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It’s a god-tier GPU battle for the ages. The mighty RTX 3090 welcomes its RTX 3080 Ti brethren to lock horns with the AMD RX 6900 XT. These bruisers are large, expensive, and gloriously impressive. These are all some of the best graphics cards around, but what should you expect to pay, and which one is most deserving of a place in your rig? We break down everything you need to know.
Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti vs. RTX 3090 vs. AMD 6900 XT: Price
You may want to sit down for this pricing synopsis, as these monsters do not come cheap. The RTX 3090 brings an MSRP of $1,499 to the table, which has quickly climbed to near or over $2,000 due to GPU shortages. The RTX 3080 Ti is barely a bargain, however. Coming in a $1,199 MSRP, it also is regularly found for hundreds above this already lofty price.
The AMD RX 6900 XT originally came in at $999 MSRP, but the real market price is often closer to above the $1,500 mark. Due to higher third-party AIB pricing, some have even gone well above the $2,000 mark for MSRP.
Clearly the above GPUs are already expensive, but the massive GPU shortage and insane demand have made them exorbitantly priced. A silver lining is that you’ll have a better chance of finding these in stock compared to more reasonably priced GPUs such as the RTX 3060 Ti and RX 6800. The catch-22 here is that you’ll also have to pay the piper. Handsomely.
Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti vs. RTX 3090 vs. AMD 6900 XT: Performance
We never imagined the AMD 6900 XT would come with such force to challenge the Nvidia big brutes. Alas, here we are! First, let’s break down the VRAM differences, starting with 24GB of GDDR6X on the RTX 3090. This is overkill for most gaming, but highly potent for content creators and use cases where VRAM is vital. The 3080 Ti drops to 12GB of the same class VRAM, which is currently sufficient for 4K gaming. (A few rare cases can trickle this up higher, however.) The AMD 6900 XT lands smack dab in the middle with 16GB, albeit the slower GDDR6 variant.
As all are currently sufficient for 4K gaming, the significance of the RTX 3090’s memory edge is variable. If you’re a gamer and content creator, the most powerful choice is the RTX 3090, which will excel at professional tasks. If you just plan to game, however, the situation is less clear cut. You can learn more about the performance comparison’s from Brad Chacos’s review of the RX 6900 XT.
In Watch Dogs Legion at 4K, for instance, you can see how closely these sparring partners truly are. The 6900 XT surprisingly pulls ahead at 4K, and slightly trails behind at 1440p. The RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090 are virtually neck and neck.
With traditional rasterization, it’s clear the 6900 XT is highly competitive. Nvidia’s DLSS coupled with ray tracing, if your game supports it, will still be a big advantage in favor of team green.
The RTX 3090 is also the only GPU here capable of NVlink/SLI performance, grouping two GPUs together. This is outdated, with very minimal support in terms of games, however.
In Metro Exodus at 4K and ray tracing enabled, DLSS is an absolute boon to Nvidia performance. This will be relatively consistent throughout many titles. While AMD Smart Access Memory can also be a big help to the 6900 XT, it really shines in traditional non-ray traced games. Until optimizations improve on AMD’s FSR technology to compete with DLSS, Nvidia will still maintain the lead here.
Power draw and other things to know
The RTX 3090 comes with a 350W TDP, but some models such as the EVGA Kingpin can go near 500W! The 3080 Ti is also relatively power hungry, coming in at the same 350W. AMD has managed to keep the 6900 XT at 300W, an impressive feat considering its performance.
What does this all mean? These bad boys will run very hot, especially the RTX 3080 Ti and 3090 with their smokin’ GDDR6X VRAM. The RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition comes equipped with the same smaller two-slot cooler as the RTX 3080, making it less than ideal compared to the larger RTX 3090 cooler. You’ll likely want a third-party AIB cooler here, or to water cool the RTX 3080 Ti to best manage heat.
The AMD 6900 XT is the same cooler design as the 6800 XT for the reference model, which does a good job at keeping temps under control.
The RTX 3080 Ti is the only GPU in this lineup that is LHR, or lite hash rate (meaning less suitable for crypto-mining). The RTX 3090 is unaffected, and AMD does not offer any such limitations on the 6900 XT. This generally has translated into more 3080 Ti models being available for gamers, compared to the non-LHR models such as the RTX 3080, which seem to have vanished into thin air.
Which is the god-tier GPU for you?
Yes, they’re all prohibitively expensive given the GPU shortages. But the high cost makes them a bit easier to find in stock than their cheaper counterparts. Which should you buy? First, if you’re strictly a gamer, you can scratch off the RTX 3090. The RTX 3080 Ti will give you nearly the same gaming performance for hundreds of dollars cheaper, even at 4K.
Who should buy the RTX 3090? Aside from ballers, those who have a need for the 24GB of VRAM such a content creator who also games. Otherwise, stick to the 3080 Ti—or better yet, an RTX 3080 if you can find it, for a better “bang for your buck.”
That leaves us with the 6900 XT—who’s this for? It certainly makes a highly impressive showing against the Nvidia GPUs. At current inflated price levels, however, it falls slightly short of the 3080 Ti for most gamers. This is considering the Nvidia advantages with ray tracing and DLSS. After all, if you’re spending this kind of money on a GPU, you want to turn everything on to 4K ultra with all the ray tracing eye candy. The RTX 3080 Ti is the GPU that will best allow you to do that while saving a few bucks versus the RTX 3090.