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Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT unboxed: First look at AMD's new graphics card design

Watch out, Nvidia. AMD’s long-awaited “Big Navi” graphics cards are almost here, and for the first time in a long time, Team Red is setting its sights on the high end. The $579 Radeon RX 6800 and $649 Radeon RX 6800 XT take direct aim at the GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 3080, respectively, while the $999 Radeon RX 6900 XT sets its sights on Nvidia’s crown jewel—the $1,500 GeForce RTX 3090. Hot damn. You can find all the Radeon RX 6000 details you need to know here.

Look for the two Radeon RX 6800-series cards to hit the streets on Wednesday, November 18. We’re still knee-deep in testing, but AMD’s allowing photos and unboxings of the hotly anticipated graphics cards to go live today.

Unboxings aren’t usually our thing. In this case, however, the Radeon RX 6000 series marks a departure from AMD’s traditional design, ditching the much-maligned (and often screaming-loud) blower-style coolers for an axial cooling configuration commonly found on custom boards. Given all that, we’d figure we’d provide a sneak peek at the Radeon RX 6800 and Radeon RX 6800 XT.

We can’t tear the cards apart or provide any insight into performance. Stay tuned for our final reviews for that information. It’s what inside that counts, after all. But here are our thoughts on the Radeon RX 6800-series’s outsides.

Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT unboxed

dsc01266 Brad Chacos/IDG

Taking AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT out of the box, one thought struck me: These look like graphics cards. Really nice, well-designed graphics cards, sure, but they fundamentally stick to the typical design deployed for years now. While Nvidia needed innovative “flow-through” cooling designs and bristling whole-body heat sinks to tame its GeForce RTX 30-series Founders Edition cards, AMD stuck to the basics—which, again, is fairly new for the company, as only the Radeon VII reference card used an axial design before.

Both cards stick to the 10.5-inch length common to all but the beefiest high-end custom GPUs, and draw their power from a pair of standard 8-pin power connectors. By comparison, Nvidia’s RTX 30-series Founders Edition boards require the use of an (ugly) 12-pin adapter included in the box.

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