Conclusion

Today AMD has dropped another video card, one that a lot of gamers have been waiting for.  Filling out the mainstream segment, at $329 SEP, allows more gamers to afford the latest generation of features from AMD GPUs for modern games.  The Radeon RX 6600 brings the newest RDNA 2 architecture down to a more appealing price point and allows gamers to upgrade to modern features and game feature support at a more affordable price point.  The Radeon RX 6600 is targeting the entry-level 1080p desktop PC gaming space. 

Think of the Radeon RX 6600 as the Radeon RX 6600 XT’s little brother.  It’s the same NAVI 23 GPU, just with a few bits shaved down to meet the price point.  Some of the big differences are a cut down in Compute Units and Stream Processors.  The Radeon RX 6600 also has a lower GPU clock speed than the Radeon RX 6600 XT. 

It also has a lower memory frequency, reducing the memory bandwidth.  But uniquely it does retain some important things like the 32MB of Infinity Cache, and 8GB of GDDR6.  With the cuts, the Radeon RX 6600 is the most power-efficient video card from AMD yet with excellent performance per Watt.

Overall Performance

When we look back at performance, there are a few things to take away.  AMD has targeted the Radeon RX 6600 for entry-level 1080p gameplay, or just a little above, and we think that fits it very well.  The SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 6600 GAMING is capable of playing most games here at 1080p with high to ultra-game settings.  Some easier running games can actually maximize game settings at “Ultra” and even Ray Tracing at 1080p.  While the other more demanding games do have to have some quality settings turned down. 

Still, in those demanding games, there are ways to make them playable on the Radeon RX 6600 at 1080p.  Just lower game settings to high levels or medium, and it should be playable.  You might not be able to run Ray Tracing in those games, but you can still experience the games just fine at 1080p.  Therefore, the Radeon RX 6600 offers a mix of being playable at maximum settings in some games at 1080p, and in others at medium or high settings.  It just depends on the game and the type of game.  Most e-sports type games should be the ones that can run at maximum settings at 1080p and you’ll have a good gameplay experience.

We also felt the Radeon RX 6600 was closer to the Radeon RX 5600 XT in performance than we would have thought.  There were games where they were within 10% or less of each other.  Then there were a few situations where it was appropriately faster.  It just seems that they are a lot closer than we expected for the Radeon RX 6600 being a new architecture and much faster clock speeds plus Infinity Cache. The separation seemed like it should have been great, also consider the Radeon RX 6600 is $329 whereas the Radeon RX 5600 XT was $279. For a higher price, we expected a bit more out of the Radeon RX 6600.

RTX 3060 Performance

We also experienced the GeForce RTX 3060 being very competitive to the Radeon RX 6600.  There were some games where they had the same performance, but then there were others where the GeForce RTX 3060 was faster, and not just by a little, but by a lot.  For the most part, it was generally faster.  The Radeon RX 6600 seems a bit underpowered unless you overclock it. 

The GeForce RTX 3060 seems to be stronger when it comes to Ray Tracing performance.  This is just true in pretty much every game we tested, even the latest Far Cry 6.  If you want to include Ray Tracing in your games at 1080p, the GeForce RTX 3060 is going to be the answer there.  Except for some specific games the Radeon RX 6600 may not be the best overall card for Ray Tracing at 1080p.

FSR and DLSS

When it comes to FSR the interesting thing about FSR is that it works on both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs.  Therefore, what benefits AMD performance, is also going to benefit NVIDIA performance.  The opposite is true of games with DLSS, where that will only benefit NVIDIA GPUs.

In a game like Far Cry 6 or Godfall, we can actually play at 1440p on the SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 6600 GAMING video card with Ray Tracing as long as FSR is on.  This is pretty amazing and raises the potential of the Radeon RX 6600 for gameplay performance and experience.  But the same is also true of the GeForce RTX 3060 in those games.  FSR also elevates that video card and makes it just as playable, if not faster due to its faster Ray Tracing performance.  Therefore, FSR benefits both and extends their capabilities.

On the other hand, DLSS only benefits the GeForce RTX 3060.  In games that support DLSS, like demanding games Cyberpunk 2077 or Red Dead Redemption 2, and so forth, DLSS makes the GeForce RTX 3060 more playable.  The Radeon RX 6600 is just stuck in those games, it is what it is and there is no other method to make it faster except lower game settings.  The GeForce RTX 3060 has DLSS, so in the games that support DLSS, it’s also going to get the benefit from that.  With the Radeon RX 6600, you get FSR.  With the GeForce RTX 3060, you get FSR and DLSS.  It supports both, so it will always have the advantage in terms of resolution upscaling support.

Final Points

Concluding on the Radeon RX 6600 is an interesting thing.  From one perspective it offers a fine 1080p gameplay experience.  In some games you can max out at 1080p, others you can lower in-game settings or use FSR if it is supported.  But then, on the other hand, the GeForce RTX 3060 offers more, it has faster Ray Tracing performance, and it supports DLSS in addition to being able to use FSR, and it also has more VRAM.

The best way to come about this is to propose a few scenarios and conclude in that way.  So, if you will, let’s go over a few scenarios.  Remember, both video cards have an MSRP of $329, but we do not know what the actual street price or retail price will end up being, and we also don’t know which video cards will actually be available and ready to purchase in greater quantity. 

Scenario 1: Prioritize availability.  At the end of the day, you can only buy what you can actually get your hands on.  Therefore, whichever one has more availability and is physically available, well that’s the one to prioritize.  Grab whatever you can actually find first.

Scenerio 2: Both video cards are actually available on the shelf, sitting right next to each other, and both are the SAME price, that is they are both being sold at or near MSRP.  In this scenario, the GeForce RTX 3060 might be more appealing.  Faster Ray Tracing, DLSS, more VRAM, generally faster.  The Radeon RX 6600 doesn’t have any advantages, except for a lower power draw, and if that’s what you need, then there you go.

Scenario 3: You can find both cards, but the actual street price with which you can purchase them is very different.  One of the video cards is priced closer to MSRP than the other, and overall will be cheaper in price.  In this scenario, buy whichever one is the cheaper option by price.  If that ends up being the AMD Radeon RX 6600 because it is more available, and thus the street price or retail price is lower, then grab it. There has been a lot of chatter about the Radeon RX 6600 series having better availability, if this is true, and prices are better and you can find it, it’s not a bad deal. 

At the end of the day, all these factors, and more can end up being the deciding factor for you.  As far as the SAPPHIRE PULSE version of the Radeon RX 6600 goes, this video card is appealing from a couple of standpoints.  It’s small in size, and it is efficient in power and performance per Watt.  You will be able to install it in a system with a lesser Wattage PSU, or if it’s a small build.  It also performed above its station, the dynamic clocks were faster than the game boost clocks.  It also has some overclocking headroom, maybe more than we anticipated.  It has headroom to improve performance, even though it is a compact video card.  It runs decently cool, and with some custom fan curves should be good.  It is definitely quiet, and won’t make a ruckus.  It’s a well-built video card from SAPPHIRE.   

Discussion

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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1 Comment

  1. I wonder if this card was specifically engineered with greater availability and ease to produce in mind.

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