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AMD Radeon RX 6400 Review: Budget in Almost Every Way

Feels more like a $120 card

AMD Radeon RX 6400
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Radeon RX 6400 represents the lowest performance "modern" GPU we've seen, but cuts too many features and doesn't reduce pricing enough to truly qualify as the budget card it's supposed to be. The only real draw is if you want a half-height GPU or don't want a 6-pin power connector.

Pros

  • +

    Doesn't need a power cable

  • +

    Cards are in stock

  • +

    Good for 1080p medium

  • +

    Half-height options if you want them

Cons

  • -

    Not much cheaper than RX 6500 XT

  • -

    Trades blows with 3-years-old GTX 1650

  • -

    Meaningless ray tracing hardware

  • -

    Weak video codec hardware

The AMD Radeon RX 6400 should be the last 'new' GPU we'll see before the next-generation architectures slated to launch before the end of the year. Officially launched as an OEM-only product at the start of the year, AMD and its partners later decided to sell the cards on the retail market. It's not going to make our list of the best graphics cards, but if your primary requirement is a GPU that doesn't need a 6-pin or 8-pin power connector or a modern GPU that can be found in a half-height form factor, this is it. Still, we wanted to include it in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, and it does fill a potential market niche.

We purchased this PowerColor ITX card at retail because no one wanted to send us a review sample. It sounds a bit like Intel's Arc A380 right now, though at least you can find the RX 6400 in the US market. We opted for the dual-slot model, mostly because that should represent the maximum level of performance you're likely to see from the GPU, whereas a half-height card might end up running a bit slower.

The primary competition for the RX 6400 consists of Nvidia's older GTX 1650 Super and GTX 1650, along with AMD's previous-gen RX 5500 XT and the slightly more expensive RX 6500 XT. Here's how the specifications stack up. 

GPU Specifications
Graphics CardRX 6400RX 6500 XTRX 5500 XT 4GBGTX 1650 SuperGTX 1650
ArchitectureNavi 24Navi 24Navi 14TU116TU117
Process TechnologyTSMC N6TSMC N6TSMC N7TSMC 12FFNTSMC 12FFN
Transistors (Billion)5.45.46.46.64.7
Die size (mm^2)107107158284200
SMs / CUs1216222014
GPU Cores768102414081280896
RT Cores1216N/AN/AN/A
Boost Clock (MHz)28152815171717251665
VRAM Speed (Gbps)161814128
VRAM (GB)44446
VRAM Bus Width6464128128128
ROPs3232324832
TMUs4864888056
TFLOPS FP32 (Boost)4.35.84.84.43
Bandwidth (GBps)128144224192128
PCIe LinkGen4 x4Gen4 x4Gen4 x8Gen3 x16Gen3 x16
TDP (watts)5310713010075
Launch DateJan 2022Jan 2022Dec 2019Nov 2019Apr 2019
Launch Price$159 $199 $159 $159 $149
Online Price$159.99 (opens in new tab)$174.99 (opens in new tab)~$150 used (opens in new tab)~$150 used (opens in new tab)~$100 used (opens in new tab)

It's not a good look to have a new GPU competing against the three-year-old GTX 1650, but that's effectively where things stand. Nvidia hasn't really tried to launch a budget card in recent years, though there are plenty of indications that we'll soon see a new GeForce GTX 1630. That seems silly, as we already have the GTX 1650, and Nvidia should just make more of those instead of cutting features even more to create a 1630, but I digress.

One item of business we need to discuss is the out-of-box experience with the RX 6400, specifically the card's completely locked-down nature. Our understanding is that all overclocking options for the RX 6400 are disabled, and at least in AMD's drivers as well as MSI Afterburner, there's no ability to change any of the clocks or other elements. That probably means we won't see factory overclocked cards, which isn't the case for the other GPUs.

The RX 6400's biggest selling points will be size and power requirements. It's one of the few current options if you want a single-slot card that will fit into a slim form factor PC. Theoretically, you can put the RX 6400 into any PC that has a PCIe x16 slot, and it should work. However, we need to mention that performance will be lower with a PCIe 3.0 system, thanks to the x4 PCIe link width. (We measured about 8–10% lower performance on average when testing the RX 6500 XT with PCIe 3.0 vs. PCIe 4.0.)

