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Home » Reviews » Graphics Card » PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Review

PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Review

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So, it has been a year since AMD released its big boy Radeon RX 6900 XT. After a year since it was released, we finally got our hands on one. And it’s not just any Radeon RX 6900 XT, but it’s the Red Devil itself. We are checking out the PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate graphics card. It features a triple fan design, dual BIOS, a (slightly) higher factory overclock speed out of the box, and many more. If you are in the market for a top-of-the-line graphics card, please continue reading our Radeon RX 6900 XT review below.

powercolor rx 6900 xt red devil ultimate review

PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Graphics Card Review

The Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate is PowerColor’s flagship air-cooled graphics card. It features a triple-fan design paired with a beefy aluminum heatsink to cool the GPU and other components.

Most of its specifications are similar to AMD’s reference RX 6900 XT, except for the GPU clock speed. The Red Devil RX 6900 XT Ultimate has a boost clock speed of up to 2425MHz and up to 2235MHZ of game clock speed. This is when the OC BIOS is selected. When Silent Mode is selected, it boosts up to 2335MHz and up to 2135MHZ game clock speed. Even with the silent mode selected, the Red Devil Ultimate is still slightly faster than AMD’s reference specs.

The RX 6900 XT’s NAVI 21 GPU is a 7nm fabrication process from TSMC. It has 5120 shader units, 80 compute units, and 80 ray accelerators. The GPU features AMD’s RDNA2 graphics architecture, and it gets all the latest features that the RDNA2 architecture offers. This includes DirectX 12 Ultimate API support, FidelityFX, Smart Access Memory, and Ray Tracing. Although, the RX 6000 series GPU’s ray tracing performance is one generation behind NVIDIA’s.

Matching the RX 6900 XT’s GPU is 16GB of GDDR6 memory, clocked at 16Gbps. The Red Devil’s memory doesn’t seem to be overclocked, only the GPU. Its memory has a bandwidth of up to 512GB/s and runs on a 256-bit memory interface. You can check out the rest of the specifications from the table below.

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Specifications

AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Specs

Check Radeon RX 6900 XT Graphics Cards latest pricing and availability (#ad):
AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is available on Amazon.com here (or Amazon UK here)
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is available on Amazon.com here

Packaging and Closer Look

The Red Devil RX 6900 XT Ultimate came in with a red-themed box. The Red Devil logo at the front looks like it is embossed but the outline is doing the trick. At the back of the box, you can read and see the main features of the graphics card.

Although not on the photos, the box includes reading materials, graphics card support, and an addressable RGB LED cable. By default, the RGB lighting on the graphics card is set to bright glowing red, giving it its devilish look. But you can change the color of the LED and you’ll need to use the RGB LED cable and connect it to an RGB header.

Admittedly, at first, I did not like how the graphics card looked on the photos and marketing materials. However, when I have it on my hand, it looks nice with its aluminum brushed shroud, the accents, especially the lighting that runs towards the end of the graphics card.

There are three fans on this graphics card, two 100mm and a 90mm fan. These are optimized static pressure fans according to PowerColor and use two ball bearing in each fan. Like most modern-day graphics cards, it also features a “fan stop” feature, PowerColor calls it Mute Fan Technology. Fans do not spin or run until it hits 60° Celcius.

The Red Devil RX 6900 XT Ultimate is a big chunky beast. It measures 320mm in length, 135mm in width, and 62mm in height or occupies 3 PCI slots. It’s also heavy, weighing approximately ~2.4 kilos or ~5.3 lbs.

Ports, Switch, Power, and Design

The output ports are the usual suspects, three DisplatPorts1.4 and an HDMI 2.1 port. PowerColor added lighting on the RGB ports so that users can easily see the ports when powered on.

Near the output port is a BIOS switch. You can select from OC or Silent mode. When OC mode is selected, the GPU boosts up to 2425MHz and runs at its rated ~300W TDP. However, when silent mode is selected, the GPU boosts only up to 2335MHz and the TDP is limited to around ~270W.

