From a PC gaming standpoint, one of the most interesting things to happen at CES 2022 is that both AMD and Nvidia are finally showing off this generation of sub-$250 graphics cards. While we’re still waiting for more specs and performance details on Nvidia’s RTX 3050, AMD’s Radeon RX 6500 XT has some frustrating things to watch out for, especially when you compare it to the $199 Radeon that launched in 2016 RX 480 when comparing.
The performance gains we’ve seen in graphics cards over the past few years have been surprising. We’ve got the most powerful GPU ever to grace a PC with graphics silicon capable of pixel-pushing feats we’ve only dreamed of so far. But that comes at the expense of affordability, with even today’s third-tier graphics cards costing upwards of $700.
When you factor into the equation the dual emotion killers of a global pandemic and a global chip shortage, you also have a situation where it’s not financially prudent to make low-priced GPUs that are in high demand. Not when you can just make expensive products that are in high demand and watch those products fly off the shelves.
So we have to live with pricier GPUs and a noticeable lack of mainstream graphics cards, since the average person can’t spend their entire bank balance on a new card.
But now we finally get our hands on new, affordable RX 600-series and RTX 3000-series graphics cards. While it’s great to see these two GPU makers finally release cheap graphics cards, it’s still a pain to see what that means in terms of their specs. These all look like popular GPUs of our worst nightmares, I just hope I’m wrong about them.
We’ve always wanted to see higher performance and higher specs than the previous generation of similarly priced GPUs, and that’s clearly not the case with the RX 6500 XT. OK, so the jury is still out on the new Radeon’s actual gaming frame rates until we put it on our test bench, but our experience with the RX 6600 XT — basically the same priced RX 5700 XT — — and reading the RX 6500 XT spec sheet doesn’t give us confidence.
I mean, This stark image comparison The article from reddit perfectly illustrates the problem…
|AMD Radeon RX 6500XT||AMD Radeon RX 5500XT||AMD Radeon RX 480|
|release date||January 2022||December 2019||June 2016|
|shader core||1024 2||Chapter 1408||Chapter 2304|
|memory||4GB GDDR6||4GB GDDR6||4GB GDDR5|
|memory bus||64 bit||128 bits||256 bits|
|memory bandwidth||144 GB/sec||224 GB/sec||224 GB/sec|
|processing power||5.77 TFLOPS||5.20 TFLOPS||5.83 TFLOPS|
In terms of raw GPU performance, the RX 6500 XT came in at 5.77 TFLOPS, compared to the older (still competitive) RX 480’s 5.83 TFLOPS. Older cards, even in the $199 4GB form factor, have higher memory bandwidth, more shader cores, and more texture units.
The 16MB of Infinity Cache has the potential to make up for the lack of the RX 6500 XT’s 64-bit memory bus by increasing bandwidth. When we initially checked the Infinity Cache architecture with the Radeon RX 6800 XT, AMD told us that cache hits were more likely to be at 1080p resolution — the target for budget cards — meaning the extra bandwidth provided by Smart Cache technology should help.
But it might just help make it perform at the same level as older, higher-spec GPUs that use other weaker silicon. I guess that’s progress, but only if the price tag is lower. Maybe those RDNA 2 cores will bring some magic that we haven’t seen before, but they have to work really hard. I guess that’s where the 2.6GHz clock speed comes in.
Then, it might make the last-gen 4GB RX 5500 XT worth the money at that point, but that’s another frustrating indictment of the state of the GPU market, as it was $169 cheaper when it launched in late 2019.
But it all appears to be part of AMD’s strategy to put gamers first. By giving them graphics cards too weak to be worth mining, so the rest of us can use more.
Speak at a CES roundtable, AMD Radeon Graphics’ CVP Laura Smith said of the RX 6500 XT specs: “We’ve really optimized this spec to be gaming first in this target market. You can see that in the way we configure the parts .There’s even four framebuffers. For most AAA games, that’s a pretty good framebuffer size, but if you’re doing blockchain-type activity or mining, it’s not particularly attractive.
“So we’re trying to do some real player-first conversion for something we don’t control but we have the clout to optimize the card to use as much as possible for gamers.”
On the Nvidia side, I’m not convinced yet that the RTX 3050 will come a lot of Better shape generation after generation. It’s a $250 GPU that’s probably significantly faster than the RX 6500 XT, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t just look at the performance of the GTX 1660 Ti for $30 less, despite the promise of DLSS support.
So thank you CES 2022 for kicking off the year in gloomy GPU style.