The PowerColor Red Devil RX 6800 XT takes on the Reference RX 6800 XT & the RTX 3080 in 37 Games
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT arrived at BTR for evaluation on a short-term loan from PowerColor on Wednesday, the same day the card launched for sale with very limited supply and with no manufacturer recommended pricing although it has been listed out of stock for $799.99 at Newegg. We have been benching it versus the $699 RTX 3080 Founders Edition (FE) and the $649 RX 6800 XT reference card that we got that same day from AMD using GPGPU, workstation, SPEC, 37 games and synthetic benchmarks. We concluded from our preliminary 9-game PC and PCVR 15-game review relative to the RTX 3080, that the reference RX 6800 XT is probably faster at pancake gaming than at VR gaming.
We will also compare the performance of these competing cards with the RX 5700 XT Anniversary Edition (AE) and the GTX 1080 Ti FE to see how older cards fare, and we also include all of the GeForce Turing Super cards and the Ampere cards to complete BTR’s 10-card Big Picture.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT is factory clocked 90MHz higher than the reference version using the OC BIOS. According to its specifications, the Red Devil RX 6800 XT boost can clock up to 2340MHz out of the box. It also looks different from older generation classic Red Devils, arriving in a more neutral gray color instead of in all red and black. The Red Devil RX 6800 XT features a RGB mode whose LEDs default to a bright red which may be customized by PowerColor’s DevilZone software.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT Features & Specifications
Here are the Red Devil RX 6800 XT specifications according to PowerColor:
Here are the Red Devil RX 6800 XT features.
Additional Information from PowerColor
- The card has 2 modes, OC and Silent. 281W / 255W Power target. There’s a bios switch on the side of the card. Even on performance mode it’s considerably quieter than reference board but the silent mode is truly whisper quiet, with a normal case with a optimal airflow, you most likely see the card run around 1000 rpm.
- The board has 16 Phase VS the 11+2 Phase VRM design on the reference design meaning is over spec’d in order to deliver the best stability and overclock headroom,not only capable of well over 400w but by having such VRM it will run cooler and last longer.
- DrMos and high-polymer Caps are used with no compromises.
- The cooler features 2 x 100mm with a center 1x90mm fan, all with two ball bearing fans with 7 heat pipes (3X8Φ and 4X6Φ heatpipes) across a high density heatsink with a copper base. The PCB is shorter than the cooler.
- RGB is enhanced, Red Devil now connects to the motherboard aRGB (5v 3 pin connector).
- Red Devil has Mute fan technology, fans stop under 60C.
- The ports are LED illuminated. Now you can see in the dark where to plug.
- The card back plate does not have thermal pads but instead there are openings across the backplate for the PCB to breathe.
- Red Devil RX 6800 XT Graphics Card Limited Edition provides the unique and high quality crafted Red Devil keycap to make your keyboard look Devilish.
- Buyers or Red Devil Limited edition will be able to join exclusive giveaway as well access to the Devil Club website. A membership club for Devil users only which gives them access to News, Competitions, Downloads and most important instant support via Live chat.
The Big Navi 2 Radeon 6000 family
The Radeon 6800 competes with the RTX 3070 and is priced a little higher at $579 while the RTX 6800 XT at $649 competes with the RTX 3080 at $699. Next week, the RTX 6900 XT releases at $999 to compete with the $1499 RTX 3090.
The Test Bed
BTR’s test bed consists of 37 games and 3 synthetic game benchmarks at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and at 3840×2160 as well as SPEC, Workstation, and GPGPU benchmarks. Our latest games include Watch Dogs: Legions, Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The testing platform uses a clean installation of Windows 10 64-bit Pro Edition, and our CPU is an i9-10900K which turbos all 10 cores to 5.1/5.0GHz, an EVGA Z490 FTW motherboard, and 32GB of T-FORCE Dark Z DDR4 3600MHz. The games, settings, and hardware are identical except for the cards being compared.
First, let’s take a closer look at the new PowerColor Red Devil RX 6800 XT.
