Well I’m a little late to the party on this one, during the mad dash to the combined NAVI and 3rd gen Ryzen launch I ran into a lot of issues with our GPU test bench and late in the process after spending almost a full week in the original testing I dropped everything to switch the bench over to X570 and redid all of the work. The good news that gave me time to come in with numbers running on a faster and more accurate system to what a lot of you might be looking to run the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT on. So today I’m going to take a look at what AMD has going on with their long-anticipated launch, check out the two reference models they sent, then put them through our tests to see how they perform. The Ryzen 9 3900X was a monster, it will be interesting to see how an all AMD system will perform.
Review Samples Provided by: AMD
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
NAVI? RDNA? What’s it all about
Back at E3, in addition to announcing the RX 5700 and the 3rd gen Ryzen CPUs AMD went into a little more detail into the architecture behind the scenes with the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. Specifically, these are the first NAVI based video cards called NAVI 10. These are the first based on AMD's new RDNA architecture which is a huge deal, the older GCN architecture came out back in 2012. Officially NAVI is a mix between GCN and RDNA making it a hybrid. The new RDNA compute units are redesigned and optimized for single threaded performance and instructions per clock. This combined with huge improvements in cache helps get rid of the bottleneck that Vega had when gaming. They went from having four SIMD16 units on GCN to RDNA running dual SIMD32s. This helped them deal with the issue of GCN needing four cycles or clocks to process a single instruction which is fine when you are dealing with complex instructions but not as good with gaming code unless it is designed really well. RDNA now handles a single instruction in one cycle.
Other key improvements with NAVI are a lot easier to understand. For starters, they have dropped the manufacturing process size down to 7nm. Officially Vega was also made at 7nm, but only on the Radeon VII. The Vega 56 and 64 were both on 14nm FinFET as were the Polaris based RX 500 series cards. So this is their first widely produced GPU at 7nm. A smaller building process can be faster, cheaper because of smaller die sizes, and use less power. They also moved away from the HBM/2 memory that was used on Vega to GDDR6. HBM/2 memory really kept the costs up on Vega cards so I’m happy to see the move. The other big hardware change is the move to PCIe 4.0 support. X570 with 3rd Gen Ryzen just introduced PCIe 4.0 so AMD adding it on the GPU side is a smart move on their part. It does offer twice the speed of PCIe 3.0 but we will have to see how that translates to GPU performance.
Another big move is the addition of Radeon Multimedia Engine. Nvidia has had NVENC for a while which is a way to offload video encoding on to the GPU and take away some of the CPU load. This is AMD's version of that. Its actually really interesting how much AMD in the last few years has latched on to the video production and streaming that a lot of gamers have been doing. This was also a big focus point with the original Ryzen launch with the additional cores that offered. Taking that load from the CPU on to the GPU does seem a little bit counter to that push on the Ryzen side of things but giving options is great and this is a great move on AMD's part.
So what about the new cards right? That’s what we are here for in the first place and I haven’t mentioned them at all. Well, we have the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT and the Radeon RX 5700. Other than the obvious aesthetic differences in the picture below which I will dive into when I look closer at the cards. Let's take a look at the specifications. So the RX 5700 XT is sporting 40 Compute Units which gets it a total of 2560 stream processors. The RX 5700, on the other hand, has a slightly cut down Navi 10 GPU with 36 compute units turned on giving it 2304 stream processors. They both get the same 256-bit memory controller running 8GB of 14 Gbps GDDR6. The drop in compute units also takes the 160 texture units that the RX 5700 XT has and drops it down to 144 on the RX 5700. The compute unit difference really isn’t that large between the two cards. To me, the biggest performance difference is going to be found between the clock speeds. The XT has much more aggressive clock speeds with the boost clock running up to 1600 MHz and the base clock starts at 1605 vs the 1465 MHz on the RX 5700. That makes a difference in power, the RX 5700 XT is listed with a board power of 225 watts where the RX 5700 with almost the same GPU is listed at 180 watts.
AMD also had a nice breakdown of the cooler design on the RX 5700 XT. It is a blower design and they have a heatsink up over the GPU and memory with the 7-phase VRMs look to be a little to the right of the heatsink. The heatsink has vapor chamber cooling and they went with a graphite thermal interface material between the vapor chamber and the GPU.
