Tag Archives: launches

Alienware Launches Its First AMD Laptop Since 2007

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Alienware has announced a new laptop powered by AMD’s Ryzen Mobile 5000 family, while Dell has added a new AMD gaming system to its own product matrix as well. In Alienware’s case, it’s the first time the company has offered an AMD-powered product since 2007.

When AMD’s Ryzen Mobile 4000 failed to get much market uptake last year, there were fears that the company was the victim of a plot between Intel and Nvidia to block it from gaining market share. While there are some historical reasons why people are afraid of that issue where AMD is concerned, the company has openly stated its own explanation: Ryzen Mobile 4000 was the platform that showed OEMs was serious about competing in mobile and capable of fielding a product that could power high-end designs.

We’re seeing more Ryzen 5000 systems rolling out this year because the Ryzen Mobile 4000 convinced the various OEMs AMD could power high-end systems. Winning the Surface Laptop 3 also helped establish AMD’s credentials, even if that system used a Ryzen Mobile 3000 CPU instead of a 7nm Zen 2 core.

Both the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 and the Dell G15 Ryzen Edition will offer Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 series GPUs. The new Alienware system will offer displays with 240Hz (1440p) or 360Hz (1080p) refresh rates “to deliver smooth gameplay.” Phrasing like this is a bit like saying an RTX 3090 “delivers smooth 720p performance.” The problem with the statement isn’t that it’s wrong, per se; it’s the implication that one needs an RTX 3090 to get smooth 720p performance in the first place.

A screen with a 60Hz refresh rate is redrawn once every 16.6 milliseconds. At 120Hz, it’s redrawn every 8.3ms. At 240Hz, every 4.15ms. At 360Hz, every 2.7ms. The ever-increasing Hz numbers hide the fact that the real amount of latency reduction shrinks the higher you go. Moving from 30Hz (33.3ms refresh rate) to 60Hz (16.6ms refresh rate) is a larger improvement than moving from 60Hz to 360Hz. Keep in mind that the degree of difference you’d see in any given title depends very much on how fast the game’s engine can run in the first place. There are a lot of titles that do not run at 240-360fps at 1080p or 1440p unless you have deliberately wrecked detail settings to maximize frame rates.

There’s nothing wrong with Alienware marketing its systems to e-sports fanatics chasing every last frame, but 240-360Hz refresh rates are not required to “enable smooth gameplay.”

Alienware also claims that this is “User-upgradeable 3200MHz DDR4 memory for the first time on an Alienware 15-inch notebook.” This is an absurd untruth. iFixit has multiple teardowns and manuals of how to upgrade the RAM inside various 15-inch Alienware systems manufactured over the past decade. Alienware moved to soldered DRAM several years ago and it’s trying to spin this reversal as a new feature being added rather than the restoration of an expected baseline capability.

Thankfully, the actual system designs look better than the marketing. The Alienware m15 offers a Ryzen 7 5800H or a Ryzen 9 4900HS paired with an RTX 3060 or RTX 3070, starting at $ 1,794. The Dell G15 Ryzen Edition will use a Ryzen 5 5600H or Ryzen 7 5800H with up to an RTX 3060, reportedly starting at $ 900. The G15 will also be available with 120Hz or 165Hz panels, with a 360Hz panel option coming later this spring.

Anyone who buys a laptop with a high refresh rate display should be aware these panels will absolutely chew through your battery. Most games allow you to set your refresh rate in-game, but some titles lock your refresh rate to your Windows desktop refresh rate. I’m not sure Windows offers a way to automatically cut the refresh rate when on battery, so anyone using >60Hz on AC might want to double-check their panel settings before switching to battery.

If you’re looking at a laptop, you’re probably planning to buy an OEM system no matter what, but the incredibly high price of retail channel GPUs has made OEM systems the only game in town as far as reasonable prices are concerned. In this case, I’m grumpy about the marketing, but I’ve tested gaming PCs from both Dell and Alienware before and been pleased with the end result.

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Boutique PC Builder Launches ‘No GPU’ Boxes to Cope With Video Card Shortage

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A boutique builder has launched a new lineup of “no GPU” enthusiast PCs, specifically intended for gamers who already have a video card but need to buy everything else. So far, only one company that we’re aware of has taken this step, but several recent stories have implied GPU availability is getting worse, not better. This may be the beginning of a trend.

