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As anyone who is a PC gamer should know by this point, 2021 was a terrible year for anyone looking to buy a graphics cards. With the component shortages, crypto mining, and a range of other factors I covered in an editorial a few months ago; cards have been massively scalped for twice to almost three times the original price on places like Ebay.
Stock sells out in seconds, and much like those looking for an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, you’d end up waiting a few weeks for a restock. Thanks to all of this, many companies have raised the prices on their cards.
Other reviewers might compare the card we have today to the 3060 TI because of its original MSRP. However its original MSRP isn’t accurate, since I haven’t seen a 3060 TI even when in stock sold by Amazon or Newegg, and not a scalper for less than $500 USD.
The card we are looking at today is the XFX 6600 XT Merc 308. XFX has replaced its THICC branding with the Merc line up which is rather unfortunate since I really liked saying THICC over a dozen times in a review, but I digress.
|RX 6600 XT||XFX RX 6600 XT Merc 308||EVGA RTX 3060 XC|
|GPU Core||Navi 23 XT||Navi 23 XT||GA 106|
|Memory||8GB GDDR6 128-Bit||8GB GDDR6 128-Bit||12GB GDDR6 192-Bit|
|Release Date||August 2021||August 2021||Febuary 2021|
The card is the successor to the 5600 XT THICC which we reviewed previously, and performs like a souped up 5700 XT at 1080P. This should perform slightly slower at 1440P and above, because AMD has cut the bandwidth on this card from a 256-bit bus to a 128-bit bus. A measure to save on costs, and aim this card firmly at 1080P high refresh rate and ultra settings.
The card we are looking at is the top tier 6600 XT model from XFX, and at only $420 USD it’s actually not that extreme; considering people are still paying about $1k for a 6700XT. It’s also much cheaper than competitors cards like the ASUS models that are priced over $540 USD.
The card is a triple fan model using 80mm fans, which were whisper quiet almost all the time when testing this card. It’s arguably overkill, but for anyone who wants a quieter system, a bit of overkill in the cooling solution will keep the card’s racket down.
It also features a nickel plated copper cold plate that connects to several heatpipes. All of these make contact with both the memory and the GPU, and also features a nice aluminum backplate for added rigidity.
The GPU testing methodology we will be using at Niche Gamer will be similar to what you may have seen at hardware-focused sites. For this review, I will be testing 1080P only. Partially this is because this card is specifically focused on 1080P performance.
I take each game, test it in the given resolution over 3 runs, which are then averaged out. Any extreme results (more than 5%) are thrown out and retested, to ensure we can be accurate with the hardware’s performance in a given game.
The two metrics we will use today is average FPS, and 99th percentile frame rate. This is taking the data, and looking at the 99th percent of frames, or the worst noticeable stutter. Ideally the lows should still remain above 60fps, or as close as possible to the average.
For this review specifically I decided to add some esports games, since I’d argue this card is aimed at being a premium 1080P card that can push frame rates over 144Hz in modern titles. I also swapped out some titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 for Grand Theft Auto V because the latter is much more popular even today.
I have upgraded this test bench since last year with a Ryzen 5600X. It’s only a six core, however it’s probably closer to what most readers would end up buying anyways.
In this review you might notice a 6700 XT used intermittently in some tests. This is partially because I borrowed an AMD branded 6700 XT for a short time, and had the ability to run some benchmarks on it; but not enough to include in every result. I thought some mention of it however would be better than none at all.
I have also included AMD’s SAM or Smart Access Memory in this review, because the motherboard and CPU I am using support it. If you do not have a 5th generation AMD motherboard and CPU, you cannot enable this functionality.
For our load temperature testing we run Hitman 2‘s benchmark, looping at 1080p for 30 minutes, and get the highest listed temperature at a locked 50% fan speed (to remove any sort of fan curve variation between cards). Idle testing is done with the system turned off, and waiting 5 minutes for temperature to stabilize.
For this test I left all the data from previous reviews, since it might give a bit more information. Our 6600 XT sits at the middle of the pack here, but is absolutely dead quiet at 70C. I had trouble hearing it in an open test bench over any background noise in my home.
Forza Horizon 4
For this game, we tested at 1080P at high settings in the in-game benchmark. I ran the software from the start and to the end of a race, roughly a minute and 40 seconds.
Here you see using SAM we have over a 20 FPS jump getting 186 FPS on ultra settings on one of AMDs best titles. The 3060 has trouble keeping up, and the much more expensive 6700XT goes even further.
Gears Tactics flips the gameplay of previous titles on its head with a turn based strategy game based heavily on X-Com (which we reviewed, we recommend it). We again tested at 1080p, this time at ultra settings and used the in-game benchmark.
In this title we see about a 12% gain on the Merc card over the 3060. SAM doesn’t gain a whole lot of performance, but here it doesn’t lose any either which is good.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
CS:GO is one of the most popular titles out there today. For this test we used the CPU Benchmark in the workshop and tested for 85 seconds
While this test might be aimed more at CPUs rather than GPUs, it’s more of an example of if this GPU is good enough to push 240+ Hz monitors. It does end up being about 100 FPS slower than the 3060, but should perform fast enough that you’re mostly limited by the CPU aside from when you end up sitting inside a smoke grenade.
