AMD’s RX 6600 is a puzzling card. This latest release by Team Red targets 1080p gaming and is, in effect, a pared down version of the previously released RX 6600 XT, which also targeted 1080p gaming. The RX 6600 isn’t necessarily a bad card, but with the silicon shortages plaguing the entire electronics industry in addition to rising GPU prices, I have to wonder exactly for who this card is intended..
AMD are positioning the RX 6600 as an upgrade over the last generation RX 5600 XT.By and large, it fits the brief. With no reference board model available like the RX 6600 XT before it, we were sent a PowerColor RX 6600 Fighter variant for our review. AMD recommends a suggested e-tail price (SEP) of $329, though your price may vary depending on the market. This is $50 cheaper than the SEP of the 6600 XT. Does it do enough to justify 1080p gaming given the realistically higher price you may pay?
- Architecture: RDNA 2.0
- Memory: 8GB GDDR6
- Memory Bus: 128-bit
- Game Clock: Up To 2044 MHz
- Boost Clock: Up to 2491 MHz
- Memory Bandwidth: up to 224 GB/s
- Shading units: 1792
- Compute Units: 28
- Ray Accelerators: 28
- ROPS: 64
- AMD Infinity Cache: 32 MB
- I/O: 3x DisplayPort 1.4; 1x HMDI 2.1
- Price: $329 Suggested Retail Price
The PowerColor AMD RX 6600 Fighter is on the smaller side, which is a nice change of pace from the monstrous cards that have taken up residence inside my test bench of late. Two fans sit on the front of the 6600which use PowerCooler’s Mute Fan technology. This keeps the card silent under 60 degrees Celsius. The card lacks the personality I’ve come to appreciate from the reference cards AMD has released this generation. Gone are the large Team Rocket-esque “R” logos which emblazon the front of reference boards from AMD’s higher-end offerings. Instead, we have a muted, matte black finish all around.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I really loved the style of the 6000-series GPUs. It’s just a shame partner boards don’t lean into that more – especially since there isn’t a reference board here on offer for those who want it.
It should be noted there aren’t any reference boards in any reviews you might read today. Instead, our review was conducted using the PowerColor variant as previously mentioned. As such, I do recommend reading multiple reviews to get a broad and varied perspective before making a purchasing decision. This is our usual recommendation, but we want to emphasize this due to the many different variants of the RX 6600 available at varying price points. Thankfully, the PowerColor Fighter variant of the RX 6600 retails at $329, so our value proposition with this card will reflect the SEP by AMD.
The RX 6600 is, in effect, a pared back version of the RX 6600 XT. It features a reduced game clock is compared to the XT – 2044 MHz down from 2359 MHz. Stream Processors are also reduced from 2048 to 1792. For those looking for ray tracing performance, the RX 6600 has fewer ray accelerators than its bigger brother, down to 28 from the 6600 XT’s 32.
Both cards feature 32 MB of Infinity Cache to leverage AMD features like Smart Access Memory if you’re using a Ryzen CPU equipped PC (though you’ll need either the 3000 or 5000 series Ryzen to leverage this). The RX 6600 can also leverage AMD’s suite of gaming technologies in its FidelityFX toolset including AMD’s Image Sharpening, Radeon Chill, as well as the recently released FidelityFX Super Resolution.
This last technology is meant to increase gaming performance with minimal loss to visual quality, and is often used as a way to enable expensive GPU techniques such as ray tracing while maintaining acceptable frame rates. While often compared with Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, it’s a fundamentally different technique at play here.
While Nvidia’s DLSS is a machine learning accelerated reconstruction of an image, AMD’s FSR technique is instead a spatial upscaler and does not leverage any machine learning. FSR takes the current image of your game and then upscales it to your target resolution by detecting edges and applying reconstruction on those edges. This, in effect, boosts performance thanks to the lower internal rendering resolution, while producing an image that looks near-native in motion. While FSR lagged in developer support upon release, there are over titles and engines that now support FSR including the recently released Deathloop and Far Cry 6.
With all that set up out of the way, it’s time to get to how the PowerColor AMD RX 6600 Fighter actually performs.
AMD RX 6600 – Performance Benchmarks
AMD heralds the 6600 as a card capable of, “powerhouse performance,” at 1080p. The resolution is still one of the most broadly used, though 1440p and 4K are being adopted more and more recently. In our testing, we put the 6600 up against its AMD 6000-series brethren, as well as AMD’s previous generation, the 5700 XT and the 5600 XT. AMD positions the 6600 as a replacement for the 5600 XT, and directly compares its performance to Nvidia’s 30-series RTX 3060 in its in-house benchmarks. Therefore, we included those in our bench as well and rounded it out with the RTX 3060 Ti. While AMD is targeting 1080p, we also looked at 1440p performance to see how well the RX 6600 scales when throwing the higher resolution at the card, especially in titles that include FSR as an option.
As our test bench is not equipped with a Ryzen CPU, all tests were done without Smart Access Memory enabled. We strongly recommend reading other reviews that do utilize SAM, as it has been proven to give a performance uplift in both independent and in-house benchmark testing, and will give a broader picture of the card’s overall performance.