Although the Red Devil RX 6800 XT advertises itself as a premium 7nm card on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture which features FidelityFX, FreeSync 2 HDR and PCIe 4.0, the cover of the box uses almost no text in favor of stylized imagery.
The back of the box touts key features which now include HDMI 2.1 VRR, ray tracing technology, and VR Ready Premium as well as states it’s 850W power and system requirements although there are a lot of blank and unused space on the box. AMD’s technology features are highlighted, but the box does not even mention PowerColor’s custom cooling solution, Dual-BIOSes, RGB software and output LEDs and backplate.
Opening its very well-padded box, we now see advertising that instead probably should have been on the box’s outside. Also inside are a quick installation guide, RGB LED cable, and an invitation to join PowerColor’s Devil’s Club. In addition, a couple of key caps are included which could prove useful for benchmarking while wearing a HMD. PowerColor’s is a nicer presentation than AMD’s reference RX 6800 XT.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT is a large tri-fan card in a three slot design which is quite handsome with PowerColor’s colors and even more striking with the RGB on. Here is the Red Devil next to a RTX 3080 FE to show how much larger and beefier a card it is.
The PowerColor Red Devil RX 6800 XT’s sturdy backplate features a stylized custom devil symbol that lights up in the color of your choice if synced, red being the default. This card is number 41 out of a 1000 limited edition set. We do not know what this means. There is also a switch to choose between the default overclock (OC) BIOS and the Silent BIOS. We didn’t bother with the Silent BIOS but it is good to have in case a flash goes bad.
The specifications look good and the card itself looks great with its default RGB bright red contrasting with the black backplate and its aggressively lit-up end perhaps stylistically reminiscent of an automotive grill.
Let’s check out its performance after we look over our test configuration and more on the next page.
Test Configuration – Hardware
- Intel Core i9-10900K (HyperThreading/Turbo boost On; All cores overclocked to 5.1GHz/5.0Ghz. Comet Lake DX11 CPU graphics)
- EVGA Z490 FTW motherboard (Intel Z490 chipset, v1.9 BIOS, PCIe 3.0/3.1/3.2 specification, CrossFire/SLI 8x+8x), supplied by EVGA
- T-FORCE DARK Z 32GB DDR4 (2x16GB, dual channel at 3600MHz), supplied by Team Group
- Radeon RX 6800 XT Reference version 16GB, stock settings, on loan from AMD
- Red Devil RX 6800 XT 16GB, stock and overclocked, on short term loan from PowerColor
- RTX 3080 Founders Edition 10GB, stock, on loan from NVIDIA
- Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB Anniversary Edition, stock AE clocks.
- RTX 3090 Founders Edition 24GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
- RTX 3070 Founders Edition 8GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
- RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition 11GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
- RTX 2080 SUPER Founders Edition 8GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
- RTX 2070 Ti Founders Edition 8GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
- GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition 11GB, stock clocks, on loan from NVIDIA
- 1TB Team Group MP33 NVMe2 PCIe SSD for C: drive
- 1.92TB San Disk enterprise class SATA III SSD (storage)
- 2TB Micron 1100 SATA III SSD (storage)
- 1TB Team Group GX2 SATA III SSD (storage)
- 500GB T-FORCE Vulcan SSD (storage), supplied by Team Group
- ANTEC HCG1000 Extreme, 1000W gold power supply unit
- BenQ EW3270U 32″ 4K HDR 60Hz FreeSync monitor
- Samsung G7 Odyssey (LC27G75TQSNXZA) 27″ 2560×1440/240Hz/1ms/G-SYNC/HDR600 monitor
- DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX AIO 360mm liquid CPU cooler
- Phanteks Eclipse P400 ATX mid-tower (plus 1 Noctua 140mm fan) – All benchmarking and overclocking performed with the case closed
Test Configuration – Software
- GeForce 456.96 for the RTX 3070, the RTX 2080 Ti, and the RTX 2070/2080 SUPER; and GeForce 456.16 Press drivers and GeForce 456.38 public drivers (functionally identical) are used for the other GeForce cards. GeForce GRD 457.30 is used for games released in late October and November although otherwise there were no general game performance driver improvements since Ampere launched.
- Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.11.2 public launch drivers used for the RX 6800 XT reference and Red Devil editions at their factory clocks and the Red Devil was also overclocked. Adrenalin 2020 Edition 20.10.1 drivers used for the RX 5700 XT Anniversary Edition (AE) at AE clocks.
- High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display, set in the NVIDIA control panel.
- VSync is off in the control panel and disabled for each game
- AA enabled as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified with 16xAF always applied
- Highest quality sound (stereo) used in all games
- All games have been patched to their latest versions
- Gaming results show average frame rates in bold including minimum frame rates shown on the chart next to the averages in a smaller italics font where higher is better. Games benched with OCAT show average framerates but the minimums are expressed by frametimes (99th-percentile) in ms where lower numbers are better.
- Windows 10 64-bit Pro edition; latest updates v2004. DX11 titles are run under the DX11 render path. DX12 titles are generally run under DX12, and multiple games use the Vulkan API.
- Latest DirectX
- MSI’s Afterburner, 4.6.3 beta to set the RTX 3070’s power and temperature limits to their maximums
- DOOM Eternal
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
- Wolfenstein Youngblood
- World War Z
- Strange Brigade
- Rainbow 6 Siege
- Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War
- Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
- Watch Dogs: Legion
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Death Stranding
- F1 2020
- Mech Warrior 5: Mercenaries
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare
- Gears 5
- Anno 1800
- Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
- Metro Exodus
- Civilization VI – Gathering Storm Expansion
- Battlefield V
- Assetto Corsa: Competitione
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Project CARS 2
- Forza 7
- Crysis Remastered
- A Total War Saga: Troy
- Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
- The Outer Worlds
- Destiny 2 Shadowkeep
- Borderlands 3
- Total War: Three Kingdoms
- Far Cry New Dawn
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Monster Hunter: World
- Grand Theft Auto V
- TimeSpy (DX12)
- 3DMark FireStrike – Ultra & Extreme
- Heaven 4.0 benchmark
- AIDA64 GPGPU benchmarks
- Blender 2.90 benchmark
- Sandra 2020 GPGPU Benchmarks
- SPECviewperf 2020
NVIDIA Control Panel settings
We used MSI’s Afterburner to set all video cards’ power and temperature limits to maximum.
AMD Adrenalin Control Center Settings
All AMD settings are set so that all optimizations are off, Vsync is forced off, Texture filtering is set to High, and Tessellation uses application settings. All Navi cards are capable of high Tessellation unlike earlier generations of Radeons.
Anisotropic Filtering is disabled by default but we always use 16X for all game benchmarks.
Let’s check out overclocking, temperatures and noise next.
Overclocking, temperatures and noise
Above are the PowerColor Red Devil RX 6800 XT Wattman default settings including the the power limit set to default. For this card, the performance didn’t matter whether it was set to default or higher unlike with the reference edition which gained performance as the Power Limit increased especially for overclocking. In fact, setting a higher power limit at our sample’s maximum overclock made it unstable.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT’s clocks are specified to boost “up to 2340MHz” but our sample can peak well above that under full load, at default. The Red Devil’s temperatures stay low in the mid-70s C with the fans quietly running even using the OC BIOS.
There is a small performance increase from overclocking the RX 6800 XT core by 10% and setting the maximum frequency to 2600MHz. AMD has evidently locked RX 6800 XT cards overclocking down in an attempt to maximize overall performance. We would also suggest that the RX 6800 XT is rather voltage constrained and if you want a higher overclock, pick a factory-overclocked partner version like the Red Devil instead of a reference version. We also set the vRAM to it’s maximum 7% overclock and remained stable for all testing. Check the overclocking chart in the next section for performance increases in gaming.
Let’s head to the performance charts to see how the performance of the RX 6800 XT at reference and at Red Devil clocks compares with 8 other cards.
Performance summary charts
Here are the performance results of 37 games and 3 synthetic tests comparing the Red Devil RX 6800 XT 16GB with the RTX 3080 FE 10GB and versus the reference RTX 6800 XT plus seven other cards all at their factory set clocks. The highest settings are used and are listed on the charts. The benches were run at 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and 3840×2160. Click on each chart to open in a pop-up for best viewing.
