On October 28th, 2020 AMD announced the much-anticipated AMD Radeon RX 6000 series of graphics cards based on the brand new RDNA2 architecture. This new architecture improved upon the older RDNA architecture which was at the heart of the popular Radeon RX 5000 series of graphics cards. With the RX 6000 series, AMD aimed to go head-to-head with the best that Nvidia had to offer with their RTX 3000 series of graphics cards. The RX 6800 XT is an especially popular card due to the fact that it has roughly the same performance as the RTX 3080 while being 50$ cheaper at MSRP.
However, MSRP has been an unattainable concept for these cards at least at the time of writing. Both the RTX 3000 series from Nvidia and the Radeon RX 6000 series from AMD have had terrible availability due to poor supply and rampant scalping, and as a result, it has been nearly impossible to get your hands on one of the new graphics cards. If you do manage to find one, it is usually being sold at exorbitant price margins well over the MSRP of the card. This article is meant to serve as a guide for those of you buying the RX 6800 XT in the future when the supply and availability of the cards return to normal.
With that out of the way here are the 5 best AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics cards to buy in 2021.
1. PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6800 XT Limited Edition
A Ridiculously Powerful 6800 XT
- Huge Heatsink
- Beautiful RGB Bars
- Impressive Acoustics
- Very High Boost Clocks
Stream Processors: 4608 | Base/Boost Clocks: 1820/2340 MHz | Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory Bandwidth: 16 Gbps | Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin | Outputs: 1x USB Type C, 1x HDMI 2.1, 2x DisplayPort 1.4a
PowerColor’s Red Devil series has always been one of the most popular and most well-built aftermarket graphics cards when it comes to Radeon and this one is no exception. The PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6800 XT Limited Edition is a really special variant of the RX 6800 XT that combines beautiful looks with an exceptional thermal and acoustic performance. The “Limited Edition” implies that PowerColor is only making 1000 of these cards which is another special perk of this card.
The Red Devil has always been an exceptional performer in thermals and that trend carries on with the Red Devil RX 6800 XT LE. The card features a huge heatsink with a triple-slot design that dwarfs any other card in its class. The massive heatsink spans the entire length of the card and contains seven heatpipes for efficient heat transfer. The card also features a large copper base plate to maximize the contact of the heatsink with the GPU die and other heat-generating components.
This variant of the RX 6800 XT is also one of the best acoustic performers on the market. The card features 3 fans blowing downwards on the metal heatsink, with the outer 2 fans being 100mm ones and the central fan being 90mm in order to maximize the airflow through the heatsink. The fans turn off at temperatures below 60 degrees Celcius and are exceptionally quiet when put under load as well.
Aesthetically the card is striking and unique with an aggressive design language. One of the best-looking features of the card is the RGB implementation which spans the side of the card as well as the front and back. There are several thick prominent RGB strips on the right end of the card that make their way to the front of the fan shroud as well to provide a really unique and aggressive look. PowerColor’s Devil Zone RGB software can be used to synchronize and control the RGB effects of the card.
There are several great additional features of the Red Devil including the Dual BIOS support and the 14+2 phase VRM design that makes it an exceptional overclocking card as well. Overall, the Red Devil RX 6800 XT LE is one of the finest AIB variants of the RX 6800 XT and you should jump on the chance should you find one in stock.
2. Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6800 XT
Another Premium Offering from Sapphire
- Clean Aesthetics
- Impressive Cooling Performance
- Quiet Fans
- Tasteful RGB Implementation
- Quite Pricy
Stream Processors: 4608 | Base/Boost Clocks: 1820/2360 MHz | Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory Bandwidth: 16 Gbps | Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin | Outputs: 1x HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Sapphire has been AMD’s exclusive partner for a long time now and they always have some of the best partner cards for AMD GPUs. Their Nitro+ variants have always been extremely popular with the AMD fan-base due to their superb performance and excellent build quality. This launch is no exception as the Sapphire Nitro+ RX 6800 XT makes the list as one of the finest RX 6800 XT partner cards on the market.
