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

And you'll probably still wind up paying even more for it.

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Our test system

We’ve recently migrated to a new AMD Ryzen 5000-series test rig to be able to benchmark the effect of PCIe 4.0 support on modern GPUs, as well as the performance-boosting AMD Smart Access Memory and Nvidia Resizable BAR features (which are both based on the same underlying PCIe standard). Currently, we’re testing it on an open bench with AMD’s Wraith Max air cooler. In the future, we’ll both moving the setup into a case and adding an NZXT Kraken liquid cooler to the mix. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the storage ourselves.

We’re comparing the $479 Radeon RX 6700 XT against the step-up $580 Radeon RX 6800, of course, as well as last generation’s $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT. Because a big part of AMD’s claimed value proposition for the 6700 XT revolves around its fantastic Smart Access Memory feature, which boosts performance when the GPU is paired with a compatible CPU and motherboard, we’ve included performance results for the card with SAM active as well. Its uplift ranges from meh to marvelous.

On the Nvidia front, we’ve included results for the $500 GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition and reference-spec’d $330 EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming. We unfortunately had to lean on the premium, overclocked EVGA FTW3 Ultra for our results of the ostensibly $400 RTX 3060 Ti, because our Founders Edition card wasn’t immediately available for testing.

We test a variety of games spanning various engines, genres, vendor sponsorships (Nvidia, AMD, and Intel), and graphics APIs (DirectX 11, DX12, and Vulkan). Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets unless otherwise noted, with VSync, frame rate caps, real-time ray tracing or DLSS effects, and FreeSync/G-Sync disabled, along with any other vendor-specific technologies like FidelityFX tools or Nvidia Reflex. We’ve also enabled temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) to push these cards to their limits. We run each benchmark at least three times and list the average result for each test.

After our standard benchmark results, we’re also including separate sections dedicated to ray tracing and Smart Access Memory performance. We’re sticking to 1440p and 1080p resolution today. AMD designed the RX 6700 XT for 1440p gaming, and while we benchmarked 4K results on the card, it isn’t able to hit 60 fps in many modern titles without visual compromises.

Gaming performance benchmarks

Watch Dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the first games to debut on next-gen consoles. Ubisoft upgraded its Disrupt engine to include cutting-edge features like real-time ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS. We disable those effects for this testing, but Legion remains a strenuous game even on high-end hardware with its optional high-resolution texture pack installed. The game allocates more than 8GB of memory even at 1440p. Oof.

wdl Brad Chacos/IDG

Horizon Zero Dawn

Yep, PlayStation exclusives are coming to the PC now. Horizon Zero Dawn runs on Guerrilla Games’ Decima engine, the same engine that powers Death Stranding.

hzd Brad Chacos/IDG

Next page: gaming benchmarks continue

At a Glance
  • AMD's Radeon RX 6700 XT graphics card is a good graphics card for 1440p and 1080p gaming. It doesn't handle ray tracing well, however, and comes with a too-high price that makes a lot of business sense in today's environment.

    Pros

    • Great 1440p and 1080p gaming performance
    • 12GB of memory bolstered by Infinity Cache
    • Smart Access Memory unlocks higher performance when paired with Ryzen 5000
    • Cool, quiet, and attractive cooler design
    • Should fit in most systems due to standard dimensions

    Cons

    • Price is too high versus GeForce rivals
    • Poor ray tracing performance
    • No answer to Nvidia's DLSS
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