The AMD RX 6700-series should present a more affordable option for buying into the impressive RDNA 2 architecture, and it turns out we won’t have to wait too long for word of its arrival, either. Fresh off the press, there are said to be two graphics cards nearing release: the RX 6700 XT and RX 6700.
The next graphics cards out of the Radeon Technologies Group, the RX 6700-series—as it’s likely to be called—will offer a more affordable alternative to the existing line-up. Yet to be announced, the pair will sit beneath the Radeon RX 6800 in both price and performance, and stray some distance from the RX 6900 XT’s eye-watering $999 price tag—somewhere around $300–$400, no doubt.
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 upcoming RTX 3060 12GB.
All signs still point to a late-March release date, too, or Q1 by AMD‘s corporate calendar. But I wouldn’t discount a short stay on release as GPU shortages cause headaches for PC gamers the globe over. That would see Nvidia unimpeded in the mid-range GPU market for quite a while, but perhaps it’s not all that imperative of AMD to rush to market just yet.
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This all depends on one thing: availability. 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.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. At a lower price you’d expect the more affordable line-up to be the most popular, and ideally, that would mean the more readily available cards of the RDNA 2 generation. One can only hope…
At a glance…
AMD Radeon RX 6700 release date
It’s suggested we’ll see the RX 6700 XT and RX 6700 launch before the end of March, the end of AMD‘s first quarter. However, that’s not yet confirmed, and supply issues could factor into a later launch.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 specs
Powered by Navi 22, we’re expecting a max loadout of 40 CUs—half of a complete Navi 21 chip. That’ll be built on the same RDNA 2 architecture, though, which includes support for ray tracing, and likely come with 12GB of GDDR6 memory.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 performance
The RX 6700 XT will likely strike out at the RTX 3060 Ti, or in a best-case scenario surpass it. The RX 6700 will likely sit between the RTX 3060 Ti and upcoming RTX 3060 12GB. Both will be aiming at 1440p gaming, though, whichever way it shakes out.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 pricing
Based on previous RDNA launches and Nvidia‘s roughly comparable cards, we’d suspect a price around the $400 mark for the RX 6700 XT and something closer to $349. But that likely all depends on how these cards look next to Nvidia‘s Ampere competition.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 release date
Recent rumours suggest the AMD Radeon RX 6700-series graphics card release date will fall at the end of March 2021.
Both tech site Cowcotland and HardwareLuxx editor Andreas Schilling suggest we could see such a timely arrival of GPUs, both claiming some knowledge from sources close to the matter. That would likely have cards arriving in earnest over April and May.
But this all depends on supply—something that isn’t particularly overflowing right now. There’s also the suggestion that a release date could land sometime in the first half of 2021, not the first quarter.
While all signs still point towards a March announcement, if we’re still unable to source any quantities of existing high-end RX 6000-series graphics cards by then it won’t paint a rosy picture for the incoming mid-range cards.
At any rate, we’ll hear about these GPUs in the first half of the year. Perhaps March, at that.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 specifications
AMD‘s RX 6700-series graphics cards should offer tantalising specifications for any mid-range PC upgrade, as AMD has previous form at this price point. The alleged 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 is said to come with up to 40 Compute Units (CUs), which should keep this GPU in good standing for raw computational performance. That’s half of what the Navi 21 GPU is able to offer at 80 CUs, but on par with the previous generation’s top chip, the RX 5700 XT.
A similar core configuration, perhaps, but there’s plenty to get excited for with the RX 6700-series 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.
While everyone’s sure to rush out for the alleged XT chip, let’s not rule out the cheaper option either. 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 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 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.
But if I may speculate a little further. Taking the proposed specs of the RX 6700 XT: 40 CUs, 7nm process, and 12GB of GDDR6.
The RX 5700 XT also comes with 40 CUs, arrives on the 7nm process, and comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory.
The step-up from RDNA to RDNA 2 is significant alone, yet paired with a notable bump in clock speeds—the RX 5700 XT will boost to 1,905MHz where the RX 6800 will boost to 2,105MHz—and an increase in memory, we suspect performance to fall pretty confidently ahead generation on generation.
How that stands next to Nvidia‘s Ampere generation will be the real test. As such, it’s likely the RX 6700 XT will have its sights set on the RTX 3060 Ti, and in a best-case scenario somewhere confidently above it.
The RX 6700 will most likely straddle the median performance of the Ti and the cheaper RTX 3060 12GB. That would leave the door open to a cheaper RX 6600 XT to appeal more to the $300 or less market, as we’ve seen in kind with the existing RX 5000-series cards.
One area where any RX 6700-series GPU may struggle versus Nvidia is in ray tracing workloads, however. 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.
We’ve only received a vague promise of when we can expect such a feature from the red team, but it is on the way. Perhaps that will make a welcome appearance alongside the RX 6700-series, or at least some time soon thereafter, to help bolster ray-traced capabilities and performance all-round.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 price
price as ever will be the determining factor for these cards’ success, and how much money AMD will be asking for its RX 6700-series graphics cards will make or break it for this GPU generation. The red team has a solid track record here, however, and if we know RTG at all, it’ll want to undercut or outperform Nvidia at every turn.
Our baseline comes from AMD‘s Radeon RX 5700 XT, which launched at $399. The RX 5700 arrived a little cheaper at $349. These prices were, at the time, reactive to Nvidia‘s Turing RTX 20-series line-up, but since they’re (mostly) old news by now, AMD will need to compete with Ampere’s most affordable.
That’s the RTX 3060 Ti at $399, which will soon be joined by the RTX 3060 12GB at $329 later this month.
Whether AMD sets out to undercut these cards will all come down to the performance on offer. If AMD‘s confident it can top the RTX 3060 Ti, it might launch the RX 6700 XT at the same price or a little less.
There’s a wide gap between the RX 5700 XT at $399 and the new RX 6800 at $549, however. It could be that AMD‘s aiming a little higher with its first-run card, bolstered by RDNA 2’s solid gaming performance so far. Perhaps even try and offer performance in between the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti for a little more cash.
The RX 6800 isn’t massively ahead of the RTX 3070 with a 60 CU GPU, which may make it a tough ask of the RX 6700 XT with just 40.
The RTX 3060 Ti then seems like the likely target, and that would have AMD pricing around its $399 price tag.
The cheaper RX 6700, then, may fall around the price of the RTX 3060 12GB—$329. Both will likely come with 12GB of GDDR6 memory, so all being equal that shouldn’t leave AMD‘s cheaper card jeopardised should Nvidia launch a cheaper RTX 3060 with less VRAM.
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. Where exactly those prices fall will all depend on what performance it can squeeze out of that Navi 22 GPU, but we’re hopeful for some competitive prices out of the red team.
It’s only whether many partners and reference boards will be available to purchase at MSRP for long that has us worried.