SAPPHIRE PULSE AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT Review
Another Day, Another RX 6600 XT
We have taken a look at AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 XT with yesterday’s review of the MSI GAMING X version, and now we have a SAPPHIRE PULSE card for your inspection on the official launch day. We have already determined that the new GPU offers almost exactly the same performance as last generation’s RX 5700 XT, and with significantly lower power draw. The question with this SAPPHIRE PULSE card will simply be how it stacks up to our AMD-provided MSI sample.
I won’t get into specs for the Radeon RX 6600 XT here, as we just covered it in the launch review. Please reference that as desired (or, even better, the TPU database entry for RX 6600 XT), and let’s dive right in to this PULSE offering from Sapphire.
The SAPPHIRE PULSE RX 6600 XT Card
This card is smaller than the MSI GAMING X we looked at previously, but still offers a factory OC and “powerful Dual-X Cooling Technology coupled with Intelligent Fan Control to keep temperatures low and fan noise low”.
The card measures 240 mm / 9.45 inches long, 119.85 mm / 4.72 inches tall, and 44.75 mm / 1.76 inches wide. Not content to stop there, I placed the card on my kitchen scale and found it to weigh just weight 604.7 g / 21.33 oz. This a pretty light card (our MSI sample is over 31 oz), so we will have to see if the lighter cooler affects load temps to any significant degree (pun intended).
Here is a list of key features from SAPPHIRE:
- Up to 2593 MHz Boost Clock and 2382 MHz Game Clock
- Low-noise and high performance 1080p gaming
- Factory-overclock integrated with SAPPHIRE’s Dual-X Cooling Technology
- Powerful and Compact Design [Compact ATX, 240mm, 2.2 Slot suitable for SFF Systems]
- Enable TriXX Boost to get a boost in frames while gaming
- Powered by AMD RDNA 2 gaming architecture enabling AAA Gaming with AMD Infinity Cache, AMD Smart Access Memory and DirectX 12 Ultimate support
A single 8-pin PCIe connector satisfies the card’s power requirement, and I/O includes 3x DisplayPort and a single HDMI. It may be evident from the photo of the I/O backplate, but the card has horizontal heatsink fins. In theory this means that more air is being exhausted towards the rear I/O panel than many recent card designs – though air will also directed upward through the cutouts in the rear backplate.
The card is also overclocked a bit from the factory, as I imagine most of the RX 6600 XT cards will be in this partner-only launch. Compared to AMD’s official specs for the new GPU the PULSE offers a 23 MHz boost to the Game Clock (2382 vs. 2359 MHz), while the Boost Clock is raised slightly (2593 vs. 2589 MHz).
Here is a comparison of the GPUZ screenshots for both the SAPPHIRE PULSE and MSI GAMING X samples:
SAPPHIRE PULSE on the left, MSI GAMING X on the right
We will have to see if the clock speed advantage of the MSI card places it ahead of this SAPPHIRE offering.
We’ve taken a quick look at the card, so now my question becomes, is there any way that this lightweight, compact design from SAPPHIRE can catch up to MSI’s overclocked GAMING X design from our launch review?
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 5800X (1800MHz FCLK)|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO (Wi-Fi)
AGESA V2 PI 184.108.40.206 Patch C
|Memory||32GB (16GBx2) G.Skill Trident Z NEO DDR4-3600 CL14|
|Storage||Samsung 980 PRO 2TB NVMe SSD
Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (21H1, 19043.928)|
|Drivers||GeForce Game Ready Driver 471.41
AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 21.7.2
AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2020 21.8.1 (RX 6600 XT Press Driver)
Now that we have covered the test setup, let’s look at some 1080p performance charts:
With one exception (Metro Exodus by less than 1 FPS), the SAPPHIRE PULSE offered slightly higher performance than the larger MSI card we tested first. This boost was not quite enough to nudge ahead of the RX 5700 XT in most of the tests, and the results between the RX 6600 XT cards is very close, but it’s still impressive to see this little card come out ahead. (I’m a little puzzled, given the clock speed advantage from MSI, and I don’t have time to re-test everything to validate this.)
Even power consumption was a small victory for the PULSE card, as it needed 12 fewer watts to complete the same test as the MSI RX 6600 XT GAMING X.
Thermals were one area where the MSI should have had the advantage based on its greater size and weight, and indeed the smaller, lighter cooler on the PULSE produced load temps that were higher than the GAMING X. Under load in a 25 – 26 C room (a simple test involving 10x successive iterations of the Metro Exodus benchmark at 1080/high) the SAPPHIRE PULSE hit a max GPU temp of 71 C with a 89 C hot spot, while the MSI GAMING X card topped out at 65 C / 86 C hot spot. Not a huge difference, and I appreciate the horizontal heatsink fins on the PULSE, as case airflow should offer a bit of help during extended gaming sessions with some of the warm air being pushed out the back I/O panel vents.
I’d love to cover noise but did not get that far, as testing was performed on the dining room table with a noisy child in the next room, AC going constantly, and various other hazards. At some point I’ll reboot noise testing, but for now I can say that it was mostly inaudible over the AiO cooler’s fans (CORSAIR H115i ELITE CAPELLIX, Extreme preset).
I wish times were different. SAPPHIRE PULSE cards have traditionally offered great value, and the company’s TriXX software is a lightweight and painless utility that has offered very convenient resolution scaling since long before AMD’s FSR launch (and still works very well, regardless).
I fear that availability will, once again, determine which (if any) RX 6600 XT card buyer’s end up purchasing at launch. It is very difficult to be a smart shopper when you have to win a drawing to buy whatever model happens to be available that day. It is also very difficult to make a determination about a retail product in a review without knowing where the price will end up, or if it will have reliable stock levels.
I think SAPPHIRE’s PULSE punches above its weight (literally), and makes a great upgrade option for anyone coming from a GPU below the RX 5700 Series level. AMD has produced a GPU that doesn’t require a lot of power and still matches their previous-gen flagship RX 5700 XT, and can do so in a very small footprint like this – and you only need a single 8-pin PCIe connector to hook it up. But finding it in stock at a reasonable price will be a problem. I hope I’m wrong about that.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product was on loan from SAPPHIRE for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product is being returned to SAPPHIRE.
SAPPHIRE had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation
Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by SAPPHIRE for this review.
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