Did you expect consumer gaming-grade graphics cards to sell under MSRP in February 2022? It has happened. Mindfactory, one of Germany's most prominent online tech retailers, has published a page full of special offers this weekend. It contains AMD partner graphics cards that are selling below MSRP. This news might be exciting, but before you start dreaming about GPU upgrades, playing the latest PC games with real-time raytracing in 4K, and rushing off to find your credit card - both these sub-MSRP treats are AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT designs.
Stocks of the RX 6500 XT models are reasonably healthy. Our screen capture says that 58 of the €199 ASRock ITX models are available, and 32 of the €229 models are available. So they aren't exactly flying off the shelves, and that is very likely why these are the first sub-MSRP graphics cards we have seen for many months.
Mindfactory listings show two AMD Radeon RX 6500 XTs models available for purchase. The ASRock Radeon RX 6500XT Challenger ITX and the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle were available at €199 when we first checked, but now the Gigabyte model has gone up in price to €229. The other discounted RX 6500 XT on the Mindfactory specials page is an ASRock Radeon RX 6500 XT Phantom Gaming D OC at €229. This dual-fan model used to sell for €249.
Putting the prices into context, the German MSRP for the base model AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT graphics cards is €209. In addition, Germany applies a VAT of 19%, which makes the ASRock ITX model about €160 before sales tax. If we convert this sum to USD, we get $182 before sales tax.
If you haven't been watching PC graphics cards very closely in 2022, you might have missed the arrival of two new challengers at the entry-level end of the market. These were, of course, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 and the topic of our sub-MSRP pricing story, the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT.
In our review of the XFX RX 6500 XT QICK 210, we noted the PCIe 3 Gen3 vs. PCIe Gen4 performance problem and various other compromises (like VRAM and memory bus) about pricing and availability. However, the most important takeaway was that this card doesn't beat aging GPUs like the GTX 1650 Super or even older cards like the GTX 1060 or RX 580.
About a week after launch, retailers had quickly replenished the first stocks of sold-out RX 6500 XTs, but the asking prices were about 50% higher than MSRPs in the US.
We are checking major US online retailers today. The cheapest Radeon RX 6500 XT we could find in stock retails for $259, still $59 above the US MSRP. However, we hope what we see in Germany is the start of a trend that extends beyond the lowest-end RDNA 2 architecture graphics card from AMD.
This is NOT a high performance GPU. In fact, a GTX 1070 (released over 5½ years ago) beats the RX 6500 XT in almost every game, by a nice margin. However, for the price and decent performance with mid-level settings, this is a decent deal.
EDIT: because my fingers don't always type the word that my brain tells them to type.
There is no "less cut down" version of the RX6500 since the crap we got as the new $200 desktop tier is the full die intended for use with next-gen mobile APUs, not desktops and especially not IGP-less and PCIe 4.0-less ones. Hopefully AMD won't cut as many corners on the RX7500's design.
6500XT users should consider upgrading to 7500XT next year to keep up with performance. Quite a hefty investment for this budget entry card.
Looking at current market prices, practically all cards on the market right now could be considered "trash" if we compare their value against what you could have found in the same price bracket just over a year ago. In the US, RTX 3050s are mostly priced over $500 currently, but perform worse than an RTX 2060 you could have picked up for around $300 new in 2020. Outside of DLSS and RT support, the 3050 is not much better than the 1660 SUPER that launched for just $230 over two years ago. The card's "$250" MSRP might technically look like a much better value than what the 6500 XT offers for its "$200" MSRP, but you can't find the cards for anything remotely close to that MSRP, so it doesn't matter.
The card that's currently most similar in street price to the 6500 XT in Nvidia's lineup is the GTX 1650 (non-super), a card that generally performs worse than the 6500 XT. So while the card's MSRP would clearly be bad in a normal market where cards could actually be found near their MSRPs, the real-world pricing is par for the course with other graphics cards currently available.