Today is the launch day of the Radeon RX 6500 XT, AMD's latest budget graphics card. It's currently in the PC Gamer test bench for testing and analysis ahead of our full review, though in the meantime it has been brought to my attention that this card's 4GB of GDDR6 memory falls foul of AMD's own blanket marketing statements.
In May 2020, AMD published a blog post titled 'Game Beyond 4GB (opens in new tab)', in which it laid out why 4GB of VRAM was "not enough for today's games." Now that was quite a statement at the time, considering AMD offered the RX 5500 XT in 4GB trim, though at least AMD offered an 8GB version of that graphics card should you see fit to heed its warning.
Nowadays, that same blog post is causing a headache for the RX 6500 XT, which is fitted with just 4GB of VRAM and has no option for 8GB.
Dom Moass over at KitGuru (opens in new tab) was the first to revisit the blog post, and he later reported that the blog post was temporarily unavailable for a period today, January 19, and the RX 6500 XT's release date. The words 'private-archive-blog' were appended to the URL during this time, and the post was still visible on Google though no longer accessible on the site.
The blog post has since resurfaced and is again live on the AMD community website. The reason for its disappearing act is not clear, though the timing of the page's downtime is quite the coincidence.
As for the RX 6500 XT's 4GB memory capacity, AMD's Radeon VP Laura Smith claims this is due to this card's "gamer first" approach (opens in new tab), and is purposefully slim as a way to thwart cryptocurrency miners.
That's clearly not the good news for gamers that AMD feels it to be, though. We end up being offered a card with a memory specification that doesn't stand up to AMD's standards back in 2020—let alone 2022—and appears far worse off for it in gaming benchmarks.
There's no doubt that AMD is in a predicament, however, and Nvidia too. AMD cannot meet demand with its supply chain the way it is, and there's no easy out. A lower memory specification may indeed end up increasing the card's overall availability, but it's appearing more and more like a card that no one actually wants.(opens in new tab)
We're still running the numbers for our RX 6500 XT review, so I'll reserve full judgement until we're completely satisfied they're a good representation. That said, the preliminary numbers we saw during testing are the reason for this card's extended benchmarking, and that it appears this card offers zero improvement over much older AMD graphics cards, including the RX 580 and RX 5500 4GB.
To drive that point home, the RX 5500 4GB was available for $170 at launch. That's $30 cheaper than the RX 6500 XT launching today.
And that's if you can find the RX 6500 XT at MSRP, which has been possible at launch though may prove tricky as cheaper cards make way for more expensive third-party designs.
Looking back at 2020, it's clear that AMD felt 4GB was no longer suitable for modern gaming. Now, over a year and a half later, it's releasing a 4GB budget graphics card with no hint of irony. There is perhaps no better indictment of the graphics card market's dire status over the past few years than that.