Card Layout and Photos
I don’t think any other graphics card manufacture has reinvented their card's looks and styling as much as XFX has over the years that I have worked with them. There has often been some carry over, but they have had designs with an all carbon fiber looking fan shroud, full metal shrouds with silver and orangish-red trim, that same design only with black, cards that feature triangles, a completely flat design, and many many more. Their RX 5000 series had a new look as well along with changes mid-cycle to improve on performance. This time around for the 6800 XT the new Merc 319 has again received a new look and I can only describe the shroud design as a flat golf ball. The new styling is a large flat black finish with dimples all over the shroud, anywhere they couldn’t put a fan. It is also significantly larger than past cards coming in at 13.39 inches long or 340mm long. It is a three-slot thickness at 57mm thick or 2.24 inches and it is 139mm or 5.47 inches tall which puts it around an inch and a half taller than the top of the PCI bracket. Like our first 3080 aftermarket card, this one is just huge to handle and if the two are any indication it looks like cases are going to need to keep making more and more room for video cards. In fact, just any one of the three dimensions is enough to prevent these cards from fitting in some SFF cases.
So like with the Thicc III last generation, the Merc 319 has a triple fan configuration. Only this time around we get two larger fans and one smaller fan, last time it was one large fan and two smaller fans. The two large fans are 100mm and the center fan is 90mm and these are axial, pushing air down into the fan, not to the sides like a blower card. The fans also look different fan the last generation of XFX fans with more blades but similar to some of the older designs like the RX580. The new center badge is a little weird because it isn’t round, making it look like it's missing something but it does put the XFX X on each fan. They missed the chance to make the center fan have an F though.
Even without the Thicc branding, the Merc 319 does still have a similarly thick heatsink which is split up into three sections and connected together with heatpipes. XFX has a 2mm thick 99mm x 85mm in size copper cold plate with 7 heatpipes in total to help pull that heat out across the cooler. The heatsink is aluminum and isn’t a universal design, you can see when looking around the edges of the card that it is shaped around each tall cap and thicker at the end of the card beyond where the PCB ends. The heatsink is laid out horizontally and at the end of the card XFX doesn’t have the end completely blocked off, but it is partially blocked with a weird gap at the top that makes the shroud look like it is floating.
The top edge of the card has a few things going on. For power, it has two 8-pin power connections which are a few inches away from the end of the card, right at the end of the PCB. They are flipped around backwards with the PCB notches to allow room for the clips. The PCB is also notched down here to keep the power connections low to allow room for the cables. This means that XFX is using the house money to gain extra space on some of the top of the card, using the space that the cables already stick up which is nice. Next to the power plugs, there is a small switch that switches between the normal Balanced BIOS and the Rage mode BIOS. This only changes the boost clock slightly, going up from 2340MHz to 2360MHz, but also changing the power limits and fan profiles as well. The top edge of the Merc 319 also features a raised section at the top which has the Radeon RX 6800 XT model name which is also backlit. Then on the shroud itself, they have the XFX logo as well. I have to say, not enough cards put the actual model on the cooler at the top edge. Frankly, I could care less about seeing Radeon or GeForce like most cards get or just the card brand. With higher-end models, I think it is much nicer to show off the GPU model itself and cards used to do this but have gone away from it in the name of reusing parts. XFX has managed to do this by making the model name section its own part, so the rest of the shroud can be reused if they want.
XFX went all out on the branding on the backplate of the card. It has the XFX logo cut into the thick metal backplate along with a whole array of holes of various sizes for ventilation. This is in addition to making sure to use thermal pads between the backplate and card to help pull heat out. In fact, the entire card is loaded with thermal pads, 20 in total making sure all of the VRM, memory, and other components are all integrated into the cooling. The back has pads right on the back of the GPU and on the opposite side of the memory and VRM as well. The solid backplate also helps keep things ridged, which will be important with a card this big. They also have MERC painted in bright white across the back. But I think it’s the blow through section at the end that I like the most. Like what Nvidia did with their Founders Edition cards, the section at the end past the PCB has the thicker heatsink and a blow through design the keeps airflow unrestricted.
I’ve said it with most cards recently, but it applies here as well. This card desperately could use a flat black PCI bracket. Not only would it help match the rest of the styling of the Merc 319 cooler. But also matches most cases as well or in the case of white, it contrasts nicely. There is some ventilation here even though the card design shouldn’t be pushing much this way and it has the XFX logo cut in because I don’t think there is an angle other than the end of the card that doesn’t say XFX somewhere. As for display connections, XFX went with something different than the normal layout. You end up with two DisplayPort connections and one HDMI. Then the small one at the end is a Type-C, much like the Type-C that Nvidia was including last generation for VirtualLink though I don’t know if that is supported here. It’s a shame that everyone else dropped that because I still think it would be nice. If nothing else you do get an extra type-C connection.
Before diving into testing, I did want to check out the lighting and the Merc 319 is limited in its lighting to the backlit stuff up on the top edge. The Radeon RX 6800XT in the main section looks amazing. Especially mixing the red and blue. The XFX down at the end doesn’t look bad as well even though I don’t normally like backlit branding aka billboards much. I would have loved to see the Radeon dropped and just have the RX 6800XT with MERC up on top backlit. There aren’t any other lighting accents or any controllable RGB at all in fact, nor any way to turn it off from what I have seen as well for those who don’t want any lighting at all.