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AMD RX 6500 XT Review ft. Gigabyte Eagle

Rating: 4.0.

Following on from the RX 6600 that hit the market back in October, today sees the launch of AMD's lowest-end RDNA 2 GPU, the RX 6500 XT. Designed to offer a solid 1080p gaming experience for $199, or £180, can a GPU with just 4GB VRAM, a 64-bit memory bus and a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface really prove a success? As it turns out, the answer is ‘no', and quite an emphatic one at that.

Announced as part of AMD's keynote at CES 2022, the RX 6500 XT sits at the bottom of the RDNA 2 stack. Using brand new Navi 24 silicon, fabbed on a new 6nm process from TSMC, this is likely the lowest-end – and last – RDNA 2 GPU, completing the family which first appeared with the RX 6800 XT in November 2020.

That means it is also set to be the most affordable, with an MSRP of $199 announced during the CES keynote. Meanwhile, we are told UK pricing will start at £179.99, which is also the price the Gigabyte RX 6500 XT Eagle card in for testing today is expected to launch at.

For that cash, AMD has aimed the RX 6500 XT squarely for 1080p gaming, and at lower than Ultra settings, too. That's an interesting move considering previous cards at this price-point were designed to be 1080p Ultra gaming champs, and both the RX 480 and RX 580 hold up exceptionally well, even today. Let's get into it.

RX 6800  RX 6700 XT RX 6600 XT RX 6600 RX 6500 XT
Architecture RDNA 2 RDNA 2 RDNA 2 RDNA 2 RDNA 2
Manufacturing Process 7nm 7nm 7nm 7nm 6nm
Transistor Count 26.8 billion 17.2 billion 11.1 billion 11.1 billion 5.4 billion
Die Size  519 mm² 336 mm² 237 mm² 237 mm² 107 mm²
Ray Accelerators 60 40 32 28 16
Compute Units  60 40 32 28 16
Stream Processors  3840 2560 2048 1792 1024
Game GPU Clock Up to 1815MHz Up to 2424MHz Up to 2359MHz Up to 2044 MHz Up to 2685 MHz
Boost GPU Clock Up to 2105MHz Up to 2581MHz Up to 2589MHz Up to 2491MHz Up to 2825MHz
ROPs 96 64 64 64 32
AMD Infinity Cache 128MB 96MB 32MB 32MB 16MB
Memory Bandwidth 512 GB/s 384 GB/s 256 GB/s 224 GB/s 144 GB/s
Memory Interface  256-bit 192-bit 128-bit 128-bit 64-bit
Board Power  250W 230W 160W 132W 107W

Let’s first look over the key specifications of the GPU. Using the new Navi 24 GPU, measuring an incredibly small 107 mm², the RX 6500 XT is – more or less – half of the RX 6600 XT. It sports 16 Compute Units, for a total of 1024 stream processors.

RDNA 2 houses one ray accelerator per CU, so there’s a total of 16 with the RX 6500 XT. Four texture units per CU gives a total of 64, while there’s also 32 ROPs. Likely thanks to the new 6nm node, clock speed has been increased to its highest level yet for RDNA 2, with a rated boost clock of 2825 MHz.

As for the memory configuration, this is the hardest pill to swallow, with an exceptionally narrow 64-bit memory interface paired with just 4GB of GDDR6 memory. The memory itself is clocked slower at 18Gbps, resulting in total memory bandwidth hitting 144GB/s, though AMD claims an ‘effective' memory bandwidth of 231.6GB/s thanks to 16MB of Infinity Cache. Crucially, the PCIe interface is limited to x4, which will reduce bandwidth further when used on a PCIe 3.0 platform.

Lastly, total board power (TBP) is rated at 107W, a reduction of 25W, or 19%, compared to the RX 6600. We are using our new GPU power testing methodology in this review, so read on for our most detailed power and efficiency testing yet.

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