- 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
AMD RX 6600 – Synthetic Benchmarks
For our synthetic testing, we turned to 3DMark’s DX12 and DX11 tests once again. We opted for the basic versions of Time Spy and FireStrike using default settings on the test since the RX 6600 is meant for 1080p gaming.
When compared directly to the previous generation of AMD cards, the RX 6600 does beat out the beefed up variant of RX 5600 XT we had in our testing suite, the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II. When compared to the 5700 XT, the 6600 comes up short in our FireStrike testing, though it does score a major win when compared to the EVGA RTX 3060 Black in our bench.
For Time Spy, we see the RTX 3060 take a lead against the 6600, though the latter card still comes out on top against the 5600 XT. When compared to the 6600 XT, which is only $50 more (in a perfect market), the more expensive card easily beats the 6600, while AMD’s RX 6700 XT – a card positioned to target 1440p specifically – ekes out the overall top scores across the board.
We also tested 3DMark’s Port Royal ray tracing test, but we will break that down in the Ray Tracing benchmarks section of the review.
AMD RX 6600 Gaming Benchmarks
For gaming, we stuck to both 1080 and 1440p at the highest settings possible to show performance when pushed to its absolute limit. AMD states the RX 6600 is meant for those gamers who want to, “fully embrace 1080p gaming without compromises,” so we wanted to ensure our benchmarks reflected this as much as possible.
To keep results as consistent as possible, we used in-game benchmark tools when available. If there were no in-game benchmarks available, as is the case with Remedy’s Control and Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert Online Remastered, we opted to recreate the same pass as identically as we could to get as consistent a result as possible. For Control, this meant running through Corridor of Doom as we have in a few tests now. For Black Desert, this included beating up monsters near the early game boss Tiny Nose using a predetermined move set to consistently get the same effects on screen as much as possible. All data was captured using Nvidia’s FrameView benchmarking tool.
We also threw a gamut of game engines at the RX 6600 including Ubisoft’s Anvil Next in Watch Dogs Legion, as well as both DX11 and DX12 APIs.
Overall, at 1080p when compared to the last generation 5600 XT, the RX 6600 does rather well. On average, the RX 6600 performs 8% better than the 5600 XT. When compared to the competition, the 6600 seems to lag behind. Nvidia’s RTX 3060 ekes out wins against its similarly priced opponent in every game, coming out ahead to the tune of almost 14% on average. Games such as Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker see the RTX 3060 sit at 130fps on average at 1080p compared to the RX 6600’s 124fps average. Compared to the RX 6600 XT, the 6600 comes up short across the board – which makes sense given it’s a pared back version of the 6600 XT itself. The more expensive 1080p offering by AMD comes out 15% better on average, while the 5700 XT sees a 16% increase at 1080p on average over the new 1080p card by AMD.
At 1440p, the gaps widen. While the RX 6600 is not advertised as a 1440p card, it can handle some 1440p gaming in theory especially if you reduce some settings. The RX 6600 still beats out the RX 5600 XT, though the margins narrow to a 4% increase over last gen on average, though that’s where the gains end. The RX 6600 is beat out by every other card by at least 19% on average across the board at 1440p. However, for the vast majority of the titles, the framerates are acceptable, especially when consider all the settings in each game are at their maximum. You could easily knock a few down and get ample performance out of your RX 6600 at 1440p if you choose to.
Additionally, some the titles are equipped with FSR including Black Desert Online and Godfall. In both cases, both resolutions see monstrous gains on the RX 6600.
In Black Desert Online Remastered, an MMO praised for its incredibly beautiful yet demanding visuals, FidelityFX Super Resolution gives some of the largest performance gains I’ve seen since we started benchmarking FSR. Seeing the 1080p number on the RX 6600 go from an average of 97 FPS to 188fps – an increase of 93% - is insane. Additionally, 1440p fares well, taking a performance number from 48fps on average without FSR enabled to 96 FPS, a 100% increase to performance. And this is using Quality mode – if you wanted even higher framerates you could theoretically achieve this by enabling Performance in BDO’s FSR options.
It should be noted here as well that while I’ve personally be unimpressed with how FSR looks in motion in various games, especially when compared to DLSS’ handling of motion, Black Desert Online Remastered was the first title where I couldn't discern a reduction in image quality with FSR enabled.
AMD RX 6600 – Ray Tracing Benchmarks
But how does the card trace the rays?
In our ray tracing suite, we included titles that are meant to push the card in different ways from Watch Dogs Legion’s reflections, to the ray traced shadows in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. We’ve also included Godfall in this test as it’s a game which features both ray traced reflections and FSR.
3DMark Port Royal’s test shows what we’ve seen this entire generation: Nvidia’s head start and second-generation RT cores really give it an edge across the board. The RX 6600 sits at the bottom of the pack here, which makes sense as it has the least RT cores in its silicon. This trend does continue as gaming benchmarks are thrown into the mix.