AMD has been at work on the software side of things as well with a few additions to help improve the user experience. A few of these we have seen before under different names from Nvidia, but that doesn’t name them any less important. Radeon Anti-Lag is a big one. The idea is to reduce the amount of input lag which is the delay between when you press a key and when you see the change on screen. There are a lot of things that affect input lag but the basic version of this is that games produce frames by pairing work done by the CPU and by the GPU together. The CPU does its work then gives it to the GPU. Most situations will find that the GPU is the main limitation and in those scenarios, games will perform the CPU work one or more frames ahead of the GPU resulting in at least two frames of latency. The new Anti-Lag option helps improve the pacing of CPU work allowing them to overlap without getting too far ahead to keep that input lag down.
Another new feature is their Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS). RIS is based on the contrast adaptive sharpening algorithm that AMD provides game developers but RIS doesn’t require in game integration. It works across DX9, DX12, and Vulkan APIs. Basically, it modulates the degree of sharpening depending on contrast without some of the ringing and other issues that other similar solutions will sometimes have. AMD mentioned that this works well with Radeon GPU scaling where you can turn the resolution down to increase performance and then clean things up with image sharpening to still get crisp detailed visuals.
The last software additions I wanted to touch on aren’t new with this launch but are still interesting. AMD Link is a simple way to control your GPU with a mobile device. Then they have Radeon ReLive which allows streaming of your desktop or games to android and Apple TVs.
It isn’t exactly new to see AMD package and sell some of their reference designs. Cards like the Radeon VII, for example, were only available as a reference design and AMD does run a store selling both their designs and AIC cards as well. They haven’t gone full Nvidia with a special line of cards, the reference cards I’m going to check out today are also sold by their AICs. But It was cool to see them come in with their own AMD branded packaging. They both have a black and red look with a Pokeball like look with the red strip across the middle. They both have similar branding with the exception of the XT on the XT model.
The RX5700 XT, however, has a different box than the RX 5700. They went full Nvidia here with the split box design. The box is also a lot thicker as well. Inside they have foam in the top and bottom halves to lock the card in place. There is also a slit where they tucked the documentation. The big thing though is the red section that holds the top in place is very short. So once you cut the stickers at bottom ends of the box this box will basically just fall apart all of the time where the Nvidia boxes slide together well. If you are going to toss the packaging later or put it up on a shelf this won’t be an issue. But if you need to put the card back in the box to transport it you might need to tape it shut.
The RX 5700’s box isn’t split in half and is a lot like a standard card box. When you slide the inside box out it does have an interesting AMD Radeon logo up on top on a top tray. That tray does have foam on the underside which locks the card under it in place and up on top of the tray, they slipped in the documentation. Overall it isn’t as spectacular to open up or anything, but the foam should keep the card safe, even with abusive shipping.
Card Layout and Photos
AMD didn’t go with the same look that they did with the Vega and Radeon VII launches. Before they had the all silver brushed aluminum fan shroud with the Radeon R in a lit up cube in the corner. This started with the blue Radeon Vega Frontier Edition all the way to the 50th anniversary Radeon 7 with its red anodized shroud. I love the Vega cards design and it allowed AMD to have a variety of designs like their liquid cooled model and 2 and 3 fan designs, not to mention the color options. So seeing them drop that design for the new design was a little bittersweet. But I have to admit the RX 5700 XT looks great. It has a grey shroud made out of a thicker cast design rather than the thinner design of the Vega cards. This allowed them to put groves in the card that run from one end to the other and more importantly it was what allowed the indent that is unique to the RX 5700 XT. It looks almost like they left the card out and the top melted and I even messed with my wife when I first showed her but I love that this isn’t a standard boxy looking blower design. They did carve the Radeon branding into the front as well and gave it just a touch of red inside.
Now the big takeaway here is the move back to a blower design. After going with a three fan axial design with the Radeon 7 this is an interesting choice. Especially with Nvidia moving to dual axial fans as well on their reference designed. It could be AMD focusing on OEMs which a lot of times prefer the blower design that allows them to not worry too much about additional cooling to support a hot video card. It could also be throwing a bone to AIC manufactures which get screwed with reference designs cutting into what makes an AIC card special (cooling, noise, and aesthetics). Anyhow, I do like that the blower fan does have a small touch of machined aluminum around it which stands out nicely against the grey that the rest of the shroud uses.
