Computing

AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT: A Budget Gaming Showdown

Unveiling the Best Graphics Card for Your PC Upgrade

The latest generation of graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia has revolutionized budget gaming. The AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT, Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti, and RTX 3060 offer exceptional performance for 1080p gaming, with some even capable of running demanding games at 1440p. But the question remains: which one is the best choice for you?

We conducted extensive testing on all three cards to determine the ultimate winner. While they all fall in the $300 to $400 range, our research reveals a clear standout.

Pricing and Availability

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

Nvidia released the RTX 3060 Ti on December 1st for $399. The slightly slower RTX 3060 followed on February 25th, priced at $329. Keep in mind that these prices are for the Founders Edition models, with board partner options possibly costing slightly more due to their additional cooling abilities and features.

AMD announced the RX 6600 XT on July 29th at ChinaJoy and promptly released it on August 11th. Prices start at $379 for baseboard partner cards, varying depending on cooling configuration, clock speed, and other features. Although AMD isn’t releasing a reference model, availability shouldn’t be a concern.

Availability can be both good and bad news. The two Nvidia cards are consistently out of stock at retailers, and we anticipate the RX 6600 XT to sell out immediately upon launch. However, you don’t have to compromise solely based on availability.

The ongoing GPU shortage has caused significant challenges, making it difficult to find many models in stock. And even if you do, they will likely come with a hefty price premium. Retailers like Micro Center and Newegg often charge a few hundred dollars above the list price.

On the secondhand market, the situation is even more dire. The RTX 3060 Ti can reach prices as high as $900, with the RTX 3060 not far behind at $750. Although the RX 6600 XT hasn’t officially launched yet, we expect it to command around $700 on the secondhand market, based on current prices.

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Performance

A straightforward spec comparison of the RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3060, and RX 6600 XT won’t provide much insight. The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 aren’t direct rivals, with the cheaper card boasting more graphics memory but less bandwidth. Additionally, AMD and Nvidia employ different designs, resulting in an AMD card with a higher clock speed and Nvidia cards with larger memory buses.

Based on our performance testing, the cards align with their price points. The RTX 3060 is the slowest, the RTX 3060 Ti is the fastest, and the RX 6600 XT falls in between. However, the price discrepancy is worth noting. While the RX 6600 XT is only $20 cheaper than the RTX 3060 Ti, its performance often resembles that of the RTX 3060.

For example, in our RX 6600 XT review, it outperformed the RTX 3060 by a mere three frames at 1080p Ultra Quality (68 fps to 65 fps) in Red Dead Redemption 2. At the same settings, the RTX 3060 Ti delivered a smoother average of 84 fps. The discrepancy was even more pronounced at 1440p, where the RTX 3060 Ti averaged 70 fps, and the RX 6600 XT lagged behind at only 55 fps.

This pattern persisted across games like Battlefield V, Fortnite, Civilization VI, and even in 3DMark Time Spy, where the RX 6600 XT scored 9,644, the RTX 3060 scored 8,629, and the RTX 3060 Ti soared to 11,706.

The only exception to this scaling was Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, where the RX 6600 XT outperformed the RTX 3060 Ti at 1080p Ultra High settings (83 fps to 78 fps). However, when it came to 1440p, the RTX 3060 Ti once again emerged as the victor.

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Considering the price, the RX 6600 XT should compete with the RTX 3060 Ti, but unfortunately, it falls short. While it is faster than the RTX 3060, it doesn’t justify its price tag.

In this lineup, the RTX 3060 Ti stands out as the clear winner. Its performance is incredible for the price, offering the latest features from Nvidia. The RTX 3060 is a decent alternative, but investing in the RTX 3060 Ti ensures better upfront performance and longevity.

The RX 6600 XT is caught in an awkward position, performing closer to the RTX 3060 while carrying a price tag nearly the same as the RTX 3060 Ti. Although it does support ray tracing, Nvidia’s implementation reigns supreme.

Ray Tracing, Upscaling, and More

Ray tracing in Control.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In terms of features, the three contenders have become more closely aligned in recent months. The RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 shine with their inclusion of Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and ray tracing, both part of Nvidia’s comprehensive RTX features package. Ray tracing enhances lighting realism in games, while DLSS utilizes artificial intelligence to upscale resolutions and improve frame rates. Although not flawless, they offer substantial advancements over the previous generation.

AMD cards previously lacked these features, but that has changed. The RX 6600 XT supports ray tracing, joining the rest of the RX 6000 range. Additionally, AMD now offers FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) upscaling technology, which serves the same purpose as DLSS, albeit with slightly less impressive results.

However, when it comes to ray tracing performance, Nvidia has the upper hand. In Cyberpunk 2077, for instance, the RTX 3060 Ti’s frame rate decreases by 49% when moving from the Ultra preset to the Ultra RT preset at 1080p. Meanwhile, the RTX 3060’s frame rate decreases by 53%, while the RX 6600 XT’s frame rate plummets by a massive 79%.

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Nvidia achieves this advantage by utilizing dedicated cores for complex ray-tracing calculations, whereas AMD relies on “ray accelerators” in each compute unit. Consequently, Nvidia’s cards deliver significantly better ray-tracing performance. So, if you seek the latest gaming features, including ray tracing, Nvidia remains the top choice.

Furthermore, Nvidia typically bundles ray tracing with DLSS, as demonstrated by games like Cyberpunk 2077. DLSS is essential for playing ray-traced games smoothly. On the other hand, AMD’s competing FSR is only supported in a limited number of titles, many of which don’t support ray tracing.

The Clear Winner

Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti graphics card on a black background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Out of the three cards, the undoubted winner is the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti. Its outstanding performance, considering the price point, combined with the latest features from Nvidia, sets it apart from the competition. While the RX 6600 XT is a capable card for 1080p gaming, it falls short in comparison to the RTX 3060 Ti, despite its similar price. Additionally, Nvidia’s implementation of ray tracing and DLSS outperforms AMD’s offerings.

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