AMD has been making processors since 1969 and has been making CPUs ever since. However, its journey with the GPU has been different. AMD entered the GPU market in 2006 with the acquisition of ATI. Prior to this, ATI had been in the GPU business independently since 1985. Put together, AMD’s expertise in the graphics processing industry really beats Nvidia’s.
ATI/AMD has lagged since acquisition, due to AMD’s flip-flop pattern. However, AMD has made quick progress with its new Radeon GPUs, just as it has with Ryzen CPUs. If you’re looking to buy a GPU right now, AMD actually has quite a few options that stack up nicely against Nvidia’s offerings. To help make the choice easier for you, here’s our AMD GPU guide.
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AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series GPU
The AMD Radeon RX 6000 series is the brand’s current flagship series of GPUs. Based on the new RDNA2 architecture, the RX 6000 series brings serious performance improvements over the previous generation. While ray tracing performance is still lacking compared to Nvidia’s RTX 30 series, other performance metrics are pretty close.
AMD is promising a 1.65x performance per watt gain from the first-generation rDNA-based RX5000 series GPUs. Additionally, you get AMD Infinity Cache, a new memory architecture that increases the effective bandwidth of the onboard memory to 3.25x the typical 256-bit GDDR6 speed. AMD Smart Access memory can provide an additional performance boost if you pair these GPUs with the Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs.
Current AMD Radeon RX 6000 GPU Offerings
AMD currently has four GPUs in the Radeon RX 6000 series. At the top of the lineup is the fully equipped AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. You get 5,120 stream processors, and 16GB of GDDR6 memory assisted by 128MB of Infinity Cache. This card can do some solid 4K gaming at high frame rates. The RX 6900 XT is a enthusiast card, but still comes at a price that massively undercuts Nvidia’s equivalent offering – the RTX 3090.
After that, we have the RX 6800 Series cards. The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT has a 4,608 stream processor and up to 16 GB of GDDR6 memory. It’s also a solid 4K card, but the high frame rate can’t quite impress the numbers. At 1440p, though, it can make a great card for high-end gaming systems that want a little bit of both. The RX 6800 XT is also the best value graphics card AMD offers, making it out of the AMD GPU Guide recommendation.
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The other card in the 6800 series is the AMD Radeon RX 6800, a discontinued version of the RX 6800 XT. It performs slightly worse than the RX 6800, but packs in a solid value proposition. The RX 6800 packs 3,840 stream processors and comes with up to 16GB of GDDR6 memory. It’s a solid 1440p GPU that can do some 4K gaming.
At the bottom of the lineup is the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT. It has 2,560 stream processors and up to 12 GB of GDDR6 memory. It’s primarily a 1080p card that can hit higher FPS with some 1440p gaming.
AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series GPU
The AMD Radeon RX 5000 series cards are AMD’s last generation GPUs. They shipped with the RDNA architecture – which ushered in a new era of graphics better than AMD. However, this series still lags behind in performance. It did not include dedicated hardware support for ray tracing like the competing RTX 20 series from Nvidia.
It was a bit heavy upon release, but it was a solid start for AMD. The RX 5000 series promised a 50% increase in performance per watt compared to the previous generation. It also had other processing features such as Radeon Image Sharpening and FidelityFX for better image output.
AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series GPU Offerings
The AMD Radeon RX 5000 series had seven cards under three sub-series. At the top of the lineup is the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT. The card had two versions: the Aadhar card and an anniversary edition. The cards shared the number of stream processors up to 2,560 and up to 8 GB of GDDR6 memory. The Anniversary Edition had slightly higher frequencies and TDP. The 5700 XT can do 4K with a lower frame rate and 1440p with a higher frame rate. This is the best value card in the series, making it our AMD GPU guide recommendation from the series.
Beneath this is the AMD Radeon RX 5700 with 2304 stream processor and 8GB of GDDR6 memory. It’s a 1440p GPU that can do acceptable frame rates. There are also two cards in the 5600 series: the AMD Radeon 5600 XT and the 5600. AMD markets these cards for 1080p gaming systems, and they perform well at the resolution. The 5600 XT has a bit more headroom, as the specs of the XT variant are a bit beefier.