I’ve been a gamer long enough to remember the introduction of 3D video cards. For the past two decades, “gaming” and “GPU” have been practically synonymous, but they weren’t always. Prior to the introduction of consumer-level 3D accelerators, performance in the 3D renderers of the day (Ultima Underworld, Doom, Quake, various flight simulators) was entirely dependent on CPU performance.

I suspect one reason AMD survived the x86 desktop CPU wars of the mid-1990s, where companies such as IDT and Cyrix did not, is the floating-point unit on chips like the K6 and K6-2 was powerful enough for modest gaming. Other manufacturers could only compete with Intel in integer workloads and their designs were limited to low-end budget rigs. So long as Intel dominated both integer and floating-point math, it could dominate gaming.

Then came the era of 3D acceleration, powered by Voodoo, TNT, and Rage. Intel MMX, introduced in January 1997, was meant to be the beginning of a new era of 3D rendering in which SIMD units inside CPUs would accelerate video games. Instead, video cards and GPUs became the predominant driver of gaming performance. Even today, when integrated graphics are better than they’ve ever been, GPUs are considered a requirement for any computer intended to game above minimum detail levels and settings. Under normal circumstances, taking the GPU out of a boutique system wrecks it for its intended purpose.

The UK boutique, FiercePC, claims that these systems “will not boot up” without an external GPU, but only two of the systems use an “F”-class Intel CPU that lacks an integrated GPU. The third is a Core i7-10700 and the motherboard for this system (Asus TUF B460-PLUS) features an HDMI port. FiercePC may have disabled the integrated GPU by default, but a UEFI reset would restore it.

The point of buying a boutique PC is that you’re paying for convenience and some degree of customization. This very much includes not having to install core components yourself. Selling a platform absent the GPU implies GPU prices are rising, even for OEMs. This would make sense, given that multiple companies like MSI and Asus are planning to increase prices as availability drops. Gamers know that integrated graphics aren’t intended for gaming, and there’s not enough variance in integrated GPU configurations to build a product stack out of in the first place. Selling the systems in a “BYOG” configuration lets FiercePC avoid throwing a card in at all, and it dodges the negative associated with selling a high-end boutique PC that depends entirely on its iGPU.

The out-of-control prices on eBay imply few gamers are buying Ampere or RDNA2 at anything approaching MSRP. If more companies copy FiercePC on this and start offering gaming systems without GPUs, it’ll be a further indication of how choked the market is. It’s not a good sign for a gaming PC builder to start shipping systems without the signature component that defines a gaming PC.

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AMD Launches the Radeon RX 6700 XT

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Today, AMD is launching the RX 6700 XT, a new high-end GPU that at least dips below a theoretical $ 500 price point. Just as the 6800 XT and 6800 filled in the top ranks of RDNA2, the 6700 XT fills in the next-lowest slot on the price bracket, with a smaller die, fewer cores, and much faster clocks. Please keep in mind that all discussion of GPU pricing below is, by necessity, theoretical. The impact of tariffs between the US and China plus the cryptocurrency boom have rendered GPUs priced at MSRP a rarity.

ET will have a review of this GPU up in the immediate future, but we’re currently porting data to a new graphing engine and the process took me a bit longer than anticipated.

At $ 479, the RX 6700 XT cuts the difference between the RTX 3070 and the RTX 3060 Ti, but it’s closer to the former ($ 500) than the latter ($ 400). It’s also the replacement for the RDNA-based 5700 XT, which debuted in mid-2019 for $ 400 as well.

6700XT-AMD

The 5700 XT versus 6700 XT comparison is going to be particularly interesting, as those GPUs share a common core configuration (2560:160:64). The 6700 XT has less raw memory bandwidth than the 5700 XT, but it offers something that card doesn’t have: A 96MB Infinity Cache.

Infinity-Cache

We’re borrowing this slide from the 6800 XT launch for the point about the power cost of Infinity Cache accesses versus conventional GDDR6. AMD is saving power here.

If you’re familiar with the 128MB L3 Infinity Cache on the 6800 and 6800 XT, this is its younger, smaller brother. According to AMD, the smaller cache provides the same approximate hit rate at 1440p that its 128MB big brother provides at 4K. AMD is similarly recommending you use ray tracing at 1080p if you intend to use it, due to the performance hit.

