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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Should you buy the Radeon RX 6700 XT?

You probably shouldn’t buy any graphics card right now, as I said in our GeForce RTX 3060 review. Prices are just plain ridonkulous. I’d recommend most people sit on the sidelines and stream their PC games via Nvidia’s GeForce Now service until the dust settles.

AMD definitely priced the Radeon RX 6700 XT for the times.

dsc01510 Brad Chacos/IDG

This $479-MSRP graphics card competes more directly against the $400 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti than the $500 RTX 3070 that’s closer in price. Flipping on AMD’s killer Smart Access Memory feature (or Resizable BAR on compatible Intel platforms) helps it surpass the RTX 3060 Ti more consistently and even beat the RTX 3070 in some titles. However, most gamers aren’t likely to have the cutting-edge CPUs and motherboards needed for Smart Access Memory yet. Nvidia also says BIOS updates that activate Resizable BAR across the RTX 30-series lineup will appear by the end of March, potentially erasing the RX 6700 XT’s advantage.

Considering that the Radeon RX 6700 XT is a 1440p graphics card that can only play ray-traced games at 1080p with lower fidelity settings due to its lack of a DLSS rival, I’d have liked to see AMD consider SAM a counter-balance to the RTX 3060 Ti’s ray tracing chops and price this at least $80 lower, even with its memory capacity advantage.

The Radeon RX 6800-series and 6900 XT’s larger 16GB buffer truly give it an edge over Nvidia’s pricier GPUs at 4K resolution, but the smaller 8GB memory buffers in the RTX 3060 and 3070 still hold up just fine for 1440p gaming. Some games are already bumping against that barrier though, so AMD’s decision to go with 12GB of GDDR6 is welcome nonetheless.

Pricing the Radeon RX 6700 XT so high makes all sorts of business sense in today’s mad reality, as I explained in the introduction. Doing so lets AMD and its partners cash in on the sky-high prices that graphics cards are going for today, rather than leaving the riches to retailers and scalpers. It doesn’t bode as well for review scores, however.

dsc01515 Brad Chacos/IDG

In a sane world, I’d have liked to see the Radeon RX 6700 XT come in at $400 to match the RTX 3060 Ti (and last generation’s RX 5700 XT). On paper, Nvidia’s GPU is a much better value—but in reality, it’s going for over $800 or more on Ebay. On paper, paying $479 for the Radeon RX 6700 XT doesn’t make sense—but in reality, you’ll wind up paying much more than that to acquire one of these graphics cards unless you’re lucky enough to land on a gone-in-seconds stock drop on AMD’s website. Still, the suggested pricing set by vendors like AMD draws a line in the sand that reflects their intentions. We would’ve liked this GPU much more with a $400 MSRP.

If you’re flush with stimulus cash and don’t mind overpaying to get your game on right now, the Radeon RX 6700 XT is a great card for 1440p and high-refresh-rate 1080p gaming, as long as you don’t mind its inferior ray tracing performance. Definitely turn on Smart Access Memory if you’re able. Cross your fingers that you’re able to find this reference model at MSRP though. It’s cool and quiet enough, and the custom cards launching alongside AMD’s board on March 18 aren’t tangibly faster out of the box despite sporting even higher price tags and power limits.

Stay tuned for a few custom RX 6700 XT reviews in the coming days.

This story, "AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review: A good GPU that (understandably) costs too much" was originally published by PCWorld.

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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