AMD Radeon GPUs: Everything you need to know

AMD Radeon GPUs: Everything you need to know
AMD Radeon RX 6800M (Image credit: AMD)

AMD continues to make headway in the laptop GPU scene, their latest offering is the Radeon RX 6000 series.  This is AMDs first foray into hardware-based ray tracing on laptops, an arena Nvidia has been in since its GeForce RTX 20 Mobile Series launched back in 2019. This is AMD’s first foray into hardware-based ray tracing, an arena Nvidia has been in since its GeForce RTX 20 Series launched back in 2019. AMD may be late to that particular party, but don’t count them out because of it. The RX 6000 series, based on AMD’s RDNA2 platform, perform competitively  with current-gen Nvidia RTX 30 Series cards.

These GPUS first came to market in June 2021 and consist of three SKUs. The Radeon RX 6600M, Radeon RX 6700M and Radeon 6800M, in order from lowest to highest performance. Let’s check some of the numbers.

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GPU ModelAMD Radeon RX 6800MAMD Radeon RX 6700MAMD Radeon RX 6600M
Compute Units403628
Infinity Cache96MB80MB32MB
Game Clock2300Mhz2300Mhz2177Mhz
Infinity Cache96MB80MB32MB
GPU Power145+W135W100W

The GPU’s Compute Units indicate the number of computational resources available to the GPU and includes the “Ray Accelerators,” which are specialized cores responsible for ray tracing effects. Due to fundamental architectural differences between AMD and Nvidia’s GPU designs, these numbers aren’t easily comparable to sNvidia’s CUDA cores. As we’ll show you, overall performance is best compared across brands by stacking up frame rates on similar workloads to see which cards can hit the highest numbers.

Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

GDDR6 vRAM, the same sort found in Nvidia’s current 30 Series cards, is the amount of space the card has to store quickly-accessible graphical instructions needed for higher frame rate performance. AMD’s top-of-the-line RX 6800M GPU comes with 12GB of RAM compared to the Nvidia RTX 3080’s 8GB.

Infinity Cache is AMD’s solution for boosting vRAM performance by providing a memory pool available across the entire GPU. It is supposed to boost GPU bandwidth (the speed at which data can transfer) to new heights. Coupled with RX 6000’s higher base RAM configurations, the addition of Infinity Cache allows AMD to offer memory bandwidths of up to 1248 GB/s compared to Nvidia’s top performance mark of 448 GB/s.

Game Clock represents the processor’s speed in megahertz. A faster processor clock renders workloads more quickly which can improve frame rates and load times in games. These AMD options compare quite favorably on paper to Nvidia’s 30 Series cards. An RTX 3080 clocks in at 1110-1350 MHz, whereas the Radeon RX 6800M comes in at 2300MHz.

GPU Power is the average expected power draw from the component in watts. At “145+W”, AMDs top performant card consumes a little less than the listed range maximum of Nvidia’s RTX 3080 at 150W, but more than its average of 115W. AMD’s 6000 series cards use more power overall compared to the Nvidia 30 series cards, which can make a difference if you plan to stray from a power outlet with your gaming laptop for very long.

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model (2021) (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Radeon RX 6800M-equipped laptops perform well against Nvidia’s RTX 3080 equivalents in our reviews. The Asus ROG Strix G15 achieved 88 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as did the RTX 3080-equipped Razer Blade 15 while beating out other Nvidia 30 Series cards at the same test in different configurations. In other tests it performed slightly worse, coming in last  out of four high-end laptops in Borderlands 3 but with a very high frame rate of 79 fps, compared to the Nvidia laptops which all reached north of 85 fps. The Strix G15 is normally $1,649, but we’ve spotted it in the past as low as $1,499. 

Performance results on the lower cost Radeon 6700M and Radeon 6600M cards put the cards right in the mix with their Nvidia 30 Series counterparts, in some cases pulling ahead in frame rates. The RX 6700M reached about 74 fps running Far Cry 6 at 1080p on ultra settings inside of an MSI Delta A5EFK, while the RTX 3080 got to 79 fps in an XMG Neo 15 running the same game on the same settings for NotebookCheck. The RX 6700M in this example is typically $1,299. An RX 6600M in an MSI Alpha 15 B5EEK-008 performed even better at ultra settings running Far Cry 6, hitting over 75 fps, showing performance doesn’t all come down to just the GPU alone. This laptop is available for around $1,599.