AMD Launches the $269 Radeon RX 7600 - RDNA 3 Enters the Mainstream

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅24.05.2023 13:06:19


Since the original time of writing AMD updated the Radeon RX 7600's SEP to $269 from $299. The article has been updated to reflect that.

Are you still using a mainstream GPU more than 5 years old? In the market for an up-to-date graphics upgrade for 1080p gaming? Have you been spooked by high pricing of the recent GPU releases? Then AMD’s newly unveiled GPU might just be for you.

Arriving worldwide at retailers later this week is the first Radeon GPU for mainstream desktop PCs powered by the latest RDNA 3 architecture: the Radeon RX 7600 8GB. This new graphics card for 1080p gaming takes station at the highly competitive $269 price point, comes equipped with ray tracing and AV1 hardware encoding support, and edges out established competitors while also undercutting some recently announced hardware. But, with gamer’s naturally sceptical in a challenging market for manufacturers and consumers, does AMD bring enough to the table to interest a demotivated base?

Gunning for Market Share

The Radeon RX 7600 targets two long established GPU models as candidates for replacement that, not coincidentally, make up a huge proportion of registered hardware configurations on Steam’s hardware survey. Despite often showing their age in modern games, gamers have stuck by their RTX 2060 6GB or now almost 7 year vintage GTX 1060 6GB cards through thick and thin - though often through necessity rather than choice. With this release AMD are hopefully giving them that choice.

With the exception of ‘esports titles’, older mainstream hardware is struggling to keep up with the demands even at 1080p. Upscaling technologies such as DLSS and FSR are tools that can’t make up for raw rasterisation horsepower, even if they’re available on aged hardware. The RTX 2060 and GTX 1060 are arguably no longer fit for purpose if you want to keep your gaming library up to date.

AMD claim a very high performance (double or even triple-digit percentage) improvement over this hardware, as well as offering what they believe is the new ‘VRAM sweetspot’ of 8GB GDDR6 memory. That figure of course is going to be highly debated in the coming days - this year poor launch optimisation has meant a few AAA videogames have wanted more than 8GB for even 1080p with all the eye-candy turned up to max - but it is another tangible improvement those transitioning to new hardware will benefit from.

If they can capture this sleeping market, offering sufficiently more than the RTX 3060 and RX 6600, then the potential rewards are huge. Make no mistake however, parting this segment with their hard-earned cash is no easy feat.

Tech Specs - Meaningful Generational Improvement

AMD’s Radeon RX 7000-series introduced their cutting-edge RDNA 3 microarchitecture, which in turn brought chiplet design principles to performance GPUs. Unlike their premium performance counterparts however, the RX 7600 utilises the same Unified (i.e. monolithic) design as the Radeon RDNA 3 chips for laptop platforms. This makes packaging the chip simple (thus reducing costs) while also not taking advantage of the inherent scalability of modular RDNA 3.

Nonetheless, the RX 7600 is a significant on-paper generation upgrade over the RX 6600. It boasts more Compute Units, faster GDDR6 VRAM, higher operating frequencies at typical and boost clock levels, and hardware AV1 Encode/Decode. The loss of hardware Encode/Decode was a talking point of prior ‘budget’ AMD GPU releases, so it’s great to see that this feature of the architecture isn’t omitted just because it’s in a slightly more affordable bracket than their premium models.

While the memory bandwidth is higher thanks to the use of faster (18Gbps) memory, the bus remains a narrow 128-bit and VRAM is still limited to 8GB. The latter is probably more of a factor than the former until developers get a grip on inflated requirements, but it also underscores the benefits of Resizable BAR in addressing memory more efficiently and overspilling to system memory rather than local storage. AMD’s 2nd Gen. Infinity Cache meanwhile will help to mitigate the effects of relatively low bandwidth.

Feature-wise, it also adds support for both Displayport 2.1 (optionally, it’s up to AIBs to include it) and AV1 hardware encoding alongside decoding. The latter will be an important technology in the future for streaming as it allows for higher image quality under the bandwidth limitations of Twitch and Youtube, even if platforms are dragging their feet in making this available. These features also help to give the card long-term viability as a HTPC GPU, long after it becomes obsolete for gaming.

One spanner in the works however is the higher advertised Total Board Power of 165W vs 132W of the RX 6600. Their competition has made significant strides in this avenue with the RTX 40-series, and in real world testing the brand new 4060 Ti might be much more efficient. Direct comparisons between the big two’s new cards aren’t available yet with this launch so it remains to be seen if AMD have a lot of work to do in this field; at the very least they’re not able to take advantage of TSMC’s 4N lithography, unlike NVIDIA’s current crop of cards.

