Does the US$379 AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT perform well with budget parts?

·Yahoo Esports & Gaming SEA team
·8-min read

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AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

If it weren't for the bleak and barren GPU landscape of 2021, AMD's latest card, the Radeon RX 6600 XT might have seemed a little out of place. The progress of technology had us expecting 4K and even 8K gaming, in-game graphics that would look almost indistinguishable from real-life, visuals so life-like you could almost reach out and touch.

Instead, we're here, eight months into the second year of a global pandemic, going through a microchip shortage, and most of us probably haven't seen a new GPU in real life for what seems like an eternity. And suddenly, a next-gen card that targets 1080p performance that isn't severely overpriced amazingly feels like light at the end of the tunnel. 

TL:DR: Yes the RX 6600 XT performs well for 1080p in numerous games, especially esports titles.

If you are living in Singapore, here’s a link for you to buy the “cheapest” next-gen budget graphics card in the market right now, for S$699 (well, this is the cheapest right now). Don’t wait too long, if you have been waiting for a chance to get a good budget next-gen GPU. We suspect it may run out soon, given the price point of other similar performing cards like the Nvidia RTX 3060.

Now, with that out of the way, and since you chose to continue reading, you'll now be treated to a glimpse of our little review and experiment.

Truth to be told, we only had a couple of days to test the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT. We only managed to get our hands on the card on Tuesday (10 August), the exact day that the card’s embargoed reviews went live.

Avoiding the internet like the plague to stop ourselves from being pre-exposed what the card was capable of (much like avoiding spoilers for all Marvel movies and shows), we drafted a plan to test the card out in a different way.

We know that most sites would do an extensive review of the card, and more likely than not, they would use a lot of high-end parts to avoid any kind of bottlenecks in the system while testing the GPU. So, we set out to perform a test that would benefit the average gamer and user — by putting the card in a system that a budget gamer would build if they were considering a GPU of this calibre. We are also not comparing it to the RTX 3060 and the like because this is not a comparison, but rather showing the capabilities of the card in system that is most similar to your average gamer’s build.

Test system:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 

  • RAM: 2 x 8GB Crucial Ballistix 3600mhz CL16 

  • Motherboard: Asrock B450 Steel Legend

We are using the stock AMD cooler that comes with the CPU to emulate the budget build, and just a normal 500GB SATA SSD, which would hardly matter in these benchmarks. 

You can also replace the Ryzen 5 3600 with an Intel i5 11400 if you can find one. Both of these CPUs perform similarly and have a similar price point. Just make sure you buy an Intel motherboard that supports the CPU. 

Another thing to note: since we are using a B450 motherboard, it is not PCIE 4.0 capable. However, this hardly matters because even the fastest cards in the market have negligible performance differences when going from PCIE 4.0 to 3.0, so it shouldn’t make any difference for the RX 6600 XT.

AMD sent us the Asrock Phantom Gaming version of the RX 6600 XT. This was kind of surprising to us as AMD had previously sent a reference model of their cards for review and testing. And while it’s an overclocked version of the RX 6600 XT, the boost clocks of the card are not that much higher than the standard reference version, with the Asrock Phantom Gaming being able to boost to 2607 MHz out of the box, while the reference edition cards boosts up to 2589 MHz. 

With that said, we lowered the card’s boost in AMD’s Radeon Software to match the reference edition’s anyway just to give you an idea of what the basic card is capable of.

Here are the results:

Our benchmarks (Image: Yahoo Gaming SEA)
Our benchmarks (Image: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

We tested out 5 popular games — VALORANT, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends and Fortnite. Since the Back 4 Blood beta was also live at the time of testing, we included that there to see if the card could run it as well. We threw in another two more titles, Cyberpunk 2077 and Doom Eternal, to see if the card could hold up to today’s AAA games. All of the games were played at the highest setting as possible (without any raytracing options enabled) so you may get better framerates if you tune your settings just right. We only tested it at 1080p, because that is what AMD has touted this card to be amazing at — 1080p gaming.

As you can tell, AMD spot on. None of the games have issues pushing to at least 60fps, even with Cyberpunk 2077. We even tested the game at the most demanding area, Little China. Just to reiterate, all of this were played at the highest settings as possible, so if you do turn down some of the settings, you will definitely be able to get much higher framerates than what we got with the card.

Fast paced and competitive titles like VALORANT, CS:GO, Apex Legends and Warzone can safely be played on a 144hz 1080p monitor without worrying about the framerates. 

The card runs Back 4 Blood pretty decently as well, so feel free to add that game to your “to buy” list if you do consider purchasing this card. 

All in all, if you do have a system that is similar to our budget build, this is a card that you may want to watch for if you are currently looking for a GPU.

In fact, if you have a CPU that is more powerful than the Ryzen 5 3600, you could potentially get way more frames out of the RX 6600 XT.

We didn’t have much time trying out the raytracing capabilities of this card, but if it’s anything like its big brothers, the RX 6800 XT and the RX 6900 XT, Nvidia definitely wins. In fact, when we turned on raytracing in Cyberpunk 2077 just for giggles, framerates dropped to about 10fps on 1080p. So, we didn’t really bother with it.

The heat on the Asrock Phantom Gaming never pushed past 60 deg C in our testing (in a closed O11 Dynamic case, no less). This may be due to the overkill heatsink that this model comes with. It also never pushed past 160W in power usage, so a modest 550W power supply may be enough to keep your whole pc and this card running at full strength.

However, lets talk about the price of this card.

On paper, the retail price is already at US$379. To put it into perspective, when the RX 5600 XT launched, it was priced at a retail price of US$279. That’s a whooping 35 percent price increase for a card that is supposed to be in the same category as the RX 5600 XT. Granted, it IS way more powerful than the RX 5600 XT, but that is not the point. GPUs that are released in the next generation are expected to be more powerful, but still retain their price point, based on whatever tier the card is at.

However, this as mentioned above, this is our reality of 2021. The increase in price can be chalked up to two main points: inflation and the ever-increasing price of raw materials to create the card. 

Due to the pandemic and increased demand for raw materials to create these cards, AMD and board partners have no choice but to increase the price of these products, simply due to how much it costs to create one in 2021. 

Let’s use copper as an example. Copper is used in the average graphics card to create the GPU heatsinks. The price of a pound of copper in December 2019 was US$2.72. As of 12 August 2021, the price of copper is US$4.19. That’s a 54 percent increase in price for one of the raw materials needed to create a GPU. 

We're not even talking about the other materials needed like sand (which is used to create the GPU silicon) but you get the picture.

In this reality, US$379 (or S$699 for the cheapest card in Singapore with an official distributor warranty) may be the cheapest in this category for the foreseeable future.

Even with Nvidia pricing their RTX 3060 at a retail price of US$329, you barely see any of these cards going for that price. In fact, because the RTX 3060 is so lucrative for cryptomining, it will be extremely in demand for the foreseeable future and priced way more than it should be even in retail. As long as cryptomining is a valid way for someone in the world to make an income, demand for will outstrip supply.

So then, if you've read up to here and want a recap, here's our quick summary: 

  • The RX 6600 XT is great for 1080p gaming, even in a moderately low spec-ed set up.

  • It's not likely to drop much in price, unless the prices of raw materials do.

  • It's got pretty low heat output, and you don’t need a beefy power supply to enjoy high refresh rate gaming at 1080p.

  • Forget about raytracing. Just buy this card for its raw rasterization power.

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