When looking at ray traced performance, Nvidia’s RTX 3060 and 3060 Ti pull ahead of the pack across the board, beating out even the mid-range RX 6700 XT, which performed really well in our rasterized benchmarks. While Watch Dogs Legion’s numbers are rough on AMD’s 6600, Remedy’s Control fares a bit better, though it’s performance still lags behind once Nvidia’s DLSS is enabled in the title. The RX 6600 tops out at 26FPS at 1080p, easily beaten by every card on the table, and even more so once the RTX 3060 enabled DLSS, seeing the comparably priced card hit over 60fps with ray tracing enabled.
Conversely, when we look at Godfall, AMD does far better, especially with FidelityFX Super Resolution. Without FSR enabled, Godfall almost hits 60fps on average at 1080p, sitting just under at 58fps. Compared to the rest of the cards on offer, this is still the lowest value, but it’s respectable for sure. When FSR is turned on, 1080p performance increases to 82FPS, a 41% increase. 1440p fares well too, seeing framerates on the RX 6600 go from 39 at native resolution to 66 using FSR Quality, a nice 69% increase.
It should be noted, though, that both native and FSR performance on even the RTX 3060 beats out the performance for both on the RX 6600. In fact, the 1440 numbers for Nvidia’s card are more on par with the 1080p numbers for AMD’s offering, further showing the gap between the two companies and where they are with hardware accelerated ray tracing performance.
FSR does make hitting higher framerates while using ray tracing more attainable on those games that support it, and it stands to reason that by switching on FSR performance or even knocking down some settings those FPS numbers will increase as well.
Temperatures And Noise
The PowerColor RX 6600 Fighter’s fans did their job, keeping the RX 6600 cool, even during ray tracing tests. The card never peaked higher than 75 degrees Celsius, keeping my office nice and cool during testing. Even throwing real-world gameplay at the 6600 in the form of New World, the card never seemingly broke a sweat.
All the while it was the quietest card during benchmark and gaming tests. If noise and temperatures are an issue for you (as they are for me), the RX 6600, specifically the PowerColor variant we have to test, definitely won’t steer you wrong.
Final Thoughts And Conclusion
I said at the outset that AMD’s RX 6600 is a puzzling card, and the benchmark tests don’t make the brief any clearer. Yes, on paper and in testing, it does what it’s meant to do: high performance 1080p gaming. But with last generation’s RX 5700 XT beating it consistently, it makes me wonder even more who this card is for – especially with the 6600 XT also targeting high performance 1080p.
One could make the argument that the 6600 is meant to be a direct replacement to the 5600 XT – basically a slightly better 5600 XT that can also do ray tracing. And if that’s what you’re looking for, then the RX 6600 definitely fits the bill.
However, from a value standpoint, I’m puzzled even more. When the RX 5600 XT released a few years back, it had an MSRP of $279 - $50 cheaper than the replacement 6600 on offer here. Part of the cost increase could simply be due to tariffs on electronics coming from Asia, as well as the silicon shortage driving up costs. However, the performance here doesn’t necessarily translate to that $50 upgrade, especially if you can feasibly find a used 5600 XT for even less.
It’s hard, too, making valuations like this given today’s market. Cards are not selling for MSRP for most consumers thanks to scalpers and miners driving up costs. Additionally, $329 puts the RX 6600 directly in competition with the RTX 3060, a card which on average performed much better than the AMD offering. This is compounded further when you consider the 6600 XT, also targeting 1080p, is $50 more and does offer performance gains at the target resolution and can handle ray tracing better across the board as well.
$329 is a lot of money for a card targeting 1080p, especially when game consoles such as the Xbox Series consoles and the PlayStation 5 target higher fidelity gaming for just a little bit more. For many consumers, holding out to score a digital version of the PS5 for $70 more – a console that targets 4K60 gaming – is going to feel more worth it in 2021.
It all makes me circle back to the fundamental question of who exactly this card is for. If you’re still using an aging RX 5600 XT, this is an upgrade. If you’re still rocking the 5700 XT, you might want to hold off a little while longer. The new pricing is likely the new normal – the market is allowing for higher priced cards to sell out, and tariffs and shortages are driving up costs,.But that doesn’t stop the 6600 from feeling like it is priced higher than its weight class.
At the end of the day, the PowerColor RX 6600 is a good 1080p card. It performs exactly how AMD states: high performance 1080p gaming. However, when compared to AMD’s own family of cards and similarly priced offerings by Nvidia, it makes me wonder whether or not the 6600 is a good value. I’m not quite sure I could recommend the RX 6600 to someone, especially if the RTX 3060 is available at the same MSRP when you’re ready to pull the trigger. When considering the broader market, I’m glad AMD has a cheaper 1080p card when compared to the also overpriced 6600 XT, but it’s hard to recommend when all things are considered.
Does the RX 6600 deliver high performance 1080p gaming? Yes, it does.With more titles featuring FidelityFX Super Resolution, you can even make the case that the 6600 is poised to help some start gaming at 1440p. That is a good thing. However, I can’t help but feel that the 6600 doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the RTX 3060 as an option if both are available. That’s the kicker. Right now, in today’s GPU market, the best card is the one you can actually get your hands on.