AMD’s high-end Navi GPU could be 30% faster than Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Ti, rumor hints

(Image credit: AMD)

An unknown graphics card has been spotted in a VR benchmark, and it blows away Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, with some speculation arguing that this could be AMD’s unreleased ‘big Navi’ GPU that's rumored to launch this year.

In fact, at CES 2020, AMD’s CEO has just been talking about how a high-end Navi GPU is in the pipeline, implying it will turn up in 2020, and the benchmark result is certainly in line with an ‘Nvidia killer’ graphics card.

Of course, we need to chuck a load of salt around here – definitely don’t be shy with that shaker – because the benchmark and machine spec are rather odd in some respects. As spotted on Reddit, and highlighted by Videocardz, the OpenVR benchmark shows an unknown AMD Radeon Graphics solution outperforming the fastest RTX 2080 Ti in the database by 17%.

Now, remember that this is the very fastest, or in other words the most overclocked, RTX 2080 Ti in the database, and compared to a typical stock version of Nvidia’s GPU, the result is more like 30% faster. And this is still allegedly an early sample GPU, not the finished product, so the gains could be even greater.

Given this, you can see why people are whispering about – or indeed hoping – that this is indeed AMD’s high-end Navi offering, because it could theoretically leave the RTX 2080 Ti in the dust. And the further hope would be AMD will price it competitively compared to the GeForce giant.

Let’s not get carried away, though. For starters, we obviously can’t disregard the possibility of fakery here, although going by the chatter online – even the developer of the OpenVR benchmark has chimed in on Reddit – this seems to be a genuine result. But then there’s still the question of what GPU the result pertains to…

The benchmark is rather strange in that not only does this appear to be an engineering sample GPU, but it’s seemingly benchmarked with an early sample of AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H – yes, that’s a mobile CPU in a laptop (freshly revealed at CES).

That’s an odd setup to be testing out a new high-end Navi card, for sure. Although that doesn’t rule out the possibility that this could be the case – all sorts of odd configurations can be tested before the release of new hardware.

Minefield of speculation

There are various possibilities that this unknown GPU could be, however, other than high-end Navi, and some folks are arguing that it may well be a company (presumably a laptop manufacturer) testing an external GPU enclosure – possibly sporting an unreleased Nvidia solution.

While the benchmark carries the label of ‘AMD Radeon Graphics’, the argument further runs that this refers to the Ryzen 7 4800H APU (in other words, the integrated graphics), and there’s a second GPU in play which is Nvidia. Although that’s not necessarily the case – there are other possibilities here, such as the APU having its graphics disabled, and there being two separate cards on the system (not likely, admittedly).

Alternatively, the benchmark could point to a setup running twin GPUs, like a pair of beefy existing AMD cards in Crossfire – although the benchmark developer notes that he doesn’t think it’s possible to run the OpenVR benchmark with a Crossfire (or SLI) setup (or, at least, no profiles for this kind of rig exist).

Furthermore, the dev notes that if this is an unknown Nvidia card, it would be very unlikely for somebody to have access to both AMD engineering samples (the APU) and Nvidia (GPU – assuming it’s an unreleased Nvidia graphics solution, which the benchmark result would certainly indicate). But not impossible…

We could go back and forth on the theories surrounding this benchmark leak all day, and suffice to say it’s a bit of a minefield of speculation – but the tantalizing possibility remains that this might just be the infamous Nvidia-killer packing some large caliber ammunition.

Whatever the case, AMD needs to get a move on with the release of high-end Navi realistically, given that Nvidia’s next-gen Ampere graphics cards are rumored to be launching in the second half of this year; at which point the goalposts will be seriously shifted.

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).