The major improvements with the Sapphire Nitro+ variant are evident in the card’s exceptionally high boost clocks and thermal performance of the card. The Nitro+ can boost up to 2360 MHz out of the box which is a pretty high figure even for the RX 6800 XT. Furthermore, the card has an exceptional power delivery design and high TDP which enables it to be an overclocking champion. This is aided by the Triple-BIOS feature that Sapphire has packed into the card as well.
The Nitro+ is an exceptional performer in the thermal and acoustic categories as well. It has a massive heatsink with an improved wave fin design that reduces turbulence and lets air flow smoothly which improves both thermal and acoustic performance. The heatsink is also responsible for dissipating the heat from the memory and VRM components which it does a great job of. The Nitro+ is one of the coolest partner RX 6800 XT graphics cards on the market.
The front of the shroud contains 3 fans that direct air straight down through the heatsink in order to dissipate the heat from the card. The fan design is improved from the previous Nitro+ model with the new 12-blade hybrid fan system that pushes large volumes of air while keeping the quiet axial fan design, the card can now provide better cooling without becoming too loud.
The Nitro+ is also one of the better looking RX 6800 XT cards out there, as it pairs a sleek design with subtle RGB implementation to make a really clean looking card. All in all, the Nitro+ RX 6800 XT is one of the best variants of the RX 6800 XT both in terms of performance and aesthetics. Potential buyers should be on the lookout for this variant as it delivers some of the best features of any aftermarket RX 6800 XT.
3. XFX Speedster MERC319 Radeon RX 6800 XT
One for the Overclockers!
- Ridiculously High Boost Clocks
- Impressive Cooling
- Minimalistic Design
- Lack of Lighting
- Quite Expensive
Stream Processors: 4608 | Base/Boost Clocks: 1920/2360 MHz | Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory Bandwidth: 16 Gbps | Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin | Outputs: 1x USB Type C, 1x HDMI 2.1, 2x DisplayPort 1.4a
This new flagship card from XFX not only has an unusually long name, but it is also an unusually long graphics card. Measuring in at a whopping 340mm with a 2.9-slot profile, the XFX MERC319 is one of the largest gaming graphics cards ever released. Case clearance will be a real issue with this card so potential buyers should make sure if they have the space to accommodate this card in their cases beforehand.
The XFX MERC319 is an unusually long and bulky graphics card but it is so for a reason. The MERC319 is one of the best performers in terms of clock speeds and overclocking headroom among all the RX 6800 XT variants. The MERC319 comes with a high 1920 MHz base clock and a 2360 MHz boost clock out of the box and it has the potential to go way higher than that. In fact, people have broken the 2.5 GHz barrier with this graphics card fairly easily.
The massive cooling system of this card also helps in achieving these high overclocks. The MERC319 features two 100mm fans on either side and a central 92mm fan which helps to direct air directly downwards and through the massive heatsink. The heatsink runs through the entire length of the card and features seven heatpipes which help a lot in heat dissipation. The aluminum backplate also features a vent for air to pass straight through the card and out the back in order to maximize the cooling performance of the card. This is also an exceptionally quiet card due to the massive heatsink and really quiet fans.
The MERC319 is an amazing overclocker due to the custom 14+2 phase VRM layout. The card also features a fairly high TDP which helps in overclocking and XFX has also equipped this card with the Dual-BIOS feature. There is no RGB in the card which can be a negative for some buyers, however, it may also be a positive point for those looking for minimalistic builds. XFX has opted for an industrial design and the MERC319 really does look great with that design goal in mind.
The XFX MERC319 is an exceptional AIB variant of the RX 6800 XT and overclockers should especially keep an eye out for this variant. Not only does it have great overclocking headroom, but it also has a good out-of-the-box performance which is a plus point for regular consumers.
4. ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 6800 XT LC OC
Water-Cooled RX 6800 XT!
