Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card

In terms of 1080p PC gaming performance in AAA and multiplayer titles, Gigabyte’s take on AMD’s Radeon RX 6500 XT budget GPU delivers nearly rock-solid performance in AAA and multiplayer titles, but it runs hot and contains unnecessary ray-tracing cores.

PROS

  • In most games, 1080p performance is comparable to that of cards with similar list prices.
  • Cryptocurrency miners do not find the performance tier to be appealing.

CONS

  • Because of the low performance, RT cores are superfluous.
  • On several tests, the GTX 1650 Super outperformed the competition.
  • When compared to similar cards, it performs exceptionally well.

GIGABYTE RADEON RX 6500 XT EAGLE 4G SPECS

Graphics ProcessorAMD Navi 24
GPU Base Clock1717 MHz
GPU Boost Clock2815 MHz
Graphics Memory TypeGDDR6
Graphics Memory Amount4 GB
HDMI Outputs1
DisplayPort Outputs1
VirtualLink OutputsNo
Number of Fans2
Card Widthdouble
Card Length7.56 inches
Board Power or TDP107 watts
Power Connector(s)1 6-PIN

What exactly is the world waiting for in terms of readily available, sub-$200 graphics cards that can handle 1080p gaming with ease? Yes, without a doubt! Is it possible that they’ve made their way into the latest wave of cards based on AMD’s new Radeon RX 6500 XT GPU? Indeterminate—whether it will be easy to find an RX 6500 XT-based card for less than AMD’s $199.99 starting list price is anyone’s guess, and this GPU has a mix of positive and negative characteristics. When it came to performance, the Gigabyte AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G model we tested was a close match for the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super, which retails for $159 and was released in November of this year. Furthermore, its ray-tracing (RT) cores appear to be an afterthought, and it runs hotter than cards twice its size in our stress tests. The AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT is a good choice for those who are looking for something new that will work as a 1080p, 60-frame-per-second churner today, but an Nvidia competitor is on the horizon as well.

Low-Finish Ray-Tracing: Is That a Factor?

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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To be sure, the GPU market is desperate for a low-cost winner that is also a card that people can actually afford to purchase. However, if you can’t find a GTX 1650 Super close to list price (if you can find one for less than $200; most are around $250 to $300 these days), a GTX 1650 Super could be a better option for gamers if they can’t find a Radeon RX 6500 XT close to list price. A significant portion of the new Radeon GPU’s value proposition is dependent on how widely available it will be and where the final real-world pricing will fall. Another option is to hold off and see what the upcoming Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics cards (which are expected to start at $249) have in store.

The Radeon RX 6500 XT‘s primary competitor in 2022 will undoubtedly be the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, which was announced on the same day as the Radeon RX 6500 XT at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Their target markets are the 1080p market; they’re both entry-level ray-tracing options; and the difference in base list prices between them is only $50. (In this case, the RTX 3050 is the more expensive of the two options.)

However, benchmarks and reviews for the new Nvidia GPU will not be available for another week, according to the company. (GeForce RTX 3050 graphics cards will be available for purchase on January 27th.) For the time being, we’ll have to compare the Radeon RX 6500 XT‘s performance to that of its closest current Nvidia kin, cards based on the GeForce GTX 1650 Super GPUs, in terms of tested performance.

Looking at the core specifications, however, we can compare all of these because we already know the majority of the information about the GeForce RTX 3050 and all of the information about the rest…

Specs In contrast: Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G

Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4GAMD Radeon RX 5500 XT (Reference)Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (Reference)Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Tremendous (Reference)
StructureNaviNaviAmpereTuring
Date of IntroductionJanuary 2022December 2019January 2022November 2019
Manufacturing Course of & Die Measurement6nm / 107mm^27nm / 158mm^2?12nm / 284mm^2
Transistor Rely5.Four billion6.Four billion?6.6 billion
Processing Cores1,024 stream processors1,408 stream processors2,560 CUDA cores1,280 CUDA cores
GPU Increase Clock2,815MHz1,845MHz1,780MHz1,725MHz
Video Reminiscence4GB GDDR64GB or 8GB GDDR68GB “G6”4GB GDDR6
Reminiscence Interface / Bandwidth64-bit / 144GBps128-bit / 244GBps128-bit / ?Gbps128-bit / 192GBps
Board Energy107 watts130 watts130 watts100 watts
Energy ConnectorsOne six-pinOne eight-pinOne eight-pinOne six-pin
Beneficial Launch Value$199.99$169.99$249$159

At first glance, these specifications appear to be difficult to comprehend. In comparison, the Radeon RX 5500 XT, the previous model in this tier of the Radeon RX line, was available for purchase for $169.99 a little more than two years ago. On paper, it appears to have more memory bandwidth, a wider memory bus, and a greater number of stream processors/transistors in general than its predecessor. As we all know, supply-side constraints as well as inflation have altered the playing field somewhat since 2019, but even after accounting for inflation using the US Inflation Calculator, AMD has maintained a premium of approximately $15 since the time it first released a card in this power tier.

