AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 line, like Nvidia’s “Ampere” family (killing graphics cards composed entirely of unobtanium), has been a top-down affair, with high-end variants introduced before more cheap models. In keeping with this pattern, the Radeon RX 6600 is released today, along with a slew of third-party cards. We looked at the XFX Speedster ($329), which enters a graphics-card market that is more supply-constrained than ever. The EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC Black Gaming 12G, the first RTX 3060 card we evaluated earlier this year, debuted at the same initial list price. The new AMD entry traded enough gaming wins and losses with the GeForce RTX 3060 in our benchmark runs to justify its matching pricing. However, the RX 6600, like many RDNA-based GPUs we’ve tested in recent years, falls short in terms of consistency. However, in today’s market, the greatest card is typically simply any card you can get without being overcharged, so it’s a solid choice for 1080p (1,920 by 1,080) gaming.
XFX SPEEDSTER SWFT 210 RADEON RX 6600 SPECS
|Graphics Processor||AMD Navi 23 XT|
|GPU Base Clock||2044 MHz|
|GPU Boost Clock||2491 MHz|
|Graphics Memory Type||GDDR6|
|Graphics Memory Amount||8 GB|
|Number of Fans||2|
|Card Length||10.1 inches|
|Board Power or TDP||132 watts|
|Power Connector(s)||1 8-pin|
Cards based on AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 XT or Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti make more financial sense (mind you, in a time when there’s little of that to be found in the third-party card market) if you want a GPU that can more easily make the jump from high-detail 1080p to 1440p play. However, if you enjoy older games, AMD’s drivers for the RX 6600 and its XT-badged bigger sibling remain a major flaw. If they can find them, gamers who play a lot of legacy games that use older versions of Microsoft DirectX should try rival Nvidia solutions instead.
RDNA 2 Takes on 1080p Gaming
When it comes to current-generation GPUs, the GeForce RTX 3060 is obviously the Radeon RX 6600’s main rival. Each has its own set of advantages. When it comes to power drain, the Radeon RX 6600 is the clear winner. As a result, customers looking for a lower-power, smaller-footprint card will be pleased with what the XFX card has to offer.
The card we’re looking at is one of a slew of third-party designs based on AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 GPU; unlike Nvidia, AMD isn’t producing an official reference version or house-brand card. The Radeon RX 6600, like other RX 6000 series GPUs, is based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture and is manufactured using TSMC’s 7nm lithography on a 237-square-millimeter “Navi 23 XT” die.
Specs Compared: XFX Speedster SWFT 210 Radeon RX 6600
|Date of Introduction||October 2021||July 2021||January 2020||February 2021||December 2020|
|Manufacturing Process & Die Size||7nm / 237mm2||7nm / 237mm2||7nm / 251mm2||8nm / 276mm2||8nm / 276mm2|
|Transistor Count||11.6 billion||11.6 billion||10.3 billion||13.2 billion||17.4 billion|
|Processing Cores||1,792 stream processors||2,048 stream processors||2,304 stream processors||3,584 CUDA cores||4,864 CUDA cores|
|GPU Boost Clock||2,491MHz||2,589MHz||1,560MHz||1,777MHz||1,665MHz|
|Video Memory||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||6GB GDDR6||12GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6|
|Memory Interface / Bandwidth||128-bit / 256GBps||128-bit / 256GBps||192-bit / 288GBps||192-bit / 360GBps||256-bit / 448GBps|
|Board Power||132 watts||160 watts||150 watts||170 watts||200 watts|
|Power Connectors||One eight-pin||One eight-pin||One eight-pin||One eight-pin||One eight-pin (via 12-pin adapter)|
|Recommended Launch Price||$329||$379||$279||$329||$399|
When compared to Nvidia’s $329-MSRP GeForce RTX 3060, the XFX model we tested had 8GB of GDDR6 video memory, which seems identical. Let’s see how the rest of the equation works out between these GPUs:
The Navi 23 XT die found beneath the hood of the RX 6600 is, predictably, a scaled-down version of the RX 6600 XT’s GPU. It replaces the $279 AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT as the new benchmark for discrete-card RDNA purchasers (the RX 5600 was OEM-only) and includes a $50 “GPU costs these days” tax. This is a 17 percent increase over a year and a half ago, which is a bitter pill to take for 1080p players on a budget.
