Choosing between an AMD or Nvidia graphics card has always been a confusing choice for a buyer looking for a new graphics card, whether it is for gaming or for professional work such as graphics card for video editing or game development. The choice is even more difficult now when both brands are offering a wide range of options with new features and a highly competitive price tag.
There are a lot of cards that are usually compared with each other, and the AMD 6950 XT is usually paired with the Nvidia RTX 3080 for comparison. Both of these cards are ideal for this price range and suitable for a lot of buyers, especially gamers who wish to get a high-end card but avoid the problems with top-of-the-line options such as availability, high budget, higher TDP, etc.
Therefore, we are going to compare the 6950 XT and the RTX 3080 in our guide today so that you can understand both of these cards in detail and make the right choice.
What is AMD Radeon 6950 XT?
The AMD Radeon 6950 XT is one of the latest offerings from the brand, released in the Q2 of 2022. Many reviewers call this card a slight upgrade over its previous models as it is based on the same die model and operates on the same RDNA2 architecture. This is also a Navi-based model with a 3% clock speed increase over the previous models, which does not make a lot of difference to be specific.
But, it has an increase of about 13% in memory bandwidth, which will surely help gain some FPS with the new gaming titles, offering the one thing that most gamers want from a graphics card. More importantly, it is launched at almost the same MSRP as the previous 6900 XT model, making the upgrade even more worthwhile.
What is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080?
Just like most other high-end Nvidia cards from the 30 series, the RTX 3080 also promises massive upgrades with the RTX 3080 compared to top options from the 20 series with the new and improved Ampere architecture. This architecture is backed by Samsung 8nm processor technology which is significantly better than the 12 nm processors used with the Turing graphics cards.
And also, the transistor count on the RTX 3080 has been increased up to 50% compared to the same model from the 20 series, making the upgrade even more beneficial. However, this is a slightly more expensive option which is quite close to the 6950 XT MSRP but much lower than that of the top model from the 20 series GPUs.
Specifications and Features of 6950 XT and 3080
Now that you have a basic idea of what both of these cards are offering at their respective price range, let us discuss the core specifications and properties of the cards that actually make a difference in terms of performance. For a lot of buyers, the difference in these specifications can be the reason behind switching to an AMD card from a previous gen Nvidia option or vice versa.
But for that, you first need to understand the importance of these factors and how they affect the performance of a graphics card. In this guide, you will find all the necessary information listed with each of these factors followed by a short comparison between the 6959 XT and the RTX 3080 in the same regards, making the choice clearer for you as we follow.
1. CUDA Cores vs Compute Units
Even though both Nvidia and AMD GPUs are designed similarly, a lot of buyers tend to compare the CUDA cores of an Nvidia GPU with the Compute units on an AMD GPU, which is not a fair comparison, to say the least.
The Compute units on AMD GPUs are specially designed parallel logical processing units which carry out the task of processing the graphical data of your game. So as the count of the compute units increases, the overall processing speed of the card also increases.
The CUDA cores on the Nvidia cards are also the processing cores on an Nvidia graphics card that perform the same function. But, there’s a catch with CUDA cores as these are not the actual processing unit count on the cards. Instead, it is the number of floating point units that perform floating point operations.
The total floating point units on a GPU are always much higher than the actual processing unit count like Compute units on an AMD card, or streaming multiprocessors on an Nvidia card. So the actual comparison should be the SM core count on an Nvidia card vs the Compute units on an AMD card.
2. PCIe 4.0
Another important factor to keep in mind is the PCIe requirement and backward compatibility of the GPU that you are buying, as it affects the compatibility of your graphics card with your motherboard as well as the motherboard’s capacity to utilize the GPU up to its full potential.
As you may already know, the PCIe Gen 4 expansion slots are the latest and fastest PCIe slots available on any motherboard right now, and these are widely popular for GPUs as well as SSDs. So if your motherboard features a PCIe Gen 4 expansion slot, then it is best to connect your GPU to this slot, which is usually the first option from the array of PCIe expansion slots on your motherboard.
Like most other cards released in the past few years, the AMD 6950 XT and the RTX 3080 Ti support PCIe Gen 4 expansion slots with backward compatibility to PCIe Gen 3 ports. Therefore, you won’t have a problem connecting either of these cards to your motherboard, even if you are using an older motherboard right now. But, it is a better solution to get a new motherboard along with your new GPU with PCIe Gen 4 expansion ports if you don’t want to miss out on the excellent performance of the card, whether you are buying a Radeon 6950 XT or the RTX 3080.
3. Core Clock and Boost Clock Speed
Just like your CPU, your GPU also features a certain clock speed which represents the overall speed of your GPU. There are 2 different speeds to keep in mind when you are comparing the clock speeds of a GPU, which are the core clock speed and the boost clock speed. On some cards, it might also be mentioned as the turbo clock speed, the same as the boost clock speed with different nomenclature. These clock speeds are mentioned in the GHz unit and these speeds are also manipulated based on the distributor of the card such as Asus, MSI, Galax, etc.
