AMD’s latest release, the RX 6600 XT, takes aim at high refresh rate 1080p gaming. Much of the resolution discourse in gaming nowadays has been centered around 4K resolutions, be it console or PC gaming. However, AMD is looking to capture those users still rocking 1080p screens, users who are looking to game with max graphics and high refresh rates at 1080p. Does the 6600 XT make sense, especially for its reference card price, when stacked up against the competition?
- Architecture: RDNA 2.0
- Memory: 8GB GDDR6
- Memory Bus: 128 bit
- Memory Bandwidth: 256 GB/s
- Base Clock: 1968 MHz
- Game Clock: 2359 MHz
- Boost Clock: 2589 MHz
- Memory Clock: 16 Gbps
- Shading Units: 2048
- Texture Units: 128
- ROPs: 64
- Compute Unites: 32
- RT Cores: 32
- Infinity Cache: 32 MB
- I/O: 1x HDMI 2.1; 3x DisplayPort 1.4
- Maximum Digital Resolution: 7680 x 4320
- Price: $379 Suggested Retail Price (Reference Card)
When AMD first unveiled the RX 6600 XT, it also revealed, at least at launch, the card would only be available through its AIB partners. We should note that as of now, there aren’t any reference 6600 XTs to review. Our review was conducted using the MSI RX 6600 XT Gaming X GPU, which does come with a few perks such as Twin Frozr cooling, an aluminum backplate to help keep the GPU and VRAM cool, and more. It can also be assumed there is a factory overclock in place, though the exact base and boost clocks of the GPU were not made available to us before embargo. We will update this review with those specifications once we have them. However, it’s reasonable to assume the numbers reflected in the review will be a few percentage points higher than the reference card AMD states could be available soon. As such, it’s important to note the card we reviewed today is also more expensive than the reference card, retailing for $569.99 according to our MSI PR rep. This price is partly due to the current tariffs on electronic goods coming from China to the US.
The card itself looks awesome. I’ve always liked the aggressive design of MSI’s cards, and the Gaming X does not disappoint here. As someone who lives in a desert and constantly battles with heat, even in an air-conditioned house, I appreciate the giant Torx fans on the front to keep the card cool under pressure.
I really wish even the AIB cards evoked the look of the reference cards as I really appreciate the look of the 6000 GPUs (as I mentioned in my RX 6700 XT review). However, I do not dislike the look of the MSI Gaming X line of 6600 XT one bit, including the logo on the side which illuminates when the PC is on.
AMD’s RDNA 2 features are here with the 6600 XT, though in a pared back way. Compared to the 6700 XT, the 6600 XT sees a reduction in pretty much every metric including its Infinity Cache (96 MB vs 32 MB), Ray Accelerators (40 to 32), and even the VRAM (down from 12GB to a more standard 8GB). This might be one of the more impactful differences as 8GB of RAM might see the RX 6600 XT be outpaced by more recent AAA games at max graphics, like in Watch Dogs Legion. It does leave me to question the future proofing of the card, especially when other AMD cards – as well as the less expensive Nvidia RTX 3060 – sport more VRAM with the intention of future proofing.
The RX 6600 XT does take advantage of AMD features like Radeon Chill, Radeon Boost (on supported titles), Radeon Anti-Lag, and leverages AMD’s Smart Access Memory (assuming you’ve got a Ryzen-equipped machine) as well as the recently released AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). The latter is meant to allow for higher performance while providing “near-native” image quality across the scene.
Many will naturally compare this to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling, though the two techniques are actually quite different. Nvidia’s DLSS leverages machine learning to reconstruct the image while providing a temporal antialiasing. AMD’s FSR, meanwhile, is a spatial image enhancement acting on a per-frame basis. It works by looking for edges in the scene and then attempts to resolve those edges to a higher resolution. Unlike DLSS, there is no machine learning involved.
Crucially, DLSS is a full-on reconstruction, whereas FSR is not. It is instead a spatial upscaler. DLSS contains a temporal component, whereas FXR does not utilize any motion vector data. This means while DLSS can enhance intra-edge detail (resolving texture detail and text on a billboard, for example), FSR cannot improve the quality of the image contained “within” those edges. DLSS and FSR, therefore, are two different techniques trying to solve slightly different problems. They are not 1:1 comparable. Finally, it’s worth noting FSR does work on Nvidia cards, meaning more players can take advantage of the technique when able, whereas DLSS is exclusive to Nvidia RTX cards.
FSR is available in few games at the moment, though AMD does state that because of how it works at the developer level, it should make it easier for devs to implement in their games. It also allows for multiple modes, from Quality presets where the FSR pass prioritizes image quality, to Performance where eking out more FPS is more important.
