AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT review: the typical performance upgrade spectrum

Metro Exodus, Dirt Rally 2, Assassin's Creed Unity.

We conclude our testing of traditional, rasterised game performance with the Assassin's Creed Unity, released in 2014 and still proving a challenge to this day (and a long-standing Digital Foundry favourite) - plus the more recent releases of Metro Exodus and Dirt Rally 2.0.

In order to deliver precise results, our performance data is more than just a readout of an average frame-rate at the end of a test. Instead, we use the FCAT tool built into Rivatuner Statistics Server (RTSS), which overlays a coloured border to the left side of the screen. Each new frame is represented by another coloured box in the sequence - and its height signifies the time it took to generate. We capture a direct feed of the game footage and border from the graphics card we're testing, analysing the resultant video file with our own tools to essentially write down the frame-time for each frame. This metadata is then uploaded to the Eurogamer website and then rendered by the server into the live performance widgets you see below, allowing us to pick and choose the comparisons you'll find most interesting or helpful - and give you the power to make your own choices too.

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus reveals another of the challenges in benchmarking graphics cards. While the bar charts look cut and dried in showing us the various frame-rate averages across the spectrum, actual 'in the moment' analysis shows that certain parts of the benchmark see AMD pull ahead, while in others, Nvidia is much faster. We'd hope that 4A Games chose the scenes tested here to cover a cross-section of the game as a whole, but it's not unreasonable to assume that in actual gameplay, AMD may be a lot faster in some areas of any given level, while Nvidia would pull ahead in others.

As it is, the benchmarks paint a vivid picture - 6900XT can't quite match RTX 3080, while the RTX 3090 steams ahead. The actual performance differentials in context though are quite illuminating. What we can say for sure is that - likely owing to the Infinity Cache - AMD gets stronger at lower resolutions.

Metro Exodus: Ultra, DX12, TAA

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT

Dirt Rally 2.0

We'll keep this one short and to the point. The Dirt Rally 2.0 analysis encompasses an entire stage and is one of the longest repeatable stretches of actual gameplay committed to a benchmark. Again, actual differentials between GPU architectures can shift 'in the moment' but the overall trend is clear. At 4K resolution, the 6900 XT moves narrowly ahead of the RTX 3080, but the 3090 is dominant with an 8.3 per cent lead. However, the lead evaporates at 1440p where the top-tier cards are on level pegging. Curiously, at 1080p, Big Navi stretches its legs and delivers a lead against its Nvidia rivals - but the notion of spending this much money on a GPU to run at full HD resolution is almost mind-bending.

Dirt Rally 2.0: DX12, Ultra, TAA+8x MSAA

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6800 XT

Assassin's Creed Unity

After the mighty Crysis 3 was nerfed by a Windows upgrade that limits performance in GPU-bound scenarios, Assassin's Creed Unity is our last legacy game standing - and still a terrific experience, by the way. Back in the day, this benchmark was brilliant for showcasing CPU limitations and for highlighting issues with driver limitations, and so it is today. Performance tops out at 1080p and 1440p resolutions, and it's only at 4K where GPU utilisation comes to the fore - and clearly the Nvidia offerings have the better of Big Navi here.

AC Unity: Ultra High, DX11, FXAA

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT
  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • RTX 2080 Ti
  • Titan RTX
  • RTX 3070
  • RTX 3080
  • RTX 3090
  • RX 5700 XT
  • RX 6800
  • RX 6800 XT
  • RX 6900 XT

So that's the standard benchmark suite out of the way, but Smart Access Memory is a fascinating new feature that played out nicely on supported titles in our RX 6800/ RX 6800 XT review - and now its utility has expanded still further.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Analysis

Will you support the Digital Foundry team?

Digital Foundry specialises in technical analysis of gaming hardware and software, using state-of-the-art capture systems and bespoke software to show you how well games and hardware run, visualising precisely what they're capable of. In order to show you what 4K gaming actually looks like we needed to build our own platform to supply high quality 4K video for offline viewing. So we did.

Our videos are multi-gigabyte files and we've chosen a high quality provider to ensure fast downloads. However, that bandwidth isn't free and so we charge a small monthly subscription fee of $5. We think it's a small price to pay for unlimited access to top-tier quality encodes of our content. Thank you.

Support Digital Foundry

Find out more about the benefits of our Patreon

Read the Eurogamer.net reviews policy

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Jump to comments (109)

About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry  |  digitalfoundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

Related

You may also enjoy...

Comments (109)

Hide low-scoring comments
Order
Threading