AMD Radeon RX 6600 Assessment

AMD releases a new Radeon RX 6000 series product, the RX 6600, which we are reviewing today. Two months ago, the RX 6600 XT got a lukewarm response because it didn't bring much to the table, the RRP was a bit too high, even if that doesn't mean anything nowadays, and the performance was not overwhelming.

One thing, however, is list prices and the perceived role a particular GPU will have in the marketplace and another in the current (unusually inflated) GPU market. And so, thanks to the high availability, the Radeon 6600 XT was a decent option that is among the best we've seen for a new graphics card in the past year.

In our GPU price update last month, the 6600 XT on eBay sold for an average of $ 640, while the slightly slower RTX 3060 typically sold for $ 710. This price has remained largely the same today.

RRP eBay average price July eBay average price August eBay average price September Current price inflation Price increase August to September
Radeon 6900 XT $ 1,000 $ 1,460 $ 1,622 $ 1,569 57% -3%
Radeon 6800 XT $ 650 $ 1,282 $ 1,268 $ 1,411 117% 11%
Radeon 6800 $ 580 $ 1,087 $ 1,127 $ 1,309 126% 16%
Radeon 6700 XT $ 480 $ 733 $ 793 $ 881 83% 11%
Radeon RX 6600 XT $ 380 $ 633 $ 639 68% 1%
average 90% 7%

More Vanilla Radeon RX 6600s are expected to be available at launch, so not only do you have a better chance of buying one, but hopefully at a reasonable price too. That looks promising but remains to be seen, but we'll keep this in mind when we look at the RX 6600.

The Radeon RX 6600 gets an MSRP of $ 330, a $ 50 discount off the XT model. That's a small saving of 13%, a number worth sticking to when reviewing the specs. As the name suggests, the new GPU is a slimmed-down version of the 6600 XT. It's based on the same 237mm2 die packaging, 11.1 billion transistors, but of course not all of them are active as the core configuration has been reduced from 32 compute units to just 28 CUs. This means a 16% reduction in stream processors from 2048 to 1729.

The game's GPU clock has been reduced by a pretty respectable 13% from 2359 MHz to just 2044 MHz, although the Boost GPU clock has decreased slightly by 4%. AMD has also reduced memory performance, going with 14 Gbps of memory and the same 128-bit wide memory bus. The reduction in memory throughput reduced the overall bandwidth by 13% to just 224 GB / s, the same memory bandwidth as the 5500 XT, even though RDNA didn't take advantage of Infinity Cache.

Fortunately, AMD didn't downgrade the storage capacity and left the RX 6600 at 8 GB. However, the decrease in core and memory frequency has reduced the board's power rating from 160 watts to 132 watts. Finally, like the 6600 XT, the non-XT version is limited to the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0 x8. So if you are installing on a PCIe 4.0 system this is not a problem, but installing on a system that only supports PCIe 3.0 can experience performance related issues, which is currently the case with most systems.

This is because when using PCIe 4.0, the RX 6600 series is connected to the CPU via a 16GB / s connection, which is sufficient for modern graphics cards like the one you get with PCIe 3.0 x16. However, when limited to an x8 interface, the bandwidth for a PCIe 3.0 system drops to just 8 GB / s, and we have found in the past that this can severely limit performance, especially when fetching data from the System memory.

I investigated that with the 6600 XT and found only one game where bandwidth limitation became an issue and even then it could be bypassed. However, my concern is that this limitation is going to be ugly in the future and could cause the RX 6600 series not to age as much as Nvidia's competing RTX 3060 series, but of course we need to investigate that in the future.

We got our hands on the Gigabyte Eagle RX 6600 for today's tests. As with the XT version, AMD did not develop a reference card, although there is a reference PCB design available to AIB partners for free.

We tested a total of 12 games at 1080p and 1440p with our Ryzen 9 5950X test system, which was configured with 32 GB dual-rank dual-channel DDR4-3200 CL14 memory. Since the 6600 is very similar in design to the 6600 XT, we'll only analyze a handful of games and then look at the average performance of all 12 titles. Let's get to the results …

Benchmarks

As of F1 2020, we find results that can best be described as predictable, with the new RX 6600 being 13% slower than the XT model at an average of 141 fps. That's a lot of performance at 1080p, even though the RX 6600 only matches the 5600 XT, which will undoubtedly scare many of you, given that this product had an MSRP of $ 280 in early 2020, and it wasn't exactly much back then. However, if you focus on current generation products, it has at least reached the RTX 3060.

The 1440p results are less impressive as the RX 6600 sits at the bottom of our graph and delivers RTX 2070-like performance, which admittedly isn't a bad result.

Compared to AMD's own products, it looks less cheap, although the RX 6600 can only keep up with the 5600 XT, so an overall disappointing result.