AMD RX 6600 XT – Performance Benchmarks
Let’s get into the benchmarks themselves. In our testing, we stacked the RX 6600 XT against previous RDNA 2 cards from AMD, namely the RX 6700 XT and the RX 6800. We also included the last generation RX 5700 XT for a gen-on-gen comparison. For the competition, we included the RTX 3060, RTX 3060 Ti, and the RTX 3070.
- CPU: Intel i7-10700K @ 3.8GHz (Boost Clock up to 5.1 GHz)
- Cooling: Corsair 100i 240mm Liquid Cooler
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Aorus Z490 Ultra
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB @ 3200MHz
- Storage: Intel 760p 2TB M.2 NVMe, ADATA Falcon 1TB M.2 NVMe
- PSU: RM 850X 850W
- Case: Lian Li 011 Dynamic
It is important to note that as we are using an Intel powered rig, we are unable to provide benchmarks for the RX 6600 XT if we were using AMD’s Smart Access Memory. We highly recommend reading other reviews that are able to provide this data to get a clearer picture, especially if this is something your rig is able to handle.
AMD RX 6600 XT – Synthetic Benchmarks
For our synthetic testing we turned to 3DMark’s DX12, DX11, and Ray Tracing benchmark. It should be noted we opted for the basic versions of Time Spy and Fire Strike as the RX 6600 XT is meant for 1080p gaming, and we used default settings on every benchmark.
As we can see in the Time Spy graph, the RX 6600 XT ekes out a win overall compared to the EVGA RTX 3060 Black, though it does fall behind its AMD companions, with even last generation’s RX 5700 XT beating the RDNA 2 card. We see the RX 6800 solidly lead the pack, besting even the RTX 3070 Founder’s Edition in overall and graphics score.
The Fire Strike test shows similar results, with the RX 6600 XT beating out the RTX 3060. However, the card lags behind the RTX 3060 Ti (as it did in the Time Spy test as well). Again, we see the RX 6800 lead the pack with an outrageously impressive graphics score, as well as leading overall.
AMD RX 6600 XT Gaming Benchmarks
For gaming, we stuck to both 1080p and 1440p resolutions. For these tests we just reported regular numbers without ray tracing. We’ll have a section dedicated to ray tracing performance below.
For gaming benchmarks, to keep the results as consistent as possible, we used in-game benchmark tools when available. If there were none available, we would then create a circuit to run and try to replicate each pass identically to capture the most consistent data possible. This means for a game like Control, we would run the Corridor of Doom as we’ve done in previous benchmark tests. We also tested a gamut of game engines from Horizon Zero Dawn’s Decima engine, Watch Dogs Legion’s Anvil Next, as well as both DX11 and DX12 APIs.
As you can see from the graphs above, the RX 6600 XT does perform quite well at 1080p in many of the titles presented. In our testing, no game tested below 60 frames-per-second, which should be the lowest standard, especially at 1080p nowadays. Demanding triple-A titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Horizon Zero Dawn show admirable results at 1080p, fitting the brief AMD was hoping to fill.
When compared with the last generation RX 5700 XT (also a Gaming X variant), however, the results feel a bit more muddled. Some games, such as Godfall see the RX 6600 XT enjoy a small 2.2% increase over 5700 XT, other games like Ubisoft’s Anno 1800 show a starker result for the 6600 XT, with the 5700 XT reveling in a 10% boost in framerate at 1080p.
The results feel even more muddled for the RX 6600 XT when you compare it to the RTX 3060 Ti, whose retail price is only listed as $20 more than the the reference 6600 XT. For that extra $20 (assuming you can find either at their respective retail prices), you see games like Control enjoy a 36% increase in FPS at 1080p, as well as staying above 60 on average at 1440p (versus an average of 44 for the 6600 XT).
Compared to the less expensive RTX 3060 at 1080p, the 6600 XT does see a win, performing on average 4% faster at 1080.
Anno 1800 is an example of a title that really benefits performance-wise from AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution. While Anno does not include ray tracing, it does support FSR, which sees all the cards in our bench get a boost in performance. We used the Balanced preset, and compared to the native numbers we do see some might large gains across the board. FSR here makes the case for using the 6600 XT for 1440p gaming, with a very respectable 99 FPS average, which does see it beat out the RTX 3060 by a slim margin. However, the RTX 3060 Ti, even with FSR, blows the doors off the 6600 XT with an increase versus the AMD card of 33% in performance.
AMD RX 6600 XT – Ray Tracing Benchmarks
As with all new GPUs nowadays, the question “does it trace the rays” will constantly come up. So we put the card through its paces with a few games with different implementations, from the reflection and lighting work in Watch Dogs Legion, to the ray traced shadows in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. New to our bench is Counterplay Games’ Godfall which features not just ray tracing but also FidelityFX Super Resolution.
