AMD promised “epic” 1080p gaming with the Radeon RX 6600 XT, and the company’s latest graphics card delivers in spades. This RDNA 2-powered GPU outperforms the Radeon RX 5600 XT it replaces and the Radeon RX 5700 XT, which is not one, but two levels higher than the 5600 XT. It’s all quite impressive. The Radeon RX 6600 XT will simply scream when combined with a high-refresh-rate display.

However, when the resolution is increased to 1440p, the lead diminishes more than you might think. This is due to certain important changes made to the memory subsystem of the Radeon RX 6600 XT and its use of AMD’s innovative new Infinity Cache. 

RATINGS

3/5

PROS

  • Ultra-fast 1080p gaming
  • Extremely energy-efficient
  • Phenomenal Asus ROG Strix Cooler
  • AMD features such as FSR, Radeon Boost, and Smart Access Memory can help it perform faster.

CONS

  • For a 1080p card, the MSRP is relatively high.
  • Because of the RAM configuration, 1440p performance isn’t as spectacular.
  • Ray-tracing performance lags behind Nvidia’s.

CONCLUSION

The Radeon RX 6600 XT was designed for ultra-fast 1080p gaming, and it excels in that area, but slower 1440p performance and a hefty price keep it from receiving praise. The Asus ROG Strix variant we utilised for this evaluation has a remarkably calm custom cooling system.

You also can’t ignore the price tag: The Radeon RX 6600 XT is priced at $379, which is $100 higher than the Radeon RX 5600 XT and just $20 less than the Radeon RX 5700 XT (and Nvidia’s amazing GeForce RTX 3060 Ti). Yes, we are experiencing a catastrophic GPU scarcity. This graphics card will undoubtedly cost more and sell out quickly on the market.

Table of Contents

The Radeon RX 6600 XT is a solid graphics card with a few snags when you add it all up. Let’s look at the Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 6600 XT, a high-end custom model with a $550 price tag that’s probably more in line with what you’ll see in the real world.

Radeon RX 6600 XT: Specs, Features and Price

The Radeon RX 6600 XT is based on AMD’s new RDNA 2 architecture, notably the “Navi 23” GPU, significantly smaller than the Navi 22 and 21 GPUs used in Radeon RX 6700 XT and flagship 6900 XT step-up cards.

Smaller die sizes allow AMD to squeeze more out of each silicon wafer it produces, which is essential for various technological reasons. More GPU dies mean more graphics cards will be available on the market, which is great news during a scarcity.

Here’s how the $379 Radeon RX 6600 XT compares to the $279 Radeon RX 5600 XT and $399 Radeon RX 5700 XT from the previous generation’s standard specifications:

The clock speeds of RDNA 2 are much greater than those of its predecessors. Just look at the 5600 XT and 6600 XT’s “Game Clock” speeds—the average clock speed expected while gaming. AMD’s latest card has a clock speed of approximately 1,000 MHz.

Oh, holy moly. Despite the increased speeds and the addition of 2GB of RAM (raising the total to 8GB), the Radeon RX 6600 XT consumes just 10 watts more power than the graphics card it replaces, demonstrating RDNA 2’s advancements.

The addition of “Infinity Cache,” a massive blob of L3 memory integrated right into the GPU die, is part of the reason AMD’s latest GPUs are so power-efficient. It’s used by games for many memory tasks, so the GPU doesn’t have to send requests “all the way” to the graphics card’s GDDR6 memory.

As a result, AMD can make GPUs in the Radeon RX 6000 series with lower memory buses, saving power. Consider the memory bus as the route for memory data: More lanes allow traffic to flow more quickly. The Radeon RX 6600 XT has a narrow 128-bit memory bus, unlike the earlier 5600 XT’s 192-bit bus and the 5700 XT’s 256-bit bus.

specification reference model seedpc
specification reference model

Although Infinity Cache is a game-changer, the Radeon RX 6600 XT’s 1440p performance highlights how important its implementation is.

But it isn’t all roses.

The Radeon RX 6600 XT’s Infinity Cache has been optimised for 1080p gaming, with 32MB of memory compared to 96MB on the 1440p-focused Radeon RX 6700 XT 128GB on AMD’s higher-end 4K options.

