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AMD Radeon RX 6600 review: ray-tracing performance

Control, Metro Exodus, Battlefield 5.

Before we get into this section, let's take a moment to make it clear that AMD has faced huge challenges in equalling Nvidia's second-gen RT solution with its very first stab at hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The fact that Big Navi can do ray tracing at all is impressive, so it would be foolish to expect incredible results right out of the gate - especially as AMD doesn't have a deep back-catalogue of games that also support its FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) technology to boost frame-rates, as Nvidia does with DLSS. FSR support is growing fast though, so perhaps in a year or so the balance of power will be a little more... balanced.

For now though, let's take a look at the state of play in three recent RT releases: Control, Metro Exodus and Battlefield 5. Each has a different interpretation and implementation of RT features, so we should get a good idea of how the 6600 handles a range of RT workloads. Each test here is performed at 1440p, a middle ground that we chose to gives GPUs across the stack a good workout. Fairly obviously performance will be better at 1080p as the RT workload shrinks.

Control

As we mentioned earlier, Control is a worst-case scenario for AMD, a game that is tough on Radeon hardware even with RT disabled, and also happens to have the full assortment of RT effects. Our chosen trial is something we call the Corridor of Doom, an area Alex Battaglia noted as one of the most intense RT workloads in the game. The 6600 struggles here, hitting only 17fps on average, with the 6600 XT some 20 percent faster and the 6700 XT nearly 50 percent faster than the newest member of the AMD Radeon family. Nvidia's cards acquit themselves better, including their first-gen RT cards like the RTX 2070 (59 percent faster), RTX 3060 (69 percent faster) and RTX 3060 Ti (127 percent faster). That's a massive margin for cards that (again, theoretically) are available at a similar price, although perhaps price inflation has made this discussion of RRPs moot. Regardless, based on the data we have at the moment, the RX 6600 significantly underperforms in RT workloads compared to its RTX competitor.

Control: DX12, High, High RT, TAA

Metro Exodus

Metro Exodus uses fewer RT effects and the base game is more even-handed to AMD graphics cards, but we're still looking at a 43 percent advantage for the RX 6600 at 1440p. We tried dropping the resolution to 1080p, and this nets us a 52 percent performance gain over our 1440p result - but even at 1080p we're still within a few percentage points of the RTX 3060 running at 1440p! By comparison, the 6600 XT is 22 percent faster, while the RX 6700 XT is 51 percent faster. However, none of the RDNA 2 graphics cards are able to hit a 60fps average in this test, while all Nvidia cards faster than the RTX 3070 can do so.

Metro Exodus: DX12, Ultra, Ultra RT, TAA

Battlefield 5

We conclude our ray tracing testing with Battlefield 5, an early demonstration of RT tech that uses just one part of the RT toolbox, reflections. That means it doesn't impose such a heavy RT performance penalty, which should give AMD a fighting chance. An average of 33fps is almost playable for the RX 6600, but pales in comparison to the RTX 3060's 54fps (66 percent faster) or the RTX 2070's 53fps.

Battlefield 5: DX12, Ultra, Ultra RT, TAA

All of the benchmarks have been completed, so let's offer a word of prayer to Gaben and proceed on to the fascinating conclusion to this investigation.

AMD Radeon RX 6600 analysis

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Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DealsFoundry.

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