There’s still no end in sight to the insane graphics card shortage and resulting price spikes that have turned our market upside down. For over a year now, it has been virtually impossible to find a graphics card in India selling at anywhere near its MSRP – people have been forced to pay double or even triple what might be considered reasonable prices, and second-hand or low-end models are often the only choices left to those without unlimited budgets.
We had hoped to see things improve on the supply side with a little more competition thanks to AMD’s recent resurgence. More options in the market should mean better chances for consumers to find something that works in terms of price and performance. However, while AMD’s official price in India is Rs. 31,990 (plus taxes), the situation on the ground is still dire with poor availability and outrageous markups.
We’ve already reviewed the Radeon RX 6800 and Radeon RX 6800XT, which are high-end models aimed at enthusiasts who want to game at 4K. Now, a more affordable derivative, the Radeon RX 6600 XT, has landed up, and is getting the full review treatment today.
Based on the same RDNA2 architecture as its bigger siblings, AMD is targeting gamers who want to step up to full-HD 1080p gaming at high quality settings, with a bit of a push into 1440p and even 4K in less resource-hungry games. In an ideal market, this GPU should be a good upgrade option for anyone with a mainstream graphics card that’s three or more years old – but how much money should you actually be willing to pay for it? Read on to find out.
AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU architecture and specifications
The Radeon RX 6600 XT is not the most powerful GPU in its stack, but it does promise up-to-date features including ray tracing, support for FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) upscaling, DirectX 12 Ultimate, variable rate shading, and HDMI 2.1. These are things that let gamers enjoy visual quality improvements at comfortable frame rates and refresh rates, at reasonable resolutions. After all, a lot of people have 1080p monitors and aren’t even looking to upgrade to larger ones.
The Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU has 2,048 ‘stream processors’ clustered into 32 compute units, each of which also has its own ray accelerator logic. The reference ‘game clock’ which is the speed when not idling, is 2,359MHz, while the maximum boost clock is 2,589MHz. There’s 32MB of on-die Infinity Cache, which is said to be very fast, but there’s much less of it here than on the Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT. You also get H.264 and H.265 encode/decode plus VP9 and AV1 decode hardware acceleration up to certain resolutions and frame rates. Like its siblings, this GPU is fabricated on a 7nm process. All Radeon RX 6600 XT cards will have 8GB of GDDR6 memory on a 128-bit bus for up to 256GBps of memory bandwidth. AMD suggests a 160W TDP, which might change based on board partners’ custom designs.
AMD has made an interesting choice – the Radeon RX 6600 XT uses only eight PCIe lanes. It’s PCIe 4.0 compliant, so that still gives you the same bandwidth as 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0, but only on a platform that supports the newer standard. On an older system, being limited to eight lanes means you get only half the theoretical peak PCIe 3.0 bandwidth, even in an x16 slot. Few GPUs fully saturate their PCIe links but this might cause some slight bottlenecks.
You’ll also need a relatively modern PC to use AMD’s Smart Access Memory feature. This is an implementation of the Resizable BAR (Base Address Register) which allows a CPU to access your GPU’s entire memory capacity rather than the traditional 256MB limit, reducing latency. Some games can see up to 10 percent better performance.
ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT design and specifications
There is no reference design for this mid-range GPU tier, so all Radeon RX 6600 XT cards will ship with custom coolers designed by their manufacturers. ASRock has taken the idea of customisation very seriously, and we have a lot going on here in terms of design. First of all, this card is absolutely massive. It’s 305mm long, which is about 40mm longer than average high-end cards, and it will hang over the edge of a standard ATX motherboard. It’s thick enough to block three slots on your motherboard and is also taller than standard cards.
The three fans on the front all have notched blades which should help with airflow and noise reduction. Only the one in the middle has RGB LED lighting – its blades are transparent with a frosted finish, while the other two fans have translucent smoky grey blades. Whether its blades are spinning or idle, the central fan’s RGB LEDs are animated in a circular pattern which looks neat. There’s another panel on the top that also has RGB LEDs and an ASRock Phantom Gaming logo. You can sync the lights with the ones on a compatible ASRock motherboard, and tweak them using the downloadable software control panel.
If you look closely, you’ll see that the actual PCB of the card is not more than 190mm long. The rest of the space under the shroud is occupied entirely by aluminium heatsink fins. This also makes the single 8-pin PCIe power connector look like it’s placed in the middle of the card, but it’s at the end of the actual board where it should be. The metal backplate should give this entire contraption some rigidity which is good because it weighs 894g.
ASRock calls this card “OC Edition” on the box but speeds are only very slightly raised over stock – the game clock is 2428MHz while the boost clock is 2607MHz. You get three DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.1 port on the rear. The card comes with plastic dust stoppers for all ports, plus a sled for the PCIe connector, which are nice touches, but there’s nothing else in the box. The company of course claims to have used high-end components. AMD’s stock recommendation is for a 500W power supply but ASRock has padded that to 550W.
ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT performance
The ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT was provided for testing by AMD, since there are no reference cards. Our standard test bench consists of an AMD Ryzen 2700 CPU, ASRock X470 Taichi Ultimate motherboard, 2x8GB of G.Skill F4-3400C16D-16GSXW DDR4 RAM, a 1TB Samsung 860 Evo SSD, and a Corsair RM650 power supply. The monitor was a 4K Asus PB287Q. As this is a PCIe 3.0 platform, some of the benefits of all-new hardware as described above can’t be exploited. All the latest drivers and Windows 10 patches were applied at the time of testing.