Nish Neelalojanan, a Radeon product manager, stated that the “hit rate” that defines the Infinity Cache’s efficacy in the 6600 XT at 1080p is “quite comparable” to the other cards accomplished at their target resolutions.

However, as you can see in our benchmarks, the Infinity Cache’s hit rate drops dramatically when the resolution is increased to 1440p, implying that the 6600 XT must rely on the standard memory system considerably more.

When this happens, the Radeon RX 6600 XT’s advantage over the earlier Radeon RX 5700 XT diminishes occasionally vanishes entirely. That’s reasonable: The Radeon RX 5700 XT’s significantly larger bus boosts memory bandwidth to 448GBps than 256GBps on the Radeon RX 6600 XT. (Infinity Cache is omitted because it’s considerably quicker.)

infinity cache a game changer seedpc
infinity cache a game changer

In games, increasing the resolution usually necessitates additional RAM. However, while the Radeon RX 6600 XT performs admirably in 1440p gaming, it shines greatest in high-refresh-rate 1080p.

Enough with the chip nerdery. Let’s take a closer look at the $550 Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 6600 XT.

asus rog strix radeon graphic card seedpc
Asus Rog Strix Radeon Graphic Card

This less expensive version of Asus’s ROG Strix flagship brand lacks some of the high-end features found on the more expensive models. Aside from branding on edge, the shroud is more plasticky and lacks RGB lights. There are no FanConnect II headers to link the performance of a case fan to the temperature of the GPU, and it’s smaller in general.

asus rog strix radeon logo on plate seedpc
Asus Rog Strix Radeon logo on plate

On edge, the “ROG Strix” logo has RGB lighting.

Even though this card is small, it can still handle this Radeon GPU. As you’ll see in our benchmarks, the ROG Strix RX 6600 XT produces exceptionally high temperatures but at the expense of audible noise.

Even better, the card has a 0db mode that shuts the fans down for silent operation when the GPU isn’t being stressed by heavy gaming loads.

Its sharp, angular shroud design, complemented by futuristically styled writing angled across its face, gives it the appearance of a ROG Strix. The card has a sleek full-length metal backplate with nothing but a swooping ROG logo on it. The ROG Strix Radeon RX 6600 XT will look great in your case if you want an aggressive, almost cyberpunk-ish “gamer” appearance.

On a more practical level, the card has a dual BIOS switch with preset Performance and Quiet modes, which is always helpful for overclocking, but the default Performance option is sufficiently quiet on its own. A single 8-pin connection provides power. The card has a single HDMI 2.1 port and three DisplayPorts, according to Asus.

asus rog strix ports seedpc
Asus Rog Strix Radeon logo on plate

The Radeon RX 6600 XT, like other RX 6000-series GPUs, supports all of RDNA 2’s features, including:

  • performance-boosting FidelityFX Super Resolution 
  • Smart Access Memory
  • Real-time ray tracing capabilities
  • AV1 video decoding
  • DirectX 12 Ultimate goodies
  • Improved version of Radeon Boost that wraps in Variable Rate Shading
  • Radeon Anti-Lag across all major DX APIs
  • FreeSync display support 

You can configure the card to your heart’s content using AMD’s extensive Radeon Settings app, which contains both manual and automated performance tweaking settings. At the same time, Asus supplies its own GPU Tweak III software.

Let’s get going with benchmarking.

Our Testing Rig

Our AMD Ryzen 5000-series test rig can assess the impact of PCIe 4.0 compatibility on modern GPUs, as well as AMD Smart Access Memory and Nvidia Resizable BAR performance enhancements (both of them are based on the same PCIe standard).

We’re now testing it on an open bench with AMD’s Wraith Max air cooler; in the future, an NZXT Kraken liquid cooler will be added to the mix.

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5900X 
  • Cooler: AMD Wraith Max cooler.
  • Motherboard: MSI Godlike X570
  • Memory: 32GB G.Skill Trident Z Neo DDR4 3800
  • Power supply: EVGA SuperNova P2 1200W 
  • Storage: SK Hynix Gold S31 SSD, 1TB

We’re comparing the $379 Radeon RX 6600 XT to the $279 Radeon RX 5600 XT, $350 Radeon RX 5700, and $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT, as well as the several cards it’s going to replace, both spiritually or practically: the $279 Radeon RX 5600 XT, $350 Radeon RX 5700, and $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT.