Performance Comparison

AMD have provided a vast swathe of broad performance expectations for the RX 7600. They, however, directly compare rasterisation performance rather than throw in exclusive rendering features such as DLSS. Information such as this should still always be taken with a healthy dose of scepticism even if there’s no obvious effort to mislead or gin up the results by favouring niche scenarios. That being said, AMD are generally providing relative performance figures; these numbers don’t reflect the actual playability of any particular title (e.g. if the GTX 1060 is only capable of 5fps in a game, 200% better than this or 15fps still isn’t useful).

The new GPU was always going to perform outrageously better than the GTX 1060 6GB, and so an average FPS uplift of 182% isn’t that difficult to believe. Comparisons against the 1060 are important because at this stage the end-user isn’t locked into NVIDIA’s RTX ecosystem. For a user upgrading from the GTX 1060 it’s all upside.

That’s in contrast to the RTX 2060 6GB, which benefits from access to NVIDIA’s generally better ray-tracing driver implementation and DLSS. Average performance increases of 45% are very good but could still be drowned out by enabling upscaling performance modes. AMD’s own algorithmic upscaling technology FSR will close the difference and put the RX 7600 back on top in terms of raw FPS, if not necessarily image quality. Either way, the conclusion is a little more hedged.

Generationally, 29% higher FPS than the RX 6600 is nothing to be sniffed at and should improve as AMD’s RDNA 3 drivers mature. They’ve had to push the GPU core pretty hard to get this result - the operating frequencies are ~10% higher - which has to be a factor in the higher TDP. And that arrives in a package that - at launch - has a lower MSRP than the one it’s replacing.

Comparisons with NVIDIA’s RTX 30-series are also relevant. AMD once again boast of significantly better performance than the RTX 3060 8GB and 12GB models, by double-digit percentages in fact. Recent volatile pricing of these cards however make them true competitors, at least until NVIDIA launches the RTX 4060 next month, but the RX 7600 should be able to leave the 8GB model comfortably in its dust. The RTX 3060 12GB however is made of sterner stuff, and (as discussed previously) the 4GB larger VRAM pool might have outsized significance in this year’s newest and upcoming AAA and games.

Finally, mainstream GPUs are ideally paired with mainstream games, and they don’t get any more mainstream than the selection often referred to as ‘esports’ titles. That’s something of a misnomer as the vast majority of players are in the space ‘competitively’; even so, they’ll still want to play with high frame rates for an exemplary experience. A relative toaster will run the games, but it still takes decent hardware for the ideal 100+ FPS that would allow a smooth frame-sync’d experience on a good modern monitor.

According to AMD the Radeon RX 7600 offers this in spades, not only at 1080p but also 1440p. That’s absolutely good enough, especially if they can come in at MSRP.

Finally, More for Less

The current generation of GPUs from both AMD and NVIDIA have been roundly criticised as offering very little in the way of performance uplift unless you’re willing to pay in excess of $1000, and nothing when it comes to price satisfaction. That’s been reflected in market demand - both manufacturers have reported a significant decline in discrete channel sales - and so it was hoped that the Radeon RX 7600, as well as it’s chief competitor in the form of the RTX 4060-series, would serve as a stimulus to flagging financials.

Early reviews of NVIDIA’s RTX 4060 Ti 8GB this week have been lacklustre at best, but with a higher price point came higher expectations. Delivering solid hardware at an MSRP below $300 could offer a cost-effective reprieve for gamers in dire need of an upgrade 7 years old in the making. The RX 7600 offers that, on paper at least.

Generational improvements comfortably into double-digits and niche features won’t set the world on fire, but it is also cheaper than the launch price of the card it supercedes at a time when inflation is cutting into all household budgets. That surely counts for something.

The question is whether enthusiast gamers on a budget will be content with 1080p gaming and moderated settings below maximums. We’ve already seen that titles such as The Last of Us Pt 1 and Jedi Survivor can comfortably exceed 8GB VRAM allocation at this resolution with all the eye candy enabled, and playing a wider selection of games at 1440p will be even more of a compromise. Reviews will tease out where the balance lies.

For now at least AMD have thrown down the gauntlet to NVIDIA and are saying ‘this is what we can do at $300’. Today, for the first time in some while, it’s a release that the budget-conscious should actually keep an eye on.

That being said, it’s not clear where AMD can go from here in this generation. Their RX 6000-series is plugging an enormous price/performance hole between the RX 7600 and 7900, bolstered by long overdue price cuts. NVIDIA however have fresh new designs, and the upcoming RTX 4060 8GB to compete with the RX 7600. Is DLSS 3.0 takes off and FSR 2 fails to gain traction then AMD may once again be locked out of market share due to its sparse range of current-gen GPUs.

AMD’s Radeon RX 7600 will be available from Thursday May 25th starting at $269 (prices will vary by region), with models created by partners including ASRock, PowerColor, GIGABYTE, MSI and Sapphire. Find out more at

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