080, but the Radeon RX 6800 pulls ahead of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 3070.

Testing Rift And Vive Readiness
UL's VRMark is designed to test a PC’s readiness for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. The benchmark does not, however, require that one of the headsets is attached to the PC to run and it uses an in-house graphics engine and content to ensure comparable results between different platforms. We ran the "Blue Room" VRMark test at defaults settings here, which is currently the most taxing test offered by the tool.

vr mark thumb
Futuremark VRMark

vrmark 6800xt
Radeon RX 6800 XT VRMark Details

vrmark 1 radeon 6800 amd

vrmark 2 radeon 6800 amd

VR Mark tells essentially the same story as Unigine's VR Future benchmark. SAM has virtually no impact on performance (yes, the score was identical from run to run with the 6800 with and without SAM -- that's not a typo), and the new Radeon RX 6800 series cards outpace everything but the GeForce RTX 3080.

UL 3DMark Time Spy
Direct X 12 Performance
3DMark Time Spy is a synthetic DirectX benchmark test from Futuremark. It features a DirectX 12 engine built from the ground up to support bleeding-edge features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multithreading. Time Spy is designed to test the DirectX 12performance of the latest graphics cards using a variety of techniques and varied visual sequences. This benchmark was developed with input from AMD, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and the other members of the Futuremark Benchmark Development Program, to showcase the performance and visual potential of graphics cards and other system resources driven by close-to-the-metal, low-overhead APIs.
time spy
3DMark Time Spy

timespy 6800xt
Radeon RX 6800 XT Time Spy Details

time 1 radeon 6800

time 2 radeon 6800

In the DX12-based 3DMark Tme Spy benchmark, the Radeon RX 6800 XT pulls off a clear victory, outrunning every other card we tested, with or without SAM enabled. The Radeon RX 6800 puts up strong numbers here as well, trailing only its big brother and the more expensive GeForce RTX 3080.

UL 3DMark Fire Strike
Synthetic DirectX Gaming
3DMark Fire Strike has multiple benchmark modes: Normal mode runs at 1920x1080, Extreme mode targets 2560x1440, and Ultra mode runs at a 4K resolution. GPU target frame buffer utilization for normal mode is 1GB and the benchmark uses tessellation, ambient occlusion, volume illumination, and a medium-quality depth of field filter. The more taxing Extreme mode targets 1.5GB of frame buffer memory and increases detail levels across the board. Ultra mode is explicitly designed for high-end and CrossFire / SLI systems and cranks up the quality even further. GT 1 focuses on geometry and illumination, with over 100 shadow casting spot lights, 140 non-shadow casting point lights, and 3.9 million vertices calculated for tessellation per frame. GT2 emphasizes particles and GPU simulations.

3d mark fire strike
3DMark Fire Strike

firestrike 6800xt
Radeon RX 6800 XT Fire Strike Ultra Details

fire 1 radeon 6800

fire 2 radeon 6800

Our results in the DX11-based Fire Strike benchmark somewhat mirror those of Time Spy. The Radeon RX 6800 XT scores another decisive victory here, to finish at the top of the charts. The Radeon RX 6800 also performs well and significantly outpaces the GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 2080 Ti.

UL 3DMark Port Royal
DXR Ray Tracing Benchmark

Port Royal was released earlier this year as an update to UL’s popular 3DMark suite. It is designed to test real-time ray tracing performance of graphics cards that support Microsoft DirectX Raytracing, or DXR. Although DXR is technically compatible with all DX12-class GPUs, the graphics card must have drivers that enable DXR, and NVIDIA is the only company to have done so at this point, hence the lack of Radeons in the chart.

3mark port royal dxr
3DMark Port Royal

port royal 6800xt
Radeon RX 6800 XT Port Royal Details

port 1 radeon 6800 amd

port 2 radeon 6800 amd

3DMark's Port Royal ray tracing benchmark reveals the first chink in the Radeon RX 6800 series' armor. The Radeon RX 6800 XT is able to beat NVIDIA's previous-gen flagship GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, but the 3080 smashes the 6800 XT here. The Radeon RX 6800 ends up trailing the 2080 Ti and 3070 here as well, but it's not too far behind.

We also experimented with the recently released 3DMark DirectX Ray Tracing Feature test, but the results were less kind to AMD...

dxr 6800xt
Radeon RX 6800 XT DXR Feature Test Details

dxr radeon 6800 amd

The Radeon RX 6800 XT and RX 6800 bring up the rear in this test, falling behind all of the GeForce cards. The GeForce RTX 3080 puts up particularly strong numbers in this test, that more than double the Radeon RX 6800's performance.

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