Because AMD’s Smart Access Memory feature, which enhances frame rates when the GPU is coupled with a suitable Ryzen CPU and motherboard, is such an important component of the 6600 XT’s value proposition, we’ve included performance statistics for the card with SAM enabled as well. Its boost varies from mediocre to fantastic.

On the Nvidia side, we’ve provided benchmarks for the $330 EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming, which AMD is eager to pit against the 6600 XT. However, because AMD’s newcomer costs $380, it’s only fair to pit it against EVGA’s formidable FTW3 Ultra against the $400 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti.

Of course, these proposed costs are a fraction of what you’ll spend for these GPUs in the real world right now, but they let you assess graphics cards the way they were meant to be evaluated.

We put a wide range of games through their paces, including different genres, engines, vendor sponsorships (AMD, Nvidia and Intel), and graphics APIs (DirectX 11, DX12, and Vulkan).

Unless otherwise stated, each game is evaluated using its in-game benchmark with VSync, frame rate caps, real-time ray tracing or DLSS effects, and FreeSync/G-Sync disabled, as well as any other vendor-specific technologies such as FidelityFX tools or Nvidia Reflex.

We’ve activated temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) to push these cards to their maximum. Each benchmark is done at least three times, with the average result shown for each test.

See how the Radeon RX 6600 XT compares to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which is much faster for only $20 extra. Consider how it performs compared to the Radeon RX 5700 XT from the previous generation, which was similarly priced but had a larger 256-bit memory bus.

Because the 6600 XT has a modest 128-bit bus combined with a 32MB Infinity Cache solution mainly developed for 1080p resolution, it pulls ahead of it in 1080p gaming performance, but that lead dissolves at 1440p. The Radeon RX 6600 XT is forced to use the significantly smaller memory bus more frequently when the resolution is upped to 1440p.

Benchmarks: Gaming performance

Watch Dogs: Legion

One of the first games released on next-gen consoles is Watch Dogs: Legion. Ubisoft’s Disrupt engine has been updated to include cutting-edge features such as real-time ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS.

We turn off those effects for our test, but Legion is still a demanding game, even with the optional high-resolution texture pack loaded. Even at 1440p, the game uses more than 8GB of RAM. Oof.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Yes, PlayStation exclusives are now available on the PC. Horizon Zero Dawn is powered by Guerrilla Games’ Decima engine, also used in Death Stranding.

Gears Tactics

Gears Tactics takes the XCOM-like genre and gives its vicious, fast-paced spin. We enjoy including a tactics-style game in our benchmarking suite because this Unreal Engine 4-powered game was created from the bottom up for DirectX 12.

Even better, PC snobs will appreciate the game’s visual settings. More games should spend as much time as this one explains what all of these visual knobs imply.

You can’t use the presets to evaluate Gears Tactics since it automatically scales to operate best on your installed hardware. Thus “Ultra” on one graphics card can load different settings than “Ultra” on another. All parameters were manually adjusted to their maximum possible settings.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is more enjoyable when played collaboratively with a friend, but it’s a bold experiment—and a technological showpiece. Youngblood runs on the Vulkan API and supports a variety of cutting-edge technologies, including ray tracing, DLSS 2.0, HDR, GPU culling, asynchronous computation, and Nvidia’s Content Adaptive Shading. A built-in benchmark with two different sceneries is included in the game; we tested Riverside.

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus, one of the best games of 2019, is also one of the best-looking games out there. With one of the most impressive real-time ray tracing implementations published to date, the current version of the 4A Engine produces extraordinarily lush, ultra-detailed images.

As you’ll see below, the game’s Extreme graphics option can burn even the most powerful current hardware, yet the game’s Ultra and High presets still look beautiful at far higher frame rates.

Ray tracing, Hairworks, and DLSS are disabled in DirectX 12 mode.

Borderlands 3

Borderlands has returned! Because Gearbox’s game defaults to DX12, we’ve done the same. It provides us with a look at the performance of the wildly popular Unreal Engine 4 in a classic shooter. This game is best played on AMD hardware.

Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade is a cooperative third-person shooter in which a group of adventurers must fight their way through swarms of legendary foes. It’s a technological showpiece, with features like HDR support and the option to toggle asynchronous computing on and off.

