Was able to get some time to try out my RX6800XT. My weekend went through the full Gartner hype cycle. Started off at the "Peak of Inflated Expectations", then plummeted very quickly into the "Trough of Disillusionment" - I am now on the "Slope of Enlightenment" !
From Peak of Inflated Expectations to landing face first into the Trough of Disillusionment:
I was expecting big things moving from a 980TI to the 6800XT. My primary use case is VR so that is where I started. First up was Project Cars 2. Started the game, noticed the resolution was indeed nicer on my Quest 2 (as it was before when running with my 980TI) so I enabled metrics logging and started to experiment with the graphics settings. Long story short, was disappointed that I couldn't nudge any of my settings up from Low/Off (textures/complexity etc).
Then I tried F1 2018 via Vorpx - the resolution has never been great on my 980TI but somehow ... somehow ... this was even worse. It was like an old DoS game - I swear the resolution appeared to look like the old 320x200 resolution (or whatever it was). Between those failed first attempts and the Gamers Nexus review I was pretty disappointed and started to consider if I should sell the AMD and try to get a 3080.
Also tried to give Quake II RTX a go - that just rubbed salt into the wounds as it wouldn't launch - up pops a error message, "you need an RTX compatible card, thicko" or words to that effect. I believe that NVIDIA opened this up to more cards in their range but I can't see a way to run it on AMD. Looks like it runs on proprietary NVIDIA ray racing Vulkan extensions. I gather that AMD are planning on Vulkan support and there is a standard set of extensions in the pipeline.
Climbing out of the Trough and edging back up the slope of enlightenment:
Ghost Recon Breakpoint - fired this up - I noticed that the graphics options appeared to have changed ... everything was set to Ultra (not by me). Started to look into the Radeon software and it looks like there is a setting that bumps up the settings automatically - I realised it may have tried to apply (non-VR) optimisations for things I am playing in VR? In terms of GRB - it was great to jump from 1080p to 1440p (as high as my monitor supports) and have everything bumped up to the max. OK, in reality, all I really noticed was more grass blowing in the wind but at least I felt that my new card was able to achieve something.
Decided I should have another go at F1 2018. Disabled the automatic settings thingy in AMD software and also randomly opted into the dx12 F1 2018 beta. Gave it another go with Vorpx. It ran butter smooth .. whilst keeping the quality settings low I was able to bump up the game resolution much much higher than I ever had before. Jackpot! Had a couple of time trial laps around Albert Park and had a huge grin on my face. Finally, things started to turn the corner.
Tried Project Cars 2 - still no improvement - so at a loss what to do here.
However, I did also give Assetto Corsa Competizione a go. This ran great from the offset - large obvious improvement straight away. The UI was crystal clear, the graphics were great and the OculusDebugTool confirmed I still had lots of headroom spare. This was a big turning point as I gather that ACC is pretty hard on systems for VR. It's a joy with the increased resolution of the Oculus Quest 2 and I think its needed as the fonts are quite small to read (on my CV1 anyway).
I've realised how hard it is to meaningfully test and compare games when I've upgraded by my Oculus Headset and graphics card. The improved screen resolution of the quest 2 does ask big questions of the GPU - but I only realise now how much of that is masked by the underlying software. v23 of the oculus runtime makes it easier to see that there is automatic tuning of the target rendering resolution which I guess varies from person to person depending on their PC build. (It explains why a friend of mine running on a 1060 said he couldn't see an improvement moving from CV1 to Quest 2 for PC games over Oculus Link). With hindsight, I should have recorded the recommended values it chose for my 980TI and Quest 2 combo but I have a vague recollection that it was running at a lower resolution (eg x0.8) which is now improved to (x1.0). Note: still only targeting 72Hz mind - again had the expectation that 90Hz would have been easy ... it's not.
I think there is something funny going on with PC2 but in fairness there is a large resolution bump in game - the quality of graphics is obvious when looking at just how crystal clear the steering wheel LCDs in game appear and there is an improvement when looking further into the distance, the apex is much clearer. But I am still disappointed that I can't nudge up the settings from low to medium (eg textures etc) - there is no headroom for improvement.
F1 2018 (on dx12) and ACC completely met my expectations. I have a choice to see if I stay at 72Hz and push up graphic quality or try it at 90Hz and see how I get on. Very pleased with the graphics as they are running right now and its nice to have so much headroom to play with.
Read an article comparing 15 VR games between the RX6800 XT and 3080 which suggested that both cards are broadly similar. That said, their choice of a Vive Pro is a lower screen resolution than the Quest 2 so might not be stressing the cards as much. Wouldn't mind seeing similar results for headsets with higher resolutions eg Quest 2 / HP G2 - maybe one card performs better than the other at higher resolutions?
I've still got more games to test; Elite Dangerous, Star Wars Squadrons, Oculus exclusives such as Asgards Wrath and of course Half Life Alyx. My initial confidence with the card took a big knock over the weekend - a really huge knock - but it's starting to recover. Maybe a 3080 would have been a safer choice, but its early days and maybe some tinkering around will improve things further.
If ray tracing is important to you it's clear that the 3080 is a better card. I'm also keen to understand if DLSS will have huge ramifications for high end VR headsets too longer term as I can see scenarios for new games plus Vorpx working out rather nicely. (I'm looking at you - F1 2020)
I have had some mixed experiences and I'm still not convinced I've backed the right horse but its early days. I am genuinely happy with the F1 2018 & ACC performance, so I'll give it a chance to grow on me. I'll wait a year and see what the landscape looks like - maybe I'll end up loving my card or maybe 3080TI's will be widely available a year from now - I can always sell it, but I'll keep the 6800XT for now.
edit: forgot to mention - my Oculus Graphics Performance settings (defaulting to recommended) are 3616 x 1840 @ 72 hz. I've ran debug tool to ensure 72Hz is achieved steadily - no drop down to 36 ASW etc. (I never thought to check if my 980TI / Quest 2 combo was running on ASW so I've not accurate baseline to compare against)