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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)

The RX 6400 makes the most sense at entry-level settings, so we'll start with 1080p medium testing. You might be able to push some games to high or even ultra settings, but the GPU already struggled with a few of the games in our current test suite at medium.

The RX 6400 averaged 56 fps across the eight games we tested, just 3% faster than the old GTX 1650 GDDR5. It was also 21-23% slower than the RX 6500 XT, GTX 1650 Super, and RX 5500 XT 4GB, which were basically in a three-way tie at around 71–72 fps.

In the individual game charts, there's plenty of variability between the games. Total War: Warhammer 3 was by far the worst result, where the RX 6400 only managed 26 fps and came in 23% behind the GTX 1650. The best result was in Red Dead Redemption 2, where it was 15% faster than the 1650.

The main attraction is the card's size and power requirement, and the RX 6500 XT right now can be had for just $15 more (a 9% increase in GPU cost) while delivering 25–30% more performance. Yes, it needs a 6-pin power connector, but the vast majority of PCs should be able to manage that.

Cranking the settings to maximum presents a lot of difficulty for the RX 6400, even at 1080p. Multiple games exceed its 4GB VRAM, and the texture thrashing that occurs — where the GPU needs to pull data over the PCIe interface — gets hampered by the x4 connection. Basically, more demanding games will often fail to break 30 fps, and you'll generally want to use lower settings.

As a result of the above, the RX 6400 trailed the GTX 1650 by 11% at 1080p ultra. The RX 6500 XT also struggled, for the same reasons, so the performance gap was relatively consistent and remained at 24%. The RX 6400 was also 29% slower than the RX 5500 XT 4GB and GTX 1650 Super, and 40% slower than the RX 5500 XT 8GB that has enough VRAM to generally avoid memory thrashing.

Our ray tracing test suite really exists to test higher-end graphics cards, but since the RX 6400 has the requisite DirectX 12 Ultimate feature set, we gave it a shot. As with the 6500 XT, Control failed to run in DXR mode because it needs 6GB or more VRAM, but the rest of the games at least ran… or at least wobbled along drunkenly. And again, you don't need to enable ray tracing to enjoy a game, certainly not on a GPU like the RX 6400.

The RX 6500 XT maintained a 25% lead over the RX 6400, just as with our standard test suite. The DXR requirement means that most of the other competing GPUs are completely unable to run these tests, so the next closest GPU is the RTX 3050, which is a huge step up in performance. It was already over twice as fast at 1080p ultra without DXR, and now it's triple the performance — for a bit less than double the cost.

Don't feel too bad about the performance on tap. As bad as this might look compared to dedicated graphics cards, the RX 6400 should still deliver superior performance to any current integrated graphics solution. It has the same number of compute units (CUs) as the Ryzen 7 6800U, with a higher power limit and dedicated VRAM, plus 16MB of Infinity Cache. It will also be faster than the GPU in Apple's new M2, based on specs and features. Just remember to keep your expectations and settings in check. 

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