Recently there's been a lot of talk about whether or not you should buy a new graphics card right now, and while these discussions always pop up near the end of a generation, they're more prevalent than ever this time around given you've been almost unable to buy a graphics card for the past 2 years, or unable to do so at a reasonable price. So today we're going to look at what we believe to be the best value segment.
So far and for the past few months, our advice since has been as follows: if you can, avoid buying a high-end graphics card such as the RTX 3080 or better. We believe these are still overpriced and prices will continue to drop, particularly after next-gen GPUs land in a few months. But if you're desperate for a GPU and have waited out the crypto boom, we recommend going for something more mid-range to low-end as these products won't decline as much in terms of pricing, and their replacements are still far off in comparison.
Therefore we've been recommending parts such as the Radeon RX 6600, and right now you can snap one up for less than $300. But it wouldn't be right to simply recommend the Radeon without a GeForce alternative and for that we have the GeForce RTX 3050, which comes slightly more expensive at around $330.
Today we're going to see how the two compare across 51 games at 1080p and 1440p using the Ryzen 7 5800X3D and 32GB of dual-rank, dual-channel memory. Display drivers used were the Radeon Adrenalin Edition 22.6.1 and GeForce GPU Game Ready 516.59. As usual we'll go over the data for about a dozen of the games tested and then we'll take a look at all 51 games in a single graph.
Starting with Fortnite using the medium quality preset, we see that both GPUs keep frame rates above 100 fps at 1080p and even 1440p. That said, the Radeon 6600 was up to 20% faster at 1080p, seen when looking at 1% lows, while it was 21% faster at 1440p. That's a significant performance advantage that gamers will certainly notice.
Next we have a 2022 release in Tiny Tina's Wonderlands and wow, the performance with the RTX 3050 using the high quality preset was pretty horrible, especially relative to the Radeon RX 6600.
Performance at 1080p was 66% greater with the Radeon GPU and 44% stronger at 1440p where the difference will be even more noticeable. We're looking at 2 tiers of additional performance with the RX 6600, an embarrassing result for Nvidia in this title given pricing.
The RTX 3050 also gets obliterated in God of War. At 1080p the Radeon 6600 is an insane 63% faster, pushing the average frame rate up from 60 fps to 98 fps. That's more than an extra tier of GPU performance right there.
Meanwhile, things only get worse for the 3050 at 1440p where the RTX 3050 was up to 81% faster, going from just 37 fps to a very smooth 67 fps.
It's more of the same with Forza Horizon 5, a complete demolition with the RX 6600 delivering 60% more performance at 1080p and almost 50% at 1440p. Granted, the RTX 3050 still provides perfectly playable performance using the high quality preset, but you're getting much higher performance with the Radeon GPU, meaning you can either increase visuals further, or enjoy a truly high refresh rate experience.
PUBG has always been better suited to Nvidia hardware and although the Radeon 6600 still wins here, it's a very slim margin, resulting in more of a draw. The Radeon GPU was 5% faster at 1080p and 9% faster at 1440p.
Dying Light 2 is yet another 2022 release where the RX 6600 cans the RTX 3050, this time delivering 49% more frames at 1080p and 34% more at 1440p. Those are massive margins, particularly at 1080p where the RTX 3050 fell short of 60 fps while the Radeon 6600 averaged 79 fps.
Far Cry 6 was released late last year and although this is an AMD sponsored title, performance between Radeon and GeForce GPUs is typically competitive. Yet here the RTX 3050 gets left behind, trailing by a 30% margin at 1080p and 28% at 1440p.
Next we have Apex Legends and like PUBG, the results here are semi-competitive as the Radeon 6600 was just 15% faster at 1080p and 8% faster at 1440p. The 1440p margin is quite small, though 15% at 1080p is quickly becoming a significant performance difference, it's just a lot smaller than the 50%+ margins we've seen in a lot of the recently released titles.
Interestingly, both GPUs max out at around 350 fps in our Counter-Strike benchmark, while the RX 6600 was 18% faster at 1440p. As you'd expect, both did deliver highly playable performance for this older and forgiving title, but when pushed a bit harder the Radeon 6600 did come out on top.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla is known to play well with AMD hardware and this matchup is no exception. This time the Radeon RX 6600 enjoyed a 42% performance advantage at 1080p and a 33% win at 1440p. Basically, the 1% lows of the Radeon 6600 matched the average frame rate of the RTX 3050, which is an embarrassing result for the RTX 3050.