Being a blower design AMD does have the top and bottom of the card all sealed up with the fan shroud to focus the airflow out both ends of the card. The end of the cooler facing the inside of the case does have a large opening on it and inside you can see the heatsink inside. This end has a little Radeon branding as well but all I can think about when I see it is that it reminds me of the old RX 5870 reference card design, it had a similar opening but was split in half.
The top-down view of the end shows how they angled that vent as well which combined with the “dent” keeps this design from looking like a box.
Now up on the top edge, AMD did slip a backlit Radeon logo in and like Nvidia they have locked the color down to just red. They didn’t use RGB lighting and then lock it down to torture everyone though, they used a red tinted plastic. The logo runs right in the red strip that runs across the top edge, using the “dent” to move from the middle to the outside edge around the power connections. Speaking of, the RX 5700 XT has an 8-pin and a 6-pin for power but you can see they did leave room in the design for dual 8-pins, hopefully, that means they are leaving room for additional models and rumors have been starting to pop up on that front. This view also really shows how thick the rear backplate is as well, I will take a look at it in the next phot, but I like seeing that they didn’t just go with a thin sheet metal backplate.
So here is the backplate and like the fan shroud, AMD went with a cast design which is a lot thicker and stronger similar to what Nvidia has been doing on their Founders Edition cards. The backplate has a nice black textured finish and half of the backplate has groves similar to the fan shroud with two painted in with a bright red including the Radeon logo. AMD was careful to make sure their branding was visible from every angle. It's interesting that they did cut around the GPU mount backplate rather than integrate it into the backplate, but this is the hottest spot on the card, having this open might be a little better for cooling.
The rear PCI bracket on the RX 5700 XT also has the Radeon logo on it, seriously I don’t think they missed an angle lol. But you can see that they really had to open up the ventilation here and stick with four connections right on the PCB for that blower airflow out this end. That said I wonder if you cut every other slot if you wouldn’t get better cooling. So for connection options, you get three DisplayPorts and one HDMI. DVI is off the books here, just like on the higher end RTX cards but AMD didn’t include an adapter like Nvidia has so those of you who haven’t upgraded your monitor in a while may want to consider it soon. If you are going with an RX 5700 XT a nice FreeSync monitor would be a worthwhile pickup anyhow. I would love to see AMD follow suite with going to a black PCI bracket like Nvidia has, its such a great touch when you get your build altogether and the card matches all of the black PCI slot blanks.
Moving on to the RX 5700 I was surprised that AMD went with a different design on this one. The dent is gone, long live the dent! This shroud is all metal again but they don’t have any of the extra styling that the RX 5700 XT has like the groves cut into it. This is a blower design as well and they did go with the grey finish again to match the XT and they also machined around the fan intake. That gives just a touch of bling and it reminds you that this is an all-metal shroud. The Radeon logo is in the same spot but this is just printed on to the surface where the XT had it carved into the shroud then painted, it makes a huge difference in the overall look. Especially when you get them together.
The top edge of the RX 5700 also has that same painted on logo and the flat box-like shroud continues up here. The backlit Radeon logo is gone and without the groves and the dent, there isn’t much at all on the top edge really which is a shame because this is very visible when installed. The power connections are up on top in the normal location and the RX 5700 has the same plug configuration as the 5700 XT had. You need one 8-pin and one 6-pin to power everything. Again there is a little bit of space for a second 8-pin, AMD is keeping their options open with the design.
Like the RX 5700 XT, the RX 5700 has the fan shroud sealing things up at the top and bottom of the card. But for the RX 5700, they also closed up the end of the card as well. So the blower design for this card should vent completely out the rear PCI slots on your case. This also allowed for them to include four pre-tapped mounting holes which are there for server and OEM use where they may want extra reinforcement to keep the card from moving around or from sagging.
In addition to the simpler shroud design the RX 5700 also completely drops the cast backplate. We do get a look at the black PCB and the overall layout without it but I’m really surprised that they dropped the backplate given how close the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT are in price.