I’m in the odd position of having run a fair number of tests on the card already, so I’ll just add this: You can see some evidence in benchmark data for why the 6700 XT is positioned as a 1440p card. It dips a bit in 4K compared with the 6800 XT, though in all honesty, you could call it a 4K card, too — just not with the same leeway for future titles or the same guarantee of high performance with settings cranked up to max.

The 6700 XT’s high clock speeds definitely help it compared with cards like the 6800 XT. On paper, the 6800 XT packs 1.8x more cores and texture units, with 2x the ROPs. The 6700 XT compensates partly by cranking up the clock. The GPU’s base clock is 2.32GHz, compared with 1.825GHz on the 6800 XT. The extra 1.27x clock offsets a solid chunk of the resource gap, though the 6800 XT remains meaningfully faster than its smaller rival at 1440p.

We’ll have our full coverage for you in the not-so-distant future. AMD has not clarified if it intends to launch a full suite of RDNA2 GPUs to replace its RDNA stack or not. Nvidia has replaced its cards down to the nominal $ 329 price point. AMD is currently stuck at $ 479. Presumably, that means we’ll see an RX 6700 at some time in the future.

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Denmark is launching a digital vaccine passport, with the goal of allowing COVID-19 vaccinated residents to move around in public more freely. The hope is businesses could operate more openly, too. Some are concerned about privacy and creating an unequal system for those who can't be vaccinated.

Denmark launches digital COVID-19 vaccine passport

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Denmark launches digital COVID-19 vaccine passport

Denmark is launching a digital vaccine passport, with the goal of allowing COVID-19 vaccinated residents to move around in public more freely. The hope is businesses could operate more openly, too. Some are concerned about privacy and creating an unequal system for those who can’t be vaccinated.

CBC | World News

Intel Launches Iris Xe, Its First Desktop GPUs in More Than 20 Years

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Intel is finally back in the desktop graphics business, at least if you squint. The company has announced a partnership with certain PC OEMs to bring DG1 silicon to specific pre-built systems.

This isn’t exactly a full-on desktop graphics launch — that’ll come later in 2021 with the launch of DB2 — but Intel is still indisputably shipping at least a handful of discrete GPUs in the low end of the desktop market, for the first time in more than 20 years. The company announced it had partnered with “two ecosystem partners, including Asus” in its initial PR, but LegitReviews thinks the GPU featured in the image above is manufactured by Colorful. The other DG1 card identifies itself, ships without a fan, and is clearly an Asus-branded product.

Unfortunately for anyone hoping to play around with Intel’s latest desktop card and/or hoping to find a low-end GPU at a reasonable price, this GPU is OEM-only. Sometimes, OEM-only products will surface on secondary markets like eBay, but that’s not going to happen in this case. According to Intel, these GPUs will only work on very specific systems. LegitReviews inquired on this point and was told:

The Iris Xe discrete add-in card will be paired with 9th gen (Coffee Lake-S) and 10th gen (Comet Lake-S) Intel® Core™ desktop processors and Intel(R) B460, H410, B365, and H310C chipset-based motherboards and sold as part of pre-built systems. These motherboards require a special BIOS that supports Intel Iris Xe, so the cards won’t be compatible with other systems.

So, that’s that, then. It’s not clear why a motherboard would require a special UEFI to use a new GPU. Presumably DG2, when it arrives, will not have this problem.

It’s interesting to see Intel back in the graphics market because it’s been so long since we had an actual three-way fight. Once 3dfx died, the only company to offer any kind of competition to the ATI/Nvidia duopoly was PowerVR with the Kyro and Kyro II. While these GPUs were an interesting alternative to the Radeon and GeForce product lines, they did not find mainstream success and faded from the market.

Intel has not previously covered itself in glory where GPUs are concerned. The company’s first attempt at a discrete GPU, the Intel i740, was custom-designed to showcase the capabilities of Intel’s new AGP bus. It didn’t compare well against GPUs with onboard RAM, and Intel didn’t stay in the market very long. Intel’s Larrabee was based on a modified Pentium architecture with 512-bit vector processing units. Overall interest in Larrabee was high, but Intel canceled the product and used Larrabee as the basis for the first generation of Xeon Phi processors.

