Should You Buy the AMD Radeon RX 6600? Maybe Not – Here‘s Why

As a savvy shopper searching for your next GPU upgrade, you likely have your eyes on AMD‘s Radeon RX 6000 series. Reviews praise these cards for excellent 1080p gaming speeds. However, the cheapest model – the RX 6600 – makes concerning compromises that may disappoint you.

In this guide, we’ll explore the top 5 reasons why the RX 6600 could underwhelm compared to alternatives like NVIDIA‘s RTX 3060. You’ll see where AMD had to cut corners that negatively impact performance. By understanding these limitations, you can better match a graphics card to your needs and budget.

The key disadvantages we’ll be covering include:

  • Lowest compute units among all AMD RDNA 2 cards
  • Lackluster ray tracing
  • Upscaling trails NVIDIA DLSS technology
  • Only 8GB video memory
  • Weak value proposition, especially at launch

While no card is perfect, the RX 6600 trails its competitors enough in crucial areas that most shoppers should steer towards better options. Let‘s break down the details…

Reason 1 – Much Lower Compute Unit Count Hampers Performance

A graphics card’s compute units (CUs) contain collections of cores that handle parallel processing tasks. More compute power leads to faster speeds, better efficiency, and higher framerates.

Unfortunately, the RX 6600 minimize compute resources more than any other card in AMD’s RDNA 2 consumer lineup:

GPUCompute UnitsIncrease vs. 6600
RX 660028 CUs
RX 6600 XT32 CUs14%
RX 6700 XT40 CUs43%
RX 680060 CUs114%
RX 6900 XT80 CUs186%

With only 28 compute units and 1792 stream processors, the RX 6600 falls far behind its AMD siblings in raw horsepower. Benchmarks demonstrate how this CU deficit translates to underwhelming real-world game performance:

  • In TechPowerUp testing across a sample of nine games at 1080p highest settings, the RX 6600 averaged 26.8% lower frame rates than the 6600 XT.
  • It falls further behind the 6700 XT, trailing by approximately 40% in assessments by both Tom’s Hardware and UserBenchmark.

The takeaway is clear:

With significantly fewer compute resources than other AMD RDNA 2 GPUs, the RX 6600 disappoints in graphics performance benchmarks. Budget-focused shoppers should prefer the only slightly pricier RX 6600 XT instead.

Reason 2 – Mediocre Ray Tracing Can‘t Keep Pace with NVIDIA

While the RX 6600 technically supports real-time ray tracing by utilizing AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture, its implementation leaves much to be desired compared to NVIDIA’s dedicated RT core approach.

Multiple reputable hardware review sites have benchmarked the RX 6600’s ray tracing performance as middling against its chief competitor – the similarly priced NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060:

  • Tom’s Hardware recorded a 6% lower score for the RX 6600 in the 3DMark Port Royal ray tracing test.
  • Testing by TechPowerUp saw a 13% ray tracing FPS disadvantage for AMD’s card in Battlefield V.
  • ComputerBase and PC Games Hardware both noted the RTX 3060 outperforms the RX 6600 in ray tracing by around 10-15% across popular games like Watch Dogs Legion.

Without the dedicated ray tracing cores and tensor cores found on NVIDIA RTX models, AMD has to rely on standard stream processors. While these generic shader processors can handle ray tracing, their architecture isn’t optimized for these specialized calculations.

Let’s summarize the ray tracing differences:

SpecRX 6600RTX 3060
Ray Accelerators2830 RT cores
Tensor CoresNone120
Avg. 1080p
Ray Tracing FPS

For buyers factoring ray tracing into their buying decision, NVIDIA still holds a noticeable performance lead over AMD.

Reason 3 – Upscaling Trails NVIDIA DLSS 2.0

To boost framerates when gaming at higher 1440p or 4K resolutions, the RX 6600 relies solely on AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). This upscaling technology uses a spatial technique called edge reconstruction to intelligently guess extra detail for missing pixels.

However, extensive testing shows NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS 2.0) on RTX cards provides superior image quality and bigger performance lifts:

1080p to 4K
Upscaling Test
FidelityFX FPSDLSS 2.0 FPSDLSS 2.0 % Gain
Death Stranding62 fps89 fps+43%
Guardians of the Galaxy65 fps89 fps+37%

(PC Gamer Testing)

Unlike FSR, DLSS taps into the power of AI and deep learning. By training a neural network on games, NVIDIA’s solution more intelligently reconstructs image details at higher fidelity.