While none of the rest of the exterior of the RX 5700 matches the XT, the PCI bracket and display connections are all the same. You get three DisplayPort plugs and one HDMI with DVI gone and no adapter included to help support it. All four connections are surface mounted on the PCB to keep as much room for airflow in the bracket, especially with that being the only direction air can go on this card. I still think a black bracket would look better and that there is room for improvement by cutting out every other vertical in the vents to open up more airflow. Again they also have the Radeon logo on this end, making sure every angle of this card has the Radeon logo somewhere.
I also grabbed two shots of the two NAVI cards together and you can really see the difference in styling between the two fan shroud designs. The RX 5700 XT having a good look and the RX 5700 having almost no styling at all with its boxy look, painted on logos, and no backplate.
Test Rig and Procedures
Motherboard: Asus Crosshair VIII HERO WiFi
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12S for cooling
Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste
Storage: Corsair MP600 2TB
Cooling - Noctua NH-U12S
Power Supply - Corsair AX1200w
Case - Primochill Wetbench
Before getting into testing I did also get a screenshot of the GPUz for both the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. This is just to document the BIOS version and driver used for testing and to confirm that the cards aren’t running at any higher of a clock speed than the specifications list.
To start off my testing I always like to run through a few synthetic benchmarks. They are consistent and typically very optimized on the driver side so they are great for getting a good comparison from card to card. So the RX 5700 XT is running $399 and the RX 5700 is $349 which puts the two cards right in line with the new RTX 2060 SUPER and the original RTX 2060 which have the same $399 and $349 MSRP’s. There are also a few Vega 64’s that come in at $399 as well. So I’m, really curious to see how those three cards compare to both of the RX 5700’s.
For tests I mostly focused on a few different 3DMark benchmarks, starting with the Fire Strike tests which are all DirectX 11 based and touch on three different detail and resolution settings. In all three tests, the order of the cards is the same with the RX 5700 outperforming the RTX 2070 SUPER and coming in between that and the RTX 2080. The RX 5700, on the other hand, was in between the Vega 64 and the RTX 2060 SUPER.
Then I moved over to the two 3DMark Time Spy tests which are DX12 and a little newer. Nvidia’s Turing based cards have really been doing well in DX12 applications and the RX 5700 XT was well below the 2070 SUPER and actually very close to the 2060 SUPER. The RX 5700 was running with the Vega 64 and the original RTX 2060 here. But when the detail was increased both dropped a little with the RX 5700 still outperforming the RTX 2060 but the RX 5700 XT was almost 100 points behind the RTX 2060 SUPER.
To mix things up I also tested with the Unigine engine based Superposition test. For this one, I tested at 1080p at both the extreme and medium detail settings under DirectX. The RX 5700 XT did really well here with a good margin between it and the RTX 2060 SUPER and the RX 5700 was ahead of its competition as well, but with less of an advantage. The RX 5700 also dropped below the RTX 2060 when the detail went up and the RX 5700 XT was similar barely squeaking ahead of the 2060 SUPER with just one point at the extreme detail setting.
For our VR testing, I have gone ahead and dropped the SteamVR test altogether, at least when it comes to anything mid-range and beyond for graphics cards are maxing out that test and it is only looking for basic VR performance. I’m more concerned with how cards are going to perform in the higher end VR titles of today and the future. So I still have VRMark but I dropped orange room for the same reasons as SteamVR. The cyan and blue room tests are still very useful though. The cyan room test is looking at modern day high-end VR performance and as you can see all of the cards did reach that goal. The RX 5700 XT did especially well coming in behind the Radeon VII and ahead of Nvidia’s 2060 SUPER. In the blue room test, the 2060 SUPER did better by 4 FPS. The RX 5700 didn’t do too bad in the cyan room, beating the RTX 2060 but again at the higher detail, it dropped down below it by 7 FPS.
I’ve also added Superposition in with its VR tests. I focused on the VR Future and VR Maximum tests and I used the slightly higher Vive resolution over the Rift. The story was similar here as well. In the VR max tests, they both did well, outperforming Nvidia’s direct competition though not by much. But in the future tests, they both dropped down below their direct competition.
