Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 6600 XT review: Simple is better

Aided by performance-enhancing Trixx.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Sapphire Trixx Boost

Like all Sapphire graphics cards in the RDNA era, the Pulse RX 6600 XT supports Trixx Boost, a clever feature that speeds up frame rates using a combination of slight image downsampling and AMD’s wonderful Radeon Image Sharpening technology. It’s like a less complex version of the idea behind Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s new Fidelity FX Super Resolution features: Render at a lower resolution to improve frame rates, then clean up the resulting image artifacts with the help of smart software.

We’re surprised that other GPU makers haven’t ripped off the idea, frankly. Trixx Boost has helped Sapphire GPUs earn high marks in our reviews for several years now—it earned the “best innovation” award on our Full Nerd podcast’s yearly best-of episode all the way back in 2019—and doesn’t rely on any exclusive technologies. Instead, it helps several existing technologies that can be activated via complex manual methods work together in a easy-to-understand interface. Its secret sauce is simplicity.

trixx boost interface Brad Chacos/IDG

The Trixx Boost tab in Sapphire’s software.

Better yet, while Nvidia DLSS works with only a few dozen games, and AMD’s infant FSR works in under ten, Trixx Boost works with any DirectX 9, DX11, DX12, or Vulkan game. That covers all but the most niche PC games being played today.

You’ll need to install Sapphire’s overarching Trixx software suite (which also includes features like hardware monitoring and fan health checks, depending on your GPU) to use Boost. And yes, despite the similar-sounding name, Trixx Boost and AMD’s Radeon Boost are two very different technologies with very different use cases, though both require modern Radeon GPUs. You can even use them together.

Trixx Boost creates custom display resolutions for your display, scaled down in customizable 5-percent increments all the way down to 50 percent. Rendering at a lower resolution percentage gives you a corresponding performance bump, so using 80 percent on the scaling slider will deliver faster performance than using 90 percent of your native resolution. (The performance increase can vary from game to game, however.) You can also opt to activate AMD’s Radeon Image Sharpening feature to reduce the shimmering that can be introduced by running at less-than-native resolutions—and you definitely should, as it can greatly help with image quality.

trixx boost screen flicker Brad Chacos/IDG

Sapphire’s utility will warn you your screen may flicker, and then your screen will flicker.

Play around with that resolution slider a bit though, especially at the 1080p resolution that the Radeon RX 6600 XT works best at. Trixx Boost defaults to a custom resolution at 85 percent of your native screen output. That works wonderfully well when you’re playing at more pixel-packed 1440p and 4K resolutions when paired with RIS, but subjectively, I found it too aggressive at 1080p. The lower resolution means that cutting it back even more results in shimmering and occasionally janky edges that are really perceptible in motion at 85 percent. (This isn’t just a Trixx Boost issue; both DLSS and FSR also have troubles maintaining image quality at 1080p resolution, but not at higher fidelity.)

I found it much more pleasant to bump the slide up to 90 percent of the screen resolution for 1080p gameplay, so those are the settings we’ll use in our benchmark results today. (I left the 1440p scaling set at 90 percent for the sake of simplicity as well, though that resolution works very well at 85 percent scaling by my eye.) It still isn’t quite perfect; you may still see slight visual artifacts in some scenes, such as faint shimmering on narrow stairs in motion, or faint blurriness in static menu screens depending on their setup. But those distractions proved few and far between at 90-percent scaling in my opinion, and the extra performance provided by Trixx Boost made the occasional graininess worthwhile. If you disagree, you can always stop using it.

screenshot 17 Brad Chacos/IDG

Screenshot of a custom resolution created using Sapphire’s Trixx Boost software.

One final note: You need to select the custom resolution manually in-game to take advantage of Trixx Boost. Simply selecting the 1080p or 1440p resolutions you’re used to doesn’t work. Instead, go into the game’s graphical or display options menu and pick the resolution that Boost created at your chosen scaling percentage. Fortunately, the Trixx Boost tab in Sapphire’s software shows you the exact custom resolution when you create it, as you can see in the screenshot above. You can always go back to that for reference if you forget the particulars.

Let’s get to benchmarking!

Next page: Our test system, benchmarks begin

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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