VR Wars: The RX 6800 XT vs. the RTX 3080 – 15 Games Performance benchmarked using the Vive Pro
This review presents a fifteen-game VR performance showdown between the RX 6800 XT and the RTX 3080 using the Vive Pro and FCAT VR. We have also added Assetto Corsa Competizione and Into the Radius for this review.
Since we posted our original review, we have benchmarked more than 20 VR games for our follow-up reviews over the past nearly four years. We have also compared FCAT-VR with our own video benchmarks using a camera to capture images directly from our HMD’s lenses. For BTR’s VR testing methodology, please refer to this evaluation.
We currently benchmark fifteen VR games using the Vive Pro. BTR’s testing platform is an overclocked Intel Core i9-10900K, an EVGA Z490 FTW motherboard, and 32 GB of Vulcan Dark Z DDR4 at 3600MHz on a clean install of Windows 10 64-bit Pro Edition using NVIDIA’s latest GeForce Game Ready Driver, 457.30, and AMD’s Adrenalin Software 20.11.2 public launch drivers for the RX 6800 XT.
It is important to be aware of VR performance since poorly delivered frames can make a VR experience unpleasant. It’s also important to understand how we accurately benchmark VR games using FCAT-VR as explained here. But before we benchmark our fifteen VR games, check out our Test Configuration below.
Since we received our RX 6800 XT after it launched, we tested 9 pancake games to validate its performance and we present it below in advance of our full review versus a PowerColor Red Devil RX 6800 XT using 35+ games next week.
The two cards are fairly evenly matched and the performance is close in many cases even though we only had time to test 9 games. However, this review will focus on VR performance. Up next is our test configuration which are the same for PC games as PC VR games.
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, v1.3 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
- Vive Pro, on loan from HTC/Vive; the Wireless Adapter is not used for benchmarking
- RX 6800 XT Reference Edition 16GB, stock clocks.
- RTX 3080 Founders Edition 10GB, 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)
Test Configuration – Software
- GeForce 457.30 Game Ready drivers – High Quality, prefer maximum performance, single display, no optimizations, Vsync is off as set in the NVIDIA control panel
- Adrenalin Software 20.11.2 – All optimizations are off, Vsync is forced off, Texture filtering is set to High, and Tessellation uses application settings
- Windows 10 64-bit Pro edition; latest updates v2004.
- Latest DirectX
- MSI’s Afterburner, 4.6.3 beta to set both cards’ power and temperature limits to their maximums
- All 15 VR games are patched to their latest versions at time of publication
- FCAT-VR Capture (latest Beta 03/04/20)
- FCAT-VR Beta 18
- SteamVR – at 100% resolution unless specified
15 VR Game benchmark suite & 4 synthetic tests
- VRMark Cyan Room
- VRMark Blue Room
- Unigine Superposition VR Benchmark
- OpenVR Benchmark
SteamVR/Epic Platform Games
- ARK: Park
- Assetto Corsa Competizione
- Elite Dangerous
- Fallout 4
- Half Life: Alyx
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Into the Radius
- No Man’s Sky
- Project CARS 2
- The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
- The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
The Unreal 4 engine is a very popular engine for VR development, and seven of our thirteen test games are created with it. The Creation and Unity engines are each used for two games, while the COBRA, No Man’s Sky, Source, and Madness engines are each represented by one game.
It is important to remember that BTR’s charts use frametimes in ms where lower is better, but we also compare “unconstrained framerates” which shows what a video card could deliver (headroom) if it wasn’t locked to either 90 FPS or to 45 FPS by the HMD. In the case of unconstrained FPS which measures just one important performance metric, faster is better.
Let’s individually look at our fifteen VR games’ performance using FCAT VR. All of our games were benchmarked at 100% SteamVR resolution or higher (as noted), although some games were also set in-game to a higher resolution or increased pixel density as described for each game, as we compare the RX 6800 XT with the RTX 3080.
First up, ARK Park.
ARK Park is a single or multiplayer VR adventure game set in a dinosaur theme park, and it allows gamers to interact with a few of the dinosaurs in ARK: Survival Evolved. The idea is to explore your own “Jurassic Park”, study genetics, raise baby dinosaurs from eggs, ride and paint them, and even defend the park against attacking dinosaurs in a wave shooter segment. It’s not a great game with small maps, but its visuals are still worth benchmarking.