Now we finally get into the in game performance and that is the main reason people pick up a new video card. To test things out I ran through our new benchmark suite that tests 8 games at three different resolutions (1080p, 1440p, and 4k). Most of the games tested have been run at the highest detail setting and a mid-range detail setting to get a look at how turning things up hurts performance and to give an idea of if turning detail down from max will be beneficial for frame rates. In total, each video card is tested 42 times and that makes for a huge mess of results when you put them all together. To help with that I like to start off with these overall playability graphs that take all of the results and give an easier to read the result. I have one for each of the three resolutions and each is broken up into four FPS ranges. Under 30 FPS is considered unplayable, over 30 is playable but not ideal, over 60 is the sweet spot, and then over 120 FPS is for high refresh rate monitors.
So how did two RX 5700’s perform? Because I’m looking at two different cards I went ahead and split the results up. Funny enough the 256 additional stream processors and much higher clock speeds didn’t make a big impact for the RX 5700 XT in comparison to the RX 5700. Now to be clear, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t faster, it was without a doubt much faster. It just didn’t move a lot of games up between the categories. At 1080p both cards handled everything tested with the 5700 getting 5 over 120 FPS and 9 in the 60-120 FPS range. The RX 5700 XT moved one up from 60-119 up to over 120 FPS. 1440p performance was solid as well with 10 out of 14 in the 60+ range for the RX 5700 and four that were playable but not perfectly smooth. The RX 5700 XT improved on that with one reaching the 120+ range and one game moving up from the 30-59 range into the target FPS range of 60+. Now at 4k, both cards fall on their face and only have 1 result over 60 FPS. Most are still playable though but it is clear that both cards are best at 1440p and below with just enough performance to get by at 4k.
Of course, I’m going to dig through the results as well. Here I’m looking to see how the RX 5700 XT compares with the RTX 2060 SUPER that sells for the same price and with the RX 5700 the original RTX 2060. The other cards tested help give an idea of how they compare with the rest of the current market as well. In 13 out of the 14 tests, the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT outperformed their respective competitor (2060 super on the XT, and OG 2060 for the 5700). The one game that they didn’t want Metro Exodus which both cards had huge problems. I’ve been working with AMD to track down what was causing this, but you can see that at normal detail both 5700’s fell on their face at 1080p and 4k. 1440p results, on the other hand, had the 5700 XT up over the RTX 2070 SUPER and the RX 5700 right with the Vega 64 and ahead of the 2060 SUPER.
Beyond that issue, however, both RX 5700’s cards kicked ass. The RX 5700 XT is actually competing with the RTX 2070 SUPER, with just a few FPS between them in most tests and beating it on a few as well. The RX 5700, on the other hand, was beating the RTX 2060 SUPER in a majority of tests. As for the older Vega 64 performance in comparison with the RX 5700 XT, it keeps up in a few games but overall the RX 5700 XT pulls away, especially at 1440p and 1080p which is were the RX 5700 XT is most likely going to be used.
Now some people don’t need a video card for gaming, they need the processing power for rendering or 2D/3D production or in some cases people who game also do work on the side. So it is also important to check out the compute performance on all of the video cards that come in. That includes doing a few different tests. My first test was a simple GPU Compute benchmark using Passmark’s Performance Test 9 and boy did the RX 5700 XT take off in this test, beating everything tested. The RX 5700 was down a lot lower, the clock speed gap was extra obvious here, but with the RX 5700 even competing with the RTX 2070 SUPER and Radeon VII I don’t think you can complain about that.
The next test was Basemark where I took a look at both DirectX 12 and OpenGL results. Here the 5700’s didn’t do as well at all. Nvidia dominated the top of this chart, especially in OpenGL where none of the AMD cards kept up.
In Geekbench 4 the AMD cards were back up at the top again, with the RX 5700 XT showing off way ahead of the others. What is especially impressive here is the huge improvement from the Vega-based cards up to NAVI.
Now there is one test completely missing here is Blender. Sadly I had issues with the blended benchmark utility locking up but only with the two RX 5700’s. AMD has reproduced it and hopefully, we will see it patched in a driver release so I can get both cards tested.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
My last round of testing is also some of the most important once you have decided on which GPU model you want. That is because most cards of the same model are going to be close in performance give or take depending on the overclock, but cooling, noise, and power are all things that change from card to card and company to company. They also get even more important when you get into smaller form factor builds, huge builds heat and power isn’t a big deal.
