- Release date: March 18, 2021
- On sale: 6am PT | 9am ET | 2pm GMT
- Architecture: RDNA 2
- GPU: AMD Navi 22
- Compute units: 40
- Core count: 2,560
- Memory: 12GB GDDR6
- Performance: Between Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070
- Price: $479
The AMD RX 6700 XT release date has now been officially set for March 18. The new GPU should present a more affordable option for buying into the impressive RDNA 2 architecture, but it's not going to come cheap, sitting close to the RTX 3070 price tag at $479.
But then it also sits mighty close in performance terms if AMD's recently released performance numbers are to be believed.
There are expected to be two different cards in the RX 6700 series, but the latest rumours suggest the lower-spec RX 6700 will be following many months after this March launch. AMD has certainly not even hinted at it as yet.
As the next graphics cards out of the Radeon Technologies Group, the RX 6700 XT will offer a more affordable alternative to the existing line-up. The card will sit beneath the Radeon RX 6800 in both price and performance, and strays some distance from the RX 6900 XT's eye-watering $999 price tag..
You'll still see that same RDNA 2 architecture, though, which has offered promising performance in all things gaming so far. It'll just come in a more diminutive package in the Navi 22 GPU—the chip said to be at the heart of the RX 6700-series.
With the RX 6800 XT taking it to the RTX 3080 with impressive performance, the hope is for more of the same to keep Nvidia on its toes where it currently faces little to no competition, such as versus the RTX 3060 Ti and recently released RTX 3060 12GB. But it looks like we're going to have to wait for the straight RX 6700 to compete lower down the stack.
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Both AMD and Nvidia share a common problem right now and that's getting enough graphics cards into the channel for purchase by us PC gaming lot. It's difficult to find any of the latest graphics cards in stock today, at least without neurotic shopping habits.
Shortages are having all sorts of negative knock-on effects to the PC gaming market as a whole, too, from minor components to memory to the latest GPUs. That, in turn, raises questions regarding whether AMD can supply sufficient quantities of its RX 6700-series.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT release date
Following the announcement on March 3, the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT graphics card release date will fall on March 18, 2021.
Tech site Cowcotland has claimed that supply of said RX 6700 XT GPUs will be "more than very limited." For its part, AMD has said that it is aiming to combat the high demand by making sure the reference cards and third-party designs are sold from day one.
Though that's not necessarily a big change on what normally happens with more mainstream GPUs, especially not in recent history. I would doubt that this tactic alone will have any impact on AMD gaining greater availability at launch.
We've seen nothing about the lower-spec RX 6700 cards, however, and the rumour mill suggests that the cheaper option is going to be held back for a good while yet. Potentially that will be to ensure AMD can create enough of the RX 6700 XT cards to at least satisfy a little of the surely high demand, but could also be down to reportedly high yields for the 7nm Navi 22 GPU.
If AMD is getting a large percentage of high-spec chips out of each GPU wafer, then there's less need for it to offer cut down versions in the beginning.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT specifications
AMD's RX 6700-series graphics cards offer tantalising specifications for any mid-range PC upgrade, as AMD has previous form at this price point. The RX 6700 XT will likely be the most desirable of the two, if only for the fact it has 'XT' tacked on the end of its title, but it also packs a Navi 22 GPU in all its glory.
Navi 22 comes with 40 Compute Units (CUs) in its RX 6700 XT guise, which should keep this GPU in good standing for raw computational performance. That will put it at the same 2,560 core count as the previous generation's top chip, the RX 5700 XT, but the RDNA 2 architecture should ensure it performs much quicker. That's half of what the Navi 21 GPU is able to offer at 80 CUs.
A similar core configuration, perhaps, but there's plenty to get excited for with the RX 6700 XT GPUs. The RDNA 2 architecture has come on leaps and bounds over the first, stuffing in a wholly redesigned cache, improving per clock efficiency, and dramatically improving performance per watt.
|RX 6700 XT||RX 6800||RX 6800 XT||RX 6900 XT|
|GPU||Navi 22||Navi 21||Navi 21||Navi 21|
|Lithography||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm||TSMC 7nm|
|Memory capacity||12GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6||16GB GDDR6|
While everyone's sure to rush out for the alleged XT chip, let's not rule out the cheaper option either, whenever that ends up releasing. AMD's RX 5700 was a superb deal with a couple of homemade tweaks and could be configured to close most of the gap on the pricier XT variant. That was due to the awfully similar core counts between the two—just four CUs separated the 5700 XT from the 5700—and perhaps we'll see something along those lines with the 6700 XT and 6700.
