Sony’s PS5 (opens in new tab) and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X (opens in new tab) may be coming out around November but they could be beaten by a powerful new AMD Radon graphics card built on the same tech.
AMD’s CFO Devinder Kumar noted that the so-called ‘Big Navi’ graphics card will be AMD’s next wave of graphics cards that will use its new RDNA 2 GPU architecture and is on track to launch “late 2020". That snippet of information along with other leaks so far all point towards a new powerful Radon graphics card coming out around October time (opens in new tab), ahead of the new game consoles.
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“One of the things on the gaming side is there's a lot of excitement for Navi 2 or what our fans have dubbed as the Big Navi,” said Kumar in a presentation for the Bank of America Securities Global Technology Conference transcribed by Seeking Alpha (opens in new tab). “This will be our first RDNA 2 base product. Big Navi is a halo product, enthusiasts love to buy the best, and we are certainly working on giving them the best.”
The “halo” bit is the most notable part of that, as the Big Navi graphics card is set to be a high-end GPU to take on the very best graphics cards from Nvidia, such as the GeForce RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2080 Ti. For AMD fans, this is likely the GeForce-killing graphics card they’ve been waiting for.
As the Big Navi card, or indeed cards, will use AMD’s new RDNA 2 GPU architecture, we can expect it to not only be powerful but also have extra capabilities, such as AMD’s take on ray-tracing. And they could also give us a taste of the performance we can expect from the Xbox Series X and PS5, as both are using custom AMD graphics that are based on RDNA 2.
AMD vs Nvidia vs consoles
Now before you rush to the comments, we appreciate that the vast variation in gaming PC configurations means comparing the best gaming PC to a games console can seem a little odd. But Xbox Series X and PS5 games will be optimized to run as well as they can on the RDNA 2-based graphics chips in the upcoming consoles. That means that a PC with a Big Navi graphics card could also benefit from those optimizations given both platforms are tapping into the same underlying architecture.
In effect, this could - and we emphasize the word could as it’s too early to tell - lead to AMD based PCs handling next-generation games better than PCs equipped with Nvidia GeForce graphics. The flipside to this is Nvidia is due to bring out high-end graphics cards that use its new Ampere GPU architecture, meaning a card such as the rumored GeForce RTX 3080 could have a big hike in power that once again puts Nvidia’s graphics tech back on top.
But if nothing else Big Navi could bring more competition into the high-end graphics card arena for gaming PCs. That could not only result in more powerful graphics cards, but also ones that are aggressively priced as AMD and Nvidia duke it out for the top position.
If Big Navi does indeed come out before the PS5 and Xbox Series X then there’s a chance it could prompt people to opt for a gaming PC over a new console.
Gaming PCs are far from cheap with many costing well north of $1,000. But the PS5 isn’t looking to be as affordable as the PS4 (opens in new tab) was at launch, likely costing around $500 (opens in new tab). So there’s an argument for shelling out on a gaming PC that uses the similar underlying tech as the upcoming consoles, but could offer a lot more power, is upgradable, and has access to literally decades upon decades of games, rather than offer somewhat lackluster backwards compatibility (opens in new tab).
Either way, with new games consoles slated to arrive at some point in November and new graphics cards set to come out a little earlier, the second half of 2020 looks to be a great time for gaming hardware fans.