Moving on to Cyberpunk 2077, we find that the RX 6600 struggles with an average of 60 fps even at 1080p, although I think that was to be expected given the 6600 XT that rendered 69 fps, which is what the new one Variation makes 13% slower.

Again, we're looking at the new RX 6600's 5600 XT-like performance, and while we're comparing two different generations of GPUs that have been sold in two very different markets, it's still hard not to be disappointed with this result. We'll discuss this further later in the article.

Increasing the resolution to 1440p is not an option when playing Cyberpunk 2077, as the average frame rate drops to ~ 35 fps and we are already using quality settings that have been adjusted.

Death Stranding is more 6600-friendly as it allows an average of 135 fps at 1080p with the highest in-game quality preset. In fact, this is a much better result compared to other AMD GPUs than what we've seen before, as the RX 6600 was able to compete with the RX 5700 this time around, making it slightly faster than the RTX 3060. Not bad as it was 15% slower than the 6600 XT.

1440p can be achieved here with an average of 95 fps, but the 6600 was 18% slower than the XT version. That also meant we were looking at some 5600 XT-like performance again, which is a bit more if I'm honest.

Next up we have Horizon Zero Dawn and this time the RX 6600 matched the 2060 Super and the 2070 so it was pretty good in that regard even though it was only 6% faster than the 5600 XT which means it was at 1440p will deliver basically the same performance.

Since the RX 6600 is only 3% ahead of the 5600 XT with an average of 64 fps, it was also 15% slower than the 6600 XT and 7% slower than the RX 5700.

The penultimate game we're going to look at is Rainbow Six Siege and here the 6600 was 12% slower than the XT model and played it between the RTX 2060 Super and the RX 5700. That's only 5% faster than the 5600 XT .

That margin is reduced to just 3% on the 1440p, although again it was 12% slower than the XT model. Very similar to what we've seen in other titles.

Let's summarize each of the benchmarks using Watch Dogs Legion. The 1080p data shows that the 6600 is 10% slower than the XT model, which is a decent result and means that the RX 6600 could keep up with the RTX 3060, 2070, and 2060 Super.

The 1440p results are pretty similar, with the 6600 lagging 12% behind the XT model but still managing to keep up with the RX 5700 and RTX 2060 Super.

power consumption

In terms of energy efficiency, the RX 6600 is slightly better than the 5600 XT. We're talking about a small 26-watt reduction in overall system usage for roughly the same level of performance, even though it was quite a bit better than the RTX 3060.

Performance summary

The Radeon RX 6600 didn't surprise us because, as expected and compared to the XT model launched two months earlier, the performance was pretty linear. Let's move on to check the average performance of the dozen game examples …

At 1080p, the standard RX 6600 is, on average, 14% slower than the XT version, which corresponds to the price cut. Essentially, you're looking at the performance levels of the RX 5700 or RTX 2070, which are decent overall but weak in terms of progression.

The 1440p results are a little less favorable and while the RX 6600 was still 14% slower than the XT version, it is now only comparable to the RTX 2060 Super and a bit faster than the 5600 XT.

What we learned

So there you have it, this is the Radeon RX 6600. Well, what do you think of that?

In all fairness, it's hard to say how good or bad the RX 6600 will be at launch, and that won't be determined until the coming weeks based on street prices and availability. We kept our ears on the ground and retailers are telling us that availability will be strong at least when compared to other recent releases. If they're right, we should see even more bearings than the introduction of the 6600 XT. So that's a potential plus.

Unfortunately, cryptocurrency miners now appear to be buying RDNA2 GPUs, and in some places 6600 XT prices have skyrocketed and most models are sold out. It is possible that the situation is similar to the XT launch, where you can expect early inventory for a few days at reasonable, MSRP-like prices. However, this stock will run out quickly and never be seen again.

Back to the performance of the Radeon RX 6600. Sure, in a normal market it can't be denied that this product sucks. $ 330 would be a bad joke – a ~ 20% price increase over the 20-month-old 5600 XT – for a ~ 6% increase in performance at 1440p. But as it stands today, the RX 6600 could be the most affordable current-generation graphics card you can buy.

The best option in a bad situation is arguably the best way to describe the Radeon RX 6600, so let's leave it at that for now.

Chances are you already have a working GPU that's faster or close to it, so it's not going to be worth the upgrade. So the RX 6600 is more of an option for those who have no alternative. Now, if you want to play and you can't, the RX 6600 can be an affordable way to make games.

The bottom line is that the Radeon RX 6600, like the 6600 XT, is an uninspiring product that is only made palatable by the current climate. It feels wrong to recommend a graphics card at the moment, especially one that doesn't offer good value for money in a normal market, or even comes close to it. In that case, there is no way you should now be buying a graphics card if you don't need it, but if you do, the 6600 will likely be the decent option.

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