But the specific unit that I have here doesn’t seem to have a “silent mode”. Whether I switch it to OC or Silent, the clock speeds remained the same. Perhaps my card’s switch is faulty or has the same settings on both BIOS. Nevertheless, I don’t see any other issue with my card, as it hits the rated boost clock speed and TDP.

PowerColor’s RX 6900 XT Ultimate requires three 8-pin PCIe power to be connected. AMD recommends an 850W PSU for the RX 6900 XT. However, PowerColor recommends a 900W PSU for its Red Devil Ultimate.

At the side rear end, AMD’s “Radeon” and PowerColor’s “Red Devil” logos are printed. There are six RGB LED diffusers at the end of the graphics card. When powered on, it looks really nice in person. In my photos, the LED lighting looks orangy. But in person, it is (very) red.

The Red Devil RX 6900 XT Ultimate uses 3×8Φ and 4×6Φ nickel-plated copper heat pipes, paired with a heatsink that is densely composed of aluminum fin arrays. PowerColor is using a smooth copper base that directly contacts the GPU.

Now let’s see how the Red Devil performs. Will we see “ultimate” performance?

PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Test Setup

powercolor rx 6900 xt red devil ultimate review test setup

In testing the Red Devil RX 6900 XT Ultimate, I’m using a Gigabyte X570s Aorus Master motherboard powered with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X. The CPU is paired with a 16GB Klevv Cras XR RGB DDR4 memory clocked at 4000MHz. Below are the rest of the specifications of the system:

Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro 64bit
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 5800X
MotherboardGigabyte X570s Aorus Master
Memory Klevv Cras XR RGB DDR4 -3200 16GB (2x8GB)
Graphics CardPowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate
OS DriveSabrent Rocket 4 Plus NVMe Gen4 SSD
Game DriveSanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2 and Extreme Portable SSD V2
Power SupplySilverStone SX1000 Platinum SFX-L 1000W PSU
ChassisLian Li O11 Dynamic Mini

For this review, I used AMD’s Adrenalin 21.11.2 driver. The graphics card was tested at 1920×1080 FHD, and 2560×1440 WQHD resolutions.

For synthetic benchmarks, I used 3DMark’s benchmark suite. I also used the following games to test the graphics card: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Gears 5, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Horizon Zero Dawn, Monster Hunter World, Red Dead Redemption 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, The Division 2, The Witcher 3 and Watch Dogs Legion.

 Below is the GPU-Z screenshot of the graphics card.

PowerColor RX 6900 XT RedDevil Ultimate GPUz

PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Benchmarks

Below are the results that I got with 3D Mark’s benchmark suite. On the left-hand side are graphics scores, while on the right-hand side are the average frames per second (FPS).

rx 6900 xt 3dm fire strike score rx 6900 xt 3dm fire strike fps rx 6900 xt 3dm fire strike ex score rx 6900 xt 3dm fire strike ex fps rx 6900 xt 3dm fire strike ultra score rx 6900 xt 3dm fire strike ultra fps rx 6900 xt 3dm time spy score rx 6900 xt 3dm time spy fps rx 6900 xt 3dm time spy ex score rx 6900 xt 3dm time spy ex fps rx 6900 xt 3dm port royal score rx 6900 xt 3dm port royal fps

As you can see from the graphs above, the Radeon RX 6900 XT dominated the chars and it sits at the top on all benchmark tests, except for one. AMD didn’t include ray tracing features when they released the RX 5000 series. At that time, NVIDIA had already implemented ray tracing features and DLSS 1.0 on its RTX 20 series GPUs. NVIDIA’s first-gen ray tracing and DLSS weren’t good enough, thus it didn’t excite many gamers. Not to mention, lack of games supporting these features.

Fast forward today, NVIDIA is already using 2nd generation ray tracing and improved DLSS technology. However, AMD has just started implementing ray tracing and FidelityFX Super Resolution with their RX 6000 series GPUs. So, they are one generation behind when it comes to these features.

