We yet again have a new GPU launch and this one is from team red. It is AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT, a 199 USD card that is going to be saving us all and finally giving gamers what they have been waiting for, a proper budget GPU. Or at least that’s what they want you to believe.
From what I have seen and heard so far - these cards will not be anywhere near MSRP but rather at least 50% more expensive. That being said, there is a silver lining in all of this. There appears to be a higher quantity of these cards coming and they are not going to be as interesting for the professional miners - more on that later on.
Before we get into performance numbers let's have a look at this particular card. This is the ASUS TUF Gaming RX 6500 XT OC edition. It features dual fan design and has your standard switch for Performance or Quiet modes, some RGB and a pretty beefy heatsink. Since this card is pretty low-end it only features two outputs: a single display port as well as one HDMI 2.1 port which, to be honest, is all that most people need.
One thing that may not be obvious for many people is that it is running over 4 lanes of PCIE Gen 4, even though it features times sixteen connection. If you look really closely, there are no traces on three quarters of the PCIE connector. For power this particular card only uses a single 6 pin connector.
As far as internals are concerned - AMD is calling this “the fastest clocked gaming graphics card ever” with frequencies hitting 2.6 GHz which to be fair makes sense as it is a smaller die and they can push it a bit harder without generating as much heat. The specs for this card include 16 compute units and ray accelerators as well as 1024 stream processors, boost clock just past 2.8 GHz and 4 Gigabytes of GDDR6 memory. This card also features 16MB of infinity cache with a total board power of 120 watts.
Just like other cards in the 6000 series - it features DirectX 12 Ultimate, ray tracing (to a degree..) as well as FidelityFX Super Resolution. I feel the latter feature is probably going to be the most relevant in this tier.
In their notes AMD mentions that this card is ideal for 1080p gaming and immediately mentions games which run on lower spec equipment such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and Overwatch. They also recommended many games to have settings start at medium rather than ultra pre-sets so that should set the stage.
In our case to keep results consistent with previously tested graphics cards we are keeping maxed out settings where possible, unless specified otherwise. This should provide an idea where this card stacks up.
All the tests were carried out on our Ryzen 9 5950X testbench without any special features like Smart Access Memory or FSR enabled - just raw performance. We have a number of different cards here, including most of the mid range from AMD.
Jumping into benchmarks, starting with Doom Eternal - here we had to adjust the settings to high profile due to VRAM limitation. RX 6500 XT is marginally better than 1060 but is 66% slower on average FPS in comparison to RX 6600. All things considered, it is still around 100 FPS which is a pretty good experience.
Next up is a much more demanding game - Shadow of the Tomb Raider. In this game we were able to maintain the highest settings and still get 60 average FPS and 55 on 1 percentiles. I would consider this a pass, but only just. Going up to 6600 or 2060 would provide a considerable improvement on your experience though.
Another demanding game is Total War Three Kingdoms and here 6500 XT is actually doing slightly worse than GTX 1060 on the average FPS in both set-ups. I'd recommend lowering the settings to reach 60 average FPS for smoother gameplay.
Last standard rasterized game is Horizon Zero Dawn. We have just shy of 60 average FPS and considering this game can have moments where it is fast paced, that is not a great experience. So to have more fluid gameplay you have to either reduce the settings or enable FSR. We did a quick test with FSR set to quality and found results being not that far from RTX 2060, but of course the game in this case is upscaled with its own quirks and other cards can also do the same to gain more performance.
Moving to some ray traced games, first we have The Riftbreaker and while this card is lagging behind most others, due to its RT cores it is able to still run playable frame rates and would have reasonable experience.
Lastly we got Godfall where we can end it, performance here is just bad. Do not even think about ray tracing on this game without 6600 XT or RTX 3060.
For those interested in this ASUS version of the card - we did some thermal and acoustic tests. During the test our room temperature was 22 degrees Celsius and the room noise floor was 30.5 dBa. The measuring distance from the testbench is 50 centimetres. We turned on Furmark stress test to warm it up and left it to soak until it stabilised. RX 6500 XT peaked at only 49 degrees with a maximum noise level of 31.5 dBa. It is so quiet that car noises from outside were hindering the test so we had to re-do it a few times.
I did mention earlier that this card has very high frequency and during this Furmark run it went past 2.6 GHz and bounced between 2.5 and 2.7 which is pretty crazy. I just wish it was more powerful overall.
To quickly summarize - this is a graphics card, it does graphics things, however it is not suitable for any heavy 1080p triple AAA titles at maxed settings. It is best for moderately demanding games at medium to high settings where it competes with a lot of last generation cards. It may be worth checking the used market and see what you can pick up. In general it seems like these cards will be more widely available and as I mentioned earlier, they will likely not be interesting to professional miners.
A few reasons being - first of all it only has 4GB of VRAM which is no longer suitable for Ethereum mining. Of course there are many other coins but the majority is still mining Ethereum. Second big reason is physical space - since professional miners are optimising everything under the sun (this includes the amount of cards you can fit in a given area as well as how many devices you need to clean, maintain and replace over time) having a low powered GPU like this just simply does not make sense.
To all of you who are looking for a low end low-ish price GPU, this is an extra option on the market, but if you are looking for something a bit more powerful, then I’d recommend to either wait until we have some competition from Intel or look at cards a few tiers up.
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