It’s based using the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies. It’s powered by Rebellion’s own Azure Engine. We do our tests with the Vulkan renderer, which is significantly quicker than DX12.

Total War: Troy

Troy, the next chapter in the popular Total War series, was given away for free on the Epic Games Store for the first 24 hours, selling over 7.5 million copies before going on sale.

Total War: Troy is a turn-based strategy game developed on a modified version of the Total War: Warhammer 2 engine, and it looks great on DX11. We put the fighting benchmark to the test.

F1 2020

F1 2020 is the latest in a long line of excellent racing games, and it’s a joy to play, with a broad range of graphics and benchmarking choices that make it a far more reliable (and exciting) alternative than the Forza series.

It’s based on the most recent version of Codemasters’ buttery-smooth Ego game engine, which includes DX12 and Nvidia’s DLSS compatibility. With clear skies and DLSS turned off, we tried two circuits on the Australia course.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The last chapter in the reboot trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, is still breathtaking two years later. Square Enix designed this game for DX12, and DX11 is only recommended if you have outdated hardware or Windows 7. Thus we tested it on DX12.

The Foundation engine, which first powered Rise of the Tomb Raider and included real-time ray tracing and DLSS, is upgraded in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege continues to top the Steam rankings years after its initial release, and Ubisoft continues to support it with regular updates and events. Over the years, the creators have put a lot of effort into the game’s AnvilNext Engine, finally releasing a Vulkan version that we tested.

The game’s render scaling is reduced by default to enhance frame rates, but we increased it to 100% to test native rendering performance on graphics cards. Even so, frame rates are skyrocketing.

Ray-tracing Performance

We have put ray tracing to the test in two of our games, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus, supporting cutting-edge technology. The experiments were carried out without using Nvidia’s AI-enhanced DLSS technology.

Image upsampling technologies such as DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution are crucial for clawing back frames lost to cutting-edge ray-tracing effects. They boost speed by internally generating images at a reduced resolution before employing different methods to improve the final resolution.

However, because the software approaches work in very different ways, testing with them disabled is the only way to get an apples-to-apples comparison unless the game supports DLSS and FSR, such as Marvel’s Avengers.

This mainly verifies what we already know from Radeon and GeForce GPUs at higher levels. Though both allow you to play ray-traced games after making some graphics option modifications (or activating DLSS/FSR), Nvidia’s second-generation version of ray tracing hardware performs better than AMD’s first effort at the technology. We plan to evaluate ray tracing performance with a more extensive range of titles soon.

Noise, thermals, and power draw

After benchmarking everything else, we test the power draw by looping the F1 2020 benchmark at 4K for roughly 20 minutes. On our Watts Up Pro meters, which monitors the power consumption of our whole test system, we record the highest reading. The first stage of the race, when all of the competing vehicles are onscreen simultaneously, is usually the most difficult.

This isn’t a worst-case scenario; it’s a GPU-bound game running at a GPU-bound resolution to see how well the graphics card performs while it’s working hard. You can experience increased total system power consumption by playing a game that also hammers the CPU. Take this as a warning.

Despite being tangibly faster, the Radeon RX 6600 XT uses less power than the GeForce RTX 3060 (and RX 5600 XT), even in its hot-rod ROG Strix form. While the RTX 3060 Ti is still substantially faster, it consumes over 100 watts more than AMD’s latest GPU. That’s all there is to it.

We test thermals by running the F1 2020 power draw test with GPU-Z open and recording the maximum temperature at the conclusion.

This high-end ROG Strix has a tremendously cold cooling system that is a little louder than rival devices in this price range—though it’s still not noisy. Although the RX 6600 XT version of the Strix is substantially less potent than the higher-end variants, it still burns rubber.

Is the Radeon RX 6600 XT worth it?

You shouldn’t buy a graphics card right now, as I mentioned in our GeForce RTX 3060 and Radeon RX 6700 XT reviews. Even after a bit of respite in recent weeks, prices remain astronomically high. Until the dust settles, I’d advise most folks to wait on the sidelines and stream their PC games via Nvidia’s GeForce Now service. That suggestion is backed up by the Radeon RX 6600 XT.

