A good computer needs a good graphics card. If you’re in the market, you might be trying to do a little homework so that you can find a good graphics card for your build. It’s a normal thing to do.
If, in your research, you have come across the Nvidia RTX 3060, you might want to find some competitors to see if there’s a more affordable or alternative option. You’re in luck because that research is already complete and presented below.
AMD makes the RX 6600, and it’s a good equivalent to the RTX 3060. In order to really demonstrate that, let’s take a tour of these graphics cards and what it really means to compare them.
How Do We Find an Equivalent?
It’s an important question, and the answer is that we break down what makes up the RTX 3060 so we can look for other cards with similar hardware, software, and performance capabilities. Finding one in a similar price range would be good too.
So, let’s review the core specifications and what they mean so that we can search for a card that is a good equivalent to the RTX 3060.
When shopping for a graphics card, one of the first things you will see listed as a specification for any card is the video memory. This is a lot like RAM for a computer (it’s pretty much the exact same thing), but this memory is dedicated to the graphics card, meaning no other hardware in the computer can access this memory.
In general, more memory is better, but it’s a metric that hits diminishing returns. 4GB of video memory is a lot better than 2GB, but 12GB is only a small upgrade from 8 GB. That’s because, at least currently, 8GB is already enough to allow a graphics card to run really well.
There are a lot of ways to measure the speed performance of a graphics card. To keep things simple, we’re going to stick to clock speeds today. This is basically how many times in a second a processing device can perform an action. Clock speeds are measured in Hertz (Hz), and 1 Hz means 1 action per second.
As you might imagine, graphics cards are very fast, so their clock speeds are typically measured in MHz (millions of Hertz). In fact, they’re usually in the ballpark of thousands of millions of Hertz. You might see a clock speed that looks something like this: 1200 MHz. That’s 1200 millions of Hertz, or 1.2 billion Hertz.
Graphics cards need power to run, and when you’re choosing a card, it’s important to know how much power the card consumes. In general, there will be two power metrics to consider. The first is the max power draw of the card, measured in Watts (W). The second is the recommended power supply unit (PSU).
That second one is the real point. You’re looking to see what kind of power supply is needed for a computer to use the graphics card in question. This will usually be in hundreds of Watts.
There’s also specialized software. These days, graphics cards have more going for them than just a bunch of hardware specifications. They have unique software tools that allow them to do advanced processing faster and more efficiently.
Each company makes proprietary software, so direct comparisons can be a little tricky, but it’s still important to understand what software is available.
Today, we’re primarily going to focus on ray tracing, which will be explained in more detail later.
Lastly, the price range matters. If one graphics card has double the hardware capabilities at a fraction of the price of another, then they’re not equivalent graphics cards. In fact, it’s more important to look at cost efficiency than it is to directly compare price points.
It’s also worth noting that graphics cards usually come in a range of prices. While Nvidia and AMD make the core components of the cards, a whole bunch of different companies design fans, housings, and other parts of the cards and actually sell them directly. Since you have multiple companies involved, you’ll see different prices, even for the same card.
What Are the Specs of the RTX 3060?
With all of that in mind, let’s take a deep look at the RTX 3060. We’ll consider its hardware specifications, and that will help highlight why the RX 6600 is a good match.
Something to understand about the RTX 3060 is that it was first launched on February 25 of 2021, but you can still buy brand-new cards today. When cards stay on the market, they usually get upgrades in one or more areas, and that’s definitely true for the 3060.
At launch, it was an 8GB card, but today, you’ll find that most 3060s come with 12GB of memory. Now, that is GDDR6 memory, so it’s the fastest, most powerful video memory available right now, and with 12GB, there’s plenty to keep it performing well even as it starts to age.
How about the speed of the 3060? Well, it comes with a default clock speed of 1320 MHz. That’s reasonably fast, but it’s nowhere near the top of the pack these days.
You can get boosted versions of the 3060, and they can hit clock speeds of up to 1780 MHz. That’s a good bit of performance, but when it comes to clock speed, this is an area where the 3060 lags behind other cards in its class.
It’s worth noting that the 3060 features 13.25 billion transistors. That’s above average for a mid-tier graphics card, but still not in the upper echelon of hardware specifications.
Power draw is a pretty simple metric. The RTX 3060 draws up to 170W for maximum performance. As is the case with all graphics cards, it will not draw this much power under all circumstances. That is only the maximum draw.
But because this is a little higher than other cards of the same tier, the 3060 recommends a power supply unit of 550W. That’s still very much in the affordable range of PSUs, but it’s a weak point for the 3060, considering where it falls on the overall spectrum of graphical performance.
Specialized software for the RTX 3060 includes a couple of notable Nvidia features that include ray tracing and DLSS.
