The RTX 3090 and RX 6950 XT represent the pinnacle of graphics card technology from market leaders Nvidia and AMD. With extreme power and price tags exceeding $1000, these flagship GPUs are designed for enthusiasts who demand the absolute best gaming experience.
In this comprehensive comparison, we‘ll analyze every aspect of the RTX 3090 and 6950 XT to see how they stack up. You‘ll get a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses to decide which high-end card is right for you.
The RTX 3090 launched in September 2020 as Nvidia‘s new ultra-premium GPU, replacing the Titan RTX. With its Ampere architecture and 24GB of VRAM, Nvidia crammed everything it could into the 3090 to deliver maximum performance.
In May 2022, AMD counterattacked with the RX 6950 XT, an upgraded version of their previous flagship 6900 XT. AMD‘s top RDNA2 GPU comes with higher clock speeds and memory bandwidth to challenge Nvidia‘s supremacy.
While both are extremely powerful graphics cards, they take different approaches. The 3090 excels in next-gen ray tracing and AI rendering, while the 6950 XT focuses on pushing traditional rasterization to the limit. Let‘s examine the nitty-gritty details!
Specs and Architecture
On paper, the RTX 3090 and 6950 XT share similarly beastly specs. But there are key differences that influence real-world performance based on their underlying architectures.
Nvidia RTX 3090 Architecture
The RTX 3090 uses Nvidia‘s Ampere architecture, which represents a major leap over the previous Turing design. Ampere introduced 2nd gen RT cores for ray tracing acceleration along with 3rd gen Tensor cores for advanced AI rendering techniques like DLSS 2.0.
Other key specs:
- CUDA Cores: 10,496
- Boost Clock: 1.7 GHz
- Memory: 24GB GDDR6X
- Memory Bandwidth: 936 GB/s
- TDP: 350W
The 24 GB of super fast GDDR6X memory gives the 3090 an ace up its sleeve, providing enough VRAM for complex creative workloads. The card also supports next-gen PCIE 4.0 and NVLink for multi-GPU configurations.
AMD RX 6950 XT Architecture
The 6950 XT utilizes AMD‘s RDNA 2 architecture, which enhanced performance per watt compared to original RDNA. RDNA 2 brings ray tracing support, variable rate shading, and DirectX 12 Ultimate capabilities.
- Stream Processors: 5,120
- Game Clock: 2.1 GHz
- Boost Clock: 2.3 GHz
- Memory: 16GB GDDR6
- Memory Bandwidth: 576 GB/s
- TDP: 335W
While having less VRAM than the 3090, the 6950 XT incorporates AMD‘s cutting-edge Infinity Cache technology. This large L3 cache reduces the need to access off-chip VRAM, boosting gaming performance.
Gaming Performance Benchmarks
Let‘s dive into some real-world gaming tests to see how these monster GPUs compare. We‘ll be looking at average frame rates (fps) in popular games at 4K resolution.
|Game||RTX 3090 (fps)||RX 6950 XT (fps)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||92||85|
|Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla||87||79|
|Call of Duty: Warzone||138||132|
On average, the RTX 3090 is about 8-10% faster than the 6950 XT in 4K gaming. However, AMD‘s card can pull ahead in some titles particularly at lower resolutions. Overall gaming performance between the two is fairly close.
But Nvidia‘s GPU has a huge advantage in ray tracing performance thanks to its dedicated RT cores. In games with ray tracing maxed out at 4K, the 3090 leads by over 30% on average:
- Cyberpunk 2077 (Psycho RT): 3090 – 50 fps vs 6950 XT – 32 fps
- Control (High RT): 3090 – 60 fps vs 6950 XT – 45 fps
That gap closes at lower resolutions, but the 3090 remains the champion of ray traced gaming. It also supports Nvidia DLSS, which can boost frame rates by up to 40% at 4K.
Content Creation Benchmarks
For video editing, 3D rendering, game development, and other content creation tasks, the RTX 3090 is the clear winner.
According to Puget Systems, the 3090 completes benchmark renders in Blender up to 21% faster than the 6950 XT. It also leads by wide margins in popular creative apps like Maya, Cinema 4D, and DaVinci Resolve.
The main advantage comes from Nvidia‘s Tensor cores that accelerate AI-enhanced processes like denoising. Having 24GB of VRAM doesn‘t hurt either for working with large assets. Overall, the 3090 is the superior choice for creative professionals.
Features and Capabilities
Both cards support the key graphics APIs like DirectX 12 Ultimate and Vulkan for cutting-edge game engines. But Nvidia has invested more heavily in next-gen technologies.
While AMD has basic ray tracing support on the 6950 XT, Nvidia devotes much more silicon to dedicated RT cores. The 3090 has 84 2nd-gen RT cores enabling accelerated ray tracing effects in games for higher performance and quality. AMD can‘t quite keep up yet.
Nvidia also dominates AI-enhanced graphics thanks to its Tensor cores. Alongside DLSS 2.0 for anti-aliasing and upscaling, Tensor cores power technologies like RTXGI for global illumination. AMD has no equivalents currently.
Only Nvidia offers NVLink support on the 3090 allowing multiple GPUs to work in sync for increased performance. AMD dropped support for multi-GPU on the 6950 XT and RDNA2 cards.
Design and Thermals
The 3090 sticks to Nvidia‘s triple slot, dual fan design measuring 313 mm x 138 mm x 55 mm. It‘s one of the largest consumer GPUs ever built. A vapor chamber and thick heatsink keep the GA102 GPU running below 70°C in most scenarios.
AMD‘s triple fan cooler is more compact at 267 mm x 120 mm x 51 mm. But it also delivers fantastic thermals under 65°C thanks to ample airflow directed at the card and backplate.
Both cards require 850W+ power supplies. Make sure your PC case has clearance for their massive, triple-slot coolers. The 6950 XT has a smaller footprint which may fit better in compact enclosures.
Price and Value
With an MSRP of $1,499, the RTX 3090 is extremely expensive even for a flagship GPU. Retail pricing today hovers from $1700 – $2000, making it a tough sell just for gaming.
But for creative professionals, the unmatched VRAM and content creation performance somewhat justify the investment versus Quadro or Radeon Pro hardware.
AMD‘s 6950 XT is more reasonably priced at an MSRP of $1,099 and current pricing around $1200. This makes it a better pure gaming value, offering nearly 96% of the 3090‘s frame rates for 33% lower cost.
The Right Choice for You?
For most gamers, even enthusiasts, the Radeon RX 6950 XT is the smarter choice. It delivers more than enough performance for smooth 4K gaming at a much better price. AMD‘s optimization for DX12 and Vulkan also means it will shine in next-gen games.
However, professionals and hardcore hobbyists wanting the absolute fastest GPU should go for the RTX 3090. The 24GB VRAM and leading content creation performance give it an edge for production workloads. It also guarantees the best ray tracing experience.
So choose the 6950 XT for gaming value or the 3090 for ultimate performance with money being no object. Either way, you‘ll be enjoying blistering fast frame rates for years to come!