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Review: AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT

by Tarinder Sandhu on 8 December 2020, 14:01


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Radeon RX 6900 XT

Nvidia has two quite different Founders Edition boards for the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080. AMD, however, uses the same cooler and 14-layer PCB for Radeon RX 6900 XT and RX 6800 XT. No bad thing in our book.

It's somewhat surprising AMD hasn't chosen to ramp up power to 350W and go after even higher clocks. This is the crème de la crème Radeon after all. No complaints in build quality or appearance, mind.

The Radeon logo is backlit and RGB via AMD software. Weighing exactly 1,500g puts this monster firmly in the high-end firmament from a construction perspective. You would think this a massive card but, like RX 6800 XT, it measures only 267mm long and 120mm tall. Those dual 8-pin connectors are standard, too.

Remember that both leading Radeon cards share a 2,015MHz Game and 2,250MHz Boost Clock. That's not quite true in-game as the RX 6900 XT averages 2,302MHz and 6800 XT 2,280MHz across a 10-minute gaming load. More shaders and a bit more speed means more framerate.

Helping matters in that regard is an extra two GPU power stages - 12 vs. 10 - over RX 6800 XT, though we did experience higher levels of coil whine on this model. Particularly evident during loading screens with 200fps+ framerates, the whine is clear and present when powered by two different Platinum-rated PSUs used during testing. This is a situation where a partner card ought to be better, and we will see them trickle out later this month.

There's no upper interruption in the metal backplate so any AIB wanting, for example, a BIOS switch will need to design their own cooling apparatus. Like the front, the rear is solid and generally reminiscent of the Nvidia 20-series FE cards. It's a shame the holding brace is exposed; a completely smooth rear would look better in a windowed chassis.

If you're thinking this is identical to Radeon RX 6800 XT, it is.

RX 6900 XT also has a one-click Rage Mode which raises the default Balanced Boost Clock from 2,250MHz to 2,310MHz. Those wanting a quieter but slower experience can dial in the appropriately named Quiet Mode which reduces Boost Clock to 2,185MHz.

AMD opts for dual DisplayPort and a single HDMI 2.1 for output duties. It's good to see USB Type-C for those that have missed it from Nvidia's recent releases. Notice how the heatsink stands a bit taller than the I/O section? Also consider that AMD intends to keep all the expelled hot air in the chassis. It escapes through the heatsink fins and cannot be pushed out of the rear.

Can you tell which is which? Is Radeon RX 6900 XT or RX 6800 XT on the top? Answers in the forums, please.

Strangely, there is no associated gaming bundle with the RX 6900 XT. We guess when stock is so limited there doesn't need to be any further incentive to sweeten the deal, even at $999.