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AMD Radeon RX 6600 is a gaming GPU that elevates your 1080p play

AMD Radeon RX 6600 is a gaming GPU that elevates your 1080p play

AMD's entry 1080p Radeon RX 6600 GPU, a lower-power sibling to its recent Rx 6800 XT and RTX 3060 competitor, is the most likely new graphics card of 2021. Both the RX 6600 and RTX 3060 are aimed for gamers who are searching for solidly playable, high-quality 1080p -- AAA games at 80-100fps or so with some tweaking of settings -- rather than high frame-rate, top-of-the-line 1060p. And for that, the RX 6600 delivers solid, if not excellent, results.

Although the RX 6600 is billed at $329, this is the absolute worst time to buy a graphics card, and has been for ages. Yes, the cryptocurrency mining crackdown in China and regulatory squabble in Europe may reduce the demand for GPUs, but we're still in the middle of a silicon supply crisis that affects many components of graphics cards and is expected to last until the end of the year, if not until 2022.

It's expected to keep availability low, shopbots busy, and prices high; they'd fallen a bit in August, but now look to be regaining some momentum. In August, a spot-check of available RTX 3060 cards, which are targeted to start at $329 like the RX 6600, were going for as "low" as $500; now they're closer to $800.

And if you're looking at entry-level cards like the RX 6600, you are probably quite price-conscious to begin with, making it a doubly bad time -- unless you have nefarious intentions.

Without knowing what the actual-real-true prices are than the what-planet-do-you-live-on prices, it's difficult to recommend you buy a GPU that you're unable to afford. All of the usual suspects, though, such as Amazon, Newegg, Walmart, and Best Buy, are available.

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Like Nvidia's RTX 3060 and RX 6600 XT, there're no official AMD-branded version of a card that uses the Rx 6 600 GPU, so we tested the Sapphire Pulse AMD Radeon RK 6200, proving to be remarkably strong and powerful. In our tests, the 6600 generally delivered in-game 1080p frame rates above 70fps with whirlwind speedup features turned off, and it proved to be a great card for single-screen photo editing. It entered 1440p territory with mixed results: Playable, but with a few drops in quality.

It's a dual-slot card, but it'll be able to sit in close proximity to neighbors; this, coupled with its low-wattage, makes it ideally suited for sticking into older systems as an upgrade.

There's not a lot to the Pulse'' features -- it' is merely relics of the AMD GPU, with no flashing lights, BIOS switching, performance monitoring, or performance tracking. Running at full tilt, the card was relatively cool and quiet, with a 2.3GHz GPU clock speed -- hardly more than the usual rating of 2.2GHz -- and the fans are quiet with no whine.

You'll also have access to the many settings provided by Radeon Adrenalin. Radeon Boost (which selectively renders scene elements at a lower resolution, based on visibility, for higher frame rates); Radon Anti-Lag (reduces latency by reducing the CPU's load); and Radon Image Sharpening; and Smart Access Memory (AMD''S Resizable BAR implementation, in which the GPU can store game-related data in GPU RAM rather than system RAM so the graphics unit doesn't have to traverse the system bus to retrieve it).

Sapphire's Trixx Boost utility, which uses simple upscaling algorithms, modified by AMD' s Radeon Image Sharpening, to boost frame rates, is also available. The AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (upscaling from lower-resolution textures to achieve faster frame rates, a la Nvidia DLSS) and Contrast Adaptive Sharpening require integration by game developers, while the combination of Trixx Boost and driver-implemented RIS can be used with any game that runs on DX9 or later.

Trixx has some advantages over some of the competitors in the industry. For one, it doesn't insist on running all the time or loading itself at Windows launch. And Boost has a setting for upscaling to 1080p; algorithms like Nvidia's DLSS and FSR are optimized for scaling from 1,920x1080 textures. The flip side is that it's a bit stripped down; of course, the card doesn't have terribly much control, but I'd like to at least be able to save performance logs.

Based on my testing of the Pulse and the Asus RX 6600 XT, I'd probably avoid cards based on the chips as an upgrade for older Intel systems with PCIe 3 buses (that's 10th gen or earlier) since it doesn't perform as well as the Rx 3060. They rely heavily on the faster PCIe 4 bus and AMD's Smart Access Memory in some cases to compensate for the smaller 8-lane PC Ie connection than Nvidia' s 16-lead connection, which really affects the bandwidth. AMD, with its single Ray Accelerator per compute unit, has yet to catch up to Nvidia in performance for some DirectX 12 technologies, such as DXR. It's not a good choice for games that rely on ray tracing for good quality.

Performance snapshot of the performance snapshot

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