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AMD RX 6600 XT GPU tested: Fast performer for 1080p gaming

We tested the Asus ROG Strix RX 6600 XT OC graphics card with the new GPU.

AMD doesn't offer its own card with the Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU; Nvidia has a similar strategy for its low-end chips.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The latest step in the graphics card pas de deux between AMD and Nvidia is the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU. It's also the current entry-level model in AMD's line of graphics processors for gamers specifically looking for speed or higher quality in 1080p resolution. The RX 6600 XT's nominal $379 price and performance slots seamlessly between Nvidia's $329 GeForce RTX 3060 and $399 3060 Ti -- all in the seemingly choreographed fashion we're used to from the two manufacturers.

Both AMD and Nvidia are desperately attempting to get gamers to upgrade from the four-year-old GeForce GTX 1060, which still has the biggest installed base. But this is the absolute worst time to buy a graphics card... and has been for a while. Yes, the cryptocurrency mining crackdown in China and regulatory smackdown in Europe may lessen the demand for GPUs, but we're still in the middle of a silicon supply crunch that affects many components of graphics cards and that's expected to last at least until the end of the year. So it's bound to keep availability low, shopbots busy and prices high. And if you're looking at these low-ish end cards, you're probably really price-sensitive to begin with, making it a doubly bad time -- unless you're desperate.  

asus-rog-strix-radeon-rx-6600-xt-oc

The ROG Strix RX 6600 XT OC is a dual-fan card; there will also be triple fan cards from add-in board manufacturers.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Like Nvidia's 3060 models, there's no official AMD-branded version of a card using the RX 6600 XT GPU, so we tested the Asus ROG Strix RX 6600 XT OC, a $550 dual-fan overclockable model that acquits itself well for what it is. (There's also a smaller, lower-key version of the card in the Asus Dual product line line for $500.) But in our testing, the 6600 XT at best matched or marginally outpaced the RTX 3060, even conservatively overclocked, which at least partly stems from the AMD GPU's 8-lane PCIe connection rather than NVIDIA's 16-lane connection. However, without knowing what the actual-real-true prices are as opposed to the what-planet-do-you-live-on prices, it's difficult to make a call about which GPU to recommend you make a fruitless attempt to buy.

The lesser slot requirement may make it a little more flexible for fitting into older systems, but it really cuts potential performance; if it took advantage of the higher-bandwidth slot it might give the 3060 Ti some competition.    

AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT

Memory 8GB DDR6
Memory bandwidth (GBps) 256
GPU clock (GHz, base/boost) 2.3/2.6
Memory data rate/Interface 16 Gbps/128 bit
Texture fill rate (gigatexels per second) 342.3
Compute Units and Ray Accelerators (each) 32
Stream cores 2,048
Texture mapping units 128
TGP/min PSU (watts) 160/500
Bus PCIe 4.0 x 8
Size 2.6 slots; 9.6 x 5.3 x 2.0 in/243 x 134 x 52 mm
Connections 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4
Manufacturer price $550
Ship date August 11

Asus has done a fine job eking out what it can from the GPU and it certainly delivers on the 1080p high-frame-rate promise. Physically, the card's a bit chunky for what it delivers at 2.6 slots wide, but the space allocated to the passive cooling (four heatpipes forcing the heat toward a large heat spreader and heatsink) allows it to reduce reliance on the fans at high speeds. This makes it pretty quiet and I kept having to check the monitoring utility to convince myself the fans were even spinning.

In addition to monitoring, the GPU Tweak 2 utility Asus provides lets you choose from a silent mode (with a 0dB fan toggle), gaming mode (which weights performance, cooling and noise equally) and an OC mode to maximize performance via an overclock preset or manual controls over the GPU and memory clocks, voltage, fan speed and a power target. Like the other cards in the line, there's also a toggle switch to jump between two BIOSes, one optimized for performance and the other for noise.

You can use the company's Armoury Crate software to control the logo lighting scheme, but I'm not a big fan of the software; it's just too cumbersome for my taste.

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The GPU has passive cooling in addition to the fans, with four heat pipes and a backplate heat spreader across most of the card and a vent on the inside end. A physical BIOS switch lets you change between two modes (performance vs. quiet) if you don't want to use Asus' Tweak UI utility.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The card supports all the latest AMD features. They include Radeon Boost (which selectively renders scene elements at a lower resolution, based on visibility, for higher frame rates), Radeon Anti-Lag (reduces latency by lightening the load on the CPU), FidelityFX Super Resolution (upscaling from lower-resolution textures to achieve faster frame rates, a la Nvidia DLSS) and Smart Access Memory (AMD's Resizable BAR implementation, in which the CPU can store game-related data in GPU RAM rather than system RAM so the GPU doesn't have to traverse the system bus to retrieve it).  

AMD is less reliant on developer support than Nvidia for much of its acceleration, but it's not entirely driver-based. Smart Access Memory only works on systems equipped with a modern AMD Ryzen CPU, for example. 

Unless you're looking for the cheapest RX 6000-series AMD options, I don't think the RX 6600 XT is the best choice for its price class; the RTX 3060 Ti seems like it delivers far better performance for (theoretically) not much more. And I wouldn't rule out an even lower-end model appearing later this year to satisfy your budget-constrained 1080p play -- there was an RX 5500, so it's always possible we'll see even lower end RX 6500 or RX 6500 XT models at some point for basic 1080p gaming. 

Performance snapshot

Far Cry 5 (1080p)

MSI Aegis RS (6800)
76
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
128
MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
128
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
131
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
137
MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)
138

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Far Cry 5 (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
52
MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
54
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
66
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
92
MSI Aegis RS (6800XT)
97

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance (fps)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (1080p)

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
52
MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
54
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
66
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
92
MSI Aegis RS (6800XT)
97

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
39
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
43
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
52
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 with DLSS)
52
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
62
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
69
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
79

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

3DMark Time Spy

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
8669
MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
9733
MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)
10151
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
11349
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
12928
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
14261
Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)
14463
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
15899

Note:

NOTE: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
5187
MSI MEG Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)
6181
MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
6556
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti)
7176
Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)
8435
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
8533
Origin PC Chronos (RTX 3080)
10509
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
10541
MSI Aegis RS (6800XT)
12193

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

SpecViewPerf 13 SolidWorks (4K)

MSI Aegis RS (6600 XT)
58.26
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060)
82.77
MS Aegis RS (3060 Ti)
88.66
MSI Trident X (RTX 2070 Super)
96.89
Maingear Turbo (late 2020)
100.13
Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti)
100.61
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070)
104.85
MSI Aegis RS (6800)
146.93
MSI Aegis RS (6800 XT)
178.17

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Configurations

Maingear Turbo (RTX 2080 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Ryzen 9 3900XT; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,600; 11GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti; 1TB SSD + 4TB HDD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060 Ti) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2004); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3060) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (2H20); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 12GB EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RTX 3070 FE) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Founders Edition; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6600 XT) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (21H1); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200; 8GB Asus ROG Strix Radeon RX 6600 XT OC; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800 XT) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT; 1TB SSD
MSI Aegis RS (RX 6800) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,000; 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6800; 1TB SSD
MSI Trident X (RTX 2070 Super) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (1909); (oc) 3.8GHz Intel Core i7-10700K; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,932; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super; 1TB SSD