ARK: Park has very few adjustable settings so we benchmark it using its highest preset. We also used SteamVR to increase the resolution from 100% to 200%.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 175.98 unconstrained FPS with 1 dropped frame and 2 frames were synthesized. In addition, it suffered 1 Warp Miss.
The RTX 3080 achieved 267.52 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped and 4 synthetic frames together with 2 warp misses.
There isn’t any difference playing on either card at our chosen settings using 200% Super Resolution in SteamVR as ARK Park is built on the Unreal Engine and it is just not very demanding. However, the RTX 3080 has significantly more performance headroom than the RX 6800 XT.
Next up, Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Assetto Corsa Competizione
BTR’s sim/racing editor, Sean Kaldahl created the replay benchmark run we use for both the pancake game and the VR game. It is run at night with lots of geometry, and the lighting effects of the headlights, taillights, and everything around the track looks spectacular.
Here are the details are reported by FCAT-VR:
The RX 6800 XT delivered 126.49 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames or Warp misses but it needed 125 synthetic frames.
The RTX 3080 delivered 138.97 unconstrained FPS together with 2 dropped and 181 synthetic frames along with 2 Warp misses.
The experience is similar for both cards although the RTX 3080 has about 10% more performance headroom for potentially increasing individual in-game visual settings.
Next, we look at Boneworks.
Boneworks is a rare game that couples a fair single player campaign with an incredible sandbox and next generation VR physics interactive tour de force. We benchmark using the ‘Time Tower’ level.
Boneworks made on the Unity engine has average to very good visuals and it particularly benefits by allowing for high levels of MSAA up to 8X which we use for benching. We also enable ambient occlusion and use the highest settings, and in addition, we set SteamVR’s resolution to 160%.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 210.52 unconstrained FPS with no dropped and no synthetic frames.
The RTX 3080 delivered 190.82 unconstrained FPS also with 5 dropped and 7 synthetic frames along with 5 warp misses.
As with ARK Park, there isn’t any difference playing on either card at our settings are not very demanding although the RX 6800 XT has more performance headroom. For GeForce cards, we recommend using NVIDIA’s VRSS for more visual improvement with only a minor performance penalty.
Let’s check out Elite Dangerous next.
A player will probably spend a lot of time piloting his space cruiser while completing a multitude of tasks as well as visiting space stations and orbiting a multitude of different planets (~400 billion). Elite Dangerous is also co-op and multiplayer with a very dedicated following of players.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 141.80 unconstrained FPS with no Warp Misses and 0 dropped frames, and 18 of its frames had to be synthesized.
The RTX 3080 delivered 148.09 unconstrained FPS with no Warp Misses or dropped frames, but it required 3 synthetic frames. The experience playing Elite Dangerous at Ultra settings is not perceptibly different on either video card.
Let’s continue with Fallout 4.
Fallout 4 uses the Creation Engine, and Bethesda has dropped all support for it so it remains unoptimized although there are mods that may be helpful. It’s pretty hard to use the Index controllers with it, so we use the Vive wands instead for this game. We benchmark at its highest settings and with TAA. All Fade settings are set to their maximums.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 152.52 unconstrained FPS with 6 Warp Misses and 259 dropped frames (5%), although none of its frames had to be synthesized.
The RTX 3080 delivered 145.20 unconstrained FPS with 7 Warp Misses and 7 dropped frames, and it required 173 (3%) synthetic frames.
Dropped frames are more noticeable than synthetic frames and the RTX 3080 delivers a smoother VR experience for Fallout 4 although it also suffered warp misses.
Next we look at Half Life: Alyx:
Half Life: Alyx
Half Life: Alyx uses an adaptive/dynamic scaling algorithm which uses a card’s performance headroom to subsample in demanding scenes and to supersample in less demanding scenes. We used its console commands to lock the SteamVR resolution to 200% so that it did not supersample or subsample.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 145.62 unconstrained FPS with 43 dropped but no synthetic frames nor any warp misses.
The RTX 3080 delivered 158.82 unconstrained FPS and with 2 dropped and 14 synthetic frames with 2 warp misses. Half Life Alyx isn’t particularly demanding until the Super Resolution increased to beyond 150% in SteamVR settings, and the game will subsample or supersample as needed.
Next, we look at Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a visually impressive game using the Unreal 4 engine. It is a dark and disturbing game that is far more intense in VR than the pancake version. We benchmark at its very highest settings and with TAA, and we also increased the resolution to 170% in-game.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 96.83 unconstrained FPS with 33 dropped and 1559 synthetic frames (24%) along with 33 Warp Misses as it could not deliver 90 FPS to the HMD at 170% resolution.