But hopefully, AMD can catch up with the technology and support improved ray tracing and FSR features on their next-generation GPUs.

1080p Game Benchmark Results

1080p is not the target resolution of the Radeon RX 6900 XT. I strongly suggest that you do not buy this card if you only use a 1920×1080 monitor. The GPU is bottlenecked by the resolution, and I observed during my tests that the GPU is not fully utilized. Meaning, I don’t get 95%-100% GPU load in this resolution. Sometimes I see it going 98% load, but most of the time it’s just 80% and below. As a result, there is some performance left on the table. Below are the results:

The RX 6900 XT seems to be doing fine on seven of the games I tested. However, it was doing poorly on Deus Ex Mankind Divided, Ghost Recon Wildlands, The Division 2, Witcher 3, and Watch Dogs Legion. I have to stress that these games seem to favor NVIDIA GPUs in general.

1440p Game Benchmark Results

Let’s give the RX 6900 XT more room to stretch its legs. With 2560×1440 resolution, I see the GPU load reach around 95%-99% most of the time. But there are times and scenarios where the GPU load only runs at around 80%++. Nevertheless, I expect the RX 6900 XT to perform better at this resolution. Below are the results:

At 1440p, I got better results in general. The RX 6900 XT runs faster than the competition, especially on AMD-sponsored titles. Although, there are a few games where it performed slightly behind MSI’s RTX 3080 Ti. Also, I’m not sure why I am getting a very low 1% lows in Monster Hunter World. I run the benchmark several times, in a different instance/time, but the results were similar.

It seems that the RX 6900 XT isn’t doing well with Ghost Recon Wildlands. I’m not sure if the GPU or driver is just poorly optimized with this game. Or perhaps this game simply favors NVIDIA GPUs. We can see the same trend on The Division 2, Witcher 3, and Watch Dogs Legion. But it’s not as bad compared to Ghost Recon Wildlands.

2160p Game Benchmarks Results

AMD designed the Radeon RX 6900 XT for 4K UHD gaming. During my tests, at this resolution, I can see the GPU load is constantly at around 96%-100%. This means that the graphics card is working hard to push those frames. Below are the results:

At 3840×2160, the RX 6900 XT is trading blows with the RTX 3080 Ti. But is outperformed by the RTX 3080 Ti in general, at least for the set of games I have tested it with. Remember that the RTX 3080 Ti is a newer GPU, released last June 2021. It sits in between the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090. The RTX 3090 is the main competitor of the RX 6900 XT, flagship vs flagship. But the RTX 3080 Ti is closer to the RTX 3090 than to a 3080, both in specs and performance.

No Ray Tracing and Smart Access Memory Tests?

I have not tested the Radeon RX 6900 XT with ray tracing features yet. Perhaps I might revisit this at a later date. But generally, I don’t think the RX 6900 XT can compete with the RTX 3080 or RTX 3080 Ti when it comes to ray tracing performance. On rasterized performance/tradition render, sure it could compete with its NVIDIA counterpart. But with the RX 6000 series, it’s AMD’s first attempt at this feature. You can check out the Port Royal results for a canned ray tracing benchmark.

AMD recommends that gamers enable Smart Access Memory to get an additional performance boost while gaming. However, during my tests, I did not see the improvements or benefits of using SAM. The performance was slightly poorer, with fewer FPS, when SAM was enabled.

At first, I thought it was just a system or driver issue. I updated the motherboard’s BIOS, removed the existing driver using DDU, and installed the latest drivers. I also made sure that the system was updated. Unfortunately, I was getting the same results – with SAM enabled, the FPS dropped by around 5% more or less.

I am planning to test this graphics card again using a different X570s motherboard, or perhaps with the new 12th Gen Alder Lake and Z690 motherboard. For now, the Radeon RX 6900 XT looks like it is performing well overall, especially on AMD-sponsored titles.

Pricing and Availability

When AMD released the Radeon RX 6900 XT last year, its original MSRP was $1,000 USD. If you have not been living under a rock, more or less you know the current state of graphics cards. At the time this review was published, the retail price of an RX 6900 XT is around 1.5x or 2x of the original MSRP. For the latest pricing and availability, kindly visit the links below.

