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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Ray tracing performance

We also benchmarked the Radeon RX 6700 XT in a handful of titles that support cutting-edge real-time ray tracing effects. While the newer Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs now support ray tracing, older AMD models don’t, so you won’t find the 5700 XT in the chart below.

Nvidia holds a key advantage in ray-traced games thanks to its Deep Learning Super Sampling technology (DLSS), which leverages AI tensor cores embedded in RTX GPUs to render games internally at a lower resolution, then upsize them to your desired resolution, using machine learning to fill in the gaps. DLSS 2.0 works like black magic and gives Nvidia a strong lead in ray tracing performance.

Without a DLSS-like feature, you usually can’t run ray-traced games above 1080p resolution on Radeon RX 6000-series cards, and that includes the Radeon RX 6700 XT—a major bummer in a GPU that will set you back at least $479. AMD has teased a future DLSS rival dubbed “FidelityFX Super Resolution,” with promises that it’ll be more open and work on the next-gen consoles as well. It’s all words and promises for now though, as AMD didn’t divulge any new information about Super Resolution for the 6700 XT’s launch.  

The Nvidia GPUs we included below all support DLSS, and we’ve shown three results for each card: native performance with ray tracing off, native performance with ray tracing on, and performance when both ray tracing and DLSS are active. The Radeon GPUs show a zero in the DLSS listing, because they don’t currently offer a similar feature.

We plan to expand our ray-traced game suite soon, but for now we’re giving Watch Dogs: Legion, Metro: Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider a whirl to put the capabilities to the test, with ray tracing options set to Ultra in each title. Legion packs ray-traced reflections, Tomb Raider includes ray-traced shadows, and Metro features more strenuous (and mood-enhancing) ray-traced global illumination.

Let’s kick things off with Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s ray-traced shadows, which is a less intensive application for the feature. The game includes the first-generation version of DLSS, which doesn’t support 1080p resolution, so we’ve stuck to raw ray tracing performance only there.

rtx sotr 1080 Brad Chacos/IDG
rtx sotr 1440 Brad Chacos/IDG

Metro: Exodus uses ray tracing for global illumination. It also uses DLSS 1.0 and doesn’t support the upscaling feature at 1080p, so we’ve only included raw ray tracing performance on that chart. We test using the demanding Extreme graphics preset; dropping to lower fidelity would improve performance to more playable levels at 1080p resolution.

rtx metro 1440p Brad Chacos/IDG
rtx metro 1440 Brad Chacos/IDG

Watch Dogs: Legion hammers your system regardless of whether you have ray tracing on, at least with the high-resolution texture pack installed. Activating the ray-traced reflections exacerbates the issue. Unlike Tomb Raider and MetroWatch Dogs uses the faster, better DLSS 2.0 technology. We test it with DLSS Balanced mode active. Balanced lets you hit higher frame rates than the Quality mode, but the even faster Performance mode starts to introduce visual differences you can notice in some scenes. Balanced hits the sweet spot.

rtx wdl 1080 Brad Chacos/IDG
rtx wdl 1440 Brad Chacos/IDG

No surprises here overall. Nvidia’s DLSS and second-gen ray tracing hardware holds a firm advantage over AMD’s debut incarnation. AMD’s performance is also hurt by the greatly reduced number of ray accelerators in the 6700 XT compared to pricier Radeon options. You’ll likely need to drop the quality level of both ray tracing features and overall fidelity to hit 60 fps on Radeon GPUs with the cutting-edge lighting feature active, even at 1080p resolution.

Next page: Power, thermals, and noise

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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