However, we have entered a new year, which brings with it new RT cores as well as new pricing structures. This means that neither the Radeon RX 6500 XT’s $199.99 introductory price, nor Nvidia’s upcoming GeForce RTX 3050’s $249 price, should come as a surprise to anyone, given that they both include a new set of cores (16 ray-tracing cores in the case of the RX 6500 XT) and are being launched into the hyper-constrained computer parts market of 2022.

A direct result of these supply constraints, the new AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT finds itself in direct competition with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, which was first introduced in 2019 but has since been updated. For a brief period last year, it was brought back to life by Asus in order to help replenish the company’s dwindling supply of graphics processing units (GPUs).


The Make-up of the Radeon RX 6500 XT

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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Models of the Radeon RX 6500 XT will be available from AMD’s usual card partners. As with the Radeon RX 6500 XT model we tested, every model (including overclocked options) in the rest of the Radeon RX 6500 XT line-up being offered by the partners includes 4GB of GDDR6 video memory. A number of third-party designs, such as the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G card we have in our hands, are built around AMD’s AMD Radeon 7600 series graphics processor. AMD does not offer an official reference model or a house-brand card at this time.

The Radeon RX 6600, like the other GPUs in the RX 6000 series, is based on the RDNA 2 architecture developed by AMD. It uses a new TSMC 6nm lithography on a “Navi 24” GPU die with a surface area of 107 square millimeters.

The introduction of the Radeon RX 6500 XT line brings with it what AMD refers to as TSMC’s “6nm” fabrication process, which is perhaps the most intriguing innovation on the market today. This marks a departure from the company’s long-standing 7nm process technology, which served as the foundation for all previous entries in the RDNA line of discrete desktop Radeon GPUs up to this point. There is little information available about 6nm technology, and AMD was mum on the subject both in its reviewers’ materials and prior to this review when contacted via email.

Can we expect a better, more capacious supply of RX 6500 XT models to be available at launch and for the foreseeable future (through 2022) because of this separate process node? What we do know comes from a recent talk in which the subject of GPU supply shortage was discussed.

The Gigabyte RX 6500 XT is a dual-slot, dual-fan motherboard that measures just 7.56 inches in length, making it ideal for both builders and upgraders of compact PCs, as well as owners of standard-size rigs. When the RX 6500 XT goes on sale later today, our test card will be just one of many different configurations (including single-fan and triple-fan options) that will be available.

As for when it will be available for purchase, this is the first GPU release from either AMD or Nvidia in quite some time that may not be fast enough to attract the attention of cryptocurrency miners at this power and price tier. The model we tested is rated at only 107 watts, though certain overclocking options can increase that to 120 watts. Unfortunately, we’ve also entered a period of “tulip mania,” in which the mere hint of a new GPU hitting the market may prompt hardware scalpers to fire up their bots, forcing the vast majority of buyers to resort to second- or third-party market shopping sources, with their untold (and, many will argue, unholy) markups.

Laura Smith, co-vice-president of Radeon Graphics at AMD, shared her thoughts on the subject during the previously mentioned roundtable…

AMD claims that its so-called “Infinity Cache” VRAM, which was first introduced on the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, will have the greatest impact on performance, and the RX 6500 XT falls right in that price and power range for GPUs. Was it able to withstand the testing? Before we get started, a final word on specifications.

Our Gigabyte card’s back panel is as unadorned as it gets when it comes to port selection for a two-slot card, with only a single DisplayPort 1.4b output and one HDMI 2.1 port on the back of our test unit. When it comes to power delivery, the Gigabyte card only requires a single six-pin power supply connector to function.

When it comes to 1080p gaming, the Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G is unbeatable.

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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PC Labs put the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G through its paces in a series of synthetic and real-world benchmarks that were based on DirectX 11 and 12. Our test rig, which was used to evaluate all of the cards in the charts below, is based on an Intel Core i9-10900K processor and a PCI Express 3.0, rather than 4.0, motherboard (an Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero Wi-Fi). A solid-state boot drive and 16GB of G.Skill DDR4 memory are included in the package…. Based on our tests with the Core i9-10900K and recent Ryzen 9 CPUs, we believe that this platform is the most reasonable configuration available at the moment for removing the CPU from the equation when it comes to frame rate optimization.

During our testing, we concentrated on the esports capabilities of the Radeon RX 6500 XT by playing games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Rainbow Six Siege. Aside from that, we put the card through its paces in our standard benchmarking regimen, which tests a GPU’s ability to handle AAA games at their highest possible quality settings, as well as how it performs in synthetic tests that put the card under a variety of different stress conditions.

