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

Death Stranding, Far Cry 5, Hitman 2, Assassin's Creed Odyssey.

On this page, we've selected two Ubisoft games, Far Cry 5 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey, plus two new additions you'll remember from our RTX 30-series reviews: Death Stranding and the Hitman 2. There's an even split between DX11 and DX12 here, with Ubisoft on the older API and the others on the latest DirectX rendition.

As we mentioned on the first page, we're using our 2020 test rig for these benchmarks. The heart of the system is a Core i9 10900K locked to an all-core turbo frequency of 5.0GHz on a ultra premium Asus Maximus 12 Extreme Z490 motherboard. This is cooled with a Alphacool Eisbaer Aurora 240mm AiO and backed with 16GB of dual-channel G.Skill Trident Z Royal DDR4 RAM at 3600MHz CL16. To keep our entire test suite installed on a single drive, we're relying on a 2TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus NVMe SSD. All of this is powered by a 1000W Corsair RM1000i PSU.

Death Stranding

Death Stranding is a game that makes reviewing graphics cards somewhat challenging. As the benchmarks demonstrate, the Decima Engine clearly favours AMD hardware. The gap between RTX 3070 and RX 6800 is almost 18 per cent - one of the biggest performance deltas you are likely to see between the two cards. With that in mind, there's little surprise that RX 6900 XT is at the top of the pile, beating RTX 3090 and delivering a 14 per cent lead over RTX 3080. Clearly, it's an AMD win.

However, Death Stranding is also strongly supported by Nvidia and features one of the most impressive DLSS 2.x implementations out there. An RTX 2060 can lock to 4K60 with a mild overclock, giving it 2080 Super-level output when using DLSS performance mode (compared against native rendering, of course). Suffice to say that the quality mode when paired with RTX 3080 or 3090 sees AMD left well and truly behind. DLSS has matured into something that delivers literally game-changing effects, but its status as a vendor exclusive technology that isn't available on all titles is a difficult state of affairs.

Death Stranding: Max, DX12, TAA

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is notorious for its reliance on single-core CPU performance, meaning that the importance of the GPU diminishes the lower down the resolution chain you go - the more noticeable CPU limits are, the less likelihood there is of the GPU reaching full utilisation and the importance of GPU driver efficiency comes to the fore. That is almost certainly why we see RX 6800 XT and 6900 XT beaten by their Nvidia equivalents at lower resolutions.

However, in this benchmark at 4K, RTX 3080/3090 operate very closely to their 6800 XT/6900 XT equivalents - though you will note that both sets of cards outperform their counterparts in different parts of the benchmark, if you consult the frame-time/frame-rate data. The 6800 XT beats RTX 3080 by a whisker, while the situation reverses with the top-end halo products.

Far Cry 5: Ultra, DX11, TAA

Hitman 2

Similar to Far Cry 5, Hitman 2 is very much limited by CPU performance at lower resolutions to the point where you really need to be pushing the GPU hard with 4K resolution to really put graphics to the fore in this one. To that end, while we have the 1080p and 1440p data available, you'll see that in our selected cards, there's no real difference and only by moving up to 4K do we start to see graphics hardware put through its paces in Io Interactive's impressive Glacier engine. At that point, the differences start to appear and the data suggests that overall, the RX 6900 XT sits at a midway point between RTX 3080 and RTX 3090.

Hitman 2: Ultra, DX12, TAA

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a title that is notoriously difficult on both CPU and GPU, and often fails to deliver the kind of performance gains we would expect when moving from one class of hardware to the next. The benchmark also includes variable weather, with ultra high volumetric clouds able to significantly impact the result of any given benchmark run. Lowest one per cent scores should be ignored on this one, as even at 4K with a powerful CPU, weird spikes occur. To normalise the results as much as possible, we run and re-run the benchmark until the skies are clear.

The cloud cover situation may explain why Odyssey is able to exceed the 11.1 per cent compute advantage the RX 6900 XT delivers out of the box up against the 6800 XT at 4K, but when we look at the differentials at 1440p and 1080p, the cards operate identically, suggesting that once again we are being held back by AMD's legacy DirectX 11 driver, which has a number of issues and where Nvidia delivers a commanding lead.

Returning to 4K, RTX 3090 is matched by the performance level of the RX 6900 XT.

AC Odyssey: Ultra High, DX11, TAA

Next, let's look at our final set of rasterised game benchmarks - including one classic that still trips up modern GPUs.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Analysis