AMD Big Navi: everything we know so far about AMD’s RX 6000 GPUs, from release date to ray tracing

The next generation of AMD Navi GPUs is almost upon us. Dubbed Big Navi by fans, (or Navi 2X if you’re AMD), this next-gen family of AMD graphics cards will be based on their new RDNA 2 architecture, and the first AMD GPUs to come with built-in ray tracing support. While the first wave of Big Navi cards due out before the end of 2020 are largely expected to go head to head with Nvidia’s new RTX 3070, RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 GPUs, we’re also expecting next-gen replacements for AMD’s existing RX 5000 series at some point to fill out the rest of AMD’s highly anticipated RX 6000 family.

AMD still haven’t formally announced their Big Navi GPUs yet, so information on their release date, price and specs are still pretty scarce. All they’ve said is that they’re coming before the end of the year, but a new teaser in their Fornite AMD Battle Arena island suggests we could be getting an announcement pretty soon. So to help keep you up to date on all things Big Navi, here’s a round-up of everything we know about AMD’s Big Navi GPUs so far.

AMD Big Navi release date

Right now, the only thing we know about the release date for AMD’s RX 6000 family of Big Navi GPUs is that is will be before the end of 2020. This has been reiterated by AMD several times over the last nine months, despite fears that they might end up being delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with AMD’s RDNA 2 GPUs also powering the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the latter of which has recently been confirmed as coming out on November 10th, everything seems to be on track. Indeed, based on what AMD said back in June, we could see AMD’s Big Navi GPUs arrive before the next-gen consoles. During their mid-year financial webcast, AMD said their Big Navi GPUs will be their first RDNA 2 product to market, suggesting they’ll be released before the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Indeed, a recent teaser in AMD’s Fortnite Battle Arena map suggests we could be getting a proper reveal very soon. As you can see from the image below, discovered by streamer Miss Gina Darling, there’s a plaque stating “Something Big is coming to the AMD Battle Arena!” along with “+6000” projected onto the wall below it.

The “Something Big” is almost certainly a reference to Big Navi, while the “+6000” is likely to be a hint for their eventual RX model names. Add to that a very cryptic (and probably not at all relevant) tweet from AMD’s chief gaming architect Frank Azor about something possibly happening tomorrow (September 10th), and the Big Navi hype train looks to be picking up steam very quickly indeed. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we know more.

AMD Big Navi specs

AMD’s Big Navi GPUs will be based on a new version of their existing RDNA (or Radeon DNA) architecture. Dubbed RDNA 2, this will continue to use the same 7nm manufacturing process as AMD’s existing generation of RDNA-based graphics cards, theoretically putting them at a slight advantage compared to the 8nm Nvidia Ampere GPUs.

During AMD’s Financial Analyst Day back in March earlier this year, AMD said that RDNA 2 will also add in support for ray tracing and variable rate shading (two things that Nvidia’s RTX cards currently do), as well as provide a 50% improvement in performance per watt compared to RDNA 1.

AMD Big Navi GPU roadmap

It looks like AMD will be sticking with their RDNA architecture for the foreseeable future, too, as AMD’s current GPU roadmap (pictured above) shows they’ll eventually move to their 3rd Gen RDNA architecture, which they’re currently calling RDNA 3, sometime in 2021 or 2022. Again, very little is known about this at the moment, but given that AMD are calling this an “advanced node” rather than another 7nm GPU at the moment, it’s possible we could see a new manufacturing process here as well.

We don’t know how AMD’s ray tracing GPUs compare to Nvidia’s RTX 3000 series just yet, but March also saw the release of AMD’s first RDNA 2 ray tracing demo, which is based on Microsoft’s DirectX 12 Ultimate technology. Have a watch below.

As for specific Big Navi card specs, we won’t know what these are until AMD formally announce them. At the moment, all AMD have said is that these will be “top-of-stack GPUs with uncompromising 4K gaming” performance, but it does look as though their RX 6000 reference cards (which are the graphics cards AMD make themselves before sending out the designs to third party manufacturers) will be taking another leaf out of Nvidia’s playbook in the form of new cooling solutions.

While not quite as “out there” as Nvidia’s dual-axial fans, it’s still quite a marked change from the reference models of AMD’s previous flagship GPUs, the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. As you can see from the image below, these came with single, blower-style fans back in 2019, which typically aren’t as efficient or indeed effective as, say, dual or even triple fan designs like the ones Nvidia chose for their RTX 20-series reference cards.

Of course, both the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT cards are now readily available with dual and triple fan coolers, but it did take quite a long time after their initial launch before these were available to buy on shop shelves. Fortunately, it looks like that won’t be the case for AMD’s Big Navi reference cards, as AMD’s Scott Herkelman took to Reddit back in March to confirm that “there will be no blower reference fans for gamers on next gen” after AMD’s financial analyst presentation teased an AMD reference card with two fans (see below).

No more blower fans for AMD’s Big Navi reference cards.

It’s also highly likely that AMD’s Big Navi cards will also support their current crop of existing Navi features, too, such as their Fidelity FX and Radeon Anti-Lag tech. The former is an open-source toolkit designed to make low-contrast areas of a game look sharper without taking a knock on performance (as demonstrated by the Borderlands 3 example below), while the latter is meant to cut down the amount of lag there is between you clicking your mouse and the action appearing onscreen – a bit like Nvidia’s newly announced Nvidia Reflex tech.

AMD Big Navi price

The next question is how much are these Big Navi GPUS are going to cost? Well, until AMD formally announce their Big Navi GPUs, we just don’t know. However, given the RX 5700 XT currently retails for around £350 / $390, you can probably expect they’ll cost a lot more than that.

Indeed, considering that AMD’s Big Navi cards are going to offer “uncompromising 4K gaming” speeds, they’re more likely to be in the same region as Nvidia’s upcoming RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 cards – that is, somewhere around £469 / $499 and £649 / $699.

As you can see from our graphics card deals round-up, AMD cards have historically always tended to be a bit cheaper than their Nvidia counterparts, so here’s hoping that the same pricing structure will hold true for AMD’s Big Navi GPUs.

That said, considering how the Xbox Series X (which is also powered by one of AMD’s RDNA 2-based Big Navi GPUs) has finally been priced at £449 / $499, it’s possible that AMD’s equivalent 4K 60fps-tier graphics card could come in around a similar kind of price point – or maybe even less if we’re being really optimistic. What’s more, if its cut-down sibling, the Xbox Series S, can deliver 1440p gaming performance at up to 120fps for an even more tantalising £250 / $300, then we might be about to see a real shake-up in AMD’s GPU pricing that will really stick the boot to Nvidia. Consider our fingers well and truly crossed, and I’ll update this section with more information as soon as we know more.

That’s all we know about AMD’s Big Navi GPUs for the time being, but I’ll be updating this article regularly with more information as soon as I hear anything. In the meantime, you can read all about our favourite GPUs in our roundup of the best graphics cards, what games currently support ray tracing, as well as find all the best current graphics card prices in our regularly updated graphics card deals hub.

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