MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT

MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT Gaming X Review

As the great graphics card shortage of 2021 continues, cards like the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT Gaming X reveal just how dire things have gotten. Because, if everything were normal, this is a graphics card that would cost just over $479 (£419.99 approx AU$620) where the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT launched.

MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT

Instead, due to a combination of fees and supply issues, the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT Gaming X retails for $789 in the US, which is more than $300 more than the AMD version of the card. And while MSI’s version of the GPU is faster than AMD’s reference design, it in no way justifies the higher price of the card.

Out of the box, the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT is at most 4% faster than the reference version of the GPU, in Metro Exodus at 1440p. That gap shrinks to just 1fps at 4K, which is basically the same performance. So unless you’re going to be overclocking, there’s basically no reason to shell out the extra money for the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT.

However, unlike the beefier cards in the MSI Gaming X lineup like the RTX 3080 or RTX 3090, the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT Gaming X still features a dual-fan cooling setup. MSI beefed up the cooling a bit with a much thicker heatsink, increasing the graphics card’s profile to 2.5 slots, up from 2 slots on the reference RX 6700 XT. Power delivery is a bit more robust here too, with two 8-pin PCIe power connectors, rather than the 6+8-pin power connectors on the AMD version.

Of course, that means the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT will take up a significant amount of space in your PC case. The graphics card is 10.98 inches long and 5.15 inches thick, which means some people who are trying to build a super compact PC might run into some trouble. Be sure to measure your PC case to see if this beast will fit there.

This should lead to better overclocking potential, but it’s best to temper your expectations here. The two extra power connectors will add a bit more leeway for GPU voltage, but it won’t be enough to make much of a difference or make the extra $300 worth it.

Fortunately, the graphics card looks amazing. On the back is a sleek black metal backplate bearing the MSI Dragon logo. On the side, the heatsink is mostly exposed aside from an MSI-branded fin on the side. And of course there’s plenty of RGB lighting, just like every other graphics card in the MSI Gaming X lineup.

The lighting will be found both on the MSI logo on the side of the graphics card and in the accents between the fans on the front of the shroud. You can also control this lighting through the MSI dragon software, which will also allow you to modify the settings of your other graphics card.

Port-wise, you get three DisplayPorts and one HDMI 2.1 port, pretty standard fare. We kinda wish there was a USB-C port, especially for people who want to use the 12GB of GDDR6 memory for creative workloads like Blender and Adobe Premiere.

But that’s not really what this graphics card is for. This is primarily a GPU designed for gaming, which means nothing matters if it can’t deliver the frames.

We’re primarily looking at 1440p gaming performance, mainly because that’s where this graphics card shines. There’s also a giant ‘1440p’ logo on the front of the retail box, so that’s where it really needs to be delivered.

Fortunately, it offers 1440p gaming performance in spades. The only games that the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT didn’t deliver better than 60fps at 1440p are Red Dead Redemption 2 and Metro Exodus with ray tracing enabled. And, really, they are extremely difficult to run, especially in the configuration we used for benchmarking.

For Red Dead Redemption 2, we increased all settings that are not Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA). If you want flawless 60fps at those settings, you’ll want to get an RTX 3080 or similar, if you can find one.

And as for ray-traced Metro Exodus, well, AMD graphics cards still aren’t up to the task for that kind of workload. And the slightly improved and stronger power delivery won’t change the fact that the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT isn’t exactly the best ray tracing card out there.

You can turn on the tech, but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re on a 1080p panel. However, most people still use a 1080p display, and at that resolution the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT is an absolute beast.

In games like Dirt 5 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at 1080p, the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT can easily hit 120fps. It falls off a bit in Metro Exodus and Red Dead Redemption 2, but still gets frame rates above 60fps, so it’s pretty good at that resolution.

But sadly, it all comes back to price. No matter how good this card looks and performs, it doesn’t justify the huge price increase, even if it’s not entirely MSI’s fault. Right now, we’re in a situation where you should probably buy the first graphics card you find in stock, but that situation won’t last forever.

When prices return to normal, the MSI Radeon RX 6700 XT will still be nearly double the price of AMD’s version of the card, and that means we simply can’t recommend it.

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