- Very High Boost Clocks
- Built for Overclocking
- Price Almost Matches RX 6900 XT
- Requires Case Compatibility
Stream Processors: 4608 | Base/Boost Clocks: 1820/2360 MHz | Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory Bandwidth: 16 Gbps | Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin | Outputs: 1x USB Type C, 1x HDMI 2.1, 2x DisplayPort 1.4a
The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 6800 XT LC OC is certainly one of the more interesting variants in our roundup today. This is the only liquid-cooled variant of the RX 6800 XT on our list and it does deliver exceptional cooling performance if you are willing to pay for it. The card is certainly way more expensive than your regular RX 6800 XT variants, so much so that it encroaches on the MSRP of the RX 6900 XT.
The RX 6800 XT LC OC from ASUS features the same PCB as the splendid ASUS ROG Strix air-cooled version but this card adds a custom shroud that connects to a 240mm radiator. There is also a blower-style cooler on the card which helps to keep the power delivery components of the card cool in conjunction with a small heatsink. The 240mm radiator means that you have to check case compatibility before you buy this card.
The ROG Strix 6800 XT LC OC is an exceptional performer when it comes to thermals as one might have guessed. ASUS has designed a custom cold-plate that extends over the GPU die and the VRAM modules and thus takes the heat away from these components and towards the radiator which is connected via a thick braided tubing. The two 120mm fans on the radiator are RGB in pure ASUS fashion and the front of the card shroud also features a large RGB area with aggressive Strix styling that looks very cool if the card is vertically mounted.
The ASUS ROG Strix 6800 XT LC OC is certainly not for everyone due to its really high price tag, but that does not negate the fact that this is one of the best aftermarket RX 6800 XT graphics cards available to buy right now.
5. MSI Gaming X Trio Radeon RX 6800 XT
MSI's Premium Offering!
- Good Cooling Performance
- Nice RGB Implementation
- High Price
- Lower Boost Clock than Alternatives
- Relatively Lower Overclocking Headroom
Stream Processors: 4608 | Base/Boost Clocks: 1850/2280 MHz | Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory Bandwidth: 16 Gbps | Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin | Outputs: 1x HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
The Gaming X variant has been one of MSI’s most popular variants in the previous AMD generations. The MSI Gaming X Trio RX 6800 XT is also one of the finest partner models available on the market for this GPU. It pairs great cooling performance with beautiful aesthetics to make an attractive RX 6800 XT option.
MSI has packed their Tri Frozr 2 thermal solution in the Gaming X Trio 6800 XT which employs fans with dual-linked blades that enable the airflow to be more focused towards the heatsink. The heatsink of this variant features several direct-contact heatpipes that maximize the heat dissipation from the GPU die, VRAM modules, and the VRM components via a large copper base plate. MSI has also installed deflectors in the heatsink that help to lower turbulence and noise.
The fans of the MSI Gaming X Trio are dual-linked at the edges which helps to direct the air directly downwards through the heatsink in order to maximize heat dissipation. The fans are also exceptionally quiet even under load, and they remain idle at lower temperatures. This behavior makes the Gaming X Trio one of the better acoustic performers of the bunch.
Aesthetically the card looks really good on all sides especially the front which features a diagonal RGB bar around the central fans. This card will look really good if installed on a vertical mount. There is also a touch of RGB on the side of the card as well as the backplate. The RGB can be controlled via MSI’s Mystic Light software.
One area where the Gaming X Trio falls slightly short is the power delivery and overclocking headroom of the card. For some reason MSI did not equip the Gaming X Trio with a robust VRM design therefore the card does not have exceptional overclocking headroom. The TDP of the card is also fairly limited, and the boost clocks of this variant are also lower than those that have been mentioned before.
Overall, the Gaming X Trio is another great option for an RX 6800 XT if you are buying a partner card. It does not have the highest overclocking headroom or the best power delivery, but it does have nice aesthetics and great thermal and acoustic performance that rivals some of the more expensive cards in this roundup.