This is our first look at AMD's newly introduced Radeon RX 6000M GPUs designed for gaming laptops. These new RDNA2 GPUs are the most competitive products AMD has released for mobile PC gaming in quite a while, which could finally bring some warmth to Nvidia, which has dominated the market for years.
Today we're taking a look at the Radeon RX 6800M, the flagship laptop GPU in the series that we've had in stock for some time before its official launch. Good news right from the start. AMD carefully names its handsets with the “M” suffix to distinguish this GPU from its desktop counterparts in the RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT.
And that's an important point, because the RX 6800M is based on Navi 22 silicon, the same GPU die used in the RX 6700 XT on the desktop. In fact, the specifications for the 6800M and 6700 XT are very similar: both have 40 compute units, 96 MB Infinity cache and 12 GB GDDR6 memory. The only difference is the slightly lower game clock of the 6800M of 2300 MHz, while the memory clock rate of 16 Gbps remains the same. There is also an RX 6700M and an RX 6600M in the AMD range, which we hope to be able to evaluate soon.
From a competitive point of view, AMD has the 6800M compete against Nvidia's top GPUs: the GeForce RTX 3080 laptop and the RTX 3070 laptop – so this is a real battle at the top end. In contrast, previous AMD mobile GPUs weren't powerful enough or efficient enough to keep up with Nvidia's best offerings, which, like last year's RX 5700M, has stalled and largely wasted it.
For testing we have the new Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition, an AMD + AMD laptop with a Ryzen 9 5900HX processor in addition to the RX 6800M GPU. AMD announced the Advantage program at Computex, essentially as a design and certification process that seeks to produce the highest quality laptops with AMD internals. Here it seems to have paid off with a subtle design, a 300 Hz IPS display and liquid metal for the CPU and GPU.
The Strix G15 uses AMD SmartShift technology, which balances the total system power consumption between the CPU and GPU depending on the workload. You may be familiar with this on Nvidia laptop platforms by its equivalent called Dynamic Boost 2.0. That means the Strix G15's RX 6800M operates at different levels of performance depending on how much CPU power is required, just like the latest Nvidia RTX 30 laptops.
What I found, however, is that SmartShift offers a greater dynamic range between the highest and lowest performance levels for both the CPU and the GPU. This laptop has a total of 180W of power output and cooling capacity for the CPU and GPU, which means that with a nominal CPU load of 45W, the GPU comes in at 135W, slightly less than the 145W AMD announced in their presentation, though you noticed this OEMs have some flexibility here.
But the full range of power that I observed while gaming was between 110W and 160W on the GPU. 110W ramped up to 70W with the 5900HX during CPU-limited games, and up to 160W in truly GPU-limited situations, with the CPU only consuming 20W of power. This is a much wider range than I've seen on any Nvidia laptop so far, which tends to keep things tighter with just 15-20W of dynamic boost range. AMD's approach should help gamers get the best performance under a wider range of gaming conditions, especially when the CPU is limited.
Despite such a large power range, most games in practice have the GPU set between 130 W and 150 W power consumption, with the CPU therefore sitting between 50 W and 30 W. I don't know if this will be any different for other RX 6800M laptops as only one has been announced so far and the GPU's official specs only state "145W +" for GPU performance. However, I don't expect low-power, slower 80W variants that should simplify the buying process.
It should also be noted that while the Strix G15 comes with 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory, Asus uses memory modules with slower subtimings than normal, which in some situations affects performance. So we've swapped the memory in our system for a more traditional kit with regular timings so we can do more apple-to-apple comparisons with other laptops that don't suffer from the same problem. Asus says the use of this particular memory kit is due to supply bottlenecks in the current market.
Today's benchmarking was done at two resolutions: 1080p via the laptop's internal display, which is connected via the iGPU; and 1440p with an external display connected directly to the separate GPU.
The first game we'll look at is Metro Exodus. At 1080p, the RX 6800M performs well and beats the RTX 3070 laptop GPU by 7%, but falls 5% behind the more powerful RTX 3080 laptop GPU with a similar performance range of 135-155 W. All of these GPUs deliver a very good experience at 1080p, but the 6800M isn't at the top.
