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MSI Radeon RX 6600 XT Gaming X Review
Review By @ 08:40pm 15/09/21

Product: MSI Radeon RX 6600 XT GAMING X 8G
Type: Graphics Card
Price: ~ $849 AUD
Availability: Now

The AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT is the latest entry in AMD’s RDNA 2-based line-up, presenting the most mainstream and entry level option to date. RDNA 2 of course is the architecture that powers the impressive 4K flagship that is the Radeon RX 6800 XT (a card we reviewed last year) -- in addition to making up the hardware found inside of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

When taking a look at the current pricing of all graphics cards though, regardless of make, brand, or underlying technology, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking this new member of the Radeon 6000 family sits on the higher end of the scale.

In terms of performance goals it actually sits in the region where you find NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or the recent GeForce RTX 3060. The more mainstream place that covers the majority of builds out in the wild. In a lot of ways it makes something like the Radeon RX 6600 XT more exciting to delve into than its older siblings. Here you have a measured and tempered design that aims to offer up performance with a mind towards efficiency, portability, and affordability. As fun as it is to crank up the settings when using a 6800 XT or RTX 3080, it’s the mainstream option that ultimately resonates and ends up finding a larger install base.

Case in point, as per the latest Steam Hardware Survey results for August 2021, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 and the GeForce RTX 2060 make up the two most common GPUs for PC players. And it’s in this hypothetical and hopefully soon-to-be-real world, separate from hardware shortages and pricing, that we’ve approached this review of the MSI Radeon RX 6600 XT GAMING X 8G graphics card.

In fact, when AMD announced the 6600 XT it did so via comparing it to the GTX 1060 and focusing on 1080p performance.

As we’ve reviewed MSI graphics cards in the past (there’s this one, and this one) the Gaming X version of the Radeon RX 600 XT offers up-out-the-box overclocking, impressive cooling, and a sturdy and silent design. So then, does it live up to AMD’s claims of being a true 1080p powerhouse? Does that limit the performance substantially when paired with a higher resolution 1440p display? Read on to find out.

An RDNA 2 Primer

The below is a summary of the Radeon RX 6000 Series technology, applicable to all 6600 XT models.

RDNA 2 Architecture, as per its name, is the successor to the original RDNA as seen in the Radeon RX 5700 XT. As a mid-range offering, the 5700 XT was AMD’s first 7nm powered bit of graphics tech from back in 2019. And much like its Ryzen line of CPUs, each new Radeon generation brings the same level of ‘tech maturity’ -- with the latest RDNA 2 architecture being a prime example.

... when AMD announced the 6600 XT it did so via comparing it to the GTX 1060 and focusing on 1080p performance

RDNA 2 puts the Radeon name back on the map, where prior to the release of the new Radeon RX 6000 series, AMD noted that in terms of improvement RDNA 2 would provide 50% more performance-per-watt over the original RDNA. The 7nm architecture of RDNA 2, which can also be found in both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, has been created with a focus purely on game performance. And, it’s no surprise that’s where it shines.

What's inside the flagship Radeon RX 6800 XT can be seen as a supercharged version of what’s inside the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Not that we completely understand how a GPU works at the micro level, but much like with NVIDIA’s Ampere, RDNA 2 presents an overhaul of how each ‘Compute Unit’ works - leading to better performance and making the pretty graphics look prettier.

It doesn’t stop there as AMD has also been touting hardware-accelerated ray-tracing as a part of RDNA 2. On that front each ‘Compute Unit’ features a single Ray Accelerator that can be leveraged to handle the taxing and complex ray-tracing calculations needed for the effect.

Perhaps the most interesting innovation though comes with the introduction of AMD Infinity Cache, which is exactly how it sounds. Additional cache as seen in the CPU space to improve memory bandwidth and streaming. Of course it’s not all about hardware, and in working closely with Microsoft throughout the development of the Xbox Series X and RDNA 2 itself, DirectX 12 Ultimate features like Variable Rate Shading are fully supported in the Radeon RX 6000 series.

Plus, AMD’s answer to DLSS with its own upscaling tech called AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) works on all GPUs and isn’t limited to RDNA 2.

Of Numbers and Heat Sinks

Numbers time, where we get to look at different numbers and pretend to know what they’re all about. In all seriousness though as much as we can feign a knowing look whenever we hear the term ‘Compute Unit’ the baseline for looking at the specs for the 6600 XT is in directly comparing its spec sheet to the flagship 6800 XT. As outlined above, this mainstream version of RDNA 2 is designed for exactly that -- an entry level or gateway to improved performance and the ability to play all of the modern games.
MSI Radeon RX 6600 XT GAMING X 8G
  • Architecture (GPU): RDNA 2
  • Compute Units/Ray Accelerators: 32
  • Stream Processors: 2048
  • Infinity Cache: 32MB
  • GPU Clock: Boost: Up to 2589 MHz Game: Up to 2359 MHz
  • Memory Capacity: 8GB GDDR6
  • Memory Interface/Speed: 256-bit/16 Gbps
  • TDP: 160W

On paper though, the 6600 XT is a noticeably cut-down version of the 6800 XT -- with cutbacks made in just about all areas. From a quarter of the Infinity Cache to less than half of the total number of Compute Units to only 8GB of VRAM. The plus side is that the 160W power rating means it only needs a single 8-pin connector, which has been something we’ve kind of missed during this high-powered generation of graphics cards. Also the 2.5 GHz clock speed makes this the fastest Radeon RX 6000 series card to date.

