Released in 2022, the Radeon RX 6950 XT is AMD’s new flagship and an interesting graphics card that promises a faster gameplay experience at a better price tag. But when comparing the RTX 3090 vs. 6950 XT, can the newest release convince those who need a high-end GPU to ditch Nvidia for AMD?
For gamers who don’t really care about ray tracing and 8K, the answer is probably yes. If you want to do more than gaming, Nvidia’s GPU offers features that the 6950 XT just can’t compete with.
RTX 3090 vs. 6950 XT: Full Comparison
Despite its age, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is one of the most powerful graphics cards you can buy today. At its current market price, it offers outstanding value for money. The GPU delivers jaw-dropping 3D rendering, playable 8K gaming performance, and sufficient encoding performance for developers and crypto miners.
AMD’s Radeon RX 6950 XT offers a competitive gaming experience to the RTX 3090, but it lost its true competitive edge. Upon its launch, the 6950 XT was one of the best graphic cards in the premium tier when measuring its performance to its price. Today, not so much. While the RTX 3090 is still more expensive than the 6950 XT, the price gap between the two is significantly smaller.
Moreover, with the new GPU releases from Nvidia, the RTX 3090 is now a downright bargain for gamers and creative professionals alike. The only real thing that the Radeon still has on the RTX is the slightly better sub-4K gaming performance.
RTX 3090 vs. 6950 XT: Side-by-Side Comparison
The table below compares the main specs and features of the RTX 3090 and 6950 XT:
|Nvidia RTX 3090
|AMD 6950 XT
|Navi / RDNA2
|Core Clock Speed
|Boost Clock Speed
|Thermal Power Design (TDP)
|Memory Clock Speed
|Memory Bus Width
|Sept 24, 2020
|May 10, 2022
RTX 3090 vs. 6950 XT: What’s the Difference?
The RTX 3090 and 6950 XT are constructed on different architectures, which is to be expected from two different brands. Comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges, so clock speeds and core counts mean essentially nothing when put side-by-side. However, the significant differences between power and memory make the RTX 3090 a lot faster in most gaming situations.
The 6950 XT can still throw in surprising performance that can beat Nvidia’s card in certain games and scenarios. But that’s mostly the case for sub-4K situations, while AMD’s card can’t even come close to Nvidia’s when it comes to 4K and 8K gaming or ray tracing.
With the RTX 3090 offering much more than the 6950 XT for crypto mining and creative professionals, the only real comparison between the two GPUs comes down to gaming performance. And it is surprising to see that the RX 6950 XT leads in 4K gaming without ray tracing with about 77.3 fps compared to Nvidia’s 74.5 fps.
But performance goes beyond raw frame rates, and the RTX 3090 still leads in resource-avid games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077. This GPU also leads massively in ray tracing thanks to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). When it comes down to it, the performance largely depends on the games you play and any current or future features you may want to access without replacing the GPU.
Beyond gaming, the RTX 3090 stands out with its CUDA and Optix rendering access. It also offers increased memory bandwidth, and these features make it the best choice for all non-gaming GPU-intensive tasks like video processing or data science endeavors like crypto mining. There is nothing that the 6950 XT can do to outmatch this performance.
The 6950 XT could win some points in the design department. This card features a three-alternating-fan cooling solution designed to make for a less turbulent airflow. The system is great at keeping things cool, the card peaking under 70°C in stress tests.
Its two 8-pin connectors require no adapters and make up for a more compact footprint compared to the RTX 3090, which is absolutely massive. Nvidia’s card, in fact, comes with a 12-pin connector that requires an adapter – which, fortunately, ships with the card.
However, the RTX 3090 also has a phenomenal cooler design that sucks cool air right through the graphics card and exhausts at the top of the case. Similar to AMD, it peaked under 70°C in stress tests, while the heatsink provides a ton of surface area that lends more efficient cooling.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the RTX 3090 sports a gunmetal gray and black color scheme, whereas the 6950 XT is sliver and dark gray. Overall, Nvidia is a bit unsightly compared to AMD and doesn’t deliver the same clean cable setup you’d have from the 6950 XT.
As mentioned, comparing Nvidia and AMD is not useful due to the different architectures they use. However, comparing power and memory could help you decide which is the best choice for you.
On paper, only 15 watts separate these graphic cards. The difference is that the 6950 XT can’t really go above its 335-watt limit. Meanwhile, the RTX 3090 can be pushed to 400 watts in demanding situations. This can make for quite the difference, and considering that both options are power-hungry, you might be better off with Nvidia.
Memory-wise, Nvidia delivers 8GB more in RAM amount than the 6950 XT. It also uses GDDR6X memory which is much faster and provides more bandwidth than 6950 XT’s GDDR6. Once again, these features make the RTX 3090 the go-to choice for complicated 3D rendering and data science.
Price and Availability
Nvidia released its RTX 3090 card on Sept 24, 2020. At the time, the GPU had a list price of about $1,500. Due to inflated graphics card prices, these GPUs sell at a little more than that at the time of this writing.
Currently, Nvidia RTX 3090 Founders Edition sells for about $1,639. Considering that Nvidia has outsourced the manufacture of this card to PC manufacturers, it might have different prices from brands like MSI or ASUS.
AMD’s 6950 XT is much newer. It was released on May 10, 2022, at a – then- significantly lower list price of around $1,100. The same inflation factor drove up this GPU’s prices, too, however. Currently, this graphics card sells for about $1,250. Similar to Nvidia, its retail price might fluctuate for products manufactured by PC brands.
With a price difference under $400, most creative professionals might prefer spending the extra cash to gain more in performance and specs.
RTX 3090 vs. 6950 XT: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Nvidia RTX 3090 delivers better performance overall, but the 6950 XT might be a better choice for sub-4K gaming.
- AMD’s 6950 XT is more compact than the RTX 3090 and comes with a dual 8-pin connector which fits most cases and motherboard configurations.
- While the RTX 3090 features a 12-pin connector, Nvidia ships the adapter with the card.
- The RTX 3090 delivers true 8K gaming performance and features Nvidia’s ray tracing technology which provides more realistic lighting and shadows in supported games.
- The 6950 XT provides better performance for most of today’s games, but it can’t outmatch the RTX 3090 in tasks such as complicated 3D rendering and data science.
- Video Memory: 16GB GDDR6
- Stream Processor: 5120
- Game Clock: 2226 MHz (OC) / 2116 MHz (Silent)
- Boost Clock: 2435 MHz (OC) / 2324 MHz (Silent)
- Memory Clock: 18.0 Gbps
RTX 3090 vs. 6950 XT: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
The 6950 XT is the most powerful addition to AMD’s high-end lineup. It shows impressive performance versus the RTX 3090, but for gaming situations. Hence, the decision is simple.
If you’re playing at 4K or sub-4K resolutions and don’t want to use ray tracing, AMD’s 6950 XT will save you a buck. It also provides outstanding pure frame rates in these scenarios, which gives it an edge over Nvidia. It all stops here, though.
Nvidia’s RTX 3090 is the best choice for gamers playing at a higher resolution or who want to use ray tracing. It also holds an advantage with content creation and non-gaming workloads. That said, neither of the two cards is a great choice right now, as the GPU market is preparing for new launches this year.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Peter Gudella/Shutterstock.com.