The fastest* AMD graphics card is down to $800

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The Radeon RX 6950 XT is the world’s fastest AMD graphics card and will remain so until at least November, when AMD is expected to announce a new lineup of next-gen GPUs. It originally debuted at $1,000, undercutting the RTX 3090 Ti at $1,500, but third-party models could cost significantly more, like this $1,200 PowerColor Red Devil. Today though, with all this “better graphics card release imminent”, the 6950 XT is down to $800 at Amazon, which is a bargain for the level of graphics performance on offer.

I tested a few Radeon 6000 series Red Devil cards, and they were consistently fast and quiet in my tests. Along with the hellish name and red color scheme, you get an indication of the performance of the rather hefty heatsink, which is technically two slots (but physically takes up about three) with lots of fin stacks and heat pipes to keep things relatively cold. There are also two fan modes, an OC mode and a silent mode, with boost clocks of 2435 MHz and 2324 MHz respectively – the latter being the default boost clock for the RX 6950 XT and the former being a healthy overclock of 5%.

So how fast is this RX 6950 XT? At 4K, expect the RTX 3090 to deliver roughly identical to slightly better (~10%) frame rates in nearly all titles. There are some outliers, like Death Stranding, Far Cry 5, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where AMD can even carve out a narrow margin over the Nvidia alternative. But realistically you’re only getting a few percentage points better performance here than the slightly older RX 6900 XT at $690, so it’s less about overall value and more about getting the Team card Red fastest possible currently available. Fortunately, that means the Digital Foundry RX 6900 XT review can at least be a relatively accurate guide to the kind of performance you can expect; Unfortunately, there is no RPS review for the RX 6950 XT or RX 6900 XT that I can find among the archives to link to instead.

It is also worth thinking about the features. AMD has historically lagged Nvidia in this department, with a worse media encoder and no response to the temporal oversampling (and frame rate boost) provided by DLSS. However, that’s starting to change, and while the RT performance of AMD’s first-gen implementation isn’t as strong as Nvidia’s second-gen alternative, the release of FSR 2.0 (and the community of enterprising modding that added it to a bunch of DLSS games) means things are slowly getting better.

So: if you want AMD’s fastest card for a few weeks, get the $800 RX 6950 XT. If you want a great 4K card for less, pick up the RX 6900 for $690. If you want AMD’s best 4K option…maybe consider waiting until next month to see their RDNA3 offerings, if you’re willing to accept the possibility that the first units to ship may be a) too expensive or b) all sold out by the time you try to catch one.

Either way, thanks for checking out the article and check back tomorrow for more deals as I find them!

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