AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT Review: Increasing the Speed Limit

PowerColor's Hellhound Spectral White delivers a small bump in performance

AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Flipping over to our ray tracing test suite, the RX 6650 XT doesn't look quite so compelling. It was 2% faster than the outgoing 6600 XT at 1080p medium, but the RTX 3060 — even without DLSS — was 25% faster overall, and the RTX 3060 Ti was 67% faster. The 6650 XT managed a playable 44 fps on average, though Cyberpunk 2077 still dropped below that mark, and Metro Exodus Enhanced was the only game to break 60 fps.

We've said this before, and it bears repeating: Ray tracing in games definitely isn't required. It can be a nice extra, but most gamers will take smoother frame rates over the improved visuals. Ray tracing only really starts to matter when you have excess GPU performance, like with an RTX 3090 Ti or similar. Even then, you're still often faced with running at lower resolutions to get smooth performance.

1080p ultra with ray tracing ended up being too much for the RX 6650 XT in most cases, at least for demanding RT effects — which is what we prefer, as the less demanding RT effects also tend to be less noticeable. Just two of the six games remained playable, Control and Metro Exodus Enhanced. The others dropped below 30 fps, and Cyberpunk even fell into the teens.

This is where AMD's smaller 32MB Infinity Cache and the narrower 128-bit memory interface prove insufficient. Ray tracing needs more memory and bandwidth, and the RX 6650 XT comes up short. The RTX 3060 was also 30% faster now, while the RTX 3060 Ti increased its lead to 73%. With DLSS Quality mode, you can tack on another 20–30% performance for the RTX cards with little loss in discernable image quality.

We're interested to see where AMD goes with RDNA 3. Intel doesn't appear to be putting much effort into the ray tracing hardware on its Arc GPUs, and considering the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have a fixed hardware configuration, we likely won't see a major push from the game developers to go beyond what consoles can handle. But we might be wrong, and AMD might end up investing more resources into the ray tracing hardware with its next-generation GPUs. Time will tell. 

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.

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