Most gaming results show average framerates in bold text, and higher is better. Minimum framerates are next to the averages in italics and in a slightly smaller font. The games benched with OCAT show average framerates but the minimums are expressed by frametimes in ms where lower numbers are better.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT vs. the reference RX 6800 XT and vs. the RTX 3080 FE
The first set of charts show the 3 main competing cards. Column one represents the RX 6800 XT reference version ($649) performance, column two is the RTX 3080 FE ($699), and column three is the Red Devil RX 6800 XT ($799?). We are especially comparing the wins – denoted by yellow text – between the RX 6800 XT and the RTX 3080. If there is a performance tie, both sets of numbers are given in yellow text. In addition, if there is a further performance improvement with the Red Devil card, the results are given by gold text.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT is perhaps around 1-2% faster than the reference version and it trades blows with the RTX 3080 Founders Edition. NVIDIA cards tend to be stronger in DX11, and it appears that Vulcan performance is also strong on the RTX 3080 although one has to go on a game-by-game basis to see which card card is faster in DX12.
Let’s see how the Red Devil RX 6800 XT fits in with our expanded main summary chart, the “Big Picture”, comparing a total of ten cards.
The Big Picture
Here we see the Red Devil RX 6800 XT performance compared with nine other cards on recent drivers. This time the Red Devil RX 6800 XT has all of its performance results in yellow text so it stands out.
UPDATED 12/02/20 03:47 AM PT. The figures were mistakenly transposed/inserted for Assetto Corsa Competizione and CoD: Cold War and have been fixed on the charts. Also, Assetto Corsa Competizione is DX11, not DX12.
Next we look at six ray tracing enabled games, each using maximum ray traced settings where available.
Ray Traced Benchmarks
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT is next compared with six cards when ray tracing is enabled in six games.
The RX 6800 XT now appears to perform similar to the RTX 2070/2080 Super class when ray tracing features are enabled in-game. But AMD has no hardware equivalent to NVIDIA’s dedicated AI Tensor cores, so it cannot take advantage of DLSS enabled games which puts its ray tracing performance even further behind. However, although AMD has promised a DLSS equivalent in the future, the RTX 6800 XT cannot currently compete with the RTX 3080 in ray traced games.
Next we look at overclocked performance.
These ten benchmarks were run with the Red Devil RX 6800 XT overclocked +10% on the core and +7% on the memory versus at factory clocks. The RX 6800 XT reference card results are presented first and the factory clocked Red Devil RX 6800 XT is in the second column. The third column represents manually overclocked Red Devil performance results followed by the stock RTX 3080 FE results in the last column.
There is a small performance increase from manually overclocking the Red Devil RX 6800 XT beyond its factory clocks which already give it a 1-2% performance boost over the reference version. AMD has evidently locked RX 6800 XT cards overclocking down in an attempt to maximize overall performance. We would also suggest that the reference RX 6800 XT is rather voltage constrained and if you want a higher overclock, pick a factory-overclocked partner version like the Red Devil instead of a reference version.
Let’s look at non-gaming applications next to see if the RX 6800 XT is a good upgrade from the other video cards we test starting with Blender.
Blender 2.90 Benchmark
Blender is a very popular open source 3D content creation suite. It supports every aspect of 3D development with a complete range of tools for professional 3D creation.
We benchmarked three Blender 2.90 benchmarks which measure GPU performance by timing how long it takes to render production files. We tested seven of our comparison cards with both CUDA and Optix running on the GPU instead of using the CPU. We did not benchmark the RX 5700 XT using OpenCL.
For the following chart, lower is better as the benchmark renders a scene multiple times and gives the results in minutes and seconds.
Blender’s benchmark performance is similar using the RX 6800 XT compared with the RTX 3080. Although the performance results depend on the scene rendered, it appears that the RTX 3080 may be faster.
Next, we move on to AIDA64 GPGPU benchmarks.