Coming to the comparison, the Nvidia RTX 3080 is slightly behind the Radeon 6950 XT in terms of clock speeds as it works at 1.4 GHz core clock speed and up to 1.7 GHz boost clock speed. The Radeon 6950 XT offers a much better performance in this regard with a 1.9 GHz core clock speed and a significantly higher 2.3 GHz boost clock speed. As you can see, the boost clock speed of the 6950 XT is nearly 100% higher than that of the 3080, offering a much better output in gaming, especially in heavy scenes where there is simply too much data to process every frame.
4. Slot Width
The slot width is also an important factor for a GPU as it affects the compatibility of the card with your PC case as well as your motherboard. The slot width of a GPU also affects the installation of other PCIe-based components on the motherboard. If you take a look at the back of your cabinet, you will find 4 to 5 slots available for PCIe installations. So, if your GPU takes up more slots, there is less space remaining to secure a secondary GPU or other PCIe components, even if you have a PCIe slot free on your motherboard.
The RTX 3080 is a better option in this regard as it requires a 2-slot width whereas the 6950 XT is a slightly thicker model due to the triple fan design and acquires 3 slot width. As you can imagine, the 6950 XT can be a problematic choice for compact PC cases as it will take up a lot of space inside, leaving little to room for other components or even proper cable management.
5. Thermal Design Power
The thermal design power is also a deciding factor for a lot of PC builds as it also changes the overall configuration of the PC build, or affects the choice of the PSU if you haven’t bought one already. The thermal power design or TDP of a GPU is basically the amount of power it requires to operate at maximum capabilities.
Here, the Nvidia offers the benefit of a slightly lower TDP of 320 Watts which is 15 watts lesser than the 335 TDP of the 6950 XT. But compared to most other cards, the TDP difference between Nvidia RTX 3080 and the AMD 6950 XT is not that much and won’t affect the installation or applicability of the card as drastically as other options. Simply put, if your PSU is supporting a 320 Watts GPU, then it should be able to handle a 335 Watt GPU without any problem.
The memory component of a GPU is quite similar to the memory or RAM you use in your PC. It also plays a very important role in your graphics card’s working as it stores all the data processed by the primary processor and sends it to your system to display on your monitor.
So, the faster the memory can send the data, the quicker you will see the effects on your display. For that, the memory module used on the GPU should be of the latest generation and offer a high capacity to store the processing data in heavy games. There are a few factors that affect the performance of the memory collectively which are the memory type, capacity, bus width, and bandwidth.
- Type: The latest option for a memory module currently produced for GPUs is the GDDR6X which is available in almost all high-end graphics cards. This is quite an upgrade over the GDDR6 memory as it requires 15% less power. But due to its faster speed, it also has a slightly higher overall power usage which is acceptable as you get a faster output from the module. To compare the 2 GPUs, the RTX 3080 a better option in this case as it has the GDDR6X memory module whereas the Radeon 6950 XT still houses the older GDDR6 memory. So, the Nvidia RTX 3080 will offer a faster memory performance.
- Max RAM: Apart from the speed of the memory module, you also need to pay attention to the capacity of the memory module or VRAM as it is called on a GPU. The memory capacity of the VRAM is even more important on a graphics card because it gives you an idea about the GPU’s capability to handle the load. With higher VRAM capacity, you can rely on your GPU to not drop frames in a clutch situation of a competitive game due to the excess graphical load of the map. The RTC 3080 is a 10 GB GPU, whereas the 6950 XT brings the advantage of a 16 GB VRAM. With the additional 6 GB of VRAM capacity, the AMD Radeon 6950 XR is a clear winner in this comparison of VRAM capacity. While the difference between the 2 cards’ performance in the older game may not be as noticeable, you will surely start to notice lags and stutters here and there on the RTX 3080 when you are playing heavy titles such as Cyberpunk 2077 which would be much lesser on the 6950 XT.
- Bus Width & Bandwidth: The bus width and bandwidth are some of the core features of a memory module which also impacts the data transfer capacity of the module as well as its speed. The bus width is basically data lines provided on the module that connects it to the GPUs processor. On the other hand, the bandwidth is simply the data transfer capacity from these lines, measured in GBps. The RTX 3080 again takes the lead thanks to the new and improved GDDR6X memory module interface, which enables a bus width of 384-bit with a maximum bandwidth capacity ranging up to 760 GBps. These specifications are much higher than the Radeon 6950 XT, which has a bus width of 256-bit and 512 GBps bandwidth, much lower than what you are getting with the Nvidia RTX 3080. So with these specifications, the RTX 3080 is surely the better choice as far as the memory parameters of the card are considered.
7. Output Ports
Last but not least, we will suggest you check the output ports available on the GPU before you make a choice, as it also has a lot of impact on the connectivity of your graphics card. For a very long time now, GPUs are offering DisplayPorts and HDMI ports as the primary connectivity options. These ports are commonly available on all display devices, such as projectors, TVs, monitors, etc. But, even if you are getting the same connectivity ports on all options, it is crucial to check the version and count of the output ports to get an idea about the versatility of the GPU.