The PlayStation 5 is fitted with a 36 CU RDNA 2 GPU, which could see the second-run Radeon RX 6700 a match for the next-gen console.
Whichever GPU takes your fancy, it'll boast RDNA 2's signature feature, Infinity Cache. It's effectively a new cache layer than takes the place of a wider memory bus and allows the GPU to divert fewer requests to external memory.
Infinity Cache is currently found within the RX 6800-series and RX 6900 XT, and you can read a little more about the thinking behind it in our RX 6800 XT review.
With Navi 22, we're expecting a little less Infinity Cache, but not a complete 1:1 reduction in line with the 50% cut in cores to the RX 6900 XT. Something to the tune of 96MB for the entire RX 6700-series sounds likely.
Also on the billing is real-time ray tracing support. First introduced with the RDNA 2 architecture, Ray Accelerators offer ray tracing acceleration for games that support the feature. That makes for better lighting, reflections, and shadows, and an access card to fully path-traced games like Quake II RTX.
Perhaps the biggest suggested shift with the RX 6700-series over what came before is the adoption of 12GB of GDDR6 memory. That's yet to be confirmed, but it's the working theory today and helped along by that EEC listing from Gigabyte. It's hardly a surprise, either, considering AMD championed a whopping 16GB of GDDR6 on its high-end cards.
The knock-on effect of which has been Nvidia pumping up the memory count for its latest arrivals—or at least it looks that way. Just take a look at the 12GB RTX 3060, stacked with more memory than even the RTX 3070.
While 8GB may be more of a standard further down the stack, perhaps in the RX 6600- and 6500-series GPUs, those which we're even more in the dark about, a 12GB GDDR6 memory configuration seems likely for the RX 6700 XT and RX 6700.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT performance
The RX 6700 graphics cards have nary touched a test bench outside of AMD's own, yet we're not entirely in the dark when it comes to gaming performance. With the high-end determined to strike at 4K, it appears as though 1440p gaming is the target resolution for the RX 6700-series.
According to AMD's own performance numbers we can see the RX 6700 XT performing somewhere around the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti. Sometimes it comes in higher than the RTX 3070 and sometimes lower. Interestingly in AMD's own figures it shows the RX 6700 XT actually performing worse than the RTX 3060 Ti in Watch Dogs Legion.
For a $399 card to outperform this $479 GPU in even one modern game does seem a little tough to swallow, if we're being honest.
It does bear saying, however, that in raw terms we are talking about a card that can beat the old RTX 2080 Super, and that really is nothing to be sniffed at.
But still, trading blows with the RTX 3070, for $20 less, in general is a pretty decent level of performance. Though that is without taking into account the boons of either Nvidia's 2nd Gen ray tracing capabilities or its ever-more impressive DLSS.
The RX 6900 XT manages to get by alright with ray tracing enabled, a sort of brute force approach thanks to its whopping CU count, while the RX 6800 XT falls pretty significantly behind the RTX 3080 with the rendering feature enabled.
Ray tracing is a mixed workload that relies a little on the standard GPU cores and new things called Ray Accelerators. Since Ray Accelerators are found within AMD's dual Compute Units, the number of them varies by CU count. The RX 6700 XT, at a theorised max of 40 CUs, and therefore 40 Ray Accelerators, could find itself struggling for the oomph required for smooth framerates in ray-traced games.
AMD has an answer, however, and it's not just turning down the settings. It's promising some form of upscaling in FidelityFX Super Resolution, its very own Nvidia DLSS-like feature, or so it says. But it's well into 2021 now, and the fourth iteration of its new RDNA 2 graphics cards, and we've still not seen anything about this important performance enhancing feature.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT price
Price as ever will be the determining factor for these cards' success, and with the RX 6700 XT costing $479 it does feel a little steep for a fourth tier GPU. It's only just undercutting the RTX 3070, and I kinda feel like it needed to go a little further, especially when third-party RX 6700 XT cards will likely come in well above the $500 mark.
The cheaper RX 6700, then, may fall around the price of the RTX 3060 Ti 6GB—$399. Both will likely come with less GDDR6 memory than the RX 6700 XT.
With Nvidia already making its play for the $300-$400 market, it's up to AMD to price its cards competitively around the green team's line-up, but we're probably going to have to wait for the RX 6600 XT to start to make in-roads on the RTX 3060.
It's only whether many partners and reference boards will be available to purchase at MSRP for long that has us worried.