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In a Nutshell
Both GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT are fantastic 4K gaming graphics cards. The RTX 3090, however, does provide better ray tracing performance, but features significantly higher TDP and MSRP. The RX 6900 XT, on the other hand, is more affordable, but is still rough around the edges.
GeForce RTX 3090
- Most powerful GPU to date
- Smooth 4K @ 60 FPS performance
- 8K DLSS performance
- Great for AI computing
- Extremely expensive
- Incredibly high power consumption
- On par with RX 6900 XT in gaming
Radeon RX 6900 XT
- Slightly faster than RTX 3090 at 1440p
- Excellent 4K performance
- Much cheaper than RTX 3090
- Supports AMD SAM technology
- Limited production
- Mediocre ray tracing performance
In the last quarter of 2020, both NVIDIA and AMD launched their new flagship graphics cards within their RTX 30 and RX 6000 lineups of GPUs. Although very expensive, the new GeForce RTX 3090 brought significant performance improvements over its predecessor, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and as such positioned itself as the best enthusiast-class GPU around. However, AMD soon released its Radeon RX 6900 XT GPU which also proved to be a blast compared to its predecessor, and presented itself as a fierce rival to the RTX 3090.
Both GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT are fantastic enthusiast-class graphics cards, and as such are perfect for serious 4K gaming, as well as 3D rendering, and AI computing. The main reason why both of these cards are so powerful is the fact that they are built upon new manufacturing technologies. The GeForce RTX 3090 is built upon Samsung’s 8nm manufacturing node, while the Radeon RX 6900 XT is built upon TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing node. Although both cards are quite powerful, each of them is better suited for different workloads. In this article we’ll explore the performance of both cards in detail.
According to NVIDIA, the GeForce RTX 3090 is company’s first mainstream graphics card with TITAN class performance, and as such is well-suited for 8K HDR gaming, as well as AI-accelerated content creation. The RTX 3090 also features 2nd Gen RTX architecture, which means it can deliver double the performance on ray tracing compared to its predecessors.
Contrary to NVIDIA, AMD’s description of its new flagship, the Radeon RX 6900 XT, is much more conservative, but still very impressive. The RX 6900 XT is labeled as a serious 4K gaming graphics card, and can boast with the fact that it’s powered by AMD’s new RDNA 2 architecture, and features all new AMD’s Infinity Cache technology which promises to deliver outstanding performance improvements.
|Graphics Card Name||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090||AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT|
|Microarchitecture||Ampere (GA102)||RDNA 2.0 (Navi 21)|
|Fab Process||8 nm (Samsung)||7 nm (TSMC)|
|Transistor count (million)||28,300||26,800|
|Memory Size & Type||24GB GDDR6X||16GB GDDR6|
|Base/Boost Clock (MHz)||1395/1695||1825/2250|
|Memory Bus/Interface||384 bits/PCIe 4.0 x16||256 bits/PCIe 4.0 x16|
|Memory Bandwidth||936 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|Compute||35.58 TFLOPs||23,04 TFLOPs|
|TDP||350 W||300 W|
|Launch Period||Q3 2020||Q4 2020|
If you take a look at the specs table above, you can clearly see that both GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT differ a lot when it comes to raw specifications. Both cards share similar amount of transistors, texture mapping units and ROPs, however, the RTX 3090 features 50% more shading units than the RX 6900 XT. The RTX 3090 also sports 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM, compared to the RX 6900 XT’s 16GB, but has significantly lower GPU core clocks.
Other areas in which GeForce RTX 3090 beats the RX 6900 XT are memory bandwidth, and compute power. The RTX 3090 is able to deliver up to 35 TFLOPs of FP32 performance, which is 12 TFLOPs more than the RX 6900 XT. This better performance, however, does come with some costs, as the RTX 3090 sports 50 W higher TDP than the RX 6900 XT, and has a $500 higher MSRP.
When it comes to ray tracing performance, the RTX 3090 absolutely dominates the RX 6900 XT with its 328 Tensor cores, and 82 RT cores. However, the Radeon RX 6900 XT is not too shabby in this aspect, as it also features 80 raytracing acceleration cores, and is able to deliver the same ray tracing performance as the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.
