AMD Big Navi and smaller sibling could both have more VRAM than Nvidia’s RTX 3080

(Image credit: AMD)

AMD’s Big Navi graphics card will come equipped with 16GB of video RAM, and the model that’s a step down from that flagship GPU will run with 12GB of memory, according to a new rumor.

This comes from the ever-present leaker rogame, who tweeted regarding confirmation of this memory loadout – meaning confirmation from sources, naturally, so we can still take this with a hefty dollop of caution as with any pre-release speculation.

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As you can see, theoretically Navi 21 – which is Big Navi, the flagship of the RX 6000 series – will have 16GB, backing up previous spillage (based on a purported engineering sample GPU, as Wccftech highlights) which insisted that this will be the memory configuration using GDDR6 with a 256-bit bus.

This new rumor further contends that the Navi 22 GPU, which will nestle directly underneath Big Navi, will be 12GB with a 192-bit bus potentially, although rogame admits to simply not knowing for sure in terms of the latter potential spec (and ditto for the Big Navi GPU, too).

AMD could well run with something chunkier in terms of the memory bus – such as 512-bit and 384-bit respectively – and as the leaker notes, the spotted cards could be cut-down versions.

Memory concerns?

There’s certainly some disappointment on Twitter at these memory loadouts, concerns perhaps prompted by how much video RAM Nvidia has loaded into its top-end RTX 3090; namely 24GB. And there are rumors of the RTX 3080 getting a 20GB version as well.

Mind you, the 20GB GPU is just a rumor – albeit a strengthening one – as is this info on AMD’s incoming graphics cards, and of course the actual amount of memory on board is only a part of the overall performance equation.

Remember, Nvidia made the decision to equip the RTX 3080 with 10GB of RAM at launch because the firm judged that’s enough for contemporary gaming (particularly given the GPU’s memory bandwidth). So in actual fact, we’d do well to remember that both these purported AMD GPUs could have more memory than the RTX 3080 – unless Nvidia steps in to take the wind from their sails with its rumored VRAM-doubling antics before RX 6000 cards launch (which would, let’s face it, make sense).

At any rate, capacity aside, the memory bus details for these AMD GPUs are effectively just educated guesses at the moment, and we’ve heard that Big Navi could come close to the RTX 3080 in terms of overall performance, while providing other advantages outside that. Namely a less power-hungry GPU, which will be a relief to those worrying about their power supply’s capacity, as well as smaller graphics cards (which are easier to install, and fit in more compact cases – perhaps with less in the way of heat issues too).

Of course, ultimately this is all speculation at the moment, and a good deal will depend on where AMD is pitching the pricing relative to Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 range.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).