Despite the fact that Watch Dogs Legion is an Nvidia sponsored title, the RTX 3050 doesn't enjoy any kind of advantage here. Rather it's another easy win for the Radeon RX 6600, delivering 41% greater performance at 1080p and 29% greater performance at 1440p.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested using slightly dialed down quality settings, but even so it's still a very demanding title, and perhaps a little too demanding for the RTX 3050 which couldn't reach 60 fps at 1080p. The Radeon RX 6600 did manage to break the 60 fps barrier with a 70 fps average, making it 35% faster at 1080p, and then 27% faster at 1440p.
Next we have Sniper Elite 5 and this is our first time testing this title. For these mid-range GPUs we settled for the medium quality preset which admittedly was a tad easy as the RTX 3050 managed 144 fps at 1080p. Still, it's possible to boost performance by around 30% with the RX 6600 and perhaps the 28% boost at 1440p is more relevant as that got us into high refresh rate territory.
Another new game that makes its way into our testing is Hunt: Showdown. For this test we opted for the medium quality preset. The Radeon RX 6600 was 31% faster at 1080p and 21% faster at 1440p, a handy performance advantage and that meant high refresh rate gaming was possible at 1080p.
F1 2022 is another new title that of course will be replacing F1 2021 in our battery of benchmarks. Here we have more competitive data than what we've seen from the bulk of the testing. This time the Radeon RX 6600 is roughly 20% faster at both tested resolutions, a favorable margin for the Radeon GPU, but it's also less than half that of other newly released titles.
In Halo Infinite the Radeon RX 6600 is 20% faster at 1080p and close enough to the same at 1440p where we see an 18% margin. The RTX 3050 doesn't get as thrashed here, but typically we view a 20% margin at a similar price point as a devastating loss for the slower product.
Last up we have Assetto Corsa Competizione a.k.a. ACC for all you racing simulator fans and this is another game that sees a ~20% margin in favor of the RX 6600 at 1080p and then 15% faster at 1440p. Using medium quality settings either GPU appears to work well enough, but the fact that you're getting some 20% more frames out of the Radeon GPU while a chunk of change does make it the obvious option.
That was a devastating match up for Nvidia, but we have only looked at 17 of the 51 games tested. Let's now see how the GeForce RTX 3050 and Radeon RX 6600 stack up across all the games tested...
At 1080p, the Radeon RX 6600 was on average 29% faster across 51 games. There were just 5 titles with single-digit margins between the two GPUs, with 75% of all the games tested favoring the Radeon by a 20% margin or greater.
Interestingly, a lot of the games where AMD crushed Nvidia are newer titles that scale well with Resizable BAR such as Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, God of War, Forza Horizon 5, Dying Light 2 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Overall this is a clear win for the Radeon RX 6600.
Things didn't improve much for the RTX 3050 at 1440p, where the margin remained at 23% in favor of the RX 6600 on average. There were more mixed results though, for example, the RTX 3050 managed to come out on top in Metro Exodus, Doom Eternal and Warhammer III, but was utterly destroyed in God of War where it ran into some kind of performance issue. Most games favored the Radeon 6600 by 20% or more though.
What We Learned: Easy Win
Clearly you would be mad not to buy the Radeon RX 6600 in this comparison. It's over 20% faster while costing at least 15% less, so there's basically no angle we could take where the RTX 3050 is worth even considering.
In this segment, ray tracing performance isn't worth discussing and even DLSS is a bit of a tough sell because it generally doesn't work that well at 1080p, though it can help to improve 1440p performance without noticeably diminishing image quality. FSR 2.0 is nearly as good as DLSS in terms of quality and game adoption so far is decent, although Nvidia has the clear advantage, it's not as significant in this performance tier.
Looking at power consumption, there's no change from our day-one review of these GPUs, but in short, the GeForce RTX 3050 and Radeon RX 6600 use about the same amount of power. and you can comfortably power either of them with a basic 500w PSU.
If you've got a budget of ~$350, you could argue a more direct competitor for the RTX 3050 in terms of pricing would be the RX 6600 XT, which can be had for around $360. The 6600 XT is ~15% faster than the vanilla 6600 tested today, so in our opinion it's not worth spending almost 30% more on that GPU, which is why we opted for the 6600. But when compared to the RTX 3050, the 6600 XT would be about 10% more expensive for about 40% more performance, so it's obviously still a far better deal.
As disappointed as we initially were with the Radeon RX 6600's performance at $330 at launch, in the current climate it's managed to shape up as one of the best deals going around, now selling below that MSRP. The RTX 3050, on the other hand, promised gamers an end to crazy high prices by offering decent performance at the $250 price point, but ultimately that never came to fruition.
With next-gen GPUs right around the corner and the promise of significant performance gains, now is not the time to spend big on old technology. However for a more humble budget, the Radeon RX 6600 will let you enjoy PC gaming and wait to see what the next generation has in store.