The Sapphire Nitro Pure Radeon RX 6950 XT is a cool, quiet, gorgeous beast pushed even further by AMD's Smart Access Memory and Radeon Super Resolution features--if you can afford it, fit it in your case, and feed its deep thirst for power. After two long, bleak years of heartbreak, graphics cards are finally starting to become available at suggested prices (sometimes), right as Intel winds up to deliver its debut Arc discrete desktop graphics cards this summer. The winds of change are finally blowing, and AMD decided this is the perfect time to roll out a "refresh" of several Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards. Each sports the same underlying GPU specs as their vanilla counterparts (the Radeon RX 6600 XT, 6700 XT, and 6900 XT, respectively), but with faster memory and both clock speeds and power draw juiced. Is that enough to jockey AMD's latest offerings into pole positions on our roundup of the best graphics cards and justify their higher price tags? To find out, we look to Sapphire's swanky Nitro versions of each model--including the stunning new whited-out Nitro "Pure" Radeon RX 6950 XT, a premium piece of kit that aims to take down Nvidia's vaunted RTX 3090. Editor's note: Our content system only allows for one scored review per article. The Nitro Radeon RX 6650 XT and Nitro 6750 XT would get 3.5 stars--3 for AMD's underlying GPU performance, and an extra half star for Sapphire's sublime Nitro design and implementation.
Let's get ready to rumble! Mainstream options like these have historically been priced competitively to garner the attention of as many gamers as possible. With recent MSRP and street pricing raging out of control, are they still attractive choices? Which is the best graphics card for you: The RTX 3060 or the Radeon RX 6600 XT? Let's look at their pricing, performance, and more to answer those questions. Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 is an okay graphics card for no-compromises 1080p gaming in a time where being good enough is all it takes to sell out.
The Radeon RX 6600 XT graphics cards we've reviewed so far--the $550 Asus ROG Strix, and the $419 XFX Speedster Merc 308--represent the pinnacle of those manufacturers' lineups, bristling with heavy-duty coolers and fancy extras like dual-BIOS switches and glittering lights. And yes, both designs impressed. But the $399 Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 6600 XT takes the opposite tack, cutting out the fat to focus solely on delivering good performance and good cooling at a good price. Don't let that fool you, though. Even though the Sapphire Pulse lacks fanciful hardware luxuries, it manages to pull ahead of those pricier Radeon RX 6600 XT models in our benchmark tests--and it's because of software.
AMD's Radeon RX 6600 is the first true 1080p graphics card of this generation, finally. It's fast and incredibly power efficient, but has a high price (that will soar even higher on the street) and isn't a great 1440p option. Well over a year after this generation of graphics cards kicked off, AMD is releasing the first true 1080p GPU of the lot with the Radeon RX 6600, which is being both announced and launched today. Sure, the step-up Radeon RX 6600 XT ostensibly targets high-refresh rate 1080p gaming, but it's massively overkill for gaming on a standard 60Hz monitor. And the rival GeForce RTX 3060 doesn't offer enough GPU grunt for no-compromises 1440p, but Nvidia ladened it with a ludicrous 12GB of VRAM, which contributes to its sky-high street price. The Radeon RX 6600 offers very good Ultra-quality 1080p gaming paired with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, a remarkably sane combination.
The Radeon RX 6800 XT is finally here, and it's fantastic, duking it out with Nvidia's ferocious GeForce RTX 3080 for $50 less--at least if you buy the reference model. AMD really stepped up its game with this reference design, outfitting the RX 6800 XT with a premium all-metal chassis and a trio of axial fans that keeps it both cool and quiet. That newfound standard of excellence makes it even more difficult for custom graphics cards to stand out, however. The $770 Radeon RX 6800 XT version of the fan-favorite Sapphire Nitro we're reviewing today manages to do so, though it takes some minor tweaking and doesn't come cheap. Unlike the fantastic, yet massive XFX Merc 319, Sapphire purposefully does not use heavy metal for this graphics card's exterior.