The 10.1-inch dual-slot, dual-fan XFX Speedster SWFT RX 6600 is larger than many 1080p gamers would prefer. When the RX 6600 goes on sale today, however, our test card will be only one of many distinct designs (including single-fan options).
AMD has released a reference spec for this card, which the 8GB exactly matches, albeit as previously said, AMD will not be producing any cards on this run. Most of the typical third-party merchants have announced impending versions to fill the void, though we’ll have to wait and see what available stock looks like at launch.
The RX 6600 has a boost speed that’s around 100MHz slower than the RX 6600 XT’s and fewer active stream processors, but aside from that (and the weirdly specialized power needs), the two cards are identical.
The 132-watt power demand is significantly lower than Nvidia’s baseline of 170-watts for the GeForce RTX 3060—22% lower, to be exact. This is a significant advantage, and it provides the Radeon RX 6600 its largest advantage against Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 for customers wanting to build a low-power, small-form-factor 1080p gaming computer (a favorite build type for many gamers).
There are three DisplayPort 1.4b outputs, one HDMI 2.1 connection, and no VirtualLink on the rear of our XFX card, which is the same basic lineup we’ve seen on most GPUs lining (or, rather, widely spaced on) the shelves these days.
Newer Games Get the Nod in Radeon RX 6600 Testing
PC Labs put the through a variety of simulated and real-world benchmarks based on DirectX 11 and 12. Our test rig (an (Opens in a new window) ) is powered by an Intel Core i9-10900K processor and uses a PCI Express 3.0, not 4.0, motherboard (an Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi (Opens in a new window) ). It has 16GB of G.Skill DDR4 memory as well as a solid-state boot disk. Based on our testing with the Core i9-10900K and latest Ryzen 9 CPUs, this platform is now the best reasonable setup for removing the CPU from the frame rate equation. (For additional information on how we test graphics cards, click here.)
With titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Rainbow Six Siege, we focused some of our testing on the Speedster’s esports feature. We then put the card through the rest of our usual benchmarking procedure, which includes testing a GPU’s ability to run AAA games at the highest quality settings, as well as how it performs in synthetic benchmarks that put the card under a range of stress.
Aside from the esports titles, almost every test we conduct is done at the highest available visual quality preset or settings. If you have a higher-resolution gaming monitor and are concerned that your graphics card may not be able to keep up, a mix of lower settings may be possible. Not only that, but several of these games (such as Death Stranding, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and F1 2020) include both DLSS and FidelityFX CAS with Upscaling built right in. Depending on the setting and the card you’re using, this can result in performance gains of up to 40%. (For additional information, see Sharpen & Speed Up Your PC Games: Testing AMD’s FSR, Nvidia’s DLSS 2.2, and Other Technologies.)
So, let’s get to the findings of our tests. Note: Click the other two resolution dots in the chart legends below to conceal them and display a single set of data if you want to filter down the results below to a certain resolution (i.e., the resolution of the monitor you plan to use). Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Far Cry 5 are among the AAA titles on our list, which contains a mix of newer titles as well as some older but still solid pillars of the benchmarker’s toolset.
Synthetic Benchmarks are the end result.