It’s not unfair to be skeptical of Intel’s ability to launch a competitive GPU. We don’t even necessarily expect Intel’s first-generation cards to be all that great, objectively speaking. So long as they’re good enough to get a little traction somewhere in the market, Intel has an opportunity to iterate and improve the design. With a third player on the field, both AMD and Nvidia are presented with new challenges — but also, potentially, with new opportunities depending on how Intel’s presence impacts user GPU purchases.

All of this hinges on Intel building competitive products and being willing to stay the course over the long term. Incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger may have his own ideas about where to take the company. These DG1-equipped systems aren’t going to make a huge splash in the wider market, but we should know how effectively DG2 will compare against AMD and Nvidia before the end of the year. Given how hard AMD and Nvidia cards have both been to source, Intel could spin a modest GPU into a smash hit just by shipping it on-time, at MSRP.

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SpaceX Launches Record-Setting 143 Satellites in First Rideshare Mission

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It’s undeniable that SpaceX has become the most innovative company in aerospace when you realize how often we have to say the following: SpaceX has set another record. This time, the company founded by Elon Musk has shattered the record for most satellites delivered to space in a single launch. On Sunday (Jan. 24), SpaceX launched the Transporter-1 mission with an incredible 143 satellites. Not everyone is celebrating, though. 

Transporter-1 is the culmination of a program SpaceX announced in 2019 to provide space access to smaller companies at lower costs. As a result, the Falcon 9 that lifted off from Cape Canaveral carried a mishmash of satellites into space. The largest single beneficiary was Planet, which launched 48 new SuperDove Earth-imaging satellites. Next up is SpaceX itself with 10 new Starlink nodes. The almost 100 remaining satellites came from a wide variety of customers. The previous record-holder was India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which carried 104 satellites into space in 2017. 

SpaceX plans to continue offering this service, and why not? SpaceX has perfected the landing system for its Falcon 9 vehicle — after deploying the 143 satellites in the second stage, the Falcon 9 booster came back to Earth and landed on one of the company’s drone ships. It will be refurbished to fly again, vastly lowering the costs compared with expendable systems like the Atlas V. In fact, this Falcon 9 core stage (B1058) was previously used to launch NASA DM-2, the first crewed flight of the Dragon-Falcon 9 combo in May 2020. 

Currently, SpaceX offers companies scheduled payload launches in the rideshare program for as little as $ 1 million. That gets you up to 200 kilograms of launch mass, but the price goes up quickly beyond that. SpaceX also charges for extras such as port adapters, separation systems, insurance, and fuel. In the tweet above, you can see several different spacecraft attached to the second-stage ports. 

With SpaceX making it so easy for companies to get to space, many are worried about the impact it could have on the space environment. Already, SpaceX’s Starlink network has caused headaches for astronomers as the 1,000+ satellites interfere with observations. Placing more objects in orbit also increases the likelihood of a collision, which could produce orbiting shrapnel that goes on to damage or destroy other satellites. There’s no “traffic control” system to prevent this from happening, but that might become a necessity as SpaceX keeps lowering the financial barrier to entry.

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Ottawa launches $850,000 ad campaign advising Canadians to stay home during COVID-19

The federal government has launched an $ 850,000 digital-based ad campaign warning Canadians about the perils of travelling abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, which could include grounded flights or lax health rules at their destination.

The ads follow a CBC News report in late September that some snowbirds were planning to fly south this winter, despite the government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel abroad. Since that time, a number of snowbirds have already left Canada.

Several of the new ads target snowbirds, including a video posted on Facebook and Twitter in which a forlorn older man lies in a hospital bed while sombre music plays in the background. A caption at the bottom of the screen warns that seniors are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.

The government launched the ad campaign in November “on various digital platforms” and travel websites “to reach multiple target audiences,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Jason Kung said in an email. The campaign will run until March 2021 during peak travel times, he said. 


Kung didn’t provide details about the individual ads. CBC News found three anti-travel videos the government posted on social media in December and ads targeting snowbirds in two magazines that launched in November and December respectively. 

‘Missed the boat’?

Some snowbirds who are already at their winter destination question the timing of the campaign blitz.

“I think they missed the boat with that one,” said Lorraine Douglas, 67, of Osoyoos, B.C. On Oct. 24, she and her husband, David, flew to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, where they own a condo. She said the flight was full.

