AMD’s entry-level Radeon RX 6500 XT launch doesn’t go well

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(Picture: AMD)
Back at CES a few weeks ago, AMD invited people to “step up your game” with its upcoming Radeon RX 6500 XT graphics card. It was marketed as the company’s first “entry-level” RDNA2 GPU, and that status was confirmed by its low asking price of just $199. The prospect of a budget GPU with advanced features is certainly appetizing and quite welcome right now given the current GPU shortage. However, it looks like the launch isn’t going too well, for one simple reason: the company has gifted the GPU with a measly 4GB of VRAM. That’s a bit embarrassing for AMD, considering it’s objected to such low RAM loads in the past.

Of course, there are other reasons why the card is receiving sidelong glances online. Comments. It has a tiny 64-bit memory bus while offering 16 ray tracing cores, which seems totally unnecessary. Ray tracing would absolutely crush a map with that amount of power, so it’s more of a marketing gimmick than something players would actually use. AMD gave the card 16MB of Infinity Cache, which helps with memory bandwidth, but with such a narrow pipe, it’s definitely an uphill battle. It’s also limited to just four PCIe 4.0 lanes, which means if the card is inserted into an older system that only has PCIe 3.0, the available bandwidth is halved from 8GB/s to 4 GB/s. PC Gamer writing: “Effectively you get the performance of the RX 580, sometimes lower due to half the VRAM.”

However, the biggest problem facing AMD is its alleged attempt to cover up a blog post written in June 2020, which claimed that 4GB of RAM was insufficient for the latest titles (which we covered here at the time). Kitguru noticed that the post had been removed from AMD’s website, which apparently prompted the company to repost in all its glory, but Kitguru noted that the post was gone for about four hours or so.

In the original post, AMD states, “Competitor products at a similar entry-level price point offer up to a maximum of 4GB of VRAM, which obviously isn’t enough for today’s games. today. Go beyond 4 GB of video memory to increase your settings. Despite its earlier proclamations, in January pc world interviewed AMD CEO Lisa Su and Radeon VP Laura Smith about the card, and one exclaimed, “We really optimized this one so that ‘she plays first… You can tell from the way we’ve set up the game. Even with the four GB of frame buffer, that’s a very good frame buffer size for the majority of triple-A games…” To be fair to AMD, the post was written by a product marketer Radeon named Adit Bhutani, and the blog post has this disclaimer at the bottom: “His postings are his own opinions and may not represent the positions, strategies or opinions of AMD. Exacttttt.

Here’s AMD’s argument for why 8GB of RAM is better than 4GB. (Image: AMD)

The other problem with the map is that like any GPU released in the last couple of years or so, no one really thinks it will sell for its $199 MSRP due to GPU shortages. This means gamers interested in the card will likely end up paying upwards of $300 for a 1080p GPU that runs AAA titles at medium settings, which just seems wrong. Although AMD’s 4GB RAM allocation may deter miners from grabbing all available cards, looking at Newegg this morning there isn’t a single card in stock, and some of them, like the Asus TUF model, are priced insanely at $359, but most of them are actually listed at $199, with a few hovering around $269.

This is the launch day availability on Newegg for a GPU designed specifically to be in stock.

Although the text-based review verdicts are mostly mixed, summing up the situation as “it’s not so bad if you can find it for the MSRP, which you probably can’t”, the YouTubers seem to have their knives for the new member of the Radeon family. Material unpacked labels its review, “Worst GPU”, calling the card “Corner Cutting Edition”, while Player Nexus describes it as “Worse than 2016 GPUs”. Canucks Hardware succinctly summed up the situation by simply asking “WTF AMD!?”

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