AMD’s new graphics card is undoubtedly in line with the times (and Asus went even farther by asking $170 extra for this ROG Strix model). Yes, memory prices have more than doubled in the last few months. Yes, chip manufacturers are having difficulty obtaining materials for the production of CPUs and GPUs. Yes, as the world strives to break free from the grip of the pandemic, shipping and logistics costs have skyrocketed.

Yes, despite technically being a $330 GPU, the GeForce RTX 3060 that this card easily outperforms is going for $700 or more when you can find it. All of this suggests that the Radeon RX 6600 XT will cost far more than $379 on the open market, unless you’re lucky enough to get one of the initial waves of stock dumps when the graphics cards go on sale on August 11.

Nevertheless, the Radeon RX 6600 XT is a card engineered for no-compromises 1080p gaming and spending over $400 for it in 2022 stings. We noted that AMD’s own Radeon RX 480 “redefined what’s possible with a $200 graphics card,” owing to its ability to deliver fast 1080p and decent 1440p gaming experiences at a mainstream price range.

With the 6600 XT, you’ll have to spend nearly twice as much to have the same features. Even if the Radeon RX 6600 XT has ray tracing and other things that the RX 480 could only dream of, it doesn’t seem like advancement.

Make no mistake about it: this card is designed for 1080p gaming. The Radeon RX 6600 XT’s 32MB Infinity Cache was tailored for the ultra-popular resolution, and it frequently outperforms the earlier Radeon RX 5700 XT (which cost nearly the same at launch).

However, when you increase the resolution to 1440p, the advantage shrinks since AMD outfitted this card with a narrow 128-bit memory bus and Infinity Cache. This helps preserve power, and the 6600 XT is incredibly efficient, but it does imply that performance suffers at higher resolutions. The $380 Radeon RX 6600 XT, released two years after the $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT, delivers basically the same 1440p performance for essentially the same price. That’s a bummer once more.

I believe AMD’s proposed pricing is more realistic than Nvidia’s MSRPs, even more so than Asus’s. Nonetheless, with the Radeon RX 6600 XT’s price, Radeon has wounded themselves in the foot. Yes, it outperforms the RTX 3060.

That’s not going to happen anytime soon, especially considering the launch’s custom-only nature. AMD will not produce a reference version of the Radeon RX 6600 XT, unlike other RX 6000-series devices, to establish a price floor.

This GPU is exclusively available from third-party board manufacturers like Asus, Sapphire, and XFX. AMD promises that $379 models will be available through its partners. Still, suppose previous GPU launches during the epidemic are any indicator. In that case, those partners will put a lot more effort (and stock) into higher-priced variations that allow them to make more money in today’s seller’s market.

In that sense, the Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 6600 XT, which we evaluated today for $550, is a winner. It’s a good size, runs calm and quiet, and has an appealingly aggressive design as well as a dual-BIOS switch. The Asus ROG Strix 6600 XT is a beast. Aside from the fact that I paid $550 for a 1080p graphics card, I have no concerns. Expect a few more bespoke RX 6600 XT evaluations in the coming days.

What’s the bottom line? These days, graphics card pricing is a total mess. Don’t waste your money on a 1080p GPU that costs $500 or more. Personally, I wouldn’t pay $379 for a Radeon RX 6600 XT with standard specs.

AMD’s newest graphics card, like the RTX 3060, is a just-good-enough graphics card at a time when even nice, OK GPUs sell out in seconds for exorbitant prices. Only consider it if you have a lot of money, no patience, and a 1080p display with a high refresh rate.

The Radeon RX 6600 XT is considerably too fast and pricey for 1080p gaming at 60Hz, while the RTX 3060 Ti’s unique memory arrangement makes it a significantly better bargain for 1440p gaming. (At 1080p, Nvidia’s GPU is likewise significantly quicker.)

It will, however, sell out quickly. If you have to pay, do so, but if you can, sit on the sidelines for now. It would have been a fantastic improvement if the Radeon RX 6600 XT had stayed at the $279 price point of the Radeon RX 5600 XT. Unfortunately, in today’s environment, it is just not doable.


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Bilal Shafqat

A PC Enthusiast, A Designer, Developer, Blogger, content writer and co founder of Seed pc, loves to write about Programming, Gadgets, Software, and Games in his spare time.

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