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PowerColor Red Dragon RX 6800 GPU Review

Disclaimer (1): This article contains affiliate links to Amazon. Purchases through these links supports Niche Gamer.

Disclaimer (2): Along with the PowerColor Red Dragon RX 6800 GPU, ASUS also sent an ASUS X570 Hero motherboard for the SAM testing, as not all motherboards currently support it.

After the latest batch of AMD cards released last month, we got a chance to take a look at the newest RDNA2 powered GPU the RX 6800. This card specifically is the PowerColor Red Dragon model, which has all the features you would expect from the reference model; but this time with custom cooling, overclocked, and with a bit of a different flair.

The card is packed with 16GB of VRAM, though unfortunately is priced at $649… If you can find it. This puts it $70 more than the standard reference designed 6800, and priced the same as the slightly higher specced 6800XT reference card. This however isn’t just something specifically with the Red Dragon, but something that’s been across the board.

At this time we are unsure if this is a supply issue due to COVID-19, or due to massive demands. Generally a mid tier card like this would be about $20-30 more than the reference version. However lets get that out of the way and talk about the card itself.

We do not have the equivalent RTX 3070 to test against it; however we do have an older RTX 2080 and the previous RX 5700 XT from XFX. The card like many of the RX 6800 and 6800 XT AIB partner cards has some fantastic cooling, it is quite thick and substantial making this card very long and heavy. This should enable these cards to run quite cool and quiet.

Testing Methodology

The GPU testing methodology we will be using at Niche Gamer will be similar to what you may have seen at hardware-focused sites. For this review I will be testing at 1440P and 1080P only.

I take each game, test it in the given resolution over 3 runs, which are then averaged out. Any extreme results (more than 5%) are thrown out and retested, to insure we can be accurate with the hardware’s performance in a given game.

The two metrics we will use today is average FPS, the other is 99th percentile frame rate. This is taking the data, and looking at the 99th percent of frames, or the worst noticeable stutter. Ideally the lows should still remain above 60fps, or as close as possible to the average.

Test Bench

I have upgraded this test bench since last year with a Ryzen 5600X, which is only a six core, but is much faster in general as a gaming CPU. In future reviews I will likely be using a 8 or 12 core Ryzen 5000  CPU, but we settled on the 5600X. We are also using an ASUS X570 Hero motherboard for the SAM testing.

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
Motherboard: ASUS X570 Hero VIII
RAM: G.Skill Trident-Z Royal 16GB DDR4 3600MHZ
GPU: PowerColor Radeon RX 6800 Red Dragon

Temperature

For our load temperature testing we run Hitman 2‘s benchmark, looping at 1080p for 30 minutes, and get the highest listed temperature at a locked 50% fan speed (to remove any sort of fan curve variation between cards). Idle testing is done with the system turned off, and waiting 5 minutes for temperature to stabilize.

You can see how much cooler this card is compared to the other ones here, with the exception of the very power efficient XFX THICC card. I had praised that for being quiet, and this one seems even more so.

The hot spot on the card only hit 57C, which is something only shown on newer AMD cards compared to the 5700XT that hit 96C previously.

Forza Horizon 4

For this game, we tested at 1080P at high settings in the in-game benchmark. I ran the software from the start and to the end of a race, roughly a minute and 40 seconds.

Once again we see a very, very strong result from this card, showing what someone upgrading from last generation could get. At an estimated 30% to 40% improvement from the last gen cards on the average FPS, and almost a 50% jump in the 99th percentiles, this is a pretty significant performance uplift from last year.

Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics flips the gameplay of previous titles on it’s head with a turn based strategy game based heavily on X-Com (which we reviewed, we recommend it). We again tested at 1080p, this time at ultra settings and used the in-game benchmark.

Gears tactics seems to be a game that performs pretty similarly between all GPUs, even at 1440p. Though unsurprisingly our $650 card tops out in performance.

Doom Eternal

After the very successful Doom (2016) reboot, Doom Eternal follows the Doomslayers journey to save earth and kill demons. You can find our review here (we recommend it).

For our run, we use the first section of the Exaultia level without any enemies on screen, your game experience in-game during fights should be a bit slower than this, but I do this for consistency.

At 1080P you’re getting pretty much over the refresh rate of most monitors, aside from the 240 and 360hz variety. You have enough extra left over to get over 165 FPS through most of the game with all of these cards.

However at 1440P this gets a bit different, with the 6800 Red Dragon just pushing way ahead. It again is about 40% faster than the former second best RTX card the 2080, and just under 50% faster than the 5700XT.