“Most people who come to this area of Baja [Mexico] are coming down in October,” she said.

Kung said that “elements of the campaign were released in November when older adults typically consider travelling down south.” He didn’t specify which elements.

Regarding the campaign’s anti-travel message, Douglas said it doesn’t faze her because COVID-19 safety regulations are strict in her area.

“You have to wear a mask, even if you’re walking on the street,” she said. “We’re outside in the sunshine…. So we actually feel safer here than we would at home.”


Lorraine Douglas and her husband, David, of Osoyoos, B.C., flew to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, on Oct. 24, where they own a condo. (Submitted by Lorraine Douglas)

The federal government argues Canadians are safer at home, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in many parts of the world.

But the government won’t stop Canadians from travelling abroad. Although the Canada-U.S. land border is closed to non-essential travel, Canadians can still fly to the United States, as well as to other countries with open borders, such as Mexico. They can also return to Canada, as long as they quarantine for 14 days.

Just over one million Canadian air passengers have entered Canada since March 21, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

Canadian snowbirds typically head to U.S. Sunbelt states for the winter. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 244,244 Canadians have flown to the United States since October. 

You can have fun at home

One of the government’s new video ads targets families pondering travelling abroad over the holidays. It reminds them that the pandemic isn’t over and they can entertain themselves at home with activities such as playing in the snow.


Another large ad posted in Ontario’s Fifty-Five Plus magazine warns seniors that along with being more susceptible to complications from COVID-19, they also face potential pitfalls, such as inadequate medical coverage and less strict health measures at their destination compared to Canada.

Snowbird Shelton Papple, 66, of Brantford, Ont., said he didn’t see any of the government’s advertising before Dec. 4. That’s when he and his wife, Karen, flew to Buffalo, N.Y., and shipped their car to the city so they could drive the rest of the way to Florida — despite a closed U.S. land border. 


Shelton Papple and his wife, Karen, on the golf course in Fort Myers, Fla. The snowbirds travelled to Florida on Dec. 4, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Sandra Papple)

He said that contrary to the ominous ads, he and his wife feel safe in in their neighbourhood in Fort Myers. They have invested in medical insurance that includes COVID-19 coverage and live in a gated community where people are taking COVID-19 precautions, he said.

“Everybody’s wearing a mask, everybody’s social distancing. When we play golf, everybody takes her own cart,” said Papple. “We’re doing no different than what we would do at home … except there’s more to do and it’s outside.”

But there are many Canadians, including snowbirds, who have opted not to travel abroad this winter. They include Roy Graham, 65, of Toronto.


Roy Graham of Toronto normally spends the winters in Rotonda West, Fla. But he’s not going this year due to fears of being infected with COVID-19 while abroad. (Submitted by Roy Graham)

The snowbird and his adult daughter normally spend the winter in Rotonda West, Fla. But this year, Graham believes the stakes are too high for himself and his daughter, who has health issues.

“The uncertainty of what’s happening down south, with COVID running rampant in different states, you just don’t know what to expect.”

Graham viewed the government’s video ad targeting snowbirds at the request of CBC News and said the message it sends reinforces his decision not to travel this winter.

“It touches a nerve,” he said. “You don’t want to be a statistic.”

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DOSBox Pure Launches to Make Classic Games Easier to Play

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There are a lot of amazing games these days, but they sometimes take years to develop, and they might still launch in a sorry state at release — looking at you, Cyberpunk 2077. If you want to return to a simpler time, the games of yesteryear are now easier to play thanks to the new DOSBox Pure. This software makes playing DOS games a snap, even for those who didn’t grow up messing around with command lines. 

About 20 years ago, Windows XP removed the DOS layer that Microsoft’s previous Windows interfaces ran atop. The DOSBox emulator launched soon after, allowing gamers to run classic games that don’t work on modern operating systems. It’s been long enough that there are grown adults today who might want to play a game like Duke Nukem 3D or Quake but have never touched a DOS command line. That’s where DOSBox Pure comes in. It has all the DOS emulation capabilities of the main release, but it can run games directly from ZIP files or images. And that’s just the start. 

DOSBox Pure is a new fork built for RetroArch/Libretro, and it’s technically only a test version at this time. However, it seems surprisingly solid after just six months of development. However, it does not come with any games — you’ll have to provide your own. There are many games from that era that are available freely online, but distributing others is a legal gray area. 

