AMD’s rumored new GPUs may not be as fast as we hoped – but pricing could be tempting

AMD is supposedly set to spring its trio of refreshed RX 6000 graphics cards next week, if the rumor mill is correct, and we’ve just heard some fresh material from the GPU grapevine.

This comes from Wccftech which has tapped its sources and published some purported final specs and details of expected performance levels for the RX 6950 XT, 6750 XT, and 6650 XT, and also some pricing, with a mix of good and not-so-great news therein.

Condiment shakers at the ready, then, regarding this leakage which asserts that AMD is going to keep the existing RX 6900 XT (and 6700 XT plus 6600 XT) models in place and still on shelves. So, these new versions will essentially be a step up from those, a bit like an Nvidia ‘Super’ refresh, but here’s the key part: the performance jump won’t be as big.

Wccftech tells us to expect a pretty modest increase in terms of a 5% to 10% uptick in frame rates compared to existing models.

In terms of the actual specs aired here, AMD’s RX 6950 XT flagship refresh remains largely the same as the 6900 XT, but moves forward by boosting the base clock (with the reference card) up to 2100MHz (compared to 2015MHz), and cranking up the boost clock to 2310MHz (versus 2250MHz).

That’s a pretty modest increase, then, but some further additional pep will be delivered courtesy of ramping up the VRAM to 18Gbps (from 16Gbps).

The RX 6750 XT is expected to perform that same trick with slightly speedier video RAM, and provide an even more modest clock speed increase to a base of 2495MHz (from 2424MHz) and boost of 2600MHz (up just a touch from 2581MHz).

Finally, the RX 6650 XT will again roll in with faster VRAM (at 17.5Gbps in this case) and a base clock of 2410MHz (up from 2359MHz), and a boost of 2635MHz (compared to 2589MHz for the 6600 XT).

The rumored on-sale date for these new cards is apparently May 12, so just a week away now.

Analysis: Priced to shift – and to put in place a much-needed stopgap?

We must be cautious around these rumored specs, naturally, but those performance increases of maybe only 5% or so (up to 10%, best-case scenario) don’t exactly represent a big step forward for these new RDNA 2 models. That’s perhaps rather disappointing, particularly in light of past speculation which suggested some beefy boost speeds for the new flagship 6950 XT, possibly in excess of 2.5GHz out of the box (what we’re apparently going to get is barely over 2.3GHz).

On the flip side of that, rumored power usage was pegged at 350W for the 6950 XT, and this fresh rumor dump claims it’ll be 335W, so not quite that high. (The 6750 XT is expected to draw 250W and the 6650 XT is pegged at 180W).

The other bright spot here is the purported pricing which Wccftech floats, with the 6750 XT and 6650 XT only expected to increase the recommended price by $20 in the US compared to their base versions. The tech site seems more unsure about the 6950 XT, but guesses it’ll be $100 more (presumably upped by a similar £100 or AU$100, likely a bit more in the latter case, in the UK and Australia), so around the $1,100 mark in the US compared to the $999 price tag of the 6900 XT (you can now buy the latter for its MSRP, too). That’s good to hear in light of some of the ridiculous pricing rumors that have been flying around concerning the flagship of late…

Given that these revamped RDNA 2 products are a relatively modest step up – even the flagship, though it does push clocks by a bit more than the other models – you may wonder why AMD is bothering releasing these graphics cards in May, when next-gen RDNA 3 GPUs are set to launch later in 2022, maybe not much more than a few months away. Is anyone really going to be that excited by a minor refresh at this stage in Team Red’s GPU roadmap?

We’ve been mulling over this ourselves ever since we heard about this trio of 6×50 GPUs, but a possible answer has recently presented itself via other well-known hardware leakers. Moore’s Law is Dead first put forward the idea that with RDNA 3, AMD is set to launch mid-range Navi 33 GPUs first, followed by the flagship Navi 31, then Navi 32 products later, in the first half of 2023. Then a couple of other Twitter-based leakers backed this up broadly, adding the expectation that not only will Navi 32 not be out until spring 2023, but that Navi 31 – the RX 7900 XT – may not debut until the start of 2023.

If this is correct – apply salt as ever – then it suddenly makes more sense that AMD would want a peppier flagship 6950 XT out now, to tide punters over (or at least give them something) until 2023 if the RDNA 3 launches are going to be staggered as suggested above.

Team Red will need at least something new at the high-end if only a mid-range RDNA 3 variant is coming this fall, while Nvidia pushes out its RTX 4000 models (and indeed Team Green already has a new RTX 3090 Ti out in the heavyweight department).

So, mystery solved? Well, not quite, there are still a lot of unknowns here, but the GPU puzzle pieces appear to be slowly fitting together…

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