AMD’s newest GPUs could mean realistic pricing for once

It seemed like AMD and Nvidia were living in a fantasy world. They’d throw out prices like $329 or $479 for a midrange graphics card, knowing you’d actually be paying hundreds more by the time pandemic middlemen had their fair share. But today AMD seems to be waking up.

With the recently announced $1,099 AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT, $549 Radeon 6750 XT and $399 Radeon 6650 XT, the company is finally pricing its graphics cards based on the market rather than making a fake MSRP. When you combine that with the fact that AMD graphics cards have almost dropped back to normal prices in general, it means there’s a hell of a chance that you can actually buy these new cards for the price AMD quotes.

That’s good — because the price is by far the most interesting of the cards AMD is announcing today.

While we’ve heard rumors of the next-generation AMD RDNA 3 chips on the horizon, the new RX 6950 XT, 6750 XT, and 6650 XT aren’t like that at all. In fact, they are not new GPUs at all. As the “50” in their name suggests, they are straight-up refinements to the existing RX 6900 XT, 6700 XT, and 6600 XT using literally the exact same silicon, just with new firmware for faster clocks and faster memory.

And while any performance boost is nice, this isn’t going to be a big one: Each “50” card offers a 5 to 6 percent punch over the vanilla version. In some games, the difference can be as little as 1 frame per second, according to AMD’s reviewer’s guide. In others with particularly high frame rates, you may see a burst of 10 fps or more. Those bumps don’t come for free either: the cards have a 20 to 35W higher TDP than the originals, meaning they theoretically consume more power and/or produce more heat.

“Physically nothing has changed.”

AMD is not trying to hide this. “These won’t be big improvements,” the company told reporters. “Physically nothing has changed.”

Instead, the company is trying to state how much more performance-per-dollar and performance-per-watt you can get compared to Nvidia — at the prices you’ll actually pay to get Nvidia vs. AMD.

Here are the graphs AMD provides:

If you can actually buy these cards at these prices, things look pretty rosy for AMD — at least for those gamers who aren’t waiting for next-gen GPUs or prices to drop even further — at least until Nvidia makes its next move.

If you’re interested, AMD says they’re all going on sale today with reference cooler versions of the RX 6950 XT and RX 6750 XT available from AMD and ASRock, Asus, Biostar, Gigabyte, MSI, PowerColor, Sapphire, XFX, and Yeston are all lined up too. AMD also sweetens the deal with a new “Raise the Game” bundle that should include free games with your ticket purchase.

I also suspect that we will get reviews of these cards today. If so, we’ll update this story if their conclusions are significantly different than we’d expect based on AMD’s charts. I’m going to pour one for the $580 AMD Radeon RX 6800, by far the best value-for-money AMD card of this gen that few people have ever been able to buy at that price. AMD told reporters that the 6800 will last, but it’s hard to believe it will ever see that price again now that a $550 6750 XT has usurped its part.

Correction, 2:13 PM ET: AMD’s original slide stated that the Infinity Cache bandwidth of the 6950 XT was 1739 GB/S, but in reality 1793 GB/S. This message now contains the correct slide.

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