Check Radeon RX 6900 XT Graphics Cards latest pricing and availability (#ad):
AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is available on Amazon.com here (or Amazon UK here)
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is available on Amazon.com here

PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Review Conclusion

powercolor rx 6900 xt red devil ultimate review conclusion

AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT is a beast of a graphics card. It’s fast and performs with “demonic speed” (if you know the reference). But competition is tough. It may generally win on some games, especially AMD-sponsored titles, however, it may not perform as well on NVIDIA-sponsored titles. And I’m not sure what’s going on in Ghost Recon Wildlands, but this graphics card is not doing well in that game.

When it comes to PowerColor’s Red Devil RX 6900 XT Ultimate graphics card, I generally like the design and look, minus the “devil” branding. The graphics card itself is well-built, solid overall, and doesn’t scream RGB. One thing I noticed though, when playing 4K games, the fans tend to run at a higher RPM. I can hear the fans ramping up and spinning at a faster speed. They tend to be loud, even with the case’s side panel closed. So, it’s silent when idle to moderate load, but can be loud during heavy load.

Something to Consider…

The Radeon RX 6900 XT is definitely not a value-oriented product. But if you want the best that AMD has to offer, regardless of the price, the RX 6900 XT is the best AMD can offer at this time. The problem is the current GPU situation. Availability is still an issue, and as a result, graphics card prices are (way) higher than their MSRP.

Because of this, I think the Radeon RX 6800 XT is the better option if you want a high-end graphics card from AMD. If you are after ray tracing features, NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series cards are better at ray tracing. Hopefully, AMD can catch up very soon.

Check out some of the best Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics cards here.

Overall…

If you have the money to spend on this graphics card and you want the fastest AMD (currently) has to offer, the RX 6900 XT is your option. But for most gamers, I think the RX 6800 XT is good enough if you want something on the high-end from AMD. It also has 16GB of memory and should do well even at 4K UHD. On the positive side, the Radeon RX 6900 XT is still (currently) cheaper than the RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti. Making it a more attractive solution for high-end gaming.

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I love computers since I was a kid. I’m always fascinated with new technology, especially in the PC world. Many years ago, I was curious if the reviews I read were true and real. So, why not test them myself and share my first-hand experience? And thus, here we are. Thanks for reading!

11 thoughts on “PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6900 XT Ultimate Review”

    • I would love to. Unfortunately, I don’t have an RTX 3090 to compare. The 3080 Ti was already challenging and hard to get. No thanks to the current GPU situation.
      I would also like to compare it with the 6800 XT, but I only have a 6600 and a 6900.

      Reply
  1. I actually have this card for $1150 last month which is a bargain, considering it was $2500 last year and almost impossible to find. I love everything about it with the exception of the coil whine, which is the loudest I’ve heard in any GPU

    Reply
  2. No coil whine with mine, i think it varies from card to card, i tend to limit my fps to 75 which is my monitors refresh rate, maybe thats why

    Reply
    • yes, coil whine is like silicon lottery. Some cards may have them, while some will not. Or some units may have minimal coil whine, while others are louder.

      Reply
  3. Your benchmarks seem out of whack. Currently have 6600xt, 6900xt, 2080ti and I can tell you that the fps for the 6900xt is way higher. 73fps is just wrong. I just tried it out after reading this and my avg is around 139fps. Actually for most of your games the fps for 1080p and some 1440 are off by alot

    Reply
    • I am well aware of that. I’m not sure why, but whenever I test a high-end GPU with the test system I use for GPU reviews, I get poor results in 1080p.
      I ran the same benchmarks several times, in different scenarios, with updated drivers, et cetera, but I still get similar results.
      Right now, I can’t change the test system because the results would become inconsistent. I plan to shift to an Alder Lake system for GPU benchmarks.
      But it would take a lot of time to retest all these GPUs again. I’ll do it when I get the chance.

      Reply

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