Computing

AMD Radeon RX 6600 vs. RX 6600 XT vs. Nvidia RTX 3060: A Comparison of Budget GPUs

With the ongoing shortage of GPUs, the days of getting a high-quality graphics card for $200 are behind us. However, both AMD and Nvidia are offering affordable alternatives for 1080p gamers. The AMD RX 6600, RX 6600 XT, and Nvidia RTX 3060 all target 1080p gaming and fall within the price range of $330 to $380. But which card is the best choice for you? Let’s dive into the specifications, performance, and features to help you make an informed decision.

Pricing and Availability

AMD RX 6600 among other graphics cards.
Image: Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

AMD released the RX 6600 XT on August 11 with a recommended price of $379, followed by the release of the RX 6600 on October 13 with a suggested price of $329. In comparison, the Nvidia RTX 3060 was released earlier, on February 25, with the same suggested price as the RX 6600, $329.

However, due to the ongoing GPU shortage, the list price is not indicative of the actual market price. Graphics card prices have skyrocketed, with some selling for nearly double the list price. While we base our comparison on the list price, it’s essential to consider the current market rates and our performance analysis.

Historically, AMD cards have been priced lower than Nvidia cards during the GPU shortage. For instance, at the time of writing, the RX 6600 XT is $50 to $100 cheaper than the RTX 3060 on eBay, despite having a higher list price.

Specifications

The RTX 3060 installed in a computer.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Directly comparing spec sheets between AMD and Nvidia graphics cards is not accurate as they employ different designs. However, certain aspects of the RX 6600, RX 6600 XT, and RTX 3060 are worth noting in terms of design and gaming performance.

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One significant difference is in ray tracing technology. The RTX 3060 incorporates dedicated ray tracing units, while the RX 6600 and RX 6600 XT feature a ray accelerator in each compute unit. In terms of ray tracing performance, Nvidia’s approach excels.

On the power consumption front, the two AMD cards have a significant advantage, especially the RX 6600. AMD claims up to a 1.5x increase in performance per watt compared to the RTX 3060. Although impressive, this difference is unlikely to affect practical performance.

Memory capacity is often a point of interest for consumers, and here the RTX 3060 takes the lead. It offers greater bandwidth and capacity than the two AMD cards. However, it’s important to note that the 8GB of video memory on the RTX 3060 Ti provides more effective bandwidth due to its larger memory bus.

Performance

AMD RX 6600 XT installed in a computer.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

All three GPUs target 1080p gaming, though some perform better than others. While the RX 6600 XT can handle 1440p gaming, achieving above 60 frames per second (fps) in the latest AAA games at this resolution may require lowering settings to 1080p.

For our tests, we ran benchmarks on Ultra settings at 1080p. Our test setup included a Crucial MX500 2TB SSD, Intel Core i9-10900K, and 32GB of RAM.

While synthetic benchmarks do not represent actual gameplay, they provide a general idea of GPU scaling. In the case of the RX 6600 XT, it outperforms the RTX 3060 by about 10% in 3DMark Time Spy, with the RX 6600 trailing behind by 16%. Although variations exist in different games, these differences generally reflect the scaling you can expect from these three cards.

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For example, the RX 6600 is 28% slower than its XT counterpart in Fortnite, while the two AMD cards outperform the RTX 3060 by approximately 23% in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Conversely, CPU-bound games like Red Dead Redemption 2 show a closer performance grouping, with minimal differences between the competitors.

Overall, the RX 6600 XT consistently outperforms the other two cards. Although it is around 15% more expensive, the performance gap justifies the price difference. However, if you are on a tight budget, the RTX 3060 is a decent option.

Ray Tracing and Upscaling

An enemy swings a sword at the main character of Cyberpunk 2077.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To evaluate ray tracing capabilities, we tested Control and Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p with Ultra settings. Our aim was to gauge the differences in ray tracing performance between each card.

Nvidia has a clear advantage in this area. Thanks to dedicated ray tracing units, the RTX 3060 significantly outperforms the RX 6600 XT. For example, in Cyberpunk 2077, the RTX 3060 performs more than twice as well as the RX 6600 XT with ray tracing enabled.

However, playable frame rates are challenging to achieve with ray tracing. To achieve acceptable performance, upscaling features are necessary. Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology, available in games like Control and Cyberpunk 2077, provides a significant boost in performance, bringing the latter above 60 fps even with ray tracing enabled.

Unfortunately, DLSS exclusively supports Nvidia graphics cards from the RTX 20-series and 30-series. AMD’s competing FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) does not require specific hardware and offers even greater performance gains. For example, FSR increased frame rates by up to 116% in Back 4 Blood.

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However, FSR’s image quality falls short compared to DLSS. DLSS leverages advanced A.I. models running on dedicated Tensor cores, resulting in superior image quality. FSR, on the other hand, relies on older upscaling techniques. Although FSR can boost frame rates, DLSS maintains a significant edge in overall image quality.

What to Buy and at What Price?

AMD RX 6600 among other graphics cards.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In an ideal scenario, we would recommend the RX 6600 XT for its better performance, even though the RTX 3060 offers superior features. However, given the current GPU market conditions, availability and price will play a significant role in your decision.

Currently, the RX 6600 XT is selling for less than the RTX 3060 on eBay while offering better performance, making it the clear winner of this comparison. The RX 6600 faces a disadvantage, but once the launch frenzy subsides, it’s unclear how much it will sell for on the secondhand market.

If the RX 6600 ends up significantly cheaper than the RX 6600 XT or RTX 3060 on the secondhand market, it could still be a good buy. For now, we recommend the RX 6600 XT as the best choice for a balanced combination of price and performance.

However, if you can afford to spend an extra $70, the more powerful RTX 3060 Ti is worth considering.

Editors’ Recommendations

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