With the RX 5700’s I was especially curious on these tests given how much power the last few AMD cards have pulled and with the decision to go with a blower design on both cards. To start things off I did my power testing. For this, I used out Kill-A-Watt and monitored the total wattage pulled from our entire test system. I ran two tests with two different load types. I used the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark in the combined test which loads up the video card and CPU in a similar way to most games. In this test, the RX 5700 XT pulled 380 watts which was a huge improvement over the Vega 64 and the Radeon VII. It was a little higher than the RTX 2070 SUPER but behind the RTX 2080 so I wouldn’t consider that to be too bad overall. The RX 5700, on the other hand, was 50 watts less at 330 watts which was right with the RTX 2060. The second test was using AIDA64’s stress test just loading the GPU. This wattage is lower because it isn’t putting any load on the CPU or other components but it puts a more solid load on the video card itself. In this test, the RX 5700 XT pulled 308 and the RX 5700 266 watts, both noticeably higher than the Nvidia cards but not high enough to freak out about like with Vega 64.
Next noise levels are important and this isn’t specific to smaller builds. Even in a big build if the video card is loud inside you are going to notice so testing here is important. To do this I ran three tests. One at 100% fan speed, one at 50% fan speed, and a third testing the noise level when doing our thermal tests which show the loudest the fan should get in normal usage. Both of the RX 5700’s have the same fan and because it is a single fan they had to really crank the speeds up, you can see that when turned all the way up they were running at 4778 for the XT and 4681 for the normal RX 5700 which was way above all of the dual fan Nvidia cars and the triple fan Radeon VII. So when turned all the way up it wasn’t a big surprise when they were both right at the top of the chart for noise at 100% fan speed. Sadly half of that RPM is still high so at 50% they were loud as well, in fact, they were both about the same as the noise output of the water cooled Vega 64 we have. However, the last test, looking at noise levels when the card is loaded up in AIDA64 it was the Radeon VII that was the loudest with its three fans. The RX 5700 XT wasn’t far behind though at 44.3 decibels and the RX 5700 behind that at 43.5 decibels. 100% fan tests brought out an interesting issue, once you spin the fan up on either card they take AGES to come back down in speed. Normally it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds but with both RX 5700’s they took four and a half minutes and this is while they were running at idle temperatures, the fan profile is just set to have an excruciatingly slow ramp down times. Slow ramp up and ramp down times can help make fan noise less noticeable, but I think this might be a bug because I’ve never seen it happen when manually overriding the fan speed like this.
The last test is thermal testing and for this one, I run two different tests. Both use the AIDA64 stress test to load the card up and I run the test for a half hour or until the temperatures level off if it takes longer than a half hour. One test is run with the out of the box fan profile and the second I run with the fans or in this case the fan turned up to 100%. The idea is to see what you will get and what the cooler is capable of. The delta between those lets us know how much room is left for overclocking and how warm the GPU is running overall. Blower cards aren’t exactly known for running cool, but I was still surprised to see the RX 5700 XT running all the way at 88c which is nice and toasty. The RX 5700 was a little better at 78c but still not great, especially when compared with the RTX Founders Edition cars. Cranking the fan speed up helped a lot but the RX 5700 XT was still hot at 66c but the RX 5700 was down with the RTX 2060 SUPER. There was something I should point out from the 100% testing. I had no problems at all with the RX 5700 but when testing the RX 5700 XT it was riddled with driver crashes when I had the card under full load and the fan cranked up. While the RX 5700 XT was at the top of the chart at 66c, it is possible that if I didn’t have these issues with a longer test it may have gone warmer.
While doing the AIDA64 stress test with the stock fan profile I did get to check out some of the other sensor readings that AMD has on the new cards. Most video card, especially reference designs like this just have the GPU Diode and that’s about it. AMD has included a sensor on the VRM, memory, and at the GPU hotspot as well in addition to the normal location. Some aftermarket cards have been doing this and using it to know which fans to turn up or to make sure memory or VRM isn’t hot in situations where they get warmed up but the GPU isn’t getting stressed as much. The 5700 XT reached the following with the stock fan profile VRM 73c, Memory 84, Hotspot 108. The RX 5700 was the following with the stock profile VRM 61c, Memory 74c, and Hotspot at 63c. Turning the fan up to 100% on the RX 5700 it had VRM at 44c, Memory at 46c, and the hot spot was at 63c which was the same.
