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AMD Radeon RX 6600 Review: RDNA2 Goes Mainstream at $329

AMD's RX 6600 takes on Nvidia's RTX 3060

XFX Radeon RX 6600 Speedster SWFT 210
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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.

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.

  • Zarax
    Hi Jarred, would you suggest this card as an upgrade from a RX590 in an older PC (i7-3770k)?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • kal326
    Says these launch the 21st. Newegg shuffle hit early today and lists 8 rx6600 cards from ASRock, XFX, Gigabyte, MSI, Powercolor and Sapphire. They seems lower priced at the $329 level and I noticed they were non XT with first listing day of today.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Zarax said:
    Hi Jarred, would you suggest this card as an upgrade from a RX590 in an older PC (i7-3770k)?

    Thanks!
    Not that I want to speak for Jarred, but the RX 6600, being somewhere in the same performance range as the RX 5600 XT or the RX 5700, would be a very noticeable jump from the RX 590, while also consuming a lot less power.

    That said, on that old i7, I think the only real problem would be possibly the motherboard. Sometimes, older motherboards are very finicky and won't work with newer video cards, most particularly when they're part of OEM systems like Dell and HP.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Ah, another "meh" release of a GPU. Only saving grace is going to be the real street pricing vs MSRP. So sad... So sad...

    Anyway, thanks a lot for the review; much appreciated as always.

    King_V said:
    Not that I want to speak for Jarred, but the RX 6600, being somewhere in the same performance range as the RX 5600 XT or the RX 5700, would be a very noticeable jump from the RX 590, while also consuming a lot less power.

    That said, on that old i7, I think the only real problem would be possibly the motherboard. Sometimes, older motherboards are very finicky and won't work with newer video cards, most particularly when they're part of OEM systems like Dell and HP.
    Wasn't the Z77 chipset PCIe2.0? It would make the 6600 siblings run in X8 of PCIe2, so I'd imagine they won't perform as in these charts? Maybe close, but I wonder how badly they'll be constrained.

    EDIT: yep, 2.0 indeed: https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/64024/intel-z77-express-chipset.htmlEDIT2: Z77 with the 3770 does run in PCIe3.0; just want to clear that up just in case. It was pointed out later in the thread.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • Zarax
    King_V said:
    Not that I want to speak for Jarred, but the RX 6600, being somewhere in the same performance range as the RX 5600 XT or the RX 5700, would be a very noticeable jump from the RX 590, while also consuming a lot less power.

    That said, on that old i7, I think the only real problem would be possibly the motherboard. Sometimes, older motherboards are very finicky and won't work with newer video cards, most particularly when they're part of OEM systems like Dell and HP.

    Luckily it's not a branded PC but a custom build.
    In my case I would use the RX590 to replace my wife's HD7970 and get the RX6600 for myself IF I can get it at MSRP. If not, I will keep playing lottery at AMD's website in the hope of getting something realistically priced.
    Reply
  • PiranhaTech
    When AMD misses the mark, they often have price adjustments and/or sales eventually... but they probably don't need to in this climate.
    Reply
  • King_V
    @Yuka 's post does bring up a good point, though. That the 6600 is constrained to x8 PCIe, and that early era board you have is running PCIe 2.0, could make the 6600 a little slower than expected.

    I still imagine it'll do far better than the RX 590, though.
    Reply
  • r7litepro
    4 chips of ram... this is a 150 gpu ...Mainstream ? lol ok
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    Zarax said:
    Hi Jarred, would you suggest this card as an upgrade from a RX590 in an older PC (i7-3770k)?

    Thanks!

    As someone who is on a RX580 I think it would be better to go with the 6600XT model, but as other have suggested if you don't have a PCIe 4.0 motherboard makes this a more difficult decision.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Yeah . . I think even on PCIe 3.0, you'd still be okay. PCIe 2.0, on the other hand, is kind of an unknown in terms of how much of a choke-point that will be.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Yuka said:
    Wasn't the Z77 chipset PCIe2.0?
    Doesn't matter what the chipset is: the x16 slot is fed directly by the CPU and Ivy Bridge (3000-series) does support PCIe 3.0. Most 60-series boards with a hard-wired x16 slot (no x8x8/x8x4x4 bifurcation since 2.0 switches can't do 3.0) also got a free upgrade to 3.0x16 with an Ivy Bridge CPU installed.

    Kind of the reverse of how a lot of 300/400-series AM4 motherboard could do PCIe 4.0 when using a Zen 2 CPU until AMD pushed an AGESA update to block it.

    As for the review/RX6600 itself, basically feels like overpriced tech from years ago. MSRP is about $100 more than it would have any right to in a remotely sane economy.
    Reply