With all things said, let’s inspect the gaming performance of both GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT. We tested both cards in a combination with our high-end PC based on a 12-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, an AMD X570 motherboard, one M.2 and two SATA SSDs. Results are shown below.
Performance at Full HD (1920×1080) Resolution
From the chart above, we can see that both RTX 3090 and RX 6900 XT are overkill graphics cards for 1080p gaming. Both cards can easily render more than 160 FPS on average in most AAA titles with all graphics settings set to maximum. In more demanding titles, such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, these figures drop to around 115 FPS.
Overall, the Radeon RX 6900 XT appears to be around 2-3% faster than the RTX 3090 in most games. The only exception is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, in which this performance gap is around 38%. We are not quite sure why this performance difference is so big in this title, but we believe this is due to the fact that Valhalla is an AMD sponsored title.
All in all, both cards perform absolutely amazing at Full HD resolution, and are perfect for achieving true 144 Hz or 165 Hz gaming experience, provided you own a G-Sync of FreeSync compatible monitor.
Performance at Quad HD (2560×1440) Resolution
At 1440p resolution, the Radeon RX 6900 XT still outperforms GeForce RTX 3090 in titles such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Battlefield V, but in other titles, situation is much more different now. At 1440p, the GeForce RTX 3090 seems to be performing the same as RX 6900 XT, if not even better, which is particularly evident in games like Metro: Exodus, and Red Dead Redemption 2.
Even at this resolution, both cards are yet again able to deliver overkill performance, which tells us that both of these cards were bottlenecked by our Ryzen 9 5900X CPU at 1080p resolution. Overall, this just proves that it’s completely pointless to buy any of these two cards if you don’t plan to play your games at ultra 1440p or ultra 4K graphics settings.
Performance at 4K (3840×2160) Resolution
Finally, when we tested GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT at 4K resolution, we were able to see both of these cards in their full glory. In all of the titles we’ve tested, both cards were able to deliver more than 60 FPS on average on ultra settings. For example, in Battlefield V, both cards performed roughly the same, delivering around 120 FPS on average, while only in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla did RTX 3090 struggle to deliver stable 60 FPS.
However, at 4K resolution the GeForce RTX 3090 gained an upper hand. In almost all titles, it was around 10% faster than the Radeon RX 6900 XT, which was quite surprising. This tells us that the RTX 3090 is clearly a more powerful card at 4K, or even 8K resolution, while Radeon RX 6900 XT features certain hardware optimizations which allow it to perform better at 1080p and 1440p.
Both GeForce RTX 3090 and Radeon RX 6900 XT are absolutely fantastic graphics card for 4K gaming and serious content creation. Being much cheaper than the RTX 3090, the Radeon RX 6900 XT will be more appealing to PC enthusiasts who want to achieve the best gaming experience without spending a fortune. The GeForce RTX 3090, on the other hand, is a much better graphics card when it comes to content creation and AI computing, as well as ray tracing performance. This, however, doesn’t justify its incredibly high MSRP, since the card performs only around 15% better compared to the GeForce RTX 3080.
One major advantage of the RTX 3090 over the RX 6900 XT is its support for DLSS technology, for which AMD currently doesn’t have any equivalent alternative. With DLSS, the RTX 3090 is able to deliver surprisingly good 8K gaming experience, which is an incredible feat now in 2021.
The RTX 3090 also outperforms RX 6900 XT when it comes to ray tracing. However, it is quite surprising to see AMD developing its own ray tracing tech, which is now on par with the NVIDIA’s 1st Gen of ray tracing GPUs. This tells us that AMD is coming up fast on NVIDIA, and that in the next few years we’ll finally see ray tracing entering the mainstream.
For most ordinary folk, both RTX 3090 and RX 6900 XT are just too powerful and too expensive graphics card. The cryptocurrency mining craze also doesn’t help, since prices of both cards have sky-rocketed due to increased demand. Unfortunately, there are no signs that things will change for quite some time, so if you have enough money and luck to buy one, don’t hesitate to do it. Both of these cards will remain relevant for years to come.