Sapphire RX 6650 XT Nitro+ test: RTX 3060 falls even further behind

Sapphire RX 6650 XT Nitro+ in detail

The Radeon RX 6650 XT replaces the RX 6600 XT in AMD’s lineup. That one beats the GeForce RTX 3060 in performance under certain circumstances, but always only narrowly. Now, after the GPU’s frequency and memory bandwidth increase, Radeon’s dominance is clear, and yet efficiency is still on AMD’s side. The non-reference Sapphire Nitro+ design is also super-quiet – the cooler is now quite a bit more robust.

The embargo on Radeon RX 6650 XT, RX 6750 XT and RX 6950 XT tests has expired and we can now fully devote ourselves to them, including in detailed analyses. Although the number of computing units hasn’t increased and even the older RX 6600 XT, RX 6700 XT and RX 6900 XT graphics have had their graphics cores completely unlocked, the boost frequencies are guaranteed to be higher and the memory is also faster.

For the tested Sapphire model, the RX 6650 XT Nitro+ has an official GPU boost speedup (over the RX 6600 XT Nitro+) of 87 MHz (to a final 2694 MHz) and a 9.4 % increase in memory bandwidth as well. The memory bus width is the same (128 bits), but the memory modules themselves are faster, 17.5 GHz are used instead of the effective 16 GHz. These are the weapons with which AMD wants to significantly distance itself from the competing GeForce RTX 3060. The intended use remains unchanged – with the RX 6650 XT to be primarily for gaming in Full HD resolution.

The Radeon RX 6650 XT is built on the Navi 23 GPU, has 2048 shaders and 8GB of GDDR6 memory. The interface used is PCI Express 4.0, but only eight lanes of it. A detailed listing of all parameters can be found in the chart in the second chapter of the article.

Sapphire RX 6650 XT Nitro+ in detail

For how short this graphics card is (270 mm), it has a high weight. At 850 grams, it outweighs even some three-fan models. Compared to the previous design (for the RX 6600 XT Nitro+), the heatsink is both longer and taller. The total fin area seems to have increased disproportionately to the small increase in power draw. But that’s a good thing, as it makes room for more efficient cooling. The heatsink even added one heatpipe, now there are an even number of them, four in total.

The shape of the fan rotor has also changed. Although Sapphire still relies on narrow and distinctly curved blades, in this case they added a sharp bend in the middle. This has interfered with the smooth curvature, which will also affect the airflow trajectory. Hopefully in a positive way and that will make these fans more efficient per unit of acoustic pressure. To achieve higher pressure, the blade ends are recessed into the solid frame that lines the rotor. The edges of heatsink fins, which break up the fan air, are in turn serrated. This is in order to reduce mechanical resistance and thus the overall noise level. It may be cosmetic, but when such subtleties add up, they are crucial to the quality of the cooler.

   

The backplate is metal, made of aluminum and is also involved in the cooling of the VRM. However, it is no longer in contact with the thermal pad in the areas behind the memory. But maybe this is because the memory modules would be heated by the voltage regulators rather than cooled. Furthermore, the backplate shroud has quite a lot of holes in it, so the warm air has an escape route. The biggest one is in the back, where there is a large window through which the fan blows through the heatsink. This is in the part that extends beyond the PCB of the graphics card. At the end of it is a 3-pin connector for connecting accessories with ARGB LEDs. The lighting control is possible via the company’s TriXX app.

There is also a three-position BIOS switch on the side of the graphics card. The far left position is the “performance” mode with the highest frequencies, in the middle is the slightly slower “silent” and the far right position is for software switching.

   

All our results are measured in “performance” mode (abbreviated as “P” in the graph descriptions). This is because the difference in noise and temperatures is really negligible, and “performance” does not mean that the cooler is noisy. On the contrary, regardless of the BIOS choice, it is always quiet.

   

The video outputs are in a 3+1 configuration with a majority of DisplayPort (1.4a) and a HDMI (2.1) connector. All four outputs can be used simultaneously.

Let’s take another look at the height of the graphics card. Count on the fact that at 58 mm it will block two more slots below its own, one more than the RX 6600 XT Nitro+.

The graphics card is tested without the TriXX boost function. Sapphire always urges to use it, but this is probably to achieve higher fps in tests, albeit at the expense of (lower) visual quality, which you don’t see in the charts. So if you saw significantly better results from Sapphire graphics cards in some of the other tests, such an uneven setup may be behind them.

Note: We will release tests with AMD SAM later. It was not possible to do it in one article. We got to the drivers too late. However, you will not be deprived of the results. And why do the measurements with Resizable BAR turned off take priority? Because they are consistent, while the conditions with ReBAR are quite volatile and what was true a month ago may no longer be true, so it’s not a surprise if the RX 6650 XT results are above the RX 6700 XT or, conversely, below the RX 6600 XT as time passes (this can’t be ruled out either, ReBAR sometimes, typically in non-gaming environments, even reduces performance).


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