More than a year after this generation of graphics cards
launched, the stage is finally set for a proper 1080p showdown,
with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 in one corner and the
freshly released AMD Radeon RX 6600 in the other. Will the RX
6600 follow in the footsteps of its bigger sibling, the Radeon RX 6600 XT, and put up a solid fight
versus its GeForce rival? Which is the best graphics card for your needs and
budget? We'll look at performance, availability, and price to
determine if it has what it takes!
RTX 3060 vs RX 6600: Price
Both of these graphics cards sport an identical $329 price tag,
at least ostensibly, and at that price the RTX 3060 would be the
clear winner—but you're very unlikely to find either GPU for sale
at MSRP. Real-world pricing is considerably higher for both
graphics cards as the brutal chip shortage continues. The Radeon RX
6600 seems to have a more realistic price tag. Many custom versions
are hovering in the $400 to $500 range when you can find them on
store shelves, with a chart-topping Asus model going for $499. But
the GeForce RTX 3060 fares even worse, often going over $500. In
the second-hand market, Nvidia's GPU often eclipses even $800. Talk
about punching above your weight class!
Historic levels of demand by both gamers and crypto-coin miners
have led us down this arduous path. The RTX 3060 continues to be
difficult to find in stock, regardless of pricing. How does the
availability of the AMD RX 6600 do? Surprisingly, stock remained
available even days after launch, but the big caveat here is that
most custom board makers slapped a higher street price on their
GPUs, giving many buyers cause for pause. And now that the launch
is in the rear view mirror, you're more likely to pay from $480 to
$550 on secondary markets like eBay or Craigslist.
RTX 3060 vs RX 6600:
The RTX 3060 and RX 6600 XT put up a tough fight, so how will
the less powerful RX 6600 do? Spoiler: Not quite as well, but
that's less egregious given the real-world pricing disparity of
these graphics cards.
It's worth noting that the RX 6600 and RTX 3060 wield different
amounts of VRAM: 8GB of VRAM for the AMD GPU, and 12GB of VRAM for
the RTX 3060. Don't worry much about this discrepancy, however;
these GPUs generally target 1080p gaming, where 8GB of memory holds
up just fine. Each also has a suite of features intended to
strengthen their performance. On the Nvidia side, the much-lauded
DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) is a big positive—which, in
combination with ray tracing, provides stellar visual and frame
rate performance. AMD has a similar resolution scaling feature
called FidelityFX Super Resolution, as well as a killer Smart Access Memory feature that
improves performance when paired with a supported CPU. Our
benchmarks below disable all those proprietary bells and whistles
to focus on apples-to-apples raw performance.
In Watch Dogs Legion, the RX 6600 surprisingly runs
toe-to-toe with the RTX 3060 in both 1080p and 1440p. It seems to
be roughly 10% slower than the RX 6600 XT, however. DLSS and ray
tracing are both disabled for this test, which levels the playing
field for the AMD GPU to demonstrate its raw performance. In
general, this performance difference can be expected across many
games, with some Nvidia-leaning titles giving the RTX 3060 a bit
more of a bump. The Radeon RX 6600 is slower overall than the RTX
3060, though it remains a great 1080p graphics card capable of high
frame rates even with eye candy cranked to the max in most games.
Well, except ray tracing.
Speaking of, let's up the difficulty and head over to ray
tracing round. Here, both DLSS and FSR are off in order to ensure a
fair bout. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we can see how
the pure hardware ray tracing is still better on the Nvidia RTX
3060. If DLSS and FSR were activated on a supported game, the
Nvidia ray tracing lead would grow by a larger margin. If ray
tracing is something you'd like to experience, the RTX 3060 is a
much better choice. Otherwise, in performance the RX 6600 puts up a
valiant fight in traditional rasterized gaming.
Power and other things to
The RTX 3060 comes with a TDP of 170W, but that is outclassed by
132W TDP of the RX 6600. This AMD GPU truly sips power and is
impressive in its efficiency. This is part of the reason the RX
6600 XT has become popular with crypto miners, much to the chagrin
of gamers – it's just so darn efficient! Lower power also leads to
generally cooler and quieter performance, too.
The RX 6600 does not have any factory limitations imposed on it
as it concerns crypto mining, it's just a lower clocked but
efficient GPU. The RTX 3060 technically is limited in its hash
rate, but there have been workarounds to that respect that unleash
its mining prowess, so your mileage may vary.
chicken dinner goes to..
This is a difficult match to referee since the real-world
availability and pricing of these 1080p duelers is so
unpredictable. This will mean your price-to-performance ratio will
vary considerably depending on what and when you can get one.
Having said that, the RX 6600 is much easier to find at this
point than either the 6600 XT or the RTX 3060. If you really need
ray tracing and DLSS in your life at 1080p, you may want to hold
out for an RTX 3060, or even the step-up RTX 3060 Ti. And if you could actually buy
these cards on a whim at MSRP prices, the RTX 3060 would easily be
the superior options. But you can't, and that's key. On the
streets, the RTX 3060 still carries much more of a premium than
even the faster 6600 XT. You'll likely be able to find the RX 6600
more easily at retailers, even if it is with inflated pricing.
If you desire flat-out 1080p performance at a price that might
not require taking out a second mortgage, the AMD Radeon RX 6600 is
the winner of this battle. In non-ray tracing roles, it often runs
close to the RTX 3060. The biggest caveat here would be in pricing;
we've seen models run the mill from the $329 MSRP to a staggering
$499 for the RX 6600, and that's before the markup you'll find in
secondary outlets like eBay. You'll want to be on the lower end of
that scale, since even $329 is very expensive for a 1080p
GPU in 2021, chip shortages or no.