Across reviews, the differences stack up clearly:

  • DLSS 2.0 provides over 2X more fps gains from upscaling versus AMD FSR (Via ComputerBase)
  • Up to a 66% performance advantage for DLSS over FSR
  • DLSS image quality remains superior by a noticeable margin

For shoppers focused on high resolution gaming, NVIDIA retains a clear lead over AMD.

Reason 4 – 8GB VRAM Leaves Little Room to Grow

The RX 6600 ships with 8 GB of video memory (VRAM) onboard – a sufficient amount for smooth 1080p gaming today. However, that VRAM buffer may quickly fall behind for future games and applications.

Let’s examine the concerning VRAM trends:

  • Steam surveys show 14% of gamers already play at 1440p resolutions, which grow more VRAM hungry. 4K gaming adoption also rises each year.
  • Last generation‘s RX 580 8GB card now averages 15-20% lower FPS in modern titles like Horizon Zero Dawn (Via Testing Games).
  • TechSpot testing finds the 8GB RTX 3080 model trailing its 10GB variant by ~15% across 1440p games.

While the RX 6600 should provide enough onboard memory for now, its 8GB capacity leaves little headroom going forward. AMD positions this GPU for 1080p gaming, but we expect even 1440p performance to suffer before the card becomes obsolete.

NVIDIA chose to equip the competing RTX 3060 with 12GB of VRAM – 50% more than AMD’s entry-level offering. This larger buffer better future-proofs RTX 3060 cards against the growing memory requirements of modern games.

Let‘s contrast the memory specs:

SpecRX 6600RTX 3060
Memory Bus128-bit192-bit

With games and creative applications demanding more VRAM each year, the RX 6600‘s 8GB capacity already lags behind the competition. You‘ll likely feel the constraints earlier than other GPU owners when upgrading to higher resolutions.

Reason 5 – Weak Value Proposition, Especially at Launch

You‘ll also want to consider the value proposition – how the pricing stacks up against the performance delivered. By this metric, the Radeon RX 6600 notably disappoints at its original $329 MSRP against NVIDIA‘s card offering far better bang for the buck.

See how the two compare spec-for-spec:

SpecRX 6600RTX 3060
Launch Price$329$329
Compute Units2828
Boost Clock2.44 GHz1.78 GHz
Avg. 1080p Game FPS100%112%

Tested across nine graphically-intensive games, the $329 RTX 3060 averaged 12% higher frame rates under the same settings (Via TechPowerUp). Plus, NVIDIA packed in extra useful features missing from AMD‘s card:

  • DLSS upscaling we covered earlier
  • Superior ray tracing support
  • 50% more VRAM (12GB vs 8GB)

Considering the performance advantages, the RTX 3060 stood out clearly as the best value by far. While prices have equalized more reasonably post-launch, early RX 6600 adopters arguably overpaid unless obtaining unusually steep discounts.

Better Alternatives to the RX 6600

Instead of settling for the cut-down RX 6600, you can get better performance or value from these AMD and NVIDIA alternatives:

Value Pick: AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT – Approximately 15% faster out the box via higher game clock speeds plus improved ray tracing and RSR.

Performance Pick: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 – Superior 1080p frame rates powered by DLSS and dedicated RT cores. 50% more VRAM than the RX 6600.

Future-Proof 1440p Gaming: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT – Excellent 1440p speeds today while equipped with 12GB VRAM to satisfy tomorrow’s games.

Any of the above deliver better price-to-performance ratios over the RX 6600 in their respective budget categories.

While no doubt able to handle 1080p gaming adequately, the Radeon RX 6600 makes concerning compromises across the board compared to pricier yet still reasonably priced offerings. Slow compute speeds, disappointing ray tracing, last-gen upscaling tech, limited VRAM, and weak value all represent meaningful downgrades over the competition.

Unless found at an unusually steep discount, savvy buyers should steer clear of AMD’s entry-level RDNA 2 card. Spending just slightly more nets you much faster speeds today and better future-proofing. If staying around $300, NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 brings superior specifications leading to real-world performance advantages. Or for buyers focused strictly on fast 1080p gaming now, AMD’s own RX 6600 XT model better deservedly cements its place as the 1080p champion.

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