Not just Big Navi, but the biggest Navi of them all. AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT completes the trio of next-gen graphics card launches from Team Red and on the face of it, it does seem like… the least interesting of them all? In all areas of the specification – bar one – RX 6900 XT is identical to the RX 6800 XT, a graphics card that costs a full $350 less than the new GPU’s colossal $999 price-point. In essence, the only palpable difference between 6800 XT and 6900 XT is that the top-end offering gets the full complement of 80 compute units vs the slightly cut-back 72 in the cheaper product. But perhaps there’s more to the spec than meets the eye and in combination with the fact that this is the absolute top-end, maybe that’s enough to convince the most die-hard of AMD fanatics that this is the card for them.
Of course, the concept of a halo product commanding a colossal price premium is nothing new. Whether it’s CPUs, GPUs, motherboards, storage or memory, it seems that at the top-end, there’s a long history of a bit of extra frequency, a few more shaders or some extra RAM allowing manufacturers to ramp up prices in ways that are divorced from the concept of ‘value’ in every way. Intel had its Extreme Editions, Nvidia built a whole Titan brand around the concept, and while it offers much more memory, more compute and an out-there cooling set-up, the RTX 3090’s price-point is far more audacious than AMD’s.
But on paper at least, what we’re offered here with the RX 6900 XT is just 11.1 per cent of extra compute power via the extra CUs, but remarkably AMD offers no other premium-level spec – the 16GB of GDDR5 is the same, memory bandwidth is unaltered and even power levels are the same. AMD’s review materials mention a high-end PCB with 16 power stages, a 14 layer PCB with four layers of two-ounce copper, premium IT-170 material and ‘extra thermal and acoustic margins’ built in a visual inspection of the board also looks like a match for RX 6800 XT. The cooler and chassis also looks and feels the same, though AMD has increased the notional top-end frequency limit of the RX 6900 XT to 3000Hz, up from 6800 XT’s 2800MHz.