To start playing a game in DOSBox Pure, simply point the software at your game directory. If there’s a disc image inside, DOSBox Pure will automatically mount the first found disk image as the A: or D: drive. If a game has multiple executables, DOSBox Pure will provide a list (gamepad-compatible, even) that allows you to select the correct EXE. It can even automatically detect and map your controller based on the game. For games that support mice, you can emulate mouse cursor control with your controller. 

It was possible to just plain lose games from the DOS era when you ran out of lives, but DOSBox Pure has a plethora of emulator features that will make those classic games slightly less imposing. You can create multiple save states for a game, and there’s a handy rewind feature in case you screw up and don’t want to burn a life. It also supports RetroArch cheat code searching. 

If you want to give it a shot, the DOSBox Pure installer and documentation are available on the GitHub page. It’s currently compatible with Windows, Linux, and Raspberry Pi (Arm7).

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Biggest Navi: AMD Launches the Radeon RX 6900 XT, at $999

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AMD technically launched its Radeon RX 6900 XT today, though stocks of the GPU show every indication of being severely limited. Priced at $ 999, the new Radeon card is intended to be the crown jewel of the Navi stack, and to put AMD on a more competitive footing against Nvidia.

This is a major moment for AMD in several regards. It’s the first time the company has fielded a high-end GPU intended to compete at the top of the market since the launch of the Fury X back in 2015. 2017’s Vega 64 competed roughly against the GTX 1080 at a time when Nvidia already had the 1080 Ti in-market, while the RX 6900 XT is supposed to land in-between the RTX 3080 and the RTX 3090.

Specs on the 6900 XT compared to previous AMD launches. Image by Hot Hardware.

AMD definitely hits its price point — the $ 1,000 RX 6900 XT is $ 500 less expensive than the RTX 3090 — but it offers a relatively small number of features to customers who step up to the card. Because the 6900 XT is a fully-enabled 6800 XT, customers get the benefit of an additional 8 compute units, or a total of 512 compute cores (5120, versus 4608). It also has 1.1x additional ray accelerators and TMUs, but the same base and boost clocks, the same VRAM, and the same TDP. The price gap between the RTX 3090 and the RTX 3080 is much larger than between the 6900 XT and the 6800 XT, but the RTX 3090 adds features like a wider memory bus, a larger jump in the total number of shader cores, and more than double the VRAM. Of course, Nvidia also wants $ 1,500 for the GPU, so they rather obviously needed to give people a reason to pick it.

AMD versus Nvidia at 4K. Data by THG.

According to Tom’s Hardware, the 6900 XT falls behind the RTX 3090 in 4K, with an average of 85fps in 13 games compared with the 3090 at 93.6fps. That makes the RTX 3090 just 1.1x faster than the 6900 XT, for 1.5x more money.

Of course, this chart also shows that the 6900 XT is only 1.06x faster than the RX 6800 XT, while costing 1.53x more money (based on MSRPs, lol). Altogether, the RTX 3090 is 1.18x faster than the 6800 XT, but costs 2.2x more. That’s the kind of price/performance ratio you’re buying into, if you choose to buy at the tip-top of the market.

THG writes that the RX 6900 XT “is slightly faster than the RTX 3080, and it can beat the 3090 in a few cases.” Ray tracing performance between AMD and Nvidia is currently very difficult to analyze. The games already on-market (with extensive Nvidia GPU optimizations and limited AMD optimization, if any) favor Nvidia, a lot. The couple of tests AMD distributed before launch of the 6900 XT favor AMD. With so few tests and such a lopsided optimization situation, it’s difficult to tell how things shake out.

The expectation that I’ve seen, which still seems true, is that Big Navi’s ray tracing performance is better than Turing, but not as good as Ampere. AMD’s newest GPUs seem to hit ~2080 Ti ray tracing levels and they offer the performance at <2080 Ti pricing, but they’re strongest against Nvidia in rasterized workloads so far. This could change with future optimizations and patches.

Hot Hardware and THG reach somewhat different conclusions regarding the overall performance of the card. THG notes: “Overall, however, the RX 6900 XT fails to impress relative to the RX 6800 XT. It’s such an incremental bump in performance that it hardly seems worth the trouble.” While it’s fast, it lags in ray tracing workloads and the $ 1500 RTX 3090 is viewed as offering more features.