Synthetic benchmarks can accurately predict real-world gaming performance. The Fire Strike Ultra from around 2013 is still a good estimate of the strain imposed by mainstream 4K gaming in UL’s 3DMark. To isolate the card’s performance, we’re only looking at the test’s Graphics Subscore, not the Overall Score. In the meantime, we performed 3DMark’s Time Spy Extreme, which is an excellent measure of a card’s performance in DirectX 12 games at 4K resolution. Port Royal, which was previously exclusively available on GeForce RTX cards, is a 3DMark benchmark that assesses how well a GPU handles ray-tracing workloads (thus the absent bars for most of the AMD Radeon cards). Also included are two GPU-acceleration tests (Furmark and LuxMark); see the “how we test” link above for more information.
The Radeon RX 6600 is considerably too low on the power scale to be considered for any major rendering or production work, and its 3DMark and Superposition scores were only a mediocre start for the card.
The GeForce RTX 3060 outperformed the RX 6600 in four of the five synthetic tests, with the AMD card only edging out the GeForce RTX 3060 in Fire Strike Ultra. Let’s see whether that narrative shifts when we get closer to AAA titles.
AAA Games in the Recent Past
We normally benchmark the following real-world games using the highest-quality preset and, if available, DirectX 12.
AMD’s drivers, as expected, threw a few curveballs into our results. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, for example, saw the XFX RX 6600 outperform both the RTX 3060 and the RX 6600 XT, despite the overall trend of the Radeon RX 6600 being just a touch slower than Nvidia’s RTX 3060.
We haven’t tested the Radeon RX 6600 XT since its launch, but given AMD’s track record with RDNA 2 driver stability, we’ll believe the weaker card’s victory is due to a driver tweak since the RX 6600 XT was released. While the RX 6600’s AAA gaming performance matched our expectations, falling just below the RTX 3060, both cards are nonetheless overshadowed by the excellent $399 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition’s price/performance ratio.
Multiplayer Games are the end result.
In most of PC Labs’ game testing, we max out the eye candy to push GPUs to their limits, but multiplayer gaming is all about finding the ideal balance between graphical fidelity and frame rate. With that in mind, we’ve kept CS:GO, Rainbow Six Siege, and Final Fantasy 14 tuned to the best possible combination of necessary settings enhancements (such as higher anti-aliasing and lower shadows) while still attempting to preserve 1080p frame rates above 144fps.
Why 144 frames per second? Competitive esports gamers with high-refresh-rate 120Hz or 144Hz (or faster) gaming monitors aspire to this. A consistent 80fps or 90fps at your goal resolution, with some overhead to account for dips below 60fps, is adequate for more casual players with typical 60Hz displays.
Though it may appear that the starting point for what we should expect to pay for a 1080p or 1440p gaming engine has risen dramatically over the last two years (and it has), this is largely due to GPUs designed for multiplayer gamers having to keep up with a similarly rapid rise in monitor refresh rates. The Editors’ Choice award-winning Acer Nitro XV252Q F, which costs $499.99 and peaks out at an eye-widening 390Hz at 1080p, is now the fastest monitor available. To get the most out of this display, a GPU must be capable of running popular games like CS:GO and Rainbow Six Siege at at least 390 frames per second.
Would you have a card that could hang in there if you combined that refresh rate with the Radeon RX 6600? That, of course, is dependent on the game and the settings. In Counter-Strike, there’s just enough room, but Rainbow Six might require a few tweaks to the detail settings to achieve that lofty aim.
We couldn’t get Final Fantasy XIV to operate at any resolution on the Radeon RX 6600, despite many restarts and a second driver wipe for sanity. Other AMD and Nvidia cards were able to start the benchmark without issue, but the present driver set always crashed to the desktop during initialization. Be alert, MMO players!
AAA Titles with a Long History
We also did some quick testing on a few oldies-but-goodies that still provide a fun AAA gaming experience. Runs of Tomb Raider (2013), Sleeping Dogs, and Bioshock: Infinite are among the legacy tests.
