Radeon RX 6600: It All Depends on Street Prices and Availability
If the GeForce RTX 3060 were available at anything close to Nvidia's official starting price of $329, the Radeon RX 6600 would be in a bad way. With the same nominal price, the RTX 3060 almost always comes out ahead in gaming performance, plus it has 50% more memory. On top of that, it has better ray tracing performance and also has the benefit of Nvidia's software ecosystem (DLSS, Broadcast, and GeForce Experience). In a straight up punching match, the RX 6600 is woefully outclassed.
But it's nigh on impossible to acquire an RTX 3060 for under $500, unless you get lucky, and AMD's RX 6000-series graphics cards tend to be slightly closer to their MSRPs than Nvidia's RTX 30-series cards right now. We'll need to see what actual street prices and availability look like before we can really determine the winner. On paper, Nvidia has the lead, but I can write a lot of things down on paper that simply don't hold up under scrutiny.
Given the RX 6600 uses harvested Navi 23 dies that couldn't qualify to work as fully enabled RX 6600 XT GPUs, it's little surprise that the GPU has to clock lower and performs measurably worse. The use of slower 14Gbps GDDR6 memory also has an impact on performance, and the net result is a card that's about 15% slower than the RX 6600 XT in most cases. That also puts it right around the level of the RX 5700 (non-XT), and ahead of the RX 5600 XT (except at 4K), even though it has to get by with a lot less memory bandwidth. Thanks to AMD's Infinity Cache, that's not as much of a problem as you would expect. With half the memory bandwidth, the RX 6600 still keeps up with the previous generation card.
That's the good news. The bad news is the price of the RX 6600 jumped around $75 compared to the previous generation card it sort of replaces. The RX 5600 XT launched at $279, and for a while you could pick them up for as little as $250. If only I had had the foresight to stock my basement with cheap GPUs back in 2019… and then paid the interest on my credit card for a year. But really, it's the RX 6600 XT that replaced the RX 5600 XT, while the non-XT vanilla variety we're looking at today represents a lower tier of performance.
Outside of the part names, the story hasn't changed much relative to what we thought last year. Nvidia's Ampere GPUs continue to deliver superior ray tracing performance and also support DLSS. For everyone that doesn't care much about ray tracing, AMD's RDNA2 GPUs work quite well. Now we just need AMD — by way of TSMC — to be able to produce about ten times as many GPUs, and then we might see prices get back to normal. Call us in late 2022 and we'll hopefully have some good news on that front.