Nvidia RTX or AMD XT for graphic design? – Does Ray tracing help?
Competition in high-end PC gaming graphics has been desperately lacking for many years, but AMD is back in the heat of its extremely popular Ryzen 5000 launch earlier this month. The latest Radeon RX 6000 series graphics card is now moving through its paces and I am pleased to finally give the complete output numbers below for the RX 6800 XT and RX 6800, and you will see my full analysis of the latter in this separate post.
The latest cards, which also include the RX 6900 XT to be announced shortly, feature the 7nm RDNA 2 design that implements ray tracing for the first time on the AMD desktop graphics card utilising Ray Accelerators. Each Ray Accelerator will measure up to four ray/box intersections or one ray/triangle intersection each clock. As we have seen with Nvidia’s RTX cards, though, game support can differ based on the implementation, with AMD supporting Microsoft DXR and Vulkan APIs. However, extensions outside this, such as Nvidia’s extensions for games like Wolfenstein: Youngblood, are not officially funded.
Smart Memory Access
AMD also launched the Smart Access Memory feature, which is exclusive to 6000-series cards. The functionality extends the PCIe bandwidth to allow AMD Ryzen CPUs to reach all memory graphics cards, which it says may give major performance benefits. Of course, you would also require a Ryzen 5000-series processor and 500-series motherboard chipset. Nvidia would shortly announce its own variant of Smart Access Memory and support Intel motherboards as well.
Newer cooler style
The latest cards feature a triple axial fan configuration of air exhausting from the sides of the card-there are no vents at the far ends. The RX 6800 remains in the 2-slot configuration, while the RX 6800 XT is marginally more sleek at 2.5 slots, but both cards are 267mm tall. With no RTX-style flow-through fan and smaller dimensions than the RTX 3080, the RX 6800 XT is likely to be better suited for certain PC situations, particularly small form factor ones.
My test machine contains an Intel Core i9-10900K and 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 memory. The machine is the same as the one I used for my Nvidia RTX checking, but it does not support PCIe 4.0 and certainly does not support AMD’s Smart Access Memory, but so do the overwhelming majority of gaming PCs out there. Instead, I plan to compare both this and the implementation of Nvidia in a future paper.
With ray tracing and DLSS allowed, Nvidia has a strong lead, the RTX 3080 comfortably outstripping the RX 6800XT at 2560 x 1440.
However, with ray tracing disabled, the AMD card simply gave a far higher minimum 99th percentile with a marginal deficit of the overall frame rate.
At 4K, the gap was even greater with ray tracing and DLSS allowed with a sizeable lead for Nvidia’s RTX 3080.
Interestingly, the RX 6080 XT even went less well with 4K without ray tracing, dropping its lead over the Nvidia module, if only.
Nvidia has a lead in Far Cry New Dawn at 1440pm with a noticeably higher minimum and average 99th percentile.
Switching up to 4K sees the two do equally, but there appeared to be a bunching here that might be heading down to bottlenecks elsewhere.
With DLSS and ray tracing disabled, it was tit for tat in the Tomb Raider Shadow at 1440p, with AMD gaining a higher average frame rate and Nvidia at a higher minimum.
Of course, if you turn on DLSS and ray tracing, Nvidia can again take the lead, giving almost twice the frame rate of the RX 6800 XT.
Like we have seen before, at 4K, the AMD card seemed to fail a little when it also matched ray tracing disabled, slipping a little behind the RTX 3080.
As Wolfenstein uses an expansion of Nvidia ray tracing, AMD does not allow ray tracing here yet, so I had to re-run the numbers with it disabled on a limited set of cards to save time. It is a fairly similar thing to 1080p, with just 2% between the players.
Switching up to 4K in Wolfenstein and again, Nvidia takes notable lead at both the minimum and average 99th percentile frame rate.
Borderlands 3 was a tat mash between the two AMD cards giving the fastest minimum frame rate and Nvidia’s maximum average.
At 4K again, though, the RX 6800 XT lagged behind the Nvidia GPU by a margin.
Noise and thermal
The RX 6800 XT was unusually quiet in fan-terms and even in sports, its triple fan architecture seldom spanned more than a waft and was easy to wind down and even to turn the fans off under low loads. On occasion, though, there was very important coil wine. Temperatures still persisted below 65°C during testing, which was 5-10°C lower than the RTX card.
Water block EKWB RX 6800 XT LEATHER ANTONY
The photo is not especially obvious with the RX 6800 XT, since there are many variables that muddy the stream. Next, it is $50 cheaper, at least given the launch costs relative to the RTX 3080 Founders Version. This is good news for certain game titles as the card met or enhanced the RTX 3080 in a number of ways and if it was short-well, it costs less so that they can be forgiven to some degree and eventually AMD always has a better commodity in these cases.
AMD’s RX 6800 XT and Nvidia’s RTX 3080 have two very separate cooler architectures.
Where it appears to fall shy of standards, there is often a 4K, where it was consistently slower than the RTX 3080, even outside of ray-tracked scenarios. It does not happen all over the world, but most of the titles I benchmarked had the same pattern. Again, it is costing less, and Smart Access Memory and PCIe 4.0 will support here, and I am going to look at this in a future post.
Ray tracking, as always, is very game-dependent, but assuming you are using DLSS, so Nvidia is always far better. To quote PC Gamer’s opinion on DLSS 2.0, “DLSS 2.0 is an easy and instant portal to a gratuitous output bump with little or no visual effects,” so I think this appraisal and usage of it in these benchmarks is reasonable.
At the end of the day, AMD has an enticing deal with the RX 6800 XT, particularly if you play at 2560 x 1440. That probably comes with the provision that you are not too haunted regarding ray tracing. Widespread interest for the above will arrive, as will AMD’s own edition of DLSS, which is obviously in the works, so it is nice to have some much-needed high-end competition for Nvidia at last.