AMD’s new Radeon RX 6800M delivers respectable performance at a respectable price

AMD has announced its Radeon RX 6000 series of mobile GPUs. The company claimed that the new chips, built on its RDNA 2 architecture, deliver the best performance we’ve ever seen from AMD graphics. It made particularly ambitious claims about its flagship Radeon RX 6800M, which it claimed would run modern AAA games at frame rates comparable to or better than those of Nvidia’s mobile RTX 3080.

Company claims are just company claims, of course. I’ve been testing a system with a Radeon RX 6800M for the past few days. The results I’ve seen so far are a mixed bag, and while the RX 6800M doesn’t decisively outperform Nvidia’s top RTX chips, it’s doing a better job than I’d expect at the price range we’ve been given.

To see how the RX 6800M performed, I was sent an Asus ROG Strix G15, one of the first laptops announced that will include the new GPU. My test system includes an eight-core AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX and 16GB of RAM. I’ll be publishing a full review of this device as soon as Asus finalizes the price of this build, which it hasn’t as of this writing. (The Strix G15 is expected to cost between $1,549 and $1,699, depending on configuration.) In the meantime, here are my benchmark results to give you an idea of the frame rates you can expect from this chip on a few different games.

The Asus ROG Strix G15 half open facing away from the camera, angled to the right.
Here’s the ROG Strix G15.
AMD

I’ll start by talking about the thing that impressed me most about this chip: on-battery gaming. I only got an hour of gaming out of one charge, which is a fairly short life span. However, this system delivered the best on-battery gaming experience I’ve ever seen. I’m used to seeing unplugged gaming rigs chug along around 20fps (if that), descend into stutter-y territory 30-40 minutes in, and become unplayable with around 10 percent battery remaining. The unplugged Strix G15 ran Red Dead Redemption 2 steadily between 30fps and 40fps for almost the entire hour, dropping to the high 20s around 12 percent. The game never even stuttered. Despite the Strix G15’s short stamina, I’d still recommend it to people who want to game on battery over some longer-lasting models due to the large amount of actually playable time you get.

The HP Omen 16 open seen from the front, angled to the left. The screen displays the Omen logo on a white background.
The upcoming HP Omen 16 will also include AMD’s new GPUs.
Image: AMD

But there were some games where the Strix G15 didn’t blow me away (when it was plugged in). I ran CS:GO with all settings maxed and averaged 252fps. That means the 6800M can certainly take advantage of a 300Hz screen on some lighter fare like this. (Games were tested at native resolution, with all sliders maxed out.) The result is actually fairly close to that of the 2020 Zephyrus G14 (216fps in our testing), which had a last-gen RTX 2060 Max-Q, and quite close to what we saw from last year’s Strix Scar 15 (248fps), which had an RTX 2070 Super. The Zephyrus G15 with an 80W RTX 3070 averaged 178fps running the title in QHD — I would hope to see a bigger gap since the Strix G15 has just a 1080p display.

The Strix G15 averaged 87fps on Horizon Zero Dawn, which barely beats the Zephyrus G15 with a 100W RTX 3080 and soundly beats the TUF Dash F15 with an 85W RTX 3070, but doesn’t beat the 130W RTX 3070 MSI GP66 Leopard (which averaged 96fps). The RX 6800M also did a fine, but not mindblowing, job with ray tracing. It averaged 69fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider with ray tracing on ultra, which is playable but worse than we’d expect from both the GP66 and the G15.

The one exception here was Red Dead Redemption II — for whatever reason, the RX 6800M is great at that game. It averaged 77fps, which beats every system mentioned here, including the GP66 (which averaged 75fps). The 6800M also clearly has a large amount of raw power, even if it doesn’t translate to every game: it also beat all of these systems on the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark.

Given these results, the outlook for this card seems good. It’s performing worse than we’d expect from (or comparably to, in the case of Red Dead) a similarly clocked RTX 3070, but it is mostly outperforming expectations for a lower-clocked RTX 3070 system. Pricing will certainly vary by manufacturer and model, but the G15’s expected price of $1,549.99 to $1,699.99 is more affordable than we typically see for a laptop with this kind of performance. The Strix G15 with an RTX 3070 is $100 more, which makes this AMD GPU look like quite a good deal in comparison. These are just early benchmarks, of course, so it remains to be seen whether driver and compatibility issues pop up down the line. But so far, the RX 6800M looks to be a competitor, which isn’t something AMD has had in the mobile GPU front in a long time.

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