Nothing about these results should surprise you if you’ve been following our AMD coverage since the launch of RDNA 1 in 2019. Well, it’s strange that AMD hasn’t given an update after all this time, but AMD’s track record for inconsistent results with older titles like this stays consistent. All three games we tested that use older APIs like DirectX 11 are still a thorn in AMD’s side, with performance that are much slower (in some cases less than half as quick) than rival Nvidia cards at the same price.
We’ve run more legacy games on a variety of cards and discovered that the issue persists throughout the RDNA 1 and RDNA 2 stacks and has yet to be resolved as of October 2021. If you primarily play older DirectX 11 games on your PC, be aware that the Radeon RX 6600 will likely not give price-competitive performance until AMD updates older games.
Thermals with Overclocking: It’s Hot Under the Collar
The GPU will now be temperature-tested and overclocked. In 3DMark Port Royal, we put the through a 10-minute stress test, and the card reached a maximum temperature of 67 degrees C.
This is a high temperature for a card of this power level, especially when compared to the Gigabyte-branded RX 6600 XT’s result of 59 degrees C in the same test.
According to what we witnessed with a FLIR One Pro thermal imaging camera focused at our testbed during the stress test, the majority of this heat was gathered and deposited into the centre of the backplate.
I couldn’t get a consistent overclock profile that generated useful results using AMD’s (Opens in a new window) program when it came time to overclock the card. During this testing, the card was prone to crashes, and it needed a little more tinkering than usual to get it off the overclocking starting line. From there, we were able to increase the maximum boost and memory clocks by a few dozen megahertz, but anything that may have resulted in a substantial real-world performance boost would have caused the card to crash.
Compare with similar items
|Graphics Card Interface||PCI-Express x16||PCI-Express x16||PCI-Express x16||PCI-Express x16|
|Graphics Coprocessor||AMD RX 6600 XT||AMD RX 6600||AMD RX 6600 XT||AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT|
|Graphics Ram Size||8 GB||8 GB||8 GB||8 GB|
|Hardware Interface||PCI Express x16||PCI Express x16||PCI Express x16||PCI Express x16|
|Included Components||Graphics Card, Driver CD||Graphics Card, Driver CD||Graphics Card, Driver CD||Graphics card|
|Item Dimensions||9.49 x 5.16 x 1.61 inches||9.49 x 5.16 x 1.61 inches||10.79 x 4.49 x 1.97 inches||8.66 x 5.2 x 1.77 inches|
|Memory Bus Width||128 bits||128 bits||128 bits||128 bits|
|Memory Clock Speed||16 GHz||14 GHz||16 GHz||17 MHz|
The Bottom Line: In a Famine, More Food
The range of GPUs available in this price range is expanding at the same time as getting more granular than before. The is a competent 1080p engine that can even dip its toes into running several AAA and multiplayer games at 1440p. However, like other recent AMD Radeon attempts, it exhibits weakness with older games.
Depending on the title and resolution, the 132-watt AMD Radeon RX 6600 often trades wins and losses with the 170-watt Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 in our testing. Given the same MSRPs, the Tensor cores and expanding library of DLSS-exclusive games are the Nvidia GPU’s key selling advantages.
And, of course, its GeForce drivers. In our legacy game testing, AMD’s drivers were more inconsistent, with a new bug this time that prohibited any testing in Final Fantasy XIV.
The RX 6600’s value proposition muddies a bit as a direct competitor to the RX 6600 XT. Despite being only 15% less expensive at list price than the RX 6600 XT, the RX 6600 was around 25% slower in several 1080p and 1440p AAA and multiplayer games, and the same was true when compared to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (a card that had no problem running every version of DirectX we threw its way at full power).
We can’t suggest the Radeon RX 6600 over the RTX 3060 until AMD releases a more competitive driver set. However, we are also aware of the current GPU stock situation. As long as you don’t plan on playing older games for the most of your PC gaming time, the RX 6600 will suffice in its price range. Furthermore, when the RX 6600 cards are released, it may be more widely available at or around MSRP. Keep your fingers crossed…and your Buy buttons poised at launch.
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