AMD’s New Budget Radeon RX 6500 XT Is Here

AMD’s New Budget Radeon RX 6500 XT Is Here
Image: AMD

AMD gave us only a sneak peek of the Radeon RX 6500 XT and RX 6400 when the chipmaker revealed the desktop graphics cards at CES earlier this year, but now that they are officially available — for what will likely be an extremely short time (at retail prices, at least) — we’re finally seeing the complete picture.

According to AMD, these cards are the best replacement for your ageing Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 or RX 570 GPUs. The Nvidia rival argues the RX 6500 XT can achieve strong 1080p gaming results and supports ray tracing, modern requirements that make it a compelling option at its $US199 ($276) suggested price.

We received an RX 6500 XT to review but aren’t yet ready to share results. For now, we’ll go over the benchmarks AMD provided, and add our usual “take these with a grain of salt” disclosure beforehand. But first, let’s talk specs — and for now, we’ll focus exclusively on the more powerful RX 6500 XT.

Image: AMD

This entry-level GPU based on TSMC’s 6-nanometre node has 5.4 billion transistors, 16 compute units, 16 ray accelerators, 16GB of Infinity Cache, and 4GB of GDDR6 RAM (at 18 GBps) on a 64-bit interface. A possibly severe limitation is support for only four PCIe 4.0 lanes compared to the 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0 on the RX 570. That should be fine for 1080p gaming if you’re using a motherboard with PCI 4.0 support, but boards restricted to PCI 3.0 will be limited to 4GBps of bandwidth. Clock speeds reach 2.6GHz and board power requirements start at 107W with a minimum recommended PSU of 400W.

Onto the benchmarks: AMD says the Radeon RX 6500 XT is 41% faster than the GTX 1650 and Radeon RX 570 when playing — wait for it — Farming Simulator 22. Shifting to a slightly more popular game, Halo Infinite, the RX 6500 XT topped the GTX 1650 by 12%, reaching 80 frames per second at 1080p. That is a small boost over Nvidia’s 2-year-old mid-range card, but remember, the 6500 XT is supposed to cost only $US200 ($278) (do note, though, that the base GTX 1650 launched at $US150 ($208)).

Image: AMD

Overall, AMD claims the RX 6500 XT is, on average, 33% faster than the GTX 1650 across various games, including Age of Empire 4 (1.2x faster), Far Cry 6 (1.3x), Forza Horizon 4 (1.4x), Horizon Zero Dawn (1.4x), Resident Evil: Village (1.6x), and Apex Legends (1.3x). A few other noteworthy titles to highlight include Overwatch (1.3x), PUBG (1.2x), and Fortnite (1.4x). We’re in the process of verifying these results, but if they’re accurate, the RX 6500XT consistently outperforms the GTX 1650 by a decent, if short of groundbreaking, margin.

Image: AMD

Assisting the new graphics card is AMD FidelityRFX Super Resolution (FSR), which can boost frame rates by 30% or more in games like Call of Duty: Vanguard, Far Cry 6, and Deathloop without seriously impacting image quality. The chip also supports Radeon Anti-Lag, which AMD claims reduces latency by up to 33%. AMD’s Radeon Super Resolution, the upcoming in-driver upscaling feature for games that don’t support FSR, is another RX 6500 XT perk.

Looking at these numbers in a vacuum would indeed indicate that the RX 6500 XT is a smart upgrade to older mid-range cards, and can play some of the latest games at medium-to-high settings at 1080p graphics or at lower settings at over 100fps.

Image: AMD

If only things were this straightforward. It’s only a matter of time before retail units get snatched up by scalpers and relisted at higher prices (the RX 6500 XT has already been spotted at 2x its MSRP in France), an inevitability that undermines AMD’s messaging of this duo being accessible to gamers who are on a tight budget. If you’re in that segment, exit out of this article ASAP (or, even better: open a new tab) and start looking for OEM units from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, and the other usual suspects.

I’ll swallow my words if AMD finds a way to keep these in stock, but until then, the Radeon RX 6500 XT and RX 6400 XT seem like they would be great budget graphics cards…two years in either direction from today.