Let’s talk about ray tracing first. Nvidia has been a bit of a pioneer with this technology. Ray tracing is a different approach to drawing images where it actually tries to simulate lighting by calculating the light rays as they come from a source. It adds huge layers and opportunities for realism in graphical design, and while competitors have their own versions, many would say that Nvidia is ahead of the pack with this software.
As for DLSS, it stands for deep learning super sampling, and it’s an AI software that helps boost performance for graphics cards. Basically, DLSS makes complicated calculations more efficient, leading to better graphical performance.
Last up is the price. The RTX 3060 is considered a mid-tier card largely because you can buy it for less than $500. The price will depend on the specific card you choose, but in general, you’re looking at a price range of $350 to $450.
What Is a Good Equivalent?
Now that we’ve covered the RTX 3060 rather thoroughly, we can talk about graphics cards that match it in hardware specifications, performance, and price.
Well, to be more specific, we’re going to talk about one card: the RX 6600. While the RTX 3060 is made by Nvidia, the RX 6600 is an AMD card. For those who don’t know, AMD and Nvidia are the top two producers of graphics cards in the world, and they are rather fierce rivals. It’s not surprising that AMD has a graphics card that closely matches the 3060 in performance.
Comparing the Two
We can pretty comfortably say that we’re looking at two mid-range graphics cards in this comparison. Neither is the best you can find from their respective manufacturers, but neither fits into the ultra-budget category either.
We’ll compare exact prices in a bit, but in either case, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars for a single graphics card. These are cards that provide powerful gaming performance, but they don’t cost a thousand dollars or more, and they can’t provide the absolute highest levels of performance either.
They are quite comfortable in the middle tier.
One of the best ways to compare two graphics cards is to do a performance test. This is where two computers, one running each card, run the same software to see which does a better job of it. Most commonly, this is done with either video editing software or high-end video games.
A lot of stats can be compared, but one of the best indicators of performance is frame rates. The card that can run everything at a higher frame rate is producing better results, and therefore it is the better graphics card.
We didn’t go over frame rates before because, in a vacuum, it’s kind of a weird stat. This is really about putting two (or more) graphics cards side by side.
This is actually the leading reason why the RX 6600 is such a good equivalent pick for the RTX 3060. In multiple performance tests, they are very close in terms of frame rates.
The RTX 3060 does consistently outperform the 6600, but not by very much. At most, it runs at a 10-percent faster frame rate, but in most tests, the performance is within a few frames.
Additionally, both graphics cards consistently run high-end games, at high settings, above 60 FPS. That’s an important threshold for graphics card performance.
We can also compare these two graphics cards in terms of all of the specifications we went through earlier. Let’s do a quick rundown of the hardware specifications for the RX 6600:
- 8GB GDDR6 Memory
- 2044-2491 MHz
- 132W Power Draw
- 300W Recommended PSU
- 11 Billion Transistors
- Ray Tracing Technology
Looking at this, you can see why the RTX 3060 can squeak out more performance in an actual test. The 3060 has better specifications in most avenues. Because one of these cards is made by Nvidia and the other by AMD, it’s hard to directly say which software package is better, so we’ll call that one a draw.
One noticeable win for the 6600 is clock speeds. It is the faster graphics card, but because it has less memory and fewer transistors, that clock speed does not translate to raw superior performance. It’s the combination of stats that really matters.
There’s also power draw. More is actually not better on this specification. The fact that the AMD card uses less power is actually a good thing. That means it costs less money to run (although you probably wouldn’t notice a difference on your power bill). More importantly, it means that it’s typically going to produce less heat, and that’s good for the longevity of the whole computer. On top of that, you can build a computer using the 6600 with a less-expensive power supply. It might not be the most important difference, but it’s worth noting.
The thing to remember is that even though the RTX 3060 had up to 12GB of memory and 2 billion more transistors, its actual performance is only slightly superior. That can really help you gauge graphics card specifications. It takes a substantial hardware upgrade to translate to noticeable graphical performance improvements. If two cards are even a little close in terms of hardware, you can expect a similar performance from each.
Lastly, we can look at costs.
Now, if we compare these two cards with their launch pads, then you might think it’s crazy to consider them equivalent. The RTX 3060 launched at a price point of around $600. But, it doesn’t cost nearly that much anymore.
At the time of this writing, the price range for the 3060 is between $350 and $450. Meanwhile, the RX 6600 is running between $200 and $250. That’s still a noticeable price difference, but the RX 6600 is only about a tier lower in total cost. It also isn’t quite as powerful, so in terms of performance per cost, the two cards are extremely close.
If you want to push out slightly better graphical performance, you can take the slightly more expensive option with the 3060. If you like saving money with performance that is “good enough,” then the 6600 is a great choice.
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