At the bottom of the lineup is the AMD Radeon RX 5500 series. The RX 5500 XT and RX 5500 are 1080p gaming GPUs, but offer lower frame rates. If you want a minimal AMD GPU that can do Full HD gaming but don’t want to max out frame rates, the RX 5500 series GPUs are the way to go. There are also laptop versions in all three RX 5000 GPU series.
AMD Radeon RX Vega Series
The AMD Radeon RX Vega was the last series of GPUs to fully utilize the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. The RX Vega used the fifth generation architecture. The series launched alongside AMD’s Zen (ie first-generation Ryzen CPUs). However, it failed to deliver the same level of performance jump as the Zen did with AMD’s CPUs.
This generation of AMD GPUs is still revolutionary, but not for its desktop cards. There are two GPUs in the desktop lineup: Vega RX 56 and Vega RX 64. These cards are absolutely not suitable for purchase today. The Vega lineup is more significant for the graphical improvements it has brought to AMD’s integrated graphics for its CPUs.
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AMD Vega GPUs are still being used in AMD’s APU lineup, even with the latest 5000 series APUs. These are some of the most powerful integrated GPUs you can find in the market today. Entry-level APUs use the Vega 3, 6 and 8 GPUs, while mid-range APUs use the RX Vega 10 and 11 GPUs. AMD also has the Radeon VII, the enthusiast card for the RX Vega series.
While our AMD GPU guide recommends not buying the Vega Desktop GPU and we totally recommend you look at AMD’s Vega-based Ryzen APUs.
AMD Radeon RX 500 Series
AMD Radeon RX 500 Series GPUs are some of the oldest AMD GPUs available. These cards use the fourth generation GCN architecture. This generation of AMD Radeon GPUs actually saw the use of three different manufacturing processes, from a 28nm CMOS process to Samsung/Global Foundries 14nm and then to 12nm.
The Radeon RX 500 series mostly targeted the entry-level and mid-range GPU markets. In the lower-end were the RX 550 and RX 560. For the mid-range, AMD had the RX 570, RX 580, and RX 590. AMD eliminated the limitation with some X, XL, XT versions as well as OEMs. -only variants. Our AMD GPU guide recommends not buying one of these cards new right now.
AMD Radeon Pro Series GPU
The AMD Radeon Pro Series is the company’s lineup of workstation and enterprise-focused GPUs. The Radeon Pro series of GPUs have followed AMD’s generational iterations with the main Radeon lineup. AMD bundles its professional features with the Pro range.
The latest pro GPU on the market is the AMD Radeon Pro VII, the Pro version of the Vega-based Radeon VII. The AMD Radeon Pro Vega series actually started as a GPU alternative to Apple’s then-iMac Pro. We also have the Radeon Pro W5000 series, which used AMD’s RDNA architecture.
Apple’s Intel-based MacBook Pro laptops also get Radeon Pro GPU options, with the latest options being the Radeon Pro 5000M series. It looks like AMD has disregarded the Pro series, there is no rDNA 2 based option yet. This may be due to the same reasons Nvidia has abandoned the Quadro brand for professional GPUs – very little difference between generic and enterprise GPU offerings of late.
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future of amd gpu
AMD’s GPU offerings have been little for the past few years, with Nvidia finding very little competition. There have been some great generations, but the continuity has stopped.
However, AMD is currently bouncing back significantly with its CPU lineup. Some of that success has also impacted its GPU offerings. The RDNA2 based RX 6000 series is some of the best graphics processing hardware AMD has ever put out and is our AMD GPU Guide recommendation. With this series, it has long moved closer to Nvidia in performance.
Of course, AMD still has to figure out how to get ray tracing right. Ray tracing gets a lot of attention in next-generation gaming, and AMD is only starting to catch up with Nvidia in that aspect. The RX 6000 series actually goes much further than this. We can expect future generations of Radeon GPUs to be even better, and may even match Nvidia’s.
AMD has also done well with its gaming hardware in consoles. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S both use the Radeon RDNA2 GPU. These consoles have solid performance and offer more bang for the buck than ever before. If AMD keeps up the effort, we’re definitely going to see a ton of great GPUs in the years to come.
The only major constraint remains the global silicon shortage. If you can pick up an AMD Radeon RX 6000 series GPU at this point in time, you absolutely should, provided you’re not overpaying for one.
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