AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT ray tracing revealed — how it compares to RTX 3080

AMD Radeon RX 6800 ray tracing
(Image credit: AMD)

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is being released today (November 18), and you can get an early look at the graphics card's ray tracing performance right now.

The folks at VideoCardz managed to get their hands on a slide that shows the Radeon RX 6800 XT ray tracing performance when running games at 1440p, an increasingly popular resolution for PC gamers. And the graphs show how the $649 graphics card can deliver ray traced games at above 60 frames per second. 

In Battlefield 5 the RX 6800 XT managed to hit 70 fps, while in Crysis Remastered it delivered a decent 90 fps. That’s pretty impressive given how demanding ray tracing rendering is. For the uninitiated, it involves realistically rendering light and reflections in real-time, which chews up graphics card power. 

We don’t know what type of machine AMD carried out these tests on. So it’s rather tricky to compare it to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, a $699 graphics card the Radeon RX 6800 XT is aiming to challenge. 

Radeon RX 6800 XT ray tracing benchmarks

(Image credit: VideoCardz)

However, our colleagues at Tom’s Hardware put the RTX 3080 Founders Edition to the test and the Nvidia GPU delivered 85 fps in Battlefield 5 with DirectX Raytracing reflections enabled at 4K. Now it has the advantage of using Nvidia’s DLSS tech that smartly adjusts how certain parts of an image are rendered to allow games to run at high resolution but not put such a demand on the graphics card. But hitting over 60 fps with ray tracing enabled and at a 3840 x 2160 resolution is hugely impressive. 

As such, it doesn't look like the Radeon RX 6800 XT will be able to beat the RTX 3080 when it comes to high-end ray tracing performance. However, in AMD’s own benchmarks for the RX 6800 XT in 4K gaming without ray tracing, the new RDNA 2-based graphics card keeps up and at times beats the more expensive Nvidia GPU. 

Radeon ray tracing in action  

AMD also released a video showing off the ray tracing capabilities of the Radeon RX 6800 XT, touting the capabilities of the RDNA 2 architecture at the graphics card’s heart.  

The Hangar 21 demo is hugely impressive, showing off sumptuous lighting effects and shadows. But no actual game footage was shown, so it’s tricky to get an idea of the performance on offer here. 

The new Radeon RX 6000 series cards sport a new core called a Ray Accelerator, with each Compute Unit on the graphics card holding one Ray Accelerator. That means the RX 6800 XT comes with 72 Ray Accelerators. 

How this measures up to the RT cores on the GeForce RTX 3080 is unclear at the moment. But the new Radeon graphics card will at least have some dedicated ray tracing hardware. 

We’ll have to wait and see how these two graphics cards stack up against each other in independent tests, and which one PC gamers go for. But this competition in the graphics card arena is undoubtedly a good thing, as it could yield more innovative GPUs at better prices for PC gamers in 2021 and beyond.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.