Current graphics card prices are often hitting MSRPs, sometimes lower. For example, the RX 6400 can be purchased at AMD's official $160 starting price, while the RX 6500 XT can be had for just $15 more — but it needs a 6-pin power connector. AMD's older RX 5500 XT 4GB can only be found as a used option these days, and the same generally goes for the GTX 1650 Super and GTX 1650, though new cards can sometimes be had for $200. There were a few GTX 1650 cards that didn't need a 6-pin adapter, but they're hard to come by and tend to perform a bit worse than the typical 6-pin models. 

Jarred Walton
Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • King_V
    If ever there was a GPU that strode forth, and boldly declared "Meh," this is it. I will, however, grant it points for its performance/watt, relative to its competitors.

    I would be very surprised if the price held up where it is, though. Then again, a quick look at PC Part Picker for a GDDR5 version of the GT 1030 is showing a single passively cooled model for $90 directly from Asus, and the rest at $114 and higher. The horrible DDR4 version is just as pricey, which elicits a big DoubleYoo Tee Eff?

    Ouch.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    King_V said:
    If ever there was a GPU that strode forth, and boldly declared "Meh," this is it. I will, however, grant it points for its performance/watt, relative to its competitors.

    I would be very surprised if the price held up where it is, though. Then again, a quick look at PC Part Picker for a GDDR5 version of the GT 1030 is showing a single passively cooled model for $90 directly from Asus, and the rest at $114 and higher. The horrible DDR4 version is just as pricey, which elicits a big DoubleYoo Tee Eff?

    Ouch.
    Just waiting for the GTX 1630 to arrive... It should give a little bit more meh to the GTX 16-series, because Nvidia can't let AMD run unchecked in the meh market segment of graphics cards! LOL

    GPU price tiers:
    Enthusiast/Extreme
    High-end
    Mainstream/Midrange
    Budget/Entry-Level
    Meh
    Reply
  • Liquidrider
    King_V said:
    If ever there was a GPU that strode forth, and boldly declared "Meh," this is it. I will, however, grant it points for its performance/watt, relative to its competitors.

    I would be very surprised if the price held up where it is, though. Then again, a quick look at PC Part Picker for a GDDR5 version of the GT 1030 is showing a single passively cooled model for $90 directly from Asus, and the rest at $114 and higher. The horrible DDR4 version is just as pricey, which elicits a big DoubleYoo Tee Eff?

    Ouch.

    I can think of another GPU that strode forth and bodly declared Meh this is it.
    Do you mean competitors like Intel's ARC A380 which was just released in China only and cost more than AMD 6400 and is slower?

    Unlike Intel, however, at least AMD didn't build a bunch of hype around the 6400.
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    Liquidrider said:
    I can think of another GPU that strode forth and bodly declared Meh this is it.
    Do you mean competitors like Intel's ARC A380 which was just released in China only and cost more than AMD 6400 and is slower?

    Unlike Intel, however, at least AMD didn't build a bunch of hype around the 6400.
    I'm not sure the A380 actually costs more than the RX 6400, and it has 2GB more VRAM, much better codec support... but questionable drivers at present. Yeah, it's not great, and the China-only business does not inspire any confidence in me whatsoever. But the theoretical price of the A380 is supposed to be under $150 as I understand things. And if Intel ever wants to be a real player in the GPU space, it absolutely has to fix the driver situation, which is something it knows and is working on. I'm pretty sure a big part of the delayed US launch is to give the driver teams three extra months of debugging and fixing. We'll find out in the next two months... But yes, I'm looking to be underwhelmed by first generation Arc performance. I'm also very hopeful that Intel will keep iterating and actually close the gap with AMD and Nvidia over time, because it would be great to have a third serious player in the GPU market.
    Reply
  • shady28
    It's pretty disappointing that the lower end of the market, around $150 MSRP, hasn't really moved in performance since the 1650 was released in Feb of 2019.

    Yes, 2 1/2 years and there is really no movement here. This wasn't always the case, the 750 Ti (2014) and 1050 Ti (2016) were great cards for their time that sucked people into PC gaming for a fairly low price.

    This failure to seed the market so to speak may backfire in coming years.

