The Radeon RX 6950 XT is the fastest AMD graphics card in the world, and will remain so until at least November when AMD is expected to announce a new range of next-gen GPUs. It originally debuted at $1000, undercutting the RTX 3090 Ti at $1500, but third-party models could cost much more - such as this $1200 PowerColor Red Devil. Today though, with that whole 'impending release of better graphics cards' thing, the 6950 XT is down to $800 at Amazon, which is an awesome deal for the level of graphics performance on offer.
I've tested a few Radeon 6000-series Red Devil cards, and they've always been fast and quiet in my testing. Apart from the hellish name and red colour scheme, you get some indication of the performance from the rather hefty heatsink, which is technically two slots (but physically occupies about three) with plenty of fin stacks and heat pipes to keep things relatively chill. There are two fan modes too, an OC mode and a silent mode, with boost clocks of 2435MHz and 2324MHz respectively - the latter being the default boost clock for the RX 6950 XT and the former being a healthy five percent overclock.
So how fast is this RX 6950 XT? At 4K, expect the RTX 3090 to offer around the same to slightly better frame-rates (~10%) in almost all titles. There are some outliers, like Death Stranding, Far Cry 5 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey, where AMD can even claw a narrow margin over the Nvidia alternative. But realistically, you are getting only a few percentage points better performance here than from the slightly older RX 6900 XT at $690, so this is less about overall value and more about getting the fastest possible Team Red card that's available right now. Happily, this means the Digital Foundry RX 6900 XT review can at least be a relatively accurate guide to the sort of performance you can expect; sadly there's no RPS review for the RX 6950 XT or RX 6900 XT that I can find amongst the archives to link to instead.
It's worth thinking about features too. AMD has historically lagged behind Nvidia in this department, with a worse media encoder and no answer to the temporal upsampling (and frame-rate boosting) provided by DLSS. However, that is starting to change, and while RT performance from AMD's first-gen implementation isn't as strong as that of Nvidia's second-gen alternative, the release of FSR 2.0 (and the enterprising modding community that added it to a bunch of DLSS games) means things are slowly improving.
So: if you want AMD's fastest card for a few weeks, get the RX 6950 XT at $800. If you want a great 4K card for less, get the RX 6900 for $690. If you want to get the best value 4K option from AMD... maybe consider waiting until next month to see their RDNA3 offerings, if you're willing to put up with the possibility that the first units to be shipped are a) overly expensive or b) all sold by the time you try to snag one.
Anyway, thanks for checking out the article, and tune in again tomorrow for more deals as and when I find them!