3DMark’s Port Royal tests Ray Tracing performance on each card, and here we see the RTX cards pull ahead, even the cheaper RTX 3060. It makes sense as Nvidia is on their second round of RT-capable hardware while the RT Cores in the RDNA 2 architecture are AMD’s first real pass as hardware that can leverage DXR. However, the RX 6600 XT sits at the bottom of the pack when it comes to Port Royal, a trend we will see continue unfortunately in gaming benches.
The bright spot for AMD is its FSR performance over Nvidia’s cards – which can also use FSR – in Godfall. The looter-slasher from Counterplay Games has been used extensively in the marketing of FSR by AMD, so it does stand to reason the performance in this title will be, well, very good on AMD’s cards. With ray tracing enabled, as well as FSR Balanced, we see the RX 6600 XT break almost 110FPs at 1080p, coming in on average at 108. However, it’s still not enough to beat out the Nvidia competition with FSR also enabled, with the RTX 3060 eking out better 1080p and 1440p performance here.
The RX 6600 XT also seemingly does not like Watch Dogs Legion, with the AMD card turning in simply unplayable numbers here. Control was also a bit of a disappointment, with Remedy’s psychological action game struggling to simply load textures at times on walls or on Jessie’s clothing during our runs through the Corridor of Doom. This could be down to the 128-bit bus on the 6600 XT presenting a bottleneck, but we can’t be 100% certain.
It is safe to say that the RX 6600 XT is not necessarily going to be a huge performer for players with Ray Tracing, at least not until more titles leveraging the DXR API can also leverage FSR.
Temperatures And Noise
From a temperature standpoint, I was very pleased with the RX 6600 XT’s performance. The card, even when under load doing ray tracing rendering never saw its temps peak higher than 68 degrees Celsius. Even when keeping the card cool, the GPU itself never sounded loud either – this was one quiet GPU and I greatly appreciated that.
Final Thoughts And Conclusion
All things told, with the data staring me in the face, I have to wonder why this card exists. Sure, there is a market for 1080p gaming AMD is seemingly eager to fill.But with the current shortages facing GPU makers and consumers, as well as wildly high costs when you can find a card in the wild, $379 for the reference version of a 1080p performer feels steep, even in today’s market. This is compounded when you consider, in a perfect world, the much better RTX 3060 Ti exists for $20 more.
This is further compounded when you consider at launch the RX 6600 XT will be sold mainly as AIB cards, meaning their price will be much higher than the listed $379 price by AMD. At that rate, some consumers might simply hold out and buy a much more powerful card if they are going to have to spend $500+ on a GPU, or even just wait and grab a current-gen console like the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, especially since both those consoles retail, at most, for $499 and offer much higher resolution targets like 4K gaming.
The pricing here feels too high, even for the $379 reference card. While the MSI 6600 XT does perform better than our RTX 3060, the RX 6600 XT, for a 1080p card, really feels like it should be priced closer to the 3060 itself, not its Ti brother.
Additionally, while FSR does provide an uptick in performance that many might enjoy, I found the actual visuals lacking when enabled. Godfall looked muddled on my 1080p screen, and while AMD mentions “near-native” image quality,I found many scenes missing detail in Anno 1800 on both AMD and Nvidia cards when using FSR.
All told, I don’t quite know whether or not I could easily recommend the 6600 XT to someone, especially when you consider the baseline cost before you even factor in the current market’s mark-up we are already seeing around the internet ahead of its launch. Yes, the RX 6600 XT provides high-refresh performance at 1080p – it fits the brief beautifully. But when considering the broader market, it just does not make sense to me personally.
Nvidia’s 3060 Ti is priced only $20 more MSRP and outperforms the 6600 XT by 33%. Moreover, the 6600 XT is $50 more expensive than Nvidia’s 3060, yet performs only 4% faster. It feels like the RX 6600 XT’s price was chosen simply because of the constraints on the market and nothing else. I felt the RX 6700 XT was overpriced for its performance, and the trend here continues as well.
The AMD RX 6600 XT does what it set out to do: high refresh-rate gaming at 1080p. The MSI variant we reviewed stayed cool and quiet under pressure, and the card even turns in some nice results at 1440p. However, I can’t help but feel hesitation when recommending this card to anyone. 1080p is dated at this point, with many players opting for higher resolution, high refresh monitors today. 4K gaming is possible on consoles, which in theory don’t cost that much more than the 6600 XT. Additionally, for marginally more money in a perfect world, you can expect to see much better 1080p, 1440p, and ray tracing performance in the RTX 3060 Ti.
Does it fit its brief? Yes. Is it overpriced for what it sets out to accomplish? Also yes. All told, it makes the RX 6600 XT feel out of place and overpriced compared to its direct competition. It’s a card that accomplishes what it needs to, unfortunately at a premium.