The RTX 3080 delivered 109.56 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped and 94 synthetic frames (1%). It also suffered 3 Warp Misses.
Hellblade only becomes demanding after the in-game resolution is set to above 150% although it looks great. Unfortunately, 170% Super Resolution is too demanding for the RX 6800 XT and it suffered Warp Misses and dropped frames.
Next we look at Into the Radius.
Into the Radius
Into the Radius is a hardcore single player stealth survival adventure/exploration game, and it pays homage to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series by being set in the dangerous large open world of the Pechorsk Exclusion Zone.
Into the Radius has decent visuals using Unreal Engine 4 that really add to its spooky and intense atmosphere, and its performance demands on the video card are also higher since its a huge open world game with a decent draw distance.
There are no user options for changing individual graphics settings other than High, Medium, and Low presets. There is also a slider to drop or subsample the resolution down to 65%, or to increase the resolution to 110%. We benchmarked our two cards at High Quality and with 110% resolution.
Here is the frametime plot for Into the Radius.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 135.64 unconstrained FPS with 11 dropped frames, but no warp misses were reported and no synthetic frames needed to be synthesized.
The RTX 3080 delivered 151.01 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped and 7 synthetic frames. However, it suffered 3 Warp Misses. Both video cards delivered a similar experience although the RTX 3080 has more performance headroom.
Into the Radius becomes demanding after the resolution is set above 100%.
Next, we will check out another demanding VR game, No Man’s Sky.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival single and multiplayer game that emphasizes survival, exploration, fighting, and trading. It is set in a procedurally generated deterministic open universe, which includes over 18 quintillion unique planets using its own custom game engine.
The player takes the role of a Traveller in an uncharted universe by starting on a random planet with a damaged spacecraft equipped with only a jetpack-equipped exosuit and a versatile multi-tool that can also be used for defense. The player is encouraged to find resources to repair his spacecraft allowing for intra- and inter-planetary travel, and to interact with other players.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 108.90 unconstrained FPS with 4 warp misses and 187 (3%) dropped frames, although none of its frames had to be synthesized.
The RTX 3080 delivered 126.48 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames and no warp misses, and it only required 39 (1%) synthetic frames.
The RTX 3080 edges out the RX 6800 XT and delivers more performance headroom and a smoother experience. We do not recommend using Ultra settings for either card, however.
Next, we will check out another VR game, Obduction.
Obduction is considered to be the spiritual successor to Myst and Riven. It is an adventure game developed by Cyan Worlds using the Unreal 4 engine and it has very good visuals. There is an emphasis on puzzle solving which get more and more difficult as a player progresses.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 112.83 unconstrained FPS with 3 dropped frames, 191 synthetic frames (3%), and 3 warp misses.
The RTX 3080 delivered 130.54 unconstrained FPS and with 3 dropped frames, 10 synthetic frames and 3 warp misses. The experience playing Obduction is similar on both cards.
Next we will check out another demanding VR game, Project CARS 2 that we like better than Project CARS 3.
Project CARS 2
There is a real sense immersion that comes from playing Project CARS 2 in VR using a wheel and pedals. It uses its in-house Madness engine, and the physics implementation is outstanding. We are disappointed with Project CARS 3, and will continue to use the older game instead for VR benching.
Project CARS 2 offers many performance options and settings and we prefer playing with SMAA Ultra.
We used maximum settings including for Motion Blur although it looks best to us with on Low or Medium. For lesser cards, we would also recommend lowering grass and reflections to maximize framerate delivery as motion smoothing or reprojection tends to cause visible artifacting.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 123.10 unconstrained FPS, with 5 dropped frames, 5 warp misses but 210 of its frames (2%) had to be synthesized.
The RTX 3080 delivered 117.70 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames, 2 warp misses, but it only required 18 synthetic frames. The experience playing Project CARS 2 on our maximum settings is similar on both cards although the RX 6800 XT requires more frames to be synthesized.
Let’s benchmark Skyrim VR.
Skyrim VR is an older game that is no longer supported by Bethesda, but fortunately the modding community has adopted it. It is not as demanding as many of the newer VR ports so its performance is still very good on maxed-out settings using its Creation engine.
We benchmarked Skyrim VR using its highest settings, and we also increased the resolution to its in-game maximum.
Here are the frametime results.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 134.93 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames, no synthetic frames, and no warp misses.
