The AMD Big Navi graphics card has long been rumored as a GPU that will take on the very best Nvidia’s GeForce range has to offer. Set to be a high-end Radeon graphics card, it will be built on AMD’s latest Navi graphics card architecture and has been championed as an upcoming GeForce-killer, hence its unofficial moniker of "Big Navi."
However, AMD has been very tight-lipped about any details surrounding Big Navi. Company CEO Dr Lisa Su has said that PC gamers games can expect such a graphics card in 2020 and that it will use “next-generation RDNA architecture,” but that's the only bit of official news we've heard so far.
As it stands, Navi graphics cards that use the RDNA core graphics architecture are already out in the wild in the form of the Radeon 5000-series. Both the GPUs in the PS5 and Xbox Series X will use RDNA 2 architecture, so it stands to reason that the next Navi Radeon graphics card will also have RDNA 2.
Big Navi could be the real shot in the arm AMD’s Radeon range needs. Its last proper Nvidia-chasing graphics card, the Radeon VII, didn’t quite live up to the hype and has since been killed off. So here’s what we know about AMD Big Navi so far, and if it could be the next GPU to throw down with Nvidia's greatest GeForces.
AMD Big Navi latest news (Updated September 24)
- Specs for AMD Big Navi have been found in a Linux update, and the graphics card is shaping up to be a proper Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 rival.
- AMD has revealed the design of Big Navi, which will be the Radeon RX 6000 series, and shown it off in Fortnite.
- AMD has officially announced an RDNA2 launch event for October 28, which should give us our first proper look at the Big Navi GPUs.
AMD Big Navi release date
AMD will be holding a launch event for RDNA 2/Big Navi on October 28, which should give us official price and release date info for the new cards. This will follow an October 8 event focused on Zen 3 CPUs.
One leak has Big Navi slated to arrive in November alongside the next games consoles. According to YouTube channel Moore’s Law is Dead, a source familiar with AMD’s next-generation graphics card plans said: “AMD has its sights set on November, preferably around Thanksgiving, for their Big Navi "Nvidia killer" launch.” That could make November a rather crowded month for new gaming hardware.
AMD Big Navi price
Given AMD Big Navi hasn’t been revealed yet, there have been no murmurs around its price. But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.
When the high-end Radeon VII launched, it cost a pretty hefty $700. That was the same price as a GeForce RTX 2080, only the Radeon card didn’t outperform it consistently or offer any ray-tracing hardware.
Given Big Navi will be a high-end graphics card, we’d not be shocked to see it also sit around the $700 mark. But if Nvidia comes out with the GeForce RTX 3080 ahead of Big Navi, AMD could try and undercut it, maybe even reducing the price as low as $500. A lot depends on the tech AMD puts into BIg Navi, its cost to manufacture, and whether AMD goes for big profit margins or uses Big Navi as a means to torpedo Nvidia’s top graphics cards with a savagely priced rival.
AMD Big Navi performance
Given AMD Big Navi is destined to take on the best consumer-grade graphics cards Nvidia can bring to bear, it’s set to have one mighty specification. Of course, AMD has kept that pretty quiet.
But a recent leak has Big Navi tipped at being 40 to 50 percent faster than a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, Nvidia’s top-of-the-line graphics card. And the leak revealed Big Navi will sport two clusters of compute units measuring in at 36CUs each, giving it a total of 72CUs. That translates to 4,608 stream processors, which when combined with a 384-bit bus, GDDR6 video memory, and a maximum clock speed of 2,510MHz, could see Big Navi smash the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti.
In comparison, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti comes with 4,352 CUDA cores, a 352-bit bus, uses GDDR6, and runs up to 1,545MHz. As powerful as it is, Big Navi could have it beat.
However, a newer leak suggests that Big Navi might not be the Nvidia killer some are expecting. A recent report out of Asia indicates that Big Navi may only offer 15% better performance than the RTX 2080 Ti, and that's specifically for games optimized for AMD cards. As such, Big Navi may be more in line with the standard RTX 3080 performance wise, and not a true RTX 3080 Ti competitor.
Of course, on paper performance is one thing, real-world gaming and rendering tasks are another. And a lot of that will come down to how well optimized Big Navi and the upcoming Nvidia Ampere GPUs are.
We’ve already seen AMD make a lot of progress with its RDNA architecture, which is a lot more efficient than the older Graphics Core Next architecture the likes of the Radeon RX 590 we’re built around. A lot of that is thanks to the 7-nanometer process node that AMD has for RDNA, allowing it to pack more transistors onto a chip die and thus deliver more performance and efficiency.
RDNA 2 is set to build upon its predecessor, and AMD has claimed it will deliver “uncompromising 4K gaming.” When we consider such a claim is being made for the PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles, it stands to reason that Big Navi will focus heavily on gaming at 4K resolutions. After all, many AMD cards already do a fine job at 1080p gaming, so Big Navi will need somewhere to go.
We’ve already seen the Unreal Engine 5 running on PS5 hardware with its RDNA 2 GPU, meaning we can expect Big Navi to deliver performance that surpasses it.
Since the PS5 and Xbox Series X will support ray-tracing, we’d expect Big Navi to do the same. Currently, AMD GPUs can run ray-traced games, but they don’t have dedicated hardware to support the intensive light rendering technique, unlike the GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs.
Whether Big Navi comes with dedicated ray-tracing hardware or simply has enough sheer power to handle it through software alone, isn’t clear. But if Big Navi skimps on ray-tracing support, it could lose out majorly to the GeForce RTX 3080. We’re expecting more ray-traced games to boost the rather limited pool at the moment once the PS5 and Xbox Series X help make the rendering technique more of a mainstream feature.
AMD Big Navi outlook
AMD Big Navi needs to bring a lot of power to the graphics card table if it’s to compete with the new Nvidia 30-series. If it can do that at a good price, then AMD could be onto a winner.
Even if AMD Big Navi can’t beat a GeForce RTX 3080, it could steal away some potential Nvidia customers by undercutting the competition while coming as close as possible in performance.
With its Ryzen processors on the 7nm process node, AMD has proven it can deliver impressive CPUs at competitive prices, which has driven somewhat of a resurgence for AMD. As such, we’re rather optimistic that AMD can deliver something special with Big Navi.