After the very successful Doom (2016) reboot, Doom Eternal follows the Doomslayer’s journey to save earth and kill demons. You can find our review here (we recommend it).
For our run, we use the first section of the Exaultia level without any enemies on screen. Your experience in-game during fights should be a bit slower than this, but I do this for consistency.
The 6700XT takes a strong lead here, but the 6600 XT fares well against the 3060 XC, though does perform worse with SAM on.
Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most long awaited games of 2020, and is one of the most graphically demanding games in the past few years. We reviewed it here.
For our tests we run a 60 second on rails section shortly after finishing the first mission, driving through night city while gang members shoot at you.
I decided to test the game at medium settings at 1080P as well, but as you can see from the results above, the 6600 XT had some pretty strong performance in this title.
Control a title from Remedy Entertainment, and known very well to PC gamers for it being one of the first RTX game that allows ray tracing. For our test we run around in the lobby of the first level for 60 seconds, at high settings.
Here we can see the performance numbers with RTX on medium at high settings, as well as with RTX off, pushing much stronger performance with the ray tracing settings off. However the EVGA RTX card didn’t lose much performance with RTX on, which I found very interesting.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider
The latest in the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. We use this title as it’s been a very popular series, and a well optimized title. We test using the in-game benchmark for the first sequence.
Here we see the 6600 XT keep very close to the 6700XT here which was quite shocking and held a strong lead over the 3060.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is definitely one of the oldest games we are testing today, but it’s still a relevant title that has been updated constantly over the course of its existence. This includes the recent Vulkan API update.
The test was done using the built in benchmark for 60 seconds at ultra settings in Vulkan.
Here we see a very strong showing for the 6600 XT, and since online games run a bit worse than the built in benchmark, this should be a great GPU for 360Hz and below competitive gamers.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
Featuring very dense jungles and beautiful views, as well as some of the latest technology, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is an ideal game to benchmark. More on that in our review. Recently the game has been updated to use the Vulcan API, improving performance for both AMD and Nvidia cards.
For this game we test using the in-game benchmark, waiting for the second scene to start which is more graphically intensive.
The EVGA card takes a pretty strong lead getting closer to that 144FPS number people might likely be looking for.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V was added to the list due to its popularity. This game just doesn’t seem to die off after all these years. It remains one of the most played games on Steam, and has a ton of people playing in the RP servers, so I decided to replace Read Dead 2 with it.
It’s tested in the in game benchmark at Ultra settings, with just about everything besides MSAA at max (MSAA is at X4)
The EVGA card takes a 10% lead here. Though if some settings can be lowered, you’d likely be breaking 200 FPS with both of these cards at this point.
In another popular multiplayer title I decided to test Apex Legends in the shooting range on ultra settings.
Performance on the 3060 was quite good, however the 6600 XT was just that much better. But both of these cards should play this game quite well at ultra settings, and even better at high/medium like most competitive players would.
Call Of Duty Warzone
Call of Duty Warzone is another very popular FPS title and was tested at high settings at 1080p.
The 6600 XT wins by about 10FPS with SAM on, and 6 or 7 FPS with SAM off. The 3060 might be a better option at higher resolutions due to their DLSS implementation and higher VRAM capacity, but most people do play this game at 1080P.
Escape From Tarkov
This benchmark was done on the Woods map during the day on ultra settings in offline mode.
Here we see very close performance between all configurations though the XFX card does quite well in the 99th percentiles here.
The AMD Radeon XFX 6600 XT Merc 308 is a wonderful option in the current market where there’s a lot to be desired in terms of price to performance. The last year has been very rough on the GPU market, however I was told by XFX that supply should be good, and these cards won’t be selling for too much of a premium, at least for the first few shipments.
At a price of $420 USD we could make some sort of joke. In all seriousness, a lot of hardware enthusiasts are angry. It’s very similar in performance to the previous generation 5700 XT; just with lower power use, and those cards costed about the same amount.
This is due to a myriad of factors, but in reality this is actually a great deal considering most Nvidia cards are nowhere near their listed MSRPs and sell for hundreds more. XFX was one of the good guys here trying to sell cards at or around MSRP, and for that I’ve got to hand it to them. The card is incredibly well built, has a sharp design, and runs very well at its intended resolution of 1080P.
While those who bought a 5700XT 2 years ago might see no reason in upgrading their card to this model; those same people should keep in mind they could have sold that same $400 GPU for over a grand during the height of the mining boom.
The market has changed quite a bit, and all things considered a 6600 XT at under $500 USD is a great deal. On top of that, this card specifically at MSRP is a fantastic option if you’re buying a card now.
For those people who can wait for prices to drop, you might want to hold out a bit longer. I find it hard to trash on the card at all, as it’s a wonderful card that is priced a bit too high due to circumstances outside anyone at XFX’s control. Also note that the QICK model is basically the same as this card, just lacking the silver trim and LED lights. So if you can find that card available, you might want to pick that one up.
If you’re looking for a great 1080P card to push high refresh rates, the AMD Radeon XFX 6600 XT Merc 308 might be your best option. As always, XFX has done a great job on a premium AMD card, and didn’t cut any corners.
The AMD Radeon XFX 6600 XT Merc 308 was reviewed with a review copy provided by XFX. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.