The margin worsens at 1440p with Ultra settings. In terms of performance, the 6800M can only keep up with the RTX 3070 and falls significantly behind the RTX 3080 laptop GPU. This was one of the biggest margins we saw between the 6800M and RTX 3080 laptops, with the 6800M seeing 17% slower performance.
In Borderlands 3 at 1080p, the RX 6800M topped the charts and benefited from SmartShift technology to best alleviate a small CPU bottleneck. As such, this configuration outperforms the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 configurations we tested.
The results are still decent at 1440p. The RX 6800M is 11% faster than the RTX 3070 laptop GPU and is 6% behind the RTX 3080 laptop. That's pretty competitive considering that Mobile Radeons couldn't come close to Nvidia in this type of game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1080p is pretty GPU demanding, and AMD makes a small profit here: 2% faster than the RTX 3080 at a similar performance level and 13% faster than the best RTX 3070 laptop configuration we've tested so far. The AMD + AMD configuration contributes 1% better performance at low power as you can see in this table.
At 1440p, the RX 6800M matches the performance of the RTX 3080 laptop, which is a solid result for AMD. We see 17% better performance than the RTX 3070 laptop GPU.
Control is a criminal title on the GPU and AMD can't keep up with the RTX 3080 laptop at 1080p and falls 6% behind. The RX 6800M still delivers good numbers, beating the RTX 3070 by 5 percent, but it's not the same lead as the two previous games.
If AMD loses at 1080p, they usually lose more at 1440p. Here the 6800M is 15% slower than the RTX 3080 laptop GPU, without taking ray tracing into account. While the focus of today's test isn't on ray tracing performance, Nvidia GPUs are currently superior in ray tracing (and DLSS where available). So if you want more mature ray tracing support, Nvidia is the way to go.
In Assassin's Creed Valhalla at 1080p, the Radeon RX 6800M is 3 percent faster than Nvidia's RTX 3080 laptop and 17 percent faster than the RTX 3070, which puts the 6800M at the top at this resolution.
At 1440p, the RX 6800M is also competitive, but now 3% slower than the RTX 3080 laptop GPU, as Nvidia's architecture scales better with increasing resolution, a phenomenon we also saw with their desktop GPUs when they last Year came on the market. RDNA2 is a bit of a beast at 1080p and still good at 1440p, but not quite as good as amps in this situation.
In Cyberpunk 2077, the RX 6800M corresponds to the FPS of the RTX 3080 laptop. However, 1% low performance on the AMD GPU is noticeably better, in this case about 7% better. The performance is also 17% higher than that of the RTX 3070 when looking at this 1080p data.
At 1440p, as we've seen in recent games, the RX 6800M slips behind the RTX 3080 laptop GPU and now sits evenly between it and the RTX 3070. As with Control, if you want to use ray tracing this isn't a problem. Competition. Cyberpunk offers DLSS support and Nvidia is faster at ray tracing.
Also in Horizon Zero Dawn, performance is roughly the same between the RTX 3080 laptop GPU and the RX 6800M at 1080p, with the 6800M providing a better 1% lower performance. The 6800M is 13% faster than the RTX 3070 laptop GPU in this title.
Then the 6800M is well behind the RTX 3080 at 1440p and comes closer to the RTX 3070 in terms of average and 1% low performance, despite being faster than this offering.
The last track we look at in detail today is Dirt 5 at 1440p, where … I think you know where this is going. The RX 6800M is 5% slower than the RTX 3080 laptop, but 13% faster than the RTX 3070, which sits between these two Nvidia GPUs.
Here are some head-to-head comparisons with the rest of the titles we compared. At 1080p, we're using a smaller subset of 12 titles to avoid games that are severely CPU-limited at this resolution, which is the case on an RX 6800M-based computer.
Compared to the 135-155W RTX 3080 laptop GPU, whether you are using Radeon or GeForce, you will get the same performance on average. For those of you who play on the laptop itself (no external monitor) this should be of particular interest as you may be working natively at 1080p. It should be noted that there is a small CPU difference here as we are comparing the 5900HX results with the 6800M to the Core i9-10980HK results with the RTX 3080.
