ASRock Radeon RX 6700 XT Phantom Gaming D OC review

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Final words and conclusion

Final words

It is always a pleasure to test an ASRock graphics card. They are relatively new to the graphics card arena but definitely made an entry that everybody remembers. The Phantom series jumps most out of the eyes in terms of design, and they are doing that well as acoustics, temperatures, and looks all are good. Performance remains difficult as the differences between Radeon graphics cards are simply put so marginal. The card design looks likable and gets the job done whilst the cooling performance is wonderful. The acoustic levels remain very acceptable. Although personally, I feel the silver elements on the cooler would have looked a notch nicer when it would have been an all-dark design. Overall the Radeon RX 6700 XT is a lovely little card in that WQHD (2560x1440) resolution domain for gaming; however expensive. We've seen price hikes in the past two years where mainstream series graphics cards have been repositioned as high-end ones, with accompanying price levels. NVIDIA has started that trend, and where AMD always had a little more value to offer this year, that tide has turned. It might be so that the reference RX 6700 XT sits close to RTX 3060 Ti and sometimes 3070 performance, but only in shading performance. Raw Raytracing performance is a notch slower than the competition offers. We can also not apprehend that AMD still has not implemented any form of machine learning super-sampling dedicated in hardware, much like NVIDIA offers Tensor cores. For these two reasons (RT perf and lacking MLAA), we cast doubt on why AMD is trying to justify that starting price of 479 USD. The true competitor here is the RTX 3060 Ti with its 399 USD MSRP. We want to remind AMD that NVIDIA introduced its Tensor cores back in the summer of 2018, yet still has no to that technology answer implemented. You can also argue that while the Infinity cache works most of the time, it's designed to be a workaround to fill an imperfection in the choice of a more affordable memory type (GDDR6 opposed to GDDR6X), the current AMD GPUs are memory bandwidth deprived, even with GDDR6 at 16 Gbps, but more so due to the 192-bit wide memory bus. And that's going to bite this product in the ass every time you get GPU limited, or the L3 cache runs out and gets fewer hits.


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So what am I trying to say here? Of course, AMD can opt for a different route in architecture, even with valid reasoning. They still dismiss MLSS/DLSS, the somewhat dim Raytracing performance, and then limited memory bandwidth. It's all fine up to a certain point. Performance overall from the rasterizer/shading point of view in that WQHD domain is charming; make no mistake; that starting price of 479 USD for a reference graphics card aimed at the WQHD resolution domain is the biggest obstacle this range will face, especially with the current inflated prices in mind.

Performance spread reference and AIBs

The chart below is somewhat arbitrary because results can differ a single % here and there, less so in fillrate limited situation, more so in GPU bound situations. But from reference to the fastest AIB cards, you're looking at 1 to maybe 3% differentials (depending on game and resolution). So you need to weigh in if the additional percental increase is worth an even more steep price premium. So from top to bottom, the differences certainly are not huge, have a peek: 


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Cooling & acoustic

ASRock has a good performing cooling design. Expect the card to sit anywhere close to or in the 60 up to 65 Degrees C range with game load depending on the internal airflow inside your chassis. Acoustics wise the product remains fairly silent, reaching the ~37 DBa marker. It could be a notch better, TBH, but we doubt you'd ever be bothered by this. FLIR imaging shows the card is hardly bleeding heat. Overall, we're very content with what we observed. 

Energy consumption

Heat output and energy consumption are closely related to each other, as (graphics) processors and heat can be perceived as a 1:1 state; 250 Watts in energy consumption approaches close to 250 Watts in heat as output. This is the basis of TDP. AMD is listing the card at 230W, which is okay for a graphics card in 2021. We measure the card's entire power consumption (default performance mode) spot on close in at 220 Watt with minor spikes towards 280W. Idle power consumption sits at 10 Watts (TBP - total board power). All excellent values, and close to or in line with the reference design from AMD.

Coil whine

Compared to the reference Radeon RX 6700 XT, the card exhibits only a tiny bit of coil squeal. It's at a level you can hardly hear it. In a closed chassis, that noise would fade away in the background. However, with an open chassis, you can hear coil whine/squeal. Graphics cards all make this in some form, especially at higher framerates; this can be perceived. 

Pricing

Worrying. The MSRP for the product as tested is set at 579 USD. That's already a lot of money for a product sitting in the WQHD arena. I just had a quick peek at some etailers here in the EU, and the ASrock model currently shows hugely inflated prices above the 900 USD/EUR marker.

Tweaking

The Radeon RX 6700 XT series is limited to that 192-bit wide memory bus. It thus likes more memory bandwidth. You can add it by dialing up the memory frequency towards 17.2 Gbps; AMD enforces limits on the memory subsystem, limiting your GDDR6 memory that maximum overclocks. We don't like that as we feel we could have gone a notch further. The clock frequency reach is striking; after selecting 2850 MHz, the GPU was settling at 2750~2775 MHz; due to the power limiters, you'll have gained an aristocratic 6% supplementary performance.

Conclusion

ASRock is doing things right with the Phantom gaming D OC series. That OC suffix with Radeon products barely means anything anymore. The Radeon cards are not configured at clock frequency anymore; they need to match an assigned power value (TGP); this is also why results can vary little per card as another factor then come into play.  On average, you'll gain perhaps 1 or 2% additional performance coming from reference card performance. So you need to weigh in if spending money on OC models really is worth your while. The same can be said about taking; all cards run into roughly the same limitations in power. That also means that all cards combined with a memory tweak (which is also limited) will stretch another 5 to 7% performance out of the card. My advice, go with a product that you like based on price, aesthetics, acoustics, and cooling, as the rest is downright trivial. Aside from the current price levels, overall, the 6700 XT series are very much recommended. You'll retrieve a commendable performing product in that WQHD range at very satisfactory temperatures and acoustic levels. It's an enchanting Full HD and Quad HD graphics card with abilities at Ultra HD as well. Raytracing performance on this generation RDNA2 architecture is average, and of course, AMD could really use something like DLSS. The 12 GB memory is nice. The 192-bit wide memory bus, however narrow. The added L3 cache is bypassing the bulk of that challenge, and that works up to 2560x1440 indeed; however, the L3 cache will always be a bypass, a limitation even as with future more GPU bound games, you're prone to run out of that cache and get a full penalty of that 192-bit wide memory bus. If you have the willingness to shell out such an amount of money for this product range, recommended as ASRock does offer a nice sensible product here. But the lowest price we could find was hovering above the 850 USD/EUR mark, and that's a no-go in my book. Much like any other brand, that has little to do with ASRock, as the product overall is delightful.

- Hilbert, LOAD"*",8,1.

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