AMD’s new Radeon RX 6800M delivers respectable performance at a respectable price

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AMD has announced its Radeon RX 6000 series mobile GPUs. The company claimed that the new chips, built on the RDNA 2 architecture, deliver the best performance we’ve ever seen from AMD graphics. It made particularly ambitious claims about its flagship Radeon RX 6800M, which it claimed would run modern AAA games at frame rates comparable to or better than Nvidia’s mobile RTX 3080.

Business claims are, of course, just business claims. I’ve been testing a system with a Radeon RX 6800M for the past few days. The results I’ve seen so far are a mixed bag, and while the RX 6800M doesn’t decisively outperform Nvidia’s best RTX chips, it outperforms I’d expect in the price range we got.

To see how the RX 6800M performed, I was sent an Asus ROG Strix G15, one of the first laptops announced to feature the new GPU. My test system includes an eight-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX and 16 GB of RAM. I’ll post a full review of this device once Asus sets the price for this build, which it hasn’t at the time of writing. (The Strix G15 is expected to cost between $1,549 and $1,699, depending on configuration.) In the meantime, here are my benchmark results to give you an idea of ​​the frame rates you can expect from this chip in a few different games.

Here’s the ROG Strix G15.
AMD

I’ll start by talking about the thing that impressed me the most about this chip: battery-powered gaming. I only have an hour of gaming on a single charge, which is a pretty short lifespan. However, this system delivered the best battery gaming experience I’ve ever seen. I’m used to unplugged gaming rigs at about 20 fps (if so), descending into stutter territory within 30-40 minutes and becoming unplayable with about 10 percent battery left. The unplugged Strix G15 ran Red Dead Redemption 2 steadily between 30fps and 40fps for nearly the hour, dropping to the high 20s around 12 percent. The game didn’t even falter. Despite the Strix G15’s short endurance, I’d still recommend it to people who want to play on battery rather than some longer-life models, due to the large amount of actual playable time you get.

The HP Omen 16 seen open from the front, obliquely to the left.  The screen shows the Omen logo on a white background.

The upcoming HP Omen 16 will also feature AMD’s new GPUs.
Image: AMD

But there were some games where the Strix G15 didn’t blow me away (when plugged in). I ran CS:GO with all settings maxed and 252fps on average. That means the 6800M can certainly take advantage of a 300Hz screen at a lighter rate like this. (Games were tested at native resolution, with all sliders maxed out.) The result is actually pretty close to that of the 2020 Zephyrus G14 (216 fps in our testing), which uses a last-gen RTX 2060 Max-Q. and pretty close to what we saw of last year’s Strix Scar 15 (248 fps), which had an RTX 2070 Super. The Zephyrus G15 with an 80W RTX 3070 averaged 178fps with the title in QHD – I’d hope for a bigger gap as the Strix G15 only has a 1080p display.

The Strix G15 averaged 87 fps Horizon Zero Dawn, which barely beats the Zephyrus G15 with a 100W RTX 3080 and decently beats the TUF Dash F15 with an 85W RTX 3070, but doesn’t beat the 130W RTX 3070 MSI GP66 Leopard (which averaged 96 fps). The RX 6800M also did fine, but not amazingly with ray tracing. It averaged 69 fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider Rai with ray tracing on ultra, which is playable, but worse than we would expect from both the GP66 and G15.

The only exception here was Red Dead Redemption II — for whatever reason, the RX 6800M is very well at that game. It averaged 77 fps, which is better than any system mentioned here, including the GP66 (which averaged 75 fps). The 6800M also clearly has a lot of raw power, although this doesn’t translate to every game: it also beat all of these systems in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark.

Given these results, the outlook for this card looks good. It performs worse than we’d expect from (or comparable to, in the case of) red death) a similar clocked RTX 3070, but it usually outperforms expectations for a lower clocked RTX 3070 system. Prices will certainly vary by manufacturer and model, but the G15’s expected price of $1,549.99 to $1,699.99 is more affordable than we typically see for a laptop with this kind of performance. The Strix G15 with an RTX 3070 is $100 more, making this AMD GPU look like a pretty good deal in comparison. Of course, these are just early benchmarks, so it remains to be seen if driver and compatibility issues crop up over time. But so far, the RX 6800M seems to be a competitor, something AMD hasn’t had in a long time when it comes to mobile GPUs.