At 1440p, the RX 6800M is 6 percent slower than the RTX 3080 laptop on average in our 18 test device. Some titles were still a bit CPU-limited, including Hitman 3's punishing Dartmoor benchmark and Resident Evil 2, as well as an outlier in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. If you're looking to cut the CPU-limited numbers, the margin increases 1% in favor of Nvidia, but the general message is the same: at a higher resolution, the RTX 3080 laptop GPU is faster, but not by much.
The RX 6800M is almost always faster than the RTX 3070 laptop GPU that we tested with the Ryzen 9 5900HX with 115-130 W, i.e. with the same CPU. With 1080p, the RX 6800M is 13% faster on average, which is quite decent, but it consumes more power in operation.
At 1440p, the RX 6800M is also faster than the RTX 3070 laptop. In 18 gaming tests there is an average margin of 11% in favor of AMD, so it could be argued that at this resolution and with a direct connection to the dGPU display, the RX 6800M sits closer to the RTX 3080 laptop than the RTX 3070.
What we learned
Overall, the AMD Radeon RX 6800M is an impressive new laptop GPU that, for the first time in a long time, has made us truly happy with the performance of an AMD mobile GPU. Clearly, RDNA2 is a significant advancement for AMD's GPU efficiency and helping them compete in the laptop gaming market.
In terms of traditional gaming performance alone, the RX 6800M can keep up with Nvidia's RTX 3080 laptop GPU at 1080p, while being a bit slower at 1440p. It's also ~ 10% faster on average than the RTX 3070 laptop GPU, so in general I would say the 6800M sits between the RTX 3070 and 3080 laptop parts. This doesn't make AMD the fastest laptop GPU out there, but it does appear to be very competitive at a similar level of performance and is a significant improvement over previous AMD GPUs.
This is great news for consumers and buyers of gaming laptops in general as competition is the biggest factor in propelling the market. Now that AMD is leading the battle to Nvidia, and sometimes doing its best, Nvidia likely won't rest on its laurels and will continue to bring competition to laptop GPUs, which in turn should result in better products and prices.
Nowadays, performance is not the end of the story and there are a number of features every brand brings that need to be considered. Nvidia currently offers a more sophisticated ray tracing implementation. So if this is a must-have for you, the 6800M is not a good choice. Likewise, DLSS 2.0 is a big selling point and adoption is growing, which gives Nvidia an edge on some games, although it's still a minority of the titles we compare.
In addition, Nvidia also offers its encoder functionality, native CUDA support and features like RTX Voice, which you can also bring to Team Green depending on your preferences and needs.
On the plus side for AMD, now that SmartShift and Dynamic Boost 2.0 have been tested, the wider range of performance and control that SmartShift offers in an AMD CPU + GPU laptop seems to be superior to what Nvidia has to offer. Sending the CPU to only 20 W and up to 70 W, depending on how demanding the game is on the CPU, led to consistently good results even with titles that put a heavy load on the CPU.
Apparently, AMD is also striving for market positioning with a large price advantage. The Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition we tested for this test costs between 1,550 and 1,700 US dollars, depending on the configuration. That's at least $ 500 in savings than the cheapest RTX 3080 laptop available from Newegg, Best Buy, or Microcenter, a Gigabyte Aorus model that doesn't even offer the 135W power configuration.
The Asus Strix G15 with the 6800M is also about $ 100 cheaper than the Strix G15 with the RTX 3070, for about 10-15% better performance. Competitive performance and a more attractive price are certainly a winning combination, so we hope for widespread acceptance in gaming laptops, as AMD is ticking a lot with the Radeon RX 6800M.
- AMD Radeon RX 6800M Laptops on Amazon (Coming Soon)
- Asus ROG Strix G15 on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 3080 Laptops on Amazon
- GeForce RTX 3070 Laptops on Amazon
- Intel Core i7 Tiger Lake Laptops on Amazon
- Ryzen 7 5800H Laptops on Amazon