Synthetic testing lets us compare different GPUs with identical workloads under identical conditions. The table below outlines how the new Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU fared against its prime competition, the GeForce RTX 3060, as well as a few other reference points in these industry-standard tests.
|ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT||Asus Strix GeForce RTX 3060 OC Edition||Asus TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3060 Ti||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super Founders Edition||AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT|
|3DMark DLSS Feature Test (off / on)||N/A||23.67fps / 58.94fps||32.06fps / 79.31fps||N/A||N/A|
|3DMark Port Royal||4,398||5,105||6,911||4,998||N/A|
|3DMark Time Spy||8,557||8,485||10,719||8,771||7,794|
|3DMark Time Spy Extreme||4,031||3,925||5,058||4,044||3,521|
|3DMark Fire Strike Extreme||11,695||9,851||13,334||10,049||10,221|
|3DMark Fire Strike Ultra||6,421||5,182||7,304||4,552||5,355|
|3DMark Ray Tracing Feature Test||11.16fps||19.8fps||27.2fps||N/A||N/A|
|Unigine Superposition (4K Optimised)||7,058||6,912||9,587||N/A||N/A|
Middle Earth: Shadow of War managed an average of 40fps running at its Ultra quality preset at 4K, but there were some dips with the lowest point touching 15fps and highs going up to 152fps, as reported by the built-in benchmark tool. Bringing the resolution down to 1440p allowed the average to rise to a very respectable 70fps.
Metro: Exodus comes with a separate benchmarking tool. Running at 1080p with the Extreme preset, the average frame rate was 38.49fps, which shows that even at this resolution, some games can push too hard for this GPU. Stepping down to the Ultra preset raised the frame rate average to 64.5fps, and at Normal quality, that rose again to 89.06fps. Moving on to Troy: A Total War Saga’s Battle benchmark mode, the average frame rate was 21.5fps at 4K and Ultra quality. Choosing the more realistic High quality setting at 1080p resulted in an average of 50.02fps.
Far Cry 5 ran at 70fps on average at 1080p, 63fps at 1440p, and 49fps at 4K, using the Ultra preset. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is a bit more demanding, and ran at 34fps on average at 4K. It took a step down in resolution to 1440p as well as reducing the image quality to the High preset to get an average of 42fps.
Playing through one of Doom Eternal’s Master Levels, this game showed just how well it can run even on mid-range hardware. With the quality set to Ultra Nightmare and the resolution at 4K, this game had no trouble pushing out a solid 60+fps while running around, and only dipped to about 50fps in intense battles. There was a little mild tearing but no major stutters. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt also played smoothly at around 95fps while walking around, with the resolution set to 1440p and both graphics and post-processing set to High.
Mid-range hardware is a great use case for AMD’s new FidelityFX Super Resolution feature which allows games to be rendered at lower resolutions and then use software upscaling to look sharper without putting strain on a GPU. This feature is gaining developer support, but there aren’t a huge number of games out there yet that have implemented it. Running at 1440p and using the Ultra High preset without FSR enabled, Anno 1800’s in-game benchmark reported an average frame rate of 52.94fps. At the Ultra Quality FSR level, that went up to 71.03fps, and at the Performance level, the result was a remarkable 100.83fps. Image quality did degrade visibly at the Performance level, but as you can see, you don’t have to go to this extreme to have a very playable experience.
Godfall is also one of the first FSR-enabled games. Set to 1440p at the Epic quality preset, the game managed 35.2fps which is not as smooth as most gamers would like. The Ultra Performance FSR level took that up to 52.7fps which was quite a bit better. Performance mode brought that up to a very substantial 70.3fps, but with major loss in image quality. You might want to play around with game quality as well as FSR level settings to find a balance.
The ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT uses its enormous heatsink effectively, and so the three fans make barely any sound when gaming. They might spin
up to their highest speed only when really stressed in benchmarks, but even so there’s no noise. When not needed, the fans spin down and stay completely silent. There’s also no jet of hot air being pushed out the back.
The Radeon RX 6600 XT GPU is generally on par with or marginally faster than the GeForce RTX 3060. It comes in at a slightly higher official MSRP, and although that’s already quite a lot for a GPU at the 1080p level, it might have been understandable in normal times. However, the simple fact is that MSRPs mean absolutely nothing right now. While extremely difficult, it is at least possible to buy Nvidia’s Founders’ Edition cards directly from the distributor in India at its official price, and AMD offers no such arrangement. In the open market, the ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT sells for slightly over Rs. 60,000 which is plainly ludicrous. One other brand, Sapphire, has a Radeon RX 6600 XT model listed online at around Rs. 48,000, but most others are priced closer to the ASRock card. On top of that, they’re all out of stock.
Although AMD has delivered good performance, there’s no quick or easy way to get it into the hands of Indian gamers. It’s a pity, because this could have been a great time for gamers, with plenty of high-profile titles on the horizon, and features like ray tracing and FSR that give people better experiences than they might have anticipated.
The Radeon RX 6600 XT is not a bad GPU, but the MSRP is already pushing the limit of how much you should pay for one if you can find it. ASRock’s Phantom Gaming card, in particular, would be a good candidate, as long as you have a roomy PC case and like the looks of it, but the GPU is more of a differentiating factor than the brand selling you a graphics card based on it.
ASRock Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 6600 XT
Price: Rs. 60,400 (MOP)
- Good performance at 1080p and higher in some games
- Quiet fans, no noise
- Extremely expensive
- Oversized, heavy cooler
Ratings (out of 5)
- Performance: 4
- Value for Money: 2
- Overall: 3