    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Thanks a lot for the review. This card actually had a lot of potential (much like the 6500XT) to come and save the day for a lot of people, but they both fell so darn flat it wasn't even funny. It's like one of those bad movies that is so bad it's good, but in this case, the movie was just bad... At least you can decode the movie, right? Heh.

    Anyway, I wish they'd pack a bit more features for <75W cards to justify them being half width for slim cases. I still have my case waiting for that one card that is worthy of going into it. Ah, the dreams and hopes burned, haha.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • King_V
    I don't think it's actually terrible for that niche it's supposed to cover... you need something in a system that doesn't have a PCIe connector, with the option of also having a low-profile, single-slot version.

    And, when I say that, I mean to include that the cooler itself is only single-slot height.

    After all, as Jarred said:
    AMD's Radeon RX 6400 is geared for a very specific niche. If you happen to fall into that niche, go ahead and add 1.5 stars to our score and pick one up.

    I agree that, even for what it is, it most certainly is overpriced. Then again, I seem to recall R7 250E/7750 cards that were single-slot-low-profile designs costing more than their normal sized counterparts. Likewise, it was difficult (impossible?) to find a 750Ti that fit that form factor at all (I was looking to squeeze something into a Dell Inspiron 3647 Small Desktop). They tended to be priced a little higher probably because of the cold calculation of "a captive audience with very few options."

    If a 1630 comes out, I can't imagine it being a contender. The 1650 and 6400 trade blows, with the 1650 dominating once the details are cranked up. The 1630 would probably be out of the running.

    That leaves the real contest for New Meh to the 6400 and the A380. Assuming that the A380 allows for no-PCIe, and offers low-profile-single-slot solutions. At 75W, I don't think that's going to be possible.

    Best case, A380 vs 6400 becomes the Battle For Meh! . . . but I'm starting to suspect that even the A380 won't be able to - it'll require physically larger cards/coolers, and, similar to the 1650, most will require a PCIe connector.

    That'll put it at A380 vs 1650, which the Intel card is going to lose, at a performance level, though likely win easily in the price/performance aspect.


    (edit: grammar/clarity)
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    I'm pretty sure a big part of the delayed US launch is to give the driver teams three extra months of debugging and fixing. We'll find out in the next two months... But yes, I'm looking to be underwhelmed by first generation Arc performance. I'm also very hopeful that Intel will keep iterating and actually close the gap with AMD and Nvidia over time, because it would be great to have a third serious player in the GPU market.
    We have to assume that amd and nvidia have decades worth of a head-start of soft and hardware IP to make games run better and three month is not going to make a difference for intel in closing that gap.

    Intel has to focus to the future and that's what they are doing, they provide all the tools and info to developers and have arc integrated to unity and unreal, they focus on future games being specifically optimized for their cards.
    It's still not a sure bet by any means that the cards will perform well in the future, but at least intel has the groundwork laid out.
    https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/developer/topic-technology/gamedev/overview.html
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    Liquidrider said:
    I can think of another GPU that strode forth and bodly declared Meh this is it.
    Do you mean competitors like Intel's ARC A380 which was just released in China only and cost more than AMD 6400 and is slower?

    Unlike Intel, however, at least AMD didn't build a bunch of hype around the 6400.

    Loved the sub heading on the articles, harsh but true :giggle:
    Reply
  • magbarn
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    I'm not sure the A380 actually costs more than the RX 6400, and it has 2GB more VRAM, much better codec support... but questionable drivers at present. Yeah, it's not great, and the China-only business does not inspire any confidence in me whatsoever. But the theoretical price of the A380 is supposed to be under $150 as I understand things. And if Intel ever wants to be a real player in the GPU space, it absolutely has to fix the driver situation, which is something it knows and is working on. I'm pretty sure a big part of the delayed US launch is to give the driver teams three extra months of debugging and fixing. We'll find out in the next two months... But yes, I'm looking to be underwhelmed by first generation Arc performance. I'm also very hopeful that Intel will keep iterating and actually close the gap with AMD and Nvidia over time, because it would be great to have a third serious player in the GPU market.
    Too bad for Intel as the train has already left the station. Knowing Intel, if Arc is a dud, they'll fire the whole team and we'll be back to the duopoly again. If they just started 6 months ago, Intel would've been as a savior of GPU market. Here's hoping that they give their GPU division at least 3 generations to catch up and get sizable market share.
    Reply