AIDA64’s benchmark code methods are written in Assembly language, and they are well-optimized for every popular AMD, Intel, NVIDIA and VIA processor by utilizing the appropriate instruction set extensions. We use the Engineer’s full version of AIDA64 courtesy of FinalWire. AIDA64 is free to to try and use for 30 days. CPU results are also shown for comparison with both the RTX 3070 and GTX 2080 Ti GPGPU benchmarks.
Here is the chart summary of the AIDA64 GPGPU benchmarks with seven of our competing cards side-by-side.
The RX 6800 XT is a fast GPGPU card and it compares favorably with the Ampere cards being weaker in some areas and stronger in others. So let’s look at Sandra 2020 next.
To see where the CPU, GPU, and motherboard performance results differ, there is no better tool than SiSoft’s Sandra 2020. SiSoftware SANDRA (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is a excellent information & diagnostic utility in a complete package. It is able to provide all the information about your hardware, software, and other devices for diagnosis and for benchmarking. Sandra is derived from a Greek name that implies “defender” or “helper”.
There are several versions of Sandra, including a free version of Sandra Lite that anyone can download and use. Sandra 2020 R10 is the latest version, and we are using the full engineer suite courtesy of SiSoft. Sandra 2020 features continuous multiple monthly incremental improvements over earlier versions of Sandra. It will benchmark and analyze all of the important PC subsystems and even rank your PC while giving recommendations for improvement.
The author of Sandra 2020 informed us that while NVIDIA has sent some optimizations, they are generic for all cards, not Ampere specific. The tensors for FP64 & TF32 have not been enabled in Sandra 2020 so GEMM & convolution running on tensors will get faster using Ampere’s tensor cores. BF16 is supposed to be faster than FP16/half-float, but since precision losses are unknown it has not yet been enabled either. And finally, once the updated CUDA SDK for Ampere gets publicly released, Sandra GPGPU performance should improve also.
With the above in mind, we ran Sandra’s intensive GPGPU benchmarks and charted the results summarizing them.
In Sandra GPGPU benchmarks, since the architectures are different, each card exhibits different characteristics with different strengths and weaknesses. However, we see very solid improvements of the RX 6800 XT over the RX 5700 XT.
SPECworkstation3 (3.0.4) Benchmarks
All the SPECworkstation3 benchmarks are based on professional applications, most of which are in the CAD/CAM or media and entertainment fields. All of these benchmarks are free except for vendors of computer-related products and/or services.
The most comprehensive workstation benchmark is SPECworkstation3. It’s a free-standing benchmark which does not require ancillary software. It measures GPU, CPU, storage and all other major aspects of workstation performance based on actual applications and representative workloads. We only tested the GPU-related workstation performance as checked in the image above.
Using SPEC benchmarks, since the architectures are different, the cards each exhibit different characteristics with different strengths and weaknesses.
SPECviewperf 2020 GPU Benches
The SPEC Graphics Performance Characterization Group (SPECgpc) has released a new 2020 version of its SPECviewperf benchmark twelve days ago that features updated viewsets, new models, support for both 2K and 4K display resolutions, and improved set-up and results management.
Here are SPECviewperf 2020 GPU reference and Red Devil RX 6800 XT benchmarks summarized in a chart together with five other cards.
Again we see different architectures with different strengths and weaknesses. The reference version and the Red Devil are quite close in performance.
After seeing these benches, some creative users will probably upgrade their existing systems with a new card based on the performance increases and the associated increases in productivity that they require. The question to buy a new video card should be based on the workflow and requirements of each user as well as their budget. Time is money depending on how these apps are used. However, the target demographic for the reference and Red Devil RX 6800 XTs are primarily gaming for gamers.
Let’s head to our conclusion.
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT improves significantly over the RX 5700 XT and it trades blows with the RTX 3080 FE in rasterized games. The Red Devil RX 6800 XT beats the last generation cards including the RTX 2080 Ti although it struggles with ray traced games especially when DLSS is used for the GeForce cards. We also note that the reference RX 6800 XT is slower and less smooth for VR gaming than the RTX 3080, but some of this may be attributed to immature drivers.
