AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT review: A killer 1080p graphics card with pandemic pricing

AMD tuned the Radeon RX 6600 XT for ultra-fast 1080p gaming and it shines in that regard, but slower 1440p performance and a sky-high price hold it back from full praise.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Our test system

Our AMD Ryzen 5000-series test rig can benchmark the effect of PCIe 4.0 support on modern GPUs, as well as the performance-boosting AMD Smart Access Memory and Nvidia Resizable BAR features (which are both based on the same underlying PCIe standard). Currently, we’re testing it on an open bench with AMD’s Wraith Max air cooler; in the future, we’ll add an NZXT Kraken liquid cooler to the mix. Most of the hardware was provided by the manufacturers, but we purchased the storage ourselves.

  • AMD Ryzen 5900X, stock settings
  • AMD Wraith Max cooler
  • MSI Godlike X570 motherboard
  • 32GB G.Skill Trident Z Neo DDR4 3800 memory
  • EVGA 1200W SuperNova P2 power supply
  • 1TB SK Hynix Gold S31 SSD

We’re comparing the US$379 Radeon RX 6600 XT against the various cards it’s replacing, either spiritually or practically: the US$279 Radeon RX 5600 XT, the US$350 Radeon RX 5700, and the US$400 Radeon RX 5700 XT. Because a big part of AMD’s value proposition for the 6600 XT revolves around its fantastic Smart Access Memory feature, which boosts frame rates when the GPU is paired with a compatible Ryzen CPU and motherboard, we’ve included performance results for the card with SAM active as well. Its uplift ranges from meh to marvelous.

On the Nvidia front, we’ve included results for the reference-spec’d US$330 EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming that AMD is so keen to compare against the 6600 XT. Because AMD’s newcomer costs US$380, however, it makes sense to compare it against the US$400 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti as well, in the form of EVGA’s fearsome FTW3 Ultra. All of these suggested prices are a fraction of what you’ll pay for these GPUs in the real world right now, of course, but using suggested pricing helps evaluate graphics cards as they were intended.

We test a variety of games spanning various engines, genres, vendor sponsorships (Nvidia, AMD, and Intel), and graphics APIs (DirectX 11, DX12, and Vulkan). Each game is tested using its in-game benchmark at the highest possible graphics presets unless otherwise noted, with VSync, frame rate caps, real-time ray tracing or DLSS effects, and FreeSync/G-Sync disabled, along with any other vendor-specific technologies like FidelityFX tools or Nvidia Reflex. We’ve also enabled temporal anti-aliasing (TAA) to push these cards to their limits. We run each benchmark at least three times and list the average result for each test.

Pay close attention to how the Radeon RX 6600 XT compares against Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, which is much faster for just US$20 more. Also pay attention to how its performance stacks up against last generation’s Radeon RX 5700 XT, which was priced in the same ballpark but featured a wider 256-bit memory bus. The new 6600 XT pulls decently ahead of it in 1080p gaming performance, but that lead dissipates at 1440p, because the 6600 XT features a tiny 128-bit bus paired with a 32MB Infinity Cache solution that was specifically engineered for 1080p resolution. When you bump the resolution up to 1440p, the Radeon RX 6600 XT needs to rely on that much smaller memory bus much more often. 

Gaming performance benchmarks

Watch Dogs: Legion

Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the first games to debut on next-gen consoles. Ubisoft upgraded its Disrupt engine to include cutting-edge features like real-time ray tracing and Nvidia’s DLSS. We disable those effects for this testing, but Legion remains a strenuous game even on high-end hardware with its optional high-resolution texture pack installed. The game allocates more than 8GB of memory even at 1440p. Oof.

wdl Brad Chacos/IDG

Horizon Zero Dawn

Yep, PlayStation exclusives are coming to the PC now. Horizon Zero Dawn runs on Guerrilla Games’ Decima engine, the same engine that powers Death Stranding.

hzd Brad Chacos/IDG

Next page: gaming benchmarks continue

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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