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: Performance
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 know
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.
Winner winner, 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.