The majority of our tests (aside from those involving esports titles) are performed at the highest possible visual quality preset or settings. It is still possible to achieve a satisfactory frame rate with a combination of lower settings if you have a high-refresh-rate gaming monitor and are concerned that your graphics card will not meet the requirements. Not only that, but some of these games (such as Death Stranding, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and F1 2020) are compatible with both DLSS and FidelityFX Super Resolution, which is a first for the industry. It is possible to achieve performance improvements of up to 40% depending on the settings and the graphics card you are using. (See our guide to these technologies for more information.) For more information, see Sharpen & Speed Up Your PC Games: Testing AMD’s FSR, Nvidia’s DLSS 2.2 & More.)

So, let’s get to the results of our tests. Take note that if you want to narrow down the results to a specific resolution (for example, the resolution of the monitor you intend to use), you can suppress the other two resolution dots in the chart legends below to view only a single set of results. Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Far Cry 5 are among the AAA titles on our list, which includes both recent releases as well as some older titles that are still reliable pillars of the benchmarker’s toolkit, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Far Cry 5.

Before we get started with the testing, a word of caution: TechSpot, a PC enthusiast website, published an article shortly before the Radeon RX 6500 XT was released, claiming that the Radeon RX 6500 XT might have compatibility issues with PCIe 3.0-bus systems, as opposed to systems equipped with PCIe 4.0. Without going into too much detail, our anecdotal testing revealed nearly identical results between the two platforms, despite the fact that the PCIe generation on which the tests were performed differed. A PCIe 4.0 testbed consisting of an MSI MEG X570S Ace Max motherboard and an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X eight-core processor with 16GB of DDR4 RAM running at 3,200MHz was used in this study.

Synthetic Benchmarks are the end result.

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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When it comes to gaming performance, synthetic benchmarks can be a good predictor of real-world results. When it comes to UL’s 3DMark, the Fire Strike Ultra from around 2013 is still the go-to approximation of the load imposed by mainstream 4K gaming. We’re only interested in the Graphics Subscore of the test, not the overall score, in order to isolate the card’s performance. In the meantime, we ran 3DMark’s Time Spy Extreme, which is a good test of how well a graphics card will perform in DirectX 12 games at 4K resolution, in addition to other tests. Port Royal, a 3DMark test that was previously only available on GeForce RTX graphics cards, measures how well a GPU handles ray-tracing tasks (thus the absent bars for most of the AMD Radeon cards). Also included are a pair of GPU-acceleration tests (Furmark and LuxMark), with more information on how they were conducted available at the “how we tested” link above.

As a result of its low power rating, the Radeon RX 6500 XT should not be considered for any serious rendering or production tasks, as evidenced by its synthetic benchmark results. In this case, the most important takeaway comes from the Port Royal test, which demonstrates significantly slower results than both previous Radeon offerings and competing GeForce RTX options from Nvidia’s 2000 and 3000 series of GPUs.

In some graphics testing, this is the first time we’ve seen the Radeon card pull ahead of the GeForce GTX 1650 Super, and we’ve seen early wins for the Radeon card in the 3DMark Graphics Subscore results, but those wins, among others, will be traded for some losses to Nvidia as we get deeper into what everyone came to see: the games testing.

Recent AAA Games as a result of your search

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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Real-world games such as the ones listed below are typically benchmarked using the highest-quality preset and DirectX 12 if it is available.

When it came to many of the AAA tests we ran, the Radeon RX 6500 XT was competitive with Nvidia’s last true launch in this tier, the GeForce GTX 1650 Super, which was released earlier this year. The two GPUs were regularly engaged in shootouts and win exchanges across a variety of games, whether it was Red Dead Redemption 2 or Far Cry 5. Regardless of the resolution tested, the majority were photo-finishes or very close to it.

When compared to AMD’s next-step-up $329 Radeon RX 6600 on titles like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, a card that’s roughly 65 percent more expensive at list price than the model we reviewed today, the performance difference scales nearly in tandem, with the RX 6600 putting up frame rates that are anywhere from 60 percent to 70 percent higher, depending on the title. The RX 6600 is also slightly more expensive at list price than the model we reviewed today.

Multiplayer Games are the end result.

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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Despite the fact that we crank up the visuals in most of PC Labs’ game tests to the max in order to push cards to their limits, multiplayer gaming is all about striking a balance between graphical fidelity and frame rate. So we’ve kept CS:GO, Rainbow Six Siege, and Final Fantasy 14 tuned to the optimal combination of necessary improvements in settings, such as higher anti-aliasing and lower shadows, while still attempting to keep 1080p frame rates above 144 frames per second (FPS).

