AMD have risen to the challenge posed by Nvidias’ RTX 3070 with the Radeon RX 6800. This powerful GPU uses the latest RDNA2 architecture and beats the RTX 3070 in almost every game and resolution. It offers 16GB VRAM to the RTX 3070’s 8GB, and uses neat technologies like Infinity Cache and AMD’s Smart Access Memory to maximise performance and really drive home the advantage. Using a 7nm core and is one of the most efficient GPUs ever produced in terms of framerate per watt. All RX 6800’s boast the same key specifications, like 16GB of VRAM rated at 16Gbps, and 3840 Stream Processors. There’s also hardware ray tracing support with 60 ray tracing accelerator cores, although ray-tracing performance is still a little way behind Nvidias Ampere GPUs. The RX 6800 draws 250 Watts and a 650W power supply is recommended. The cards are also physically large with many 3 fan, 3 slot designs, so make sure you’ve got enough power supply and case space to fit them. The RX 6800 offers an excellent alternative to the RTX 3070 with top tier performance at 1440p and 1440p ultrawide resolutions, but it is worth ensuring you’re not overpaying. The price difference between the 6800 and the 6800XT is only around $100, and if you find yourself towards the upper price point of an RX 6800, you would be better off looking at one of the cheaper models of RX 6800 XT instead for guaranteed superior performance.
Let’s look at some of the specific models and make some recommendations of the best RX 6800 aftermarket cards based on your priorities.
Best RX 6800 Cards – Our Recommendations
Best Value RX 6800 Card
Powercolor are one of a number of manufacturers who produce the ‘Reference’ design of the RX 6800. This card is built to AMD’s specification, meaning the circuit board and components are standardized. They’ve been manufacturing AMD Graphics Cards since 1997 so don’t be put off by the slightly ‘low rent’ sounding brand name: They know their stuff. This GPU promises the full RX 6800 experience with a 2150MHz boost clock, 16GB GDDR6 VRAM, and all the other RX 6800 features like Smart Access Memory, Infinity Cache and PCIe 4.0 compatibility. Like all RX 6800’s it’s a three fan design and is slightly over 2 slots thick. Two 8 Pin power sockets supply the 250W demands of the RX6800 and a 650W PSU is recommended. Finally, it’s the most affordable version of the RX 6800 we’ve seen for sale, at just over $600 so you’re getting the full value of the RTX 3070-beating GPU.
Quietest RX 6800 Card
MSI has produced some of the quietest and most effective coolers on the market with their Gaming X designs. The MSI RX 6800 Gaming X Trio uses three fans to shed heat effectively and quietly. MSI dub this their ‘TRI FROZR 2’ thermal system and it combines with a host of tweaks like high performance ‘Torx 4.0’ fans, custom shaped heatsink fins, six heat pipes, and a graphene backplate. These features help shift heat away from the core with the minimum possible fuss – and therefore noise. It is a large card at 324mm but MSI bundle a support bracket – a nice touch to help ensure the longevity of your system. There’s a high boost clock of 2155Mhz and quietness certainly doesn’t come at the cost of speed – it’s a high-performance card. There’s also a 16-phase VRM to support overclocking. MSI has these cards scheduled for delivery in March, so you’ve got some time to save!
Best Enthusiast RX 6800 Card
Whilst most 6800’s will perform very similarly, we’ve picked out the Sapphire RX 6800 Pulse as the enthusiast’s choice not just because of its physical specification, but because of Sapphire’s commitment to supporting their products and the enthusiasts who want to get the most out of them. There’s a number of quality of life features in this card that you just don’t find elsewhere: The fans swap out with a single screw, taking moments to replace if they fail or if you want to clean the finstacks beneath. The shroud has been designed with ease of removal in mind. There’s also a dual BIOS switch and Sapphire supply the software and instructions to allow you to flash it with ease, so you can try your hand at improving performance or just take advantage of an up to date BIOS revision at minimal risk. The base specification is strong, however, with a 2170MHz peak boost clock. It’s also reasonably priced, so you’re not in danger of spending more than you would on a lower-tier RX 6800 XT. Overall this GPU represents a card that enthusiasts can really get to grips with, and be confident in extracting the maximum performance from, whilst retaining its value proposition against the competition.
Best Performing RX 6800 Card
ASUS’s recent ‘TUF’ Line of gaming products have hit the sweet spot of price and performance. The TUF Gaming OC version of the RX 6800 has the same 2190MHz boost clock as the ultra-high-end ROG STRIX version of the card but doesn’t carry the hefty (and unjustifiable) price tag of that premium card. That’s as high a quoted boost clock like any other card yet announced.
Physically, the shroud is aluminum and sports 3 fans with fan stop technology for silent operation at low loads. The center fan also contra rotates to ensure minimum turbulence and noise and maximum cooling. ASUS also states their ‘max contact’ cold plate is super-smooth to make the best possible contact with the GPU itself. Meanwhile, the cooler is large, at 3 slots thick and 310mm long so ensure your case has room for it! There’s also a dual BIOS switch to facilitate switching between quiet and performance modes, and a reinforced metal frame to help support the bulk of the card. The LED side panel highlights can be tweaked to match the rest of your builds aesthetic.
Finally, you’ve got the choice of either ASUS’s GPU Tweak II software, or AMD’s own Adrenaline software which allows you to tune the GPU to obtain peak performance, low noise, or whatever balance pleases you. The Asus TUF is an excellent balance of performance, price and has a huge number of customisable features to help it form the centre point for your build.