AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT - Review

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT - Review

The AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT is an attempt to revive the mainstream gaming market. Most users with gaming ambitions are far from being able to purchase a capable gaming graphics card, which is, as we already know, a consequence of the shortage and general craze for digging cryptocurrencies. Will the appearance of Radeon RX 6500 XT manage to change the current situation for the better ...

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The situation with gaming computers, where we primarily mean appropriate graphics cards, has not significantly improved with the arrival of the New Year. However, there are some announcements that in the graphics cards, the situation could improve. This is indicated by the release of the latest so-called "budget" models.

AMD was the first to withdraw its foot with its Radeon RX 6500 XT model, which we exclusively present to you today in the form of the Sapphire PULSE Gaming OC model with 4GB of memory.

Although it is an economy class gaming graphics card, which under this term implies certain concessions in terms of available hardware and graphics processor power, Radeon RX 6500 XT is in many details the first equal.

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT - Characteristics

First of all, it refers to the fact that this is the first graphics card made based on a processor that uses an advanced 6-nm process of making transistors. Due to that, the graphics processor is more efficient and with lower energy consumption, which opened the space for further increase of the operating frequency.

This is the first graphics processor to run at 2.6 GHz, even more so because the specific Sapphire model in OC Turbo mode reaches frequencies above 2800 MHz. All this helps him to compensate for the lack of hardware resources. 

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT - Characteristics

The graphics processor on the Radeon RX 6500 XT model is a classic representative of the proven AMD RDNA 2 architecture. This means that in addition to the advanced features of computing cores, they use ultra-fast Infinity Cache memory to faster transport data from 4GB of GDDR6 local memory.

This achieves an optimal balance of consumption and performance, which is a very important feature in the class of initial gaming models with limited consumption. In the case of the class to which the RX 6500 XT belongs, is around 100W.

When it comes to the power of the graphics processor, it has 16 units of account, ie the same number of Ray Tracing accelerators with a total of 1024 "stream" processing units.

These data indicate that the GPU in question is 75% weaker and has twice less memory than the weakest RDNA2 representative so far - the RX 6600 model. Let's end the uncertainty - of course, but with certain compromises. We will talk more about that in the part concerning performance and achieving results.


When we talk about the hardware characteristics of the new Radeon RX 6500 XT model, let's mention that the Media Engine, as part of the graphics processor, is in charge of working with video content. Radeon RX 6500 XT model supports hardware decoding of 4K and 8K VP9 and H.265 formats, as well as 4K H264 codecs, but not hardware encoding like the stronger Radeon RDNA 2 brothers.

So watching videos and movies in high and ultra-high resolutions is not a problem. But certainly not for those who are more serious about producing video content. Also, forget about scratching the gameplay.Another interesting thing is that the Radeon RX 6500 XT communicates with the central processor via a 4th generation 4x PCIe path bus. This is a curiosity after the RX 5500 XT RDNA model with PCIe x8 bus.

This is a detail that suggests the need to use a new generation of hardware, especially motherboards and processors, so for this graphics card, it is recommended to purchase AMD B550 boards and say Ryzen 5 5600X processors if you want to get the best performance from this graphics card.

You are probably wondering, what is the drop in performance if you use older boards and processors with PCIe 3.0 specifications? It all depends on the degree of utilization of local video memory and how you adjust the graphic details.

This technical detail primarily plays a role in those borderline situations when VRAM occupancy is around those 4GB and a little more than that. When the "engine" of more demanding games has to transfer some data and textures to the RAM cache, the whole process takes place via the PCIe bus.

Then the PCIe 4.0 specification with higher data flow comes to the fore resulting in a difference in a higher frame rate of 11% in RDR2, over 20% in Far Cry 6, and up to 60% in AC Valhalla games!

In the latter case, the difference seems drastic, but in practice, it is relative, considering that the frame rate in these situations is at very low values. Jumping from 18 fps to 29 fps will not save you the feeling of chopping in some action scenes, but in the end, it is a much better situation!

You can avoid the impact of this factor of faster and slower PCIe transport lines by adjusting lower graphic details and excluding HD textures, freeing up some of the required local video memory. You don't have such problems in eSports titles because even in the relatively most graphically demanding APEX, the memory usage on High Details goes up to a maximum of 3.5 GB!

impact pcie on gaming performance RX 6500 XT

Sapphire PULSE RX 6500 XT Gaming OC 4GB - Performance

The Sapphire PULSE Gaming OC Radeon RX 6500 XT card is compact with a distinctive decorative pulse signal print. The card has a very decent aluminum cooler with heat pipes that exceeds the dimensions of the printed circuit board. Two fans and a small slot on the metal back contribute to good cooling.

AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT powered by only one 6-pin connector. Due to lower consumption, better cooling, and lower operating temperatures, the graphics processor is constantly in the turbo frequency zone Sapphire PULSE almost always works in the range of 2800-2870 MHz, which has been an unimaginable frequency range for a single GPU. 

And when we talk about performance, some subjective feeling is that the limited amount of local memory is the biggest limit of this graphics card. So take care to be realistic when it comes to adjusting the complexity of graphic details.

Any attempt to further detail will result in a lack of local memory when additional data will be transferred via PCIe bus to RAM for processing, which means a significant drop in performance that will make gaming almost impossible. , forget about enjoying.

In these situations, including the Fidelity Super Resolution option does not help either. However, if you are setting up the game well and taking advantage of numerous Fidelity FX features and optimizations, this card will put a smile on your face and provide hours and hours of gaming pleasure.

Test system:


ASRock X570


AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 


32GB (2x16GB) GSkill 3600 CL16 2R


AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT 4G GDDR6

HDD:  Seagate Barracuda ST3000 SATA 6Gbps

CM Master Liquid 240 RGB

PSU:  Cooler Master V1200 Platinum 

AMD Chipset Adrenalin 2020 Edition 22.1.1

OS: Windows 10 64-bit 21H2

Gaming performance:

shadow of the tomb rider - rx 6500 xt
borderlands 3 - rx 6500 xt

apex legends - rx 6500 xt

battlefield V - rx 6500 xt

far cry 5 - rx 6500 xt

division 2 - rx 6500 xt

gears 5 - rx 6500 xt

ray tracing - rx 6500 xt

Note that be realistic about applying Ray Tracing effects. Objectively speaking, it is not for playing on maximum details when activating RT effects makes sense, but it is not impossible, and this option is more to tell you what to expect from the stronger Radeon RDNA 2 models.

When it comes to gaming performance, the Radeon RX 6500 XT and RX5500 XT are pretty much the same. The Radeon RX 6500 XT is a fast standard RX 570 and GeForce GTX 1650 model.

While compared to the GTX 1650 SUPER, the difference is smaller and the upgrade, in this case, is not worth it.

In this context, its primary range is 1920x1080 resolution and depending on the complexity of the graphic details, you will be able to use higher frame rate values in combination with monitors that refresh at higher frequencies.

It doesn't heat up much because we measured a maximum of about 60-65 degrees Celsius during multi-hour gaming with a maximum consumption of 70-80W.


AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT - Conclusion

After all these data and results, there are not a few who will say that the Radeon RX 6500 XT is simply too weak and a weak card for more serious gaming.

And he will not be wrong with such a statement. However, on the other hand, the release of such a model perhaps best describes the difficulty of the moment we are in due to chronic shortages.

Even all the technical innovations, PDF presentations full of technologies with bombastic terms, cannot remove that feeling of bitterness from the reality of the situation in which gamers find themselves.

Many will reverse the previous statement in terms of if the compromise is about hardware and performance, the price to be paid to reject "miners" - we agree! However, we doubt that this thought will prevent them from doing so. Simply the logic that the miners are to blame for everything is completely wrong.

In the end, we are a bit overwhelmed by the fact that today it is considered the starting ticket of $ 199-250 for gaming - we are practically tapping into the place for two years, while prices have drastically increased, doubled, and tripled compared to that period - completely unnatural.

Whoever likes, let him choose, but everything reminds of the situation is already seen - the recommended price is unsustainable in the context of insufficient quantities on the market, which will double or triple the price in a short time. And that's where the sound logic of the budget gaming card ends.
The only hope left is that the manufacturers will keep their promise of better availability for the new generation.

Let's see how things will turn out in the case of the RX 6500 XT model, will it remain in the case of gaming users just another graphic that exists in PPT presentations like other RDNA 2 models, or will a miracle happen! 

See Also: AORUS GeForce RTX 3070 MASTER 8G Review


  • Quiet at work
  • Low values of operating temperatures
  • Low consumption



  • Only average performance in 1080p resolution
  • Big compromises when it comes to adjusting graphic details
  • 4 GB is not enough for today's AAA games 
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