Sapphire Radeon RX 6600 XT Pulse Review: Compact and Just as Fast

Basically a reference design for RX 6600 XT

Sapphire Radeon RX 6600 XT Pulse
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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We're running our normal suite of Powenetics testing to check the GPU power consumption and other aspects of the cards, using Metro Exodus at 1440p ultra and FurMark stress test at 900p. Things are perhaps a bit more interesting here, as there are more noticeable differences between the three RX 6600 XT cards. Let's start with power.

The Sapphire Pulse came in slightly below AMD's official 160W TBP rating in Metro Exodus and FurMark and used 17–23W less power than the ASRock Phantom. Meanwhile, the Gigabyte card landed in between the two, though it's slightly closer to the Sapphire card. Interestingly, power use was measurably lower despite having nearly identical performance, though a few watts at least likely goes to the RGB lighting and extra fan on the Phantom card.

Average clock speeds on the Sapphire Pulse were lower than the Phantom by 100MHz in Metro, which was a bit surprising. Clocks were also about 90MHz lower in FurMark, though that hits power limits and cards often behave quite differently in that sort of workload than in gaming. We noticed some oddities with Metro Exodus after our initial benchmarking, however, which may account for some of the differences here.

As far as temperatures go, the ASRock Phantom came out with a clear lead. It ran at higher clocks, drew more power, and still had temperatures 8–10C lower than the Sapphire Pulse and Gigabyte Eagle. But temperatures on their own don't tell the full story.

Higher fan speeds can improve temperatures at the cost of making more noise. That didn't happen with the Sapphire Pulse, where the fans had slightly lower RPMs than on the ASRock Phantom card — and the Gigabyte card didn't do so well. But even fan speeds don't tell you everything, as different fans have different acoustics.

We measured noise levels using an SPL meter at a distance of around 15cm. That helps it to focus on the GPU noise and not system or CPU fans. Ambient noise levels for testing were 33 dBA, and like most other modern GPUs, the fans stop spinning when GPU temperature falls below about 55C. You can see how quickly that happened in the fan speed over time chart, where the RX 6600 XT cards are the only ones to actually halt the fan in between loops of the Metro benchmark. While gaming, noise from the Sapphire Pulse was only 37 dBA, tying the ASRock Phantom, so not only does it run cool, but it's also nearly silent. (The Gigabyte Eagle was noticeably louder, if you're wondering — about 44 dBA.)

During gaming, the fan was spinning at around 30%, which was all that was needed to keep temperatures in check. We also set the fan speed to a static 75% as a secondary test, and it generated 54.1 dB of noise — slightly quieter than the Phantom, which measured 60 dB. Admittedly, that's not as quiet as some of the other GPUs we've tested, but those mostly have larger fans and bigger heatsinks and cost quite a bit more than the Pulse.

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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.