Hot Hardware, in contrast, writes: “The AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT rocks. Is it the fastest card across the board? No. But it is an immensely powerful and capable GPU, with a beefy 16GB of memory, a leading-edge feature set, and obvious synergy with current-gen game console architectures, which should bode well for game development and optimizations moving forward.”

My own take (I’ve reviewed the 6800 XT but not the 69000 XT) is that the 6900 XT is AMD’s way of signaling it intends to compete in the high-end of the graphics market once more, but that the company is still playing catch-up in some regards. This is not automatically a bad thing. If we look back to 2015, we see AMD nearly-match the GTX 980 Ti, only to fall short of the mark with the Vega 64 in 2017. From 2016 – 2019, AMD’s most-competitive positioning was between $ 100 – $ 300. In mid-2019, Navi debuted at higher prices with the 5700 and 500 XT, and demonstrated that AMD was still capable of competing with Turing. With Big Navi in 2020, AMD has demonstrated that it can compete with Nvidia in the upper market once again — but Biggest Navi is still a bit of a reach.

Part of the reason for this, it should be said, is because AMD chose to emphasize high VRAM loadouts and relatively high clocks for its lower-end cards. AMD chose to weaken the RX 6900 XT’s positioning by improving the RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT, and while that makes their top-end solution a little bit of an underwhelming step up, it looks this way for the best possible reason.

Most Radeon gamers will, I suspect, be best-served by either the 6800 or the 6800 XT. Nevertheless, the 6900 XT sends a message to investors and enthusiasts that AMD intends to compete robustly in GPUs as well.

When you’ll actually be able to buy one of these cards is anyone’s guess. A recent PR from Swiss retailer Digitec revealed that the company had received just 35 cards for launch, implying that this GPU is going to be extremely difficult to find. In that sense, the entire discussion is academic, since you won’t really be able to buy a card until 2021 unless you want to pay 1.5x – 2.5x over list price. There are RTX 3090’s going on eBay for $ 2,000 to $ 2,500, and some that list for even more, so the chances you can buy a new RDNA2 GPU before Christmas are small, no matter what.

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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Launches Dec. 2, but Good Luck Getting One

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Nvidia launched its new RTX 3000-series video cards this fall, not that you’ve probably ever seen one in stores. Resellers managed to buy up almost every RTX 3080 and RTX 3070. Now, Nvidia is releasing a new, less expensive 3000-series card. The RTX 3060 Ti goes on sale tomorrow for a mere $ 399—it might even be affordable after the obscene reseller markup! 

As with the other 3000-series cards, the 3060 Ti will begin life as a Founders Edition Nvidia card. It looks almost identical to the current 3070, but the casing is a slightly lighter shade of gray. It has the same dual fan configuration and 12-pin power connector. Nvidia recommends at least 600W power supplies for the 3060 Ti. Like all of Nvidia’s other RTX 3000 cards, the 3060 Ti supports real-time ray tracing and DLSS support. 

That increased power draw is worth it. The RTX 3060 Ti is about 40 percent faster than its predecessor, the 2060 Super. In fact, it should even be a little faster than the RTX 2080 and 2080 Super. Nvidia didn’t give specific numbers, but it looks like a single-digit percentage advantage for the new card. For the record, the 2080 family of cards cost $ 700 to $ 800 at launch. So, the 3060 Ti is an improvement for about half the cost. 

Nvidia’s earlier RTX 3000 launches have been plagued by stock issues. Everyone knew the Founders Edition cards would be in short supply, but a small number of people used bots to automate checkouts, scoring dozens of cards. The units popped up for sale on eBay and Amazon at vastly inflated prices. Even after all these weeks, you can’t buy a 3000-series card for anything approaching retail price. 

We have no reason to expect the 3060 Ti launch will be any different. So, you’ll want to be on the Nvidia store page tomorrow (December 2) to have any hope of snagging one. Nvidia previously promised it would take measures to limit bots, but the bots have no doubt continued to evolve. Don’t be surprised if all the stock evaporates before you can even add a card to your cart. While Nvidia has acknowledged the availability issue, it has admitted that the shortage could persist well into 2021. There will be third-party versions of the 3060 Ti in the coming weeks, but they probably won’t be any easier to get.

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