AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review: A good GPU that (understandably) costs too much

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review: A good GPU that (understandably) costs too much

“There are no bad products, only bad prices.” That well-worn adage, attributed to Anandtech founder Anand Shimpi, kept popping into my head as I reviewed AMD’s Radeon RX 6700 XT. This is a barn-burning graphics card for 1440p and 1080p gaming, but at $479 the price is far too high—at least in theory.

In reality, graphics cards have been almost impossible to find thanks to a crushing mixture of supply shortages, insane demand for all gaming hardware, logistics woes, tariffs, and the mania swirling around the booming Ethereum cryptocurrency. Newly stocked graphics cards sell out instantly at proper retailers and go for hundreds of dollars over MSRP at resale sites like Ebay and Craigslist. Even used two- and three-generation-old GPUs are being scooped for more than their launch prices new many, many years ago. Things are so bad that Nvidia recently revived the ancient GTX 1050 Ti—an entry-level graphics card that first launched in 2016.

All those extra profits go to retailers, scalpers, and AMD board partners like MSI and Sapphire though, rather than AMD itself. Pricing the Radeon RX 6700 XT at $479 allows the company to get in on the action, and the card will no doubt sell for more than this on the streets anyway. Because AMD is suffering through a manufacturing logjam at chip foundry TSMC—the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Ryzen 5000 desktop and mobile processors, and Radeon RX 6000-series are all built on TSMC’s 7nm process—being able to sell its GPUs for more gives the company additional incentive to churn out graphics cards during a time when there’s nowhere near enough graphics cards available to satisfy gamers.

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review: A good GPU that (understandably) costs too much Brad Chacos/IDG

That’s a good thing. The bad news? The $479 Radeon RX 6700 XT performs closer to the $400 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti than the $500 RTX 3070 (though AMD’s Smart Access Memory can provide a massive boost in some games) and it isn’t anywhere near as strong as Nvidia’s cards when it comes to ray tracing. When the dust settles around the current graphics card shortage the price would need to drop at least $100 to be truly compelling. (It’s worth noting that its Radeon RX 5700 XT predecessor debuted at $400.) If you can find the Radeon RX 6700 XT for MSRP it might be worth considering in today’s ludicrous market, however, especially if you need to upgrade now and don’t want to simply stream your games via Nvidia’s PC-friendly GeForce Now service until everything calms down.

Now that the stage has been set, let’s dive into AMD’s $479 Radeon RX 6700 XT reference card, which will periodically be available at no markup on Custom cards from AMD partners like Sapphire, XFX, Asus, and MSI also hit the streets today but cost much more. We’ll have reviews of custom RX 6700 XTs coming soon.

If you want a high-level look at our impressions before wading through pages of explanatory text and benchmark graphs, be sure to check out our companion synopsis, 5 key things you need to know about the Radeon RX 6700 XT.

Radeon RX 6700 XT specs, features, and price

The previously launched Radeon RX 6800-series and Radeon RX 6900 XT were built using “Big Navi,” the largest GPU built on AMD’s fantastic new RDNA 2 architecture. The Radeon RX 6700 XT’s “Navi 22” chip is much smaller, featuring half as many compute units and stream processors as its bigger sibling. Here’s how they compare:

6700 xt specs AMD

Meanwhile, with 40 compute units, this new GPU is a direct replacement for the Radeon RX 5700 XT, which served as the flagship for AMD’s first-gen RDNA architecture. Seeing how it holds up in our performance benchmarks will be insightful. For now, here’s how the Radeon RX 6700 XT’s tech specs hold up against the Radeon RX 5700 XT’s:

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