What’s the deal with 144 frames per second? That’s an excellent target for competitive esports gamers who use high-refresh-rate gaming monitors with refresh rates of 120Hz or 144Hz (or faster). Even a steady 80fps or 90fps at your target resolution, with a little overhead to account for dips below 60fps, is sufficient for more casual players using standard 60Hz displays.

This is one area in which cards like the Radeon RX 6500 XT must demonstrate their mettle, and fortunately for AMD and multiplayer gamers everywhere, the card performed admirably at the resolution settings that matter the most to the majority of players. While playing CS:GO at 1440p, it is significantly faster than 240 frames per second; this is sufficient for the game, given that 240Hz is the current limit for monitors at that resolution, with the exception of some upcoming 360Hz 1440p models announced at CES 2022. And it managed to sneak just over the 165 frames per second barrier in Rainbow Six Siege during our 1080p run with that title. Even with a high-refresh gaming monitor with a refresh rate of 165Hz, such as the MSI Optix MAG274R2, that’s barely enough to comfortably max out the display.

Results: AAA Titles from the Past

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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We also did some quick tests on some oldies-but-goodies that are still capable of delivering a satisfying AAA gaming experience today. Tomb Raider (2013), Bioshock: Infinite, and Sleeping Dogs are among the games that have been tested in the past.

If you’ve been following our AMD coverage since the launch of RDNA 1 in 2019, these results shouldn’t come as a shock to you. This isn’t the first time we’ve tested older games on a variety of graphics cards, and we’ve discovered that the issue of frame rates lagging behind comparable-power Nvidia GPUs persisted throughout the entire RDNA 1 and RDNA 2 stacks. It appears from these findings that the problem is still present in January 2022. When it comes to older DirectX 11 games, be advised that the Radeon RX 6500 XT will most likely not provide price-competitive performance until AMD addresses driver issues with older games, which could take several months.

Overclocking and Thermals: A Hot Spot on the Computer

After that, it’s on to the temperature testing and overclocking of the card. With 3DMark Port Royal running at full speed for 10 minutes, we found that the Gigabyte Eagle 4G reached its maximum temperature of 71 degrees C. In our opinion, this is an excessively high temperature for a card in this power class, especially when compared to the Gigabyte-branded Radeon RX 6600 XT’s result of only 59 degrees C in the same test.

According to what we observed through a FLIR One Pro thermal imaging camera pointed at our testbed during the stress test, the majority of this heat was collected and dumped into the middle of the backplate.

As soon as we tried to overclock the graphics card using AMD’s Radeon Software utility, we discovered that we were unable to achieve any sort of stable overclock profile that produced useful results. A card with more than 150MHz applied to the maximum boost clock would either produce the same results as a card with stock settings, or produce worse results if the card had more than 150MHz applied to the maximum boost clock.

Is it an oasis in the middle of the 1080p desert, or is it a mirage?

The AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT is a fine 1080p engine that performs admirably in both AAA games at 60 frames per second and multiplayer games at high refresh rates. It performed admirably in all of our test runs, with the exception of a few legacy AAA titles, which are known to cause problems for RDNA-based Radeon GPUs.

Nonetheless, we believe that the inclusion of ray-tracing cores in such a low-power card, particularly in its introductory price range, is an overestimation. As with some monitor manufacturers who include the bare minimum HDR specification on a display simply to have the HDR logo on the box, ray-tracing cores on a $199 graphics card are mostly ineffective, at least when AMD’s Radeon Super Resolution (RSR) technology is not used. We intend to put RSR through more rigorous testing in the coming weeks, but until we have a large enough pool of data from which to draw comparisons, we’ll stick with the conclusion we reached as a result of our testing: The RX 6500 XT is far too underpowered to handle ray-tracing effectively at any frame rate higher than 30 frames per second at 1080 resolution.

Review of the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6500 XT Eagle 4G graphics card
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However, we are aware of the current GPU stock situation in the market. When it comes to PC gaming, the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT may be a good fit as long as you don’t plan on spending the majority of your time playing one of the still-relatively limited number of titles that even support ray-tracing in the first place. First and foremost, it is available (in theory). Number two: If a number two is available, is there even a second number available?

In terms of availability, here’s what we have: There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find the RX 6500 XT at list price (if you can find it at all) for at least a short period of time after this review goes live because it launches just below the threshold at which a GPU becomes effective for mining operations. And if you can get your hands on one for less than the MSRP, you should do so if you want to play in 1080p and participate in moderate multiplayer battles (with a refresh rate of less than 165Hz). It will perform at its best for competitive esports players who play at 1080p with high refresh rates and low detail settings. However, in a 60fps crunch, it will still fill a void for the AAA gaming community.

Anyone else who didn’t get their RX 6500 XT at MSRP before it was too late to get one? Back to sifting through the eBay salt mines in search of the best deal on a GTX 1650 Super!

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


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