Why I bought one of AMD’s worst GPUs

When it comes to graphics cards, AMD has had some stinkers over the years and the Radeon RX 6400 should be counted among them. For $130, it’s a terrible deal for most gamers, and the practical requirements of recent CPUs and motherboards are disappointing.

That is, for the most Despite what I know to be true about gamers RX 6400, I just went out and bought one. No, I have not had a mental breakdown or some kind of psychosis. Actually, I had a very good reason to buy the 6400, and even though it’s a terrible card for most people, it actually has a good reason to exist.

RX 480 level performance for just 40 watts

Powercolor Radeon RX 6400 and its packaging.
Matthew Konatser/Digital Trends

When we think of what makes a good GPU, performance is king. It’s certainly what the average GPU buyer has in mind when they’re scouring the web for benchmarks and performance data.

But power draw is also important. really important.

In 2016, I was one of the first to buy the Radeon RX 480, one of AMD’s best GPUs ever, thanks to its excellent performance, low price and decent power efficiency. I enjoyed how easily they played the game The Witcher 3, Hitman (2016)And Skyrim with high or maximum graphics at 1080p maintaining a frame rate of 60 frames per second (fps) or higher. Even today, that’s a good level of performance.

But in terms of power efficiency, the RX 6400 puts its predecessor to shame. It’s as fast as the RX 480, and uses less than one, despite its smaller size Third of the RX 480’s power budget. As seen in the results of many reviewers when tested against the RX 570, which can stand in for the RX 480, the RX 6400 is only 6% behind the average frame rates, while using 100 less watts of power. That’s a big deal.

Of course, an important caveat is that the RX 6400 requires PCIe 4.0 to perform at its peak. With only PCIe 3.0 enabled, the RX 6400’s performance drops by 15%. This is a particularly thorny issue for the RX 6400, as it means it underperforms on hardware that predates PCIe 4.0’s debut in 2019; Ironically, most budget Ryzen 5000 CPUs don’t have PCIe 4.0, even though all Ryzen 3000 chips do. Thankfully, Intel has PCIe 4.0 support on all of its Alder Lake CPUs, even on its sub-$100 models, the kind you want to pair with the RX 6400.

Finally a reasonable low-profile GPU price

A computer inside the Silverstone ML05.
Matthew Konatser/Digital Trends

The RX 6400 is a low-profile GPU, meaning it’s physically quite compact, and meant to slot easily into small ITX builds where open space is limited. While the RX 6400 is impressive compared to older GPUs, one could point out that it has similar performance to Nvidia’s older GTX 1650, which arrived in 2019, a full three years before the RX 6400. It’s true — the GTX 1650 also comes in a low-profile form factor and uses about the same amount of power. So, what is the RX 6400 doing that the 1650 can’t? Well, it comes down to availability and pricing.

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For years, the price of low-profile GPUs has skyrocketed, long before the GPU shortage reared its ugly head. For reference, I bought a low-profile RX 460 2GB in 2017 for $94, which was a really good deal because low-profile GTX 1050s and GTX 1050 Tis cost a lot more – sometimes even up to $150. I remember the low-profile 460, 1050 and 1050 Tis going for around $200 by 2018 and 2019.

While supplies were a factor, the actual casket was lacking New Low Profile GPUs From 2016 to 2018, the GT 1030 was the only new low-profile GPU, which was extremely slow, bottom-of-the-line, and as a result failed to drive down prices or deliver a worthwhile experience. In 2019, the GTX 1650 came out and was promising for its high performance and performance, but it was very expensive, usually selling for over $200. Even today, most are going for $225 to $250, with a gigabyte model currently available for $175.

The fact that the RX 6400 exists, especially at its price, makes it a very unique graphics card.

The RX 6400 has been in good supply since it came out and has been selling for under $160 at times. At the time of writing, two RX 6400s are selling for $150, but last month, I bought my RX 6400 for $130. For those looking to build a cheap, low-profile PC, saving $30 is a big deal when it means it can go toward a better, PCIe 4.0-capable CPU.

I can feel more bitter about the price of the 6400 when I paid less than $100 for a good low-profile GPU in 2017, for a very similar PC to the one you see in the image above. The thing is, low-profile cards aren’t just a niche for gaming—they’re a niche within the niche of ITX-sized gaming PCs. People who like to build small computers (myself included) have to take what they can get these days. I’m thankful the RX 6400 exists, because it’s the first low-profile GPU in a long time that’s worth the price.

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