Red Dead Redemption 2

A gunslinging tale in the old west which we reviewed here (we recommend it). This title features bot Open GL, Vulkan APIs, and a bevy of settings to change and tweak to your heart’s content. We test using the last section of the in game benchmark, which takes just under 2 minutes.

The RTX 2080 and 5700XT seem to perform about the same here at 1440P, with them being within margin of error of each other. The Dragon is roughly 52% faster than the last generation cards, and with a 99th percentile FPS above 60. This was one of the games many people had previously complained about performance in, and these next generation cards can fit the bill.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

Featuring very dense jungles and beautiful views, as well as some of the latest technology, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is an ideal game to benchmark. More on that in our review. Recently the game has been updated to use the Vulcan API, improving performance for both AMD and Nvidia cards.

For this game we test using the in-game benchmark, waiting for the second scene to start which is more graphically intensive.

Another title another dominating win by the Radeon 6800 based Red Dragon card.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is definitely one of the oldest games we are testing today, but it is still a relevant title that has been updated constantly over the course of its existence. like the recent Vulkan API update.

The test was done using using the single player situation of the consulate map for 60 seconds.

Siege performance here is off the charts; I actually had to fix the sizing on the graphs because the frame rate extended past the the end of the graph. If you intend to play this game on a 1440P 240Hz monitor, you can still do it on ultra with this card. We also seem to hit a CPU or memory bottleneck at 1080P, as the 6800 barely gets much faster dropping the resolution.

Shadow Of the Tomb Raider

The latest in the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. We use this title as it’’s been a very popular series, and a well optimized title. We test using the in-game benchmark for the first sequence.

Tomb Raider once again shows what we’ve seen previously with the 5700 XT and the 2080 being left in the dust by the 6800 Red Dragon.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most long awaited games of 2020, and is one of the most graphically demanding games in the past few years. We reviewed it here.

For our tests we run a 60 second on rails section shortly after finishing the first mission on a on rails portion driving through night city while gang members shoot at you. I only used runs with no glitches or other abnormalities, and re-ran the test if any occured.

1440P performance shows that in order to get close to 60 FPS all the time you would need a 6800 or better. At 1080P oddly enough, we see the 5700 XT take the lead but still being around 30FPS slower than the Red Dragon.

Hitman 2

The latest entry in the Hitman franchise (for now) has you traveling across the globe in search of targets. For more on the game check our review. For our Hitman 2 test, we test the Columbia level for 60 seconds.

Looking at the 1080P numbers we see this card is over 40% faster than the 2080 on average, though the 99th% is much closer only leading by about 20 or so FPS. The difference in the higher frame rate wasn’t an all-over-the-place inconsistent frame rate, but during more open scenes the frame rate shot up.

At 1440P it gets to be an even bigger difference, with the Red Dragon being over 65% faster than the 5700XT, and around 55% faster than the 2080.

Control

Control a title from Remedy Entertainment, and known very well to PC gamers for it being one of the first RTX game that allows ray tracing. For our test we run around in the lobby of the first level for 60 seconds, at Ultra settings.

We see a massive performance bump here, showing an absolutely amazing performance difference. At both 1440P and 1080P the difference can be plainly seen.

Conclusion

Looking at the PowerColor Red Dragon RX 6800 GPU, you can see it absolutely blows away previous generation of cards. The issue is at time of writing you still cannot buy it, or any of the other RX 6000 series cards at under $1000 due to lack of supply and scalpers.

I would give this card a very strong recommendation due to its very nice styling, build quality, and incredibly low fan noise. But you simply cannot buy the card currently.

If you are reading this when supply is better, this card is built solidly, performs well, and although my card didn’t seem to overclock well, many other reviewers with this card seem to get very good overclocks. The addition of SAM didn’t seem to improve performance much, but was beneficial enough to make sure to turn it on if your CPU and Motherboard support it.

The MSRP on this card is a bit too high, that being said I haven’t seen a GPU selling at MSRP in months. So all these numbers are “on paper” at this point. PowerColor put out a solid card that I consider a bit overpriced, though with the lack of supply and incredible demand I cannot blame them too much.

If you want a new high end GPU and this one is available it is a great option. The biggest problem now though is you can’t be picky on which card you buy if you want something now, you simply buy what is available.

PowerColor Red Dragon RX 6800 GPU was reviewed using a review copy provided by PowerColor. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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The Verdict: 9.0

The Good

  • Great Performance
  • Quiet and Cool
  • Solid Design
  • Nice Aesthetics

The Bad

  • Not in stock
  • Priced Higher than MSRP reference RX 6800s
Allen Watts

About

A long time PC gamer, He enjoys FPS, RTS and RPG games. He also has a love of PC hardware.




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