Fortunately, there are no differences between the Nvidia RTX 3080 and the Radeon 6950 XT regarding output ports. Both cards feature an HDMI 2.1 graphics card port capable of up to 8K resolution 60 Hz video output along with 3 DisplayPort 1.4a ports, which also offer the same results. The additional DisplayPorts are a good addition to a graphics card if you want a multi-monitor setup.
|GPU Specification||AMD Radeon 6950 XT||Nvidia RTX 3080|
|Processor Size (nm)||7 nm||8 nm|
|Compute Units/SM Unit Count||80||68|
|Core Clock Speed (GHz)||1.9||1.4|
|Boost Clock Speed (GHz)||2.3||1.7|
|Memory Capacity (GB)||16||10|
|Memory Bus Width (bit)||256||384|
|Memory Bandwidth Gbits||576 GBps||70 GBps|
|Pcie 4.0 Support||Yes||Yes|
|Slot Width||PCIe 4.0 x16||PCIe 4.0 x16|
|Output Ports||HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a||HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a|
|Type of Power Connectors||2x 8-pin||6+2 connectors|
|DLSS/FidelityFX||FSR 2.2||DLSS 2|
1. 1080p Gaming (Ultra Preset)
|Game||AMD Radeon 6950 XT||RTX 3080|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||130 FPS||90 FPS|
|Battlefield 5||170 FPS||176 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077||122 FPS||131FPS|
|Watch Dogs: Legion||107 FPS||87 FPS|
2. 1440p Gaming (Ultra Preset)
|Game||AMD Radeon 6950 XT||RTX 3080|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||90 FPS||78 FPS|
|Battlefield 5||150 FPS||172 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077||93 FPS||89 FPS|
|Watch Dogs: Legion||103 FPS||81 FPS|
3. 2160p Gaming (Ultra Preset)
|Game||AMD Radeon 6950 XT||RTX 3080|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||60 FPS||55 FPS|
|Battlefield 5||105 FPS||113 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077||46 FPS||45 FPS|
|Watch Dogs: Legion||65 FPS||53 FPS|
As the TDP of both RTX 3080 and Radeon 6950 XT is not that different, the cooling solution implemented on both of the cards also does not matter much as far as the performance of the card is considered. However, you should still check the card’s cooling system, not only how it changes from one card to another, but also to check the overall reliability of the card under heavy load.
The AMD 6950 XT has a pretty straightforward cooling system as we have seen before on almost all GPUs released to date. It has a triple-fan system operating at about 2000 RPM that can easily control the card’s temperature in all conditions. With this system, the Radeon 6900 XT stays under the 77C temperature limit, which is pretty good. As for the RTX 3080, you will find that Nvidia has decided to go with the same cooling system for this card as the one you get with the premium alternative RTX 3080 Ti. It also has a dual-fan push-pull cooling system which keeps the cards’ temperatures around 80C.
5. DLSS and Ray Tracing
The only important difference between the AMD and Nvidia cards is the difference between the Ray Tracing and DLSS results. Since Nvidia was the first to introduce these features on their cards, Nvidia will always be a generation ahead in terms of DLSS and Ray Tracing and AMD cards have a lot of catching up to do to reach the DLSS and RT performance of Nvidia cards. On top of that, AMD only has RT cores, whereas Nvidia offers RT cores and Tensor cores specially designed for supersampling, which is required for DLSS.
On the AMD cards, the DLSS alternative technology called Fidelity FX Super Resolution is performed by the normal GPU cores, making Nvidia’s DLSS results much more convincing and reliable. However, the FSR technology developed by AMD is open-source and widely available for almost all GPUs, even the 10-series Pascal GPUs designed by Nvidia, so everyone can have a little higher FPS on new games.
Finally, we will discuss a very important side of GPUs that can potentially make or break the deal for a lot of buyers, which is the MSRP of the cards. Fortunately, the MSRP launch date of the Radeon 6950 XT and the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti aren’t that far apart. In fact, the regional pricing differences and availability of the cards have probably already brought both cards to the same budget level for many buyers.
The RTX 3080 was released at an MSRP of $994, whereas the slightly expensive Radeon RX 6950 XT is priced at $1130. For the handful of advantages available with the 6950 XT, the additional $100 price jump is pretty much a fair deal for everyone. But from the other perspective, Nvidia also has a few one-ups over the RTX 3080, which makes it a better deal, considering it is also cheaper.
Finding a new GPU upgrade for your PC or a new model for your PC build is never an easy task. A lot of buyers usually get confused between AMD and Nvidia. And on top of that, there are so many models available on the market right now which makes the choice even more confusing. To help you with that, we have picked up the 2 most similar options on the market falling in the same price bracket: the AMD Radeon 6950 XT and the Nvidia RTX 3080.
If you are still not sure which option you should go for, we suggest you go with the Nvidia RTX 3080 as this is a comparatively cheaper option and offers a pretty good set of benefits over the AMD 6950 XT. This graphics card is backed by the DLSS and Ray Tracing technology from Nvidia, which will surely help the GPU to outperform its competitor in terms of FPS. Plus, the software support for Nvidia cards in terms of driver updates has always been strong, which is something AMD GPUs are lacking right now.