AMD has announced its upcoming 6700 XT. As the name implies, it’s intended as the lower-end sibling of the 6800 and 6800 XT series and as the generational, drop-in replacement for the 5700 XT.
The 6700 XT will hit store shelves on March 18 with a price of $479. This represents a price increase relative to that previous card, which debuted at $400. Of course, given current GPU prices, anyone able to score a new card at anything adjacent to MSRP will likely feel as if they’ve won the lottery regardless given current price trends.
How Will This GPU Compare Against the 5700 XT?
There’s some good news regarding how this new card will compare with its less-expensive predecessor, at least. The older Radeon 5700 XT is a 40 CU card with a 1.75GHz/1.905GHz base and boost clock, a 256-bit memory bus, and an 8GB frame buffer. The Radeon 6700 XT is a 40 CU card with a 2.4GHz base clock, a 2.58GHz boost clock, 16Gbps GDDR6, and a 192-bit memory bus. It also has a 96MB L3 cache, trimmed down slightly from the 128MB on the 6800 and 6800 XT.
On paper, this card looks like a solid step down from AMD’s high-end, with no issues to speak of. The shift to a 192-bit memory bus would typically be concerning, but the 96MB of L3 cache should offset that change. The entire purpose of RDNA2’s Infinity Cache (and caches in general) is to relieve pressure on the main memory bus. A 192-bit bus is very small for a higher-end card, but a 192-bit bus may be just fine for a GPU also backed with a 96MB L3 intended for 1440p gaming. If the 6700 XT also uses 16Gbps RAM instead of the 14Gbps memory on the Radeon 5700 XT, it’ll give the card an extra 1.14x of memory bandwidth. Bandwidth should be between 336GB/s and 384GB/s, representing 75 percent to 86 percent of the 5700 XT’s raw memory bandwidth. The L3 cache worked well for 6800 / 6800 XT, so we expect it to work well here.
The good thing about clock speed gains (when combined with only modest changes to an architecture) is that they tell us a great deal about what to expect. If the 6700 XT has exactly the same core count as the 5700 XT and ~1.38x the clock speed, the GPU should be roughly 1.30x – 1.4x faster than its predecessor. We could see some variation in those figures based on the impact of the L3 cache and the smaller memory bus, but that’s the size of the overall expected improvement.
These gains should reduce the sting of higher prices somewhat — a 1.19x price increase ought to be “paid” for, in this instance, with a 1.3x – 1.4x performance improvement, which means AMD is objectively delivering a better value at that price point than it did 18 months ago. This is all for the good.
These clock boosts will also help offset the difference between the 6700 XT and its larger cousins. While the 6800 has a full 3840 cores, the base clock is just 1.8GHz. The 6700 XT has just 67 percent of the cores of the 6800 and 55 percent of the 6800 XT, but its base clock is 1.35x higher than the 6800 and 1.2x faster than the 6800 XT. This will help to close the performance gaps in compute-bound workloads.
Partner cards will be available at the same time as reference cards in an attempt to boost overall channel availability. AMD has not announced any plans to limit mining and it’s not clear how much cryptocurrency mining is creating problems right now. The GPU will focus on the 1440p segment, probably with some drops to 1080p for gamers who want smooth frame rates and added effects like ray tracing and are willing to drop resolution to get there.
Availability is likely to be minimal, despite AMD’s efforts. This is not a knock on AMD. Nvidia has had no success keeping GPUs on store shelves, either.