What this all means for 1080p performance, how it stacks up against the RTX 3060 Ti, or even the bigger 6800 XT isn’t really clear. For that we’ll have to jump into actual games to see -- which we did. So read on.

Game Performance

Okay, let’s get to it - here’s a look at the Radeon RX 6600 XT running the games in 1080p and 1440p with detail settings dialled up to 11 on the following setup. The following performance figures as per our testing with GPUs for review purposes were captured using out-of-the-box settings.
  • GPU: MSI Radeon RX 6600 XT GAMING X 8G
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
  • Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY
  • Memory: HyperX FURY DDR4 RGB (32GB at 3600 MHz)

The first bath of games.

Here's the 1080p comparison chart between the Radeon RX 6600 XT and RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti.

And yeah, the picture here is very clear, with the 6600 XT able to run modern games at 1080p at frame-rates well above 60fps. For well optimised titles and those that you’d might consider more on the competitive side hitting triple digits or making full use of a Full-HD 144Hz display is definitely on the cards. Even titles that employ ray-tracing like Dirt 5 and F1 2021 run great. But, it’s worth noting that with F1’s use of ray-traced reflections, this more-taxing-than-ray-traced-shadows-effect does have a major impact on performance -- meaning that the 6600 XT isn’t quite cut out for games that push ray-tracing across a wide range of effects. Like say, in Control or Minecraft -- which we didn’t test on account of the pretty much unplayable performance.

The picture here is very clear, with the 6600 XT able to run modern games at 1080p at frame-rates well above 60fps.

But, hitting well above 60fps in Gears 5 and Horizon Zero Dawn or even over 170fps in Forza Horizon 4 definitely ensures that the 6600 XT is cut out for high-end 1080p gaming. And when paired with MSI’s excellent TWIN FROZR 8 Thermal Design cooling (which is a fancy name given to the fans and heat pipe action here) the 6600 XT does so whilst remaining cool (sitting in the 60-degree range) and quiet.

Here's the 1440p comparison chart between the Radeon RX 6600 XT and RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti.

Compared to the baseline RTX 3060, at 1080p the 6600 XT performs about 10% faster. Though when you stack it up against the similarly priced RTX 3060 Ti it performs about 15% slower. It’s here where 1080p results tend to become a little blurry, in that often engine bottlenecks and other hardware factors can limit performance -- meaning that in a lot of games there really isn’t all that much of a difference. The biggest test for the 6600 XT arrives when you bump up the resolution to 1440p, which is slowly becoming the standard for modern PC gaming. Here the drop off in performance for the RDNA 2 entry is more prominent; the lead over the RTX 3060 drops to a fairly small 5% and the gap between it and the RTX 3060 Ti grows to a sizable 20%.

This is reflected in the 3DMark results where it’s no surprise that the 6600 XT excels when it comes to 1080p performance compared to the higher resolutions out there. And really when you factor this in, the long-term viability does begin to creep into the picture. When paired with the less-than stellar ray-tracing performance it might mean the difference between choosing this over something else.

That said, putting it all back into perspective -- hitting 150fps in DOOM Eternal is truly amazing. As is the performance across all games we tested in 1080p. And with AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) starting to become a thing in a number of games the 1440p capabilities of the 6600 XT could very well improve over time -- which is very cool.

Loading Results...

We’ve gone this far without mentioning drivers, which has been a sticking point for AMD for sometime. Well, it’s probably time to put those worries to pasture because AMD’s Radeon Software is excellent across the board, offering a clean and minimal look and quick access to overclocking and other tools to monitor hardware. That and it seems to be fairly stable -- in that we didn’t come across any real issues. From capture tools to performance summaries, using it throughout this MSI Radeon RX 6600 XT review has been great and in terms of it UI and overall design it even feels a step ahead of NVIDIA’s own GeForce Experience.

Compared to the baseline RTX 3060, at 1080p the 6600 XT performs about 10% faster. Though when you stack it up against the similarly priced RTX 3060 Ti it performs about 15% slower.

In addition to this with MSI’s 6600 XT you get the intuitive and easy-to-use MSI Center for Windows 10 in addition the overclockers tool of choice in the always reliable MSI Afterburner. For this review we ran games using stock settings but with temps and overall noise kept low there’s definite room to push things even further. MSI’s Gaming X design, the dual-fans, the light and sturdy build, the look and feel, it is one of the most desirable 6600 XTs currently available. And when you look beyond pricing and take the 1080p performance as what it is -- impressive on pretty much all counts -- then this more mainstream RDNA 2 offering is one to consider.
What we liked
Impressive 1080p performance
RDNA 2 efficiency
MSI’s great build quality and cooling
What we didn't like
Performance drop off at 1440p
Noticeably slower than the RTX 3060 Ti
Limited VRAM and Infinity Cache
Not great for ray-tracing or content creation
Current pricing
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 11:52pm 15/9/21
2nd performance chart has 1080 twice is that a typo?
Posted 12:14pm 16/9/21
yes it was... fixed! cheers... it was 1440p
Posted 04:03pm 28/9/21
As some one who is looking at getting a RX 6600xt later this year I'm really exited that it preforms this well in such a Varity of titles and MSI really outdid themselves with how stunning this card looks.
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