For Radeon gamers, the reference RX 6800 XT is a very decent alternative to GeForce Ampere cards for the vast majority of modern PC games that use rasterization. The RX 6800 XT offers 16GB of GDDR6 to the 10GB of GDDR6X that the RTX 3080s are equipped with.
At its suggested price of $649, or $50 less than the RTX 3080 FE, the reference RX 6800 XT offers a good value – if it can be found at all. Unfortunately, this launch has proved to be an extremely high demand and limited supply event that has been called a paper launch by many wishing to purchase one. And the same thing has happened to Ampere cards where the stock is still trickling in and being purchased the instant it’s available. So prices are high and many resellers are taking advantage of this demand situation by raising prices significantly.
PowerColor hasn’t set any pricing on the Red Devil RX 6800 XT allowing the resellers to set theirs. They claim that their margins are actually below their usual historical low double-digit (10-12%) for a new product. However, we have seen Newegg set Red Devil pricing at $799 which puts it into competition with the very fastest RTX 3080s. It’s hard to recommend a $800 card even though it is overclocked, very nicely equipped, and well-built over a well-designed reference version for $650 – assuming AMD keeps that pricing and continues to ship reference RX 6800 XTs.
We recommend the Red Devil RX 6800 XT as a great choice out of multiple good choices, especially if you are looking for good looks with RGB, an exceptional cooler, great performance for 2560×1440 or 4K, PowerColor’s excellent support, and overall good value assuming that the stock and price stabilizes.
Let’s sum it up:
The Red Devil RX 6800 XT Pros
- The PowerColor Red Devil RX 6800 XT is much faster than the last generation RX 5700 series by virtue of new RDNA architecture. It beats the RTX 2080 Ti and the RTX 3070 as it trades blows with the RTX 3080 FE.
- 16GB vRAM may make the RX 6800 XT more useful for future gaming than the 10GB vRAM the RTX 3080 is equipped with
- The Red Devil RX 6800 XT has excellent cooling with less noise than the reference version
- The Red Devil RX 6800 XT has a very good power delivery and 3-fan custom cooling design that is very quiet when overclocked even using the OC mode.
- Dual-BIOS give the user a choice of quiet with less overclocking, or a bit louder with more power-unlimited and higher overclocks.
- FreeSync2 HDR eliminates tearing and stuttering.
- Customizable RGB lighting and a neutral color allow the Red Devil to fit into any color scheme using the DevilZone software program.
Red Devil RX 6800 XT Cons
- Pricing. PowerColor has given no suggested price and Newegg has it for $799.99. Compared with the reference version at $649, it is too expensive and it costs more than many overclocked aftermarket RTX 3080s. Wait for stock and pricing stability.
- Impossible to buy at a reasonable price.
- Weaker ray tracing and VR performance than the RTX 3080. Immature drivers may play a part.
Either the reference version or the Red Devil RX 6800 XT are good card choices for those who game at 2560×1440 or at 4K, and they represent good alternatives to the RTX 3080 albeit with weaker ray tracing and VR performance. It is offered especially for those who prefer AMD cards and FreeSync2 enabled displays which are generally less expensive than GSYNC displays. And if a gamer is looking for something extra above the reference version, the Red Devil RX 6800 XT is a very well made and good looking card that will overclock better.
- PowerColor’s Red Devil RX 6800 XT is a solidly-built handsome card with higher clocks out of the box than the reference version. It trades blows with the RTX 3080. Although we have no price or availability updates, it is a kick ass RX 6800 XT. Hopefully there will be some solid supply coming and the market pricing will normalize.
The reference and Red Devil RX 6800 XTs offer good alternatives to the RTX 3080 for solid raster performance in gaming, and it also beats the performance of AMD’s last generation.
Stay tuned, there is much more coming from BTR. This week we will continue with our Ampere vs Big Navi showdown. Immediately, we will return to VR with a performance evaluation using the Vive Pro comparing a brand new unreleased card with the RTX 3070, the RTX 3080, the 6800 XT, and versus the RX 6800.
It you would like to comment, please use the section below.