I also managed to get a few thermal shots of both cards as well, you can spot the 5700 XT with its grooved fan shroud and backplate and the RX 5700 without a backplate at all. Both were running hot but you can see how the blower design runs a lot warmer the farther across you get as the air gets heated up before getting to the left side of the card. Both cards also had a hotspot towards the PCI bracket up under the cards which is interesting.
Overall and Final Verdict
So NAVI has been talked about for what seems like forever and like well every AMD launch it has had a big hype train rolling that entire time. Those are big shoes to have to fill and if I’m being completely honest, on the graphics side of things the hype has often surpassed the actual performance. In most ways, NAVI did end up living up to the hype. The RX 5700 XT managed to run with the RTX 2070 SUPER FE in almost all of the games I tested it in. Synthetic tests had the RX 5700 XT faster in DX11 but slower in DX12 with an even bigger drop off at higher detail levels but the in game performance was a lot more consistently right in between those two things. The RX 5700 was similar, running in a class higher than it should be by beating the RTX 2060 SUPER when it really should have been competing with the normal RTX 2060. The performance of both cards was solid at both 1080p and 1440p, only falling off at 4k but even then it was playable, but not smooth.
Aesthetically I really was digging the look that AMD went with for the RX 5700 XT with its thicker shroud with grooves in it as well as the black backplate to match. It also has the backlit Radeon logo up top. All of those features were missing on the RX 5700 which was especially weird given how close they are in price. The RX 5700, on the other hand, is just plain. It isn’t ugly or anything, and if I hadn’t seen the XT I might even dig the look. Especially with the grey. But together stuff like having screen printed logos rather than the backlit logo and logos carved into the shroud and backplate makes such a big difference. Not to mention the dent, it may look like AMD left the XT in the oven too long, but I like it.
Speaking of leaving them in the oven too long, these cards run hot. Going with a blower design here is a huge downside and as my thermal images showed it created hotspots inside the case as well where normally a blower card at least does a good job of keeping extra heat out. With Nvidia’s base cards having dual fans it is going to make these cards a much harder sell. Especially given how hot they both ran and how noisy they were as well. Beyond that, this launch did have a lot of driver issues and other weird bugs that I don’t normally run into by the time the launch comes around. You notice how late I am posting this, I fought with every bug or issue you can image and worked with AMD a lot in relaying them. Hopefully, that time at least means they will be fixed quickly. Stuff like the excruciatingly slow fan speed ramp down when manually changing the fan speeds fall into that as well, the all-new RDNA architecture is going to take a little while to tweak and tune. But AMD is known for their fine wine drivers, right? So over time, those issues should be worked out.
The last area to talk about is pricing. Normally I don’t bring pricing up at all until the end of the review but this time around I spoke about it some in the performance section. The RX 5700 XT is listed with an MSRP of $399 and the RX 5700 is $349. These numbers were expected to be higher and even documentation I had prior to the launch showed those prices but the day before the launch AMD announced the new pricing and there was some twitter teasing about Nvidia potentially being “jebaited”. Who knows if it was a plan all along or if it was in response to Nvidia’s SUPER launch a week before but these prices put the RX 5700 up against the RTX 2060 and the RX 5700 XT against the RTX 2060 SUPER and as you can see from the performance they both outperformed those cards with the RX 5700 beating the next step up most of the time and the XT running with the 2070 SUPER the entire time. So as far as value, AMD has done it again. More importantly, these are good performing cards, not just a good budget card.
So would I recommend them? The AMD faithful are going to be all over them either way. But I think the thermal and noise issues that the blower design has brought takes away a LOT from both cards. Aftermarket designs are needed. So much so that while I do recommend both cards. I think that people who want them should hold off until you can get the aftermarket cards. It’s a shame because I do love the RX 5700 XT’s look and it has a great build quality. Sadly Scott Herkelman was posting on Reddit that those aftermarket cards are expected in August so it's going to be a little while still. I am going to try to get my hands on them when they start trickling out, both the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT just need a little more cooling and they should be amazing. I do wonder if Nvidia doesn’t get aggressive with their pricing before then. But hey a pricing war would be a great change.
Live Pricing: HERE
Live Pricing: HERE