Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT review: AMD returns to high-end PC gaming

The 6800 and 6800 XT make a striking first impression. They’re large cards that look like they’re carved out of a single block of metal, with three fans cooling a traditional array of heatsink fins. While NVIDIA came up with an entirely new cooling and PCB design for its latest cards, AMD is sticking with a fairly standard design. But hey, at least they’ve moved on from the annoying single-fan blowers. Both cards rely on two 8-pin power connectors, and thankfully they’re at the very edge so you can route cables easily.

All games tested in 4K/HDR with the highest graphics quality settings, on a rig powered by an Intel Core i7-8700K and 32GB of RAM.

Now let’s get to what you’re really interested in: benchmarks and performance impressions. As you can see in the table above, the 6800 consistently scores higher than the $499 RTX 3070, but that’s to be expected since it costs $80 more. The 6800 XT, meanwhile, manages to outdo the RTX 3080 in Hitman 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider‘s benchmarks. But as you can tell from the Port Royal test, AMD lags behind when it comes to ray tracing.

Perhaps that benchmark wasn’t optimized for these new cards yet, but it matches with the lackluster ray tracing performance I saw throughout my testing. Control, for example, could only run at 35 to 40 fps in 4K with ray tracing maxed out. On the RTX 3080, it hit around 50 fps (though for actual gameplay I ended up relying on NVIDIA’s DLSS technology to optimize performance even more). Unsurprisingly, these AMD cards were all but useless in the Minecraft ray tracing beta, which were tuned specifically for NVIDIA’s RTX hardware. There were some bright spots though: Dirt 5 was able to run between 50 and 60 fps in 4K with ray tracing turned on. That’s a game I also tested on the Xbox Series X, but it looked better on PC since I could crank up the visual effects even further.

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