Now that dust seems to have fallen over last year’s graphics card battlefield, upgrading this vital component of your gaming PC no longer seems impossible without sacrificing an arm or leg. If you put off such an upgrade during all the price gouging and low availability, you may even be able to substantially bump up your rig’s power with the affordable AMD Radeon RX 6400.
I was in such a situation; when I built my PC last year, I used an AMD Radeon R9 200 Series, somewhere around five years old by this point. While this has served well enough, requirements are beginning to creep up and edge it out. (For context on the rest of my setup, check out the list of components in our PC Build Guide)
Installing the Radeon RX 6400 was a total breeze compared to the bulky R9. Freeing up this space inside my case and removing a set of cables from my PSU was almost worth the upgrade alone. With its slender profile and PCIe power connection, you may want to consider it if building with a smaller case.
After a simple card swap, I mainly tested the Radeon R9 6400 with a trio of games featuring handy benchmark tools: Final Fantasy XIV, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Gears Tactics.
By the scoring rubric of Final Fantasy XIV’s standalone benchmark app, my old card’s performance had been deemed “fairly high”—7355 on High (Desktop) and 6802 at maximum. Meanwhile, the Radeon RX 6400 scored a more definitive “high” with a ranking of 8146.
At maximum settings, this meant jumping from 46 average FPS to 56. It also took a total of 5 seconds to load the various scenes of the benchmark test. In practice with the game itself, the visual difference is subtle, while that difference in loading time is imperceptible.
Gears Tactics saw a smaller jump in average FPS from the Radeon RX 6400, from around 78 to 82; however, it also achieved this while running on higher settings. The old card performed fine with medium detail settings, but the new one goes further to the next level. However, it was starting to hit the CPU-bound wall by a minuscule 0.01-0.1%.
“The Radeon RX 6400 is not exactly hitting PS5 levels, but for this price, it’s damn close enough.”
Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s benchmark showed one of the starkest examples of the upgrade. On the old card, it held close to 30 FPS on high settings, and the Radeon RX 6400 averaged 36. However, the writing was on the wall when I turned on the ray tracing settings. Even the lightest option was untenable, averaging 14 FPS.
It would be possible to tweak with other settings to get ray tracing running, but it begins to feel unnecessary at that point. If you truly need this cutting-edge feature, this is not the card for you. It’s also lacking the 8GB of dedicated video RAM recommended by the likes of Elden Ring, even if it does check all of its minimum setting checkboxes, so don’t expect to be entirely on par with your friends playing on PS5 or Series X.
Outside of more clinical tests and actual gameplay sessions, I didn’t notice a massive difference in graphical quality over the old card unless I stopped to study it. It’s subtle, but textures and lighting blend smoother, pushing my setup to the brink of the next generation. Even running at high-to-highest settings remains relatively cool without special accommodations. I’m content knowing that my system is hitting a modestly higher mark with less strain and a little more room in my tower.
All told, the Radeon RX 6400 is not exactly hitting PS5 levels, but for this price, it’s damn close enough. I’d heartily recommend it if you’re looking to modernize an older setup without spending an exorbitant amount to do it. Though it’s not the star quarterback of video cards, it’s a reliable card that can help keep your computer current for the foreseeable future.