The RTX 3080 delivered 158.87 unconstrained FPS with 5 dropped frames, 5 synthetic frames, and 5 warp misses. Of course, many players would prefer adding more mods to the game rather than increasing the resolution, and the RTX 3080 gives a bit more performance headroom than the RX 6800 XT.
Let’s check out Subnautica next.
Subnautica uses the Unity engine. As the sole survivor of a crash landing, the player ventures into the depths of a visually impressive alien underwater world. Here you can explore, craft equipment and build bases, pilot underwater craft, and solve mysteries all while attempting to survive a hostile environment. It is an unoptimized mess, but the VR experience is well worth it.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 110.88 unconstrained FPS with no Warp Misses, and although it required no synthetic frames, it reported 2001 dropped frames instead.
The RTX 3080 delivered 102.13 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames, no warp misses, but 37% (2380) of its frames had to be synthesized.
The experience playing Subnautica using its highest settings is not ideal as it doesn’t appear to be very well optimized and there are obvious stutters at times which may also be driver related. However, the experience using the RX 3080 is smoother as the RX 6800 XT dropped frames instead of synthesizing them.
Next up, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is an older game which is built on the Unreal 4 engine and it still boasts amazing visuals although it is not demanding. Although it is considered by some to be a walking simulator, it is also an excellent detective game with great puzzles. But be aware that its style of locomotion tends to make some of its players VR sick.
There are just a few in-game graphics options available, so we set 100% resolution in-game with TAA and then set SteamVR’s resolution to 200%.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 250.76 unconstrained FPS with no dropped frames, no warp misses and no synthetic frames.
The RTX 3080 delivered 258.67 unconstrained FPS with 8 dropped frames, 8 warp misses, and 8 synthetic frames.
Although it is a beautiful game visually, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter isn’t particularly demanding even after the Super Resolution is increased to 200% using SteamVR. The experience playing on both cards is similar although the Warp Misses and dropped frames did impact the experience using the RTX 3080.
Last up, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinner is the last of BTR’s 15 VR game benching suite. It is a first person survival horror adventure RPG with a strong emphasis on crafting. Its visuals using the Unreal 4 engine are outstanding and it makes good use of physics for interactions.
The RX 6800 XT delivered 116.32 unconstrained FPS with 18 dropped frames and 18 warp misses, and 213 (3%) of its frames had to be synthesized.
The RTX 3080 delivered 120.28 unconstrained FPS with 2 dropped frames and 2 Warp Misses, and it required 46 (1%) synthetic frames.
The experience playing The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners using the in-game maximum settings and highest Pixel Density is similar between both video cards although the RTX 3080 delivers a smoother experience.
Let’s look at our overall Unconstrained Framerates Chart.
The following chart summarizes the overall Unconstrained Framerates (the performance headroom) of our two cards using fifteen test games and four synthetic benches: Superposition, VRMark’s Cyan and Blue Rooms, and the OpenVR benchmark. Higher is better.
Synthetic benchmarks are only useful for ranking cards. They don’t predict how any game will actually play in VR on any particular video card.
The RX 3080 delivers higher unconstrained frames in 11 out of 15 games over the RX 6800 XT in this one important performance metric. We don’t give percentages of change or percentages of increase between competing cards since unconstrained framerates are just one metric of performance headroom that is useless without the accompanying frametime charts.
Let’s check out our conclusion.
It is great to see AMD delivering a card that is performance competitive with the RX 3080. However, the RX 6800 XT only delivers higher unconstrained framerates in 4 of the 15 games we benchmarked. In addition, several of the FCAT VR frametime plots indicate the RTX 3080 delivers a smoother experience. From our preliminary PC gaming benchmarks using just 9 games, so far, the RX 6800 XT appears to be faster in pancake gaming than in VR relative to RTX 3080 performance.
We will continue to follow up VR performance between the RX 6800 XT and the RX 3080 and will add other cards into the mix as we check back to see if future drivers address performance and stability issues.
The next review will compare the performance of the RTX 3080 versus the RX 6800 XT reference version in 35+ games, and will also compare ray tracing performance and features to help determine value. In addition, we will introduce PowerColor’s Red Devil RX 6800 XT and also compare its performance and features next week. The reference RX 6800 XT has sold out worldwide and Radeon gamers are eagerly anticipating AMD’s partner launches.
In addition, we will have another new hardware review the following week that no one will want to miss!
Stay tuned to BTR!
Happy VR Gaming!