The Radeon RX 6600 is positioned by AMD as an alternative solution to the GeForce RTX 3060 from Nvidia. The target market is gamers equipped with Full HD monitors and willing to play both games with classic rendering and raytracing.
The presentation of the Radeon RX 6600 made by AMD takes up the main marketing arguments of the superior model, the Radeon RX 6600 XT. The target audience is once again gamers equipped with Full HD monitors, looking for top performance in this definition which still represents the bulk of the gaming market. The difference is not only in the technical characteristics, but also in the price. A price that positions it, on paper, against the GeForce RTX 3060 from Nvidia.
Radeon 6000 series is obliged, this sixth reference of the lineage inherits a GPU doped with RDNA2 architecture. We won't go into detail about this architecture, which we covered in our full review of the Radeon RX 6800 XT.
On the technical side, the Radeon RX 6600 uses the Navi 23 chip from the XT version. However, the number of computing blocks has been reduced to 28 CU, to reach 1792 computing units instead of the 2048 of the Radeon RX 6600 XT. We lose 16 units dedicated to textures, for a total of 112, but we keep the 64 rendering units. The raytracing is not abandoned, but the presence of only 28 "Ray Accelerators" does not let us hope for miracles at this level. Finally, the integrated cache system (Infinity Cache) is 32 MB, as on the superior model. The chip has a surface area of 237 mm² and integrates 11.1 billion transistors etched in 7 nm by TSMC, like the entire series.
The maximum frequency achievable by the GPU is 2491 MHz according to AMD, down a hundred megahertz from the top model. The technical documentation of the manufacturer tells us, however, that the frequency expected in games (Game GPU Clock) is significantly lower than the higher model, at 2044 MHz on the Radeon RX 6600, against 2359 MHz on the XT.
We find 8 GB of GDDR6 memory operating on a 128-bit bus. On the other hand, no 2000 MHz chips, but chips operating at 1750 MHz, resulting in a rather meager memory bandwidth of 224 GB/s. The whole system is given for an average consumption of 132 watts and works on a PCIe 4.0 8x interface. The lack of 16-lane PCIe 4.0 compatibility is not a drawback on such a graphics card; the extra bandwidth of a 16x interface would not have made any noticeable difference.
As is often the case with AMD, the most accessible graphics card models do not have a reference model. Only "partner" cards, sold by the usual graphics card manufacturers, can be found on the market. For our tests, we used a Gigabyte Radeon RX 6600 Eagle 8G, which has the same technical characteristics as the Radeon RX 6600.
The noise generated by the cooling system of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6600 Eagle 8G is noticeable. The massive cooling system is quite crude, so it is not the most optimized card in this respect. This is not a disaster, however. It's about the same level as a GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition, for example. Not enough to disturb the people around you. At rest, the ventilation is completely cut off.
The power consumption of our test graphics card is in line with AMD's technical data. On average, it draws 130 watts, with some peaks around 138 watts. The energy efficiency is quite good, better than the top models and higher than the GeForce RTX 3060.
Performance in games
The Gigabyte Radeon RX 6600 Eagle 8G that we used in our test showed an effective average frequency of 2400 MHz. This is much higher than expected, but still lower than the RX 6600 XT. However, this is not enough to outperform Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 in both rasterization and raytracing.
In Full HD, the Radeon RX 6600 is thus 5% behind the GeForce RTX 3060 when games are rendered in rasterization only. The difference with the RX 6600 XT is 15%. However, games run smoothly and only the heaviest ones (Cyberpunk 2077) require turning down one or the other graphics option a notch to get back above 60 fps.
Enabling raytracing rendering effects makes an even bigger difference, increasing AMD's lag to 55% on average compared to the RTX 3060, still in Full HD. Most games are then unplayable with the graphics options pushed to their maximum. Those who absolutely want to use raytracing might be tempted to enable FSR in compatible games - AMD's advanced upscaling technique - to regain some semblance of fluidity. Unfortunately, this will come at the cost of a massive loss of detail in the image, as AMD's technology is only marginally usable in this definition. As a reminder, FSR is mostly useful in 4K, a definition in which the image is rendered without much loss.
WQHD gaming is also possible. The order of things does not change, the Radeon RX 6600 remaining invariably behind the GeForce RTX 3060. On the other hand, it will be necessary to lower some graphics sliders on greedy games, without which the fluidity may be limited.
With a component shortage that seems to drag on, it's hard to make a definitive statement about a graphics card based on its MSRP. Still, the Radeon RX 6600 does its job to some extent by offering sufficient performance to play on a Full HD monitor without having to lower the graphics settings too often. This graphics card is also low on power consumption, which will also please gamers with small power supplies.
However, the picture is not as pretty as it seems. As it is, and contrary to what AMD's marketing team says, this graphics card is clearly not recommended for gamers who want to enable raytracing effects in compatible games. And FSR won't really help things in Full HD, a definition in which the system does bring a boost in throughput, but at the expense of rendering quality, which takes a big hit.
With all these elements taken into consideration, we find it difficult to recommend the Radeon RX 6600 over Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060; both graphics cards are sold at almost the same price. But in the reality of the user, it is above all the availability and the real price that will push to choose one or the other card. Sad times.
Positioned by AMD as an ideal graphics card for Full HD gaming, the Radeon RX 6600 does not really disappoint in this display definition. It's quite comfortable in these conditions, even if some games will have to have their graphics settings slider reduced to keep a bitrate higher than 60 fps. On the other hand, there's no need to hope to activate raytracing, which unfortunately results in games that are too jerky.