Continuing with my coverage of the aftermarket AMD RX 5700 models, the first RX 5700 XT that came in was from XFX. They sent over their top of the line model, the RX 5700 THICC II Ultra. Now the THICC branding kind of goes along with the Fatboy branding that I made fun of at the RX590 launch and adding Ultra in as well for the name does make the cards name a little crazy, silly, and long. But none of those things have anything to do with performance. Beyond maybe being a little embarrassed when you tell everyone your new video card is THICC, the name isn’t even in the top 5 things to worry about with your video card purchase. So today I’m going to focus on the card itself, how it performs, and I want to take a look at the new cooler design. Is the new look XFX going back to some of their great past designs or is it sticking with the flashy fake carbon fiber type theme they have been doing recently? Initial looks put the new design as looking good, but let’s find out more.
Product Name: XFX RX 5700 XT THICC II Ultra
Review Sample Provided by: XFX
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
I always take a look at GPU-Z to confirm that the listed specifications for the card match what I am seeing. Sadly GPUz is still having issues with the new AMD cards. The base clock and the boost clocks didn’t match at all with the specifications. This does at least let you know which BIOS revision I tested with and the AMD driver as well which to simplify things I did test with the updated BIOS that XFX sent out after launch that fixes fan speed/noise issues. Trust me, you don’t want to run that one, it was extremely loud!
So the Thicc II comes in a blacked-out box like previous XFX cards and I love that the front of the box has a photo of the card itself. A larger photo would be nice, but I’m glad they went the direction of a product image over pointless artwork. The Thicc II branding is up above the photo and XFX also has their new logo in the top left. The Radeon RX5700 XT model name is on the wrap-around which AMD now does as well. The wrap-around does have an interesting fade from red to orange as well. Then below that they have a few key features like the 4th gen PCIe and the cards 8GB memory as well as a note showing it is a 7nm card and Freesync 2 HDR is supported. A round on the back some of the AMD specific features are highlighted with photos and they talk about RDNA. Nothing on the back of the box is XFX or this card specific. I would love to see some information on the cooler, the design, anything and photos of card details to go with those.
Inside you have a cardboard box with the old XFX logo stamped into it. This has yet another box on top where they put all of the documentation and accessories. The top box also helps protect the card. Under that, the card comes wrapped up in a static protective bag and sitting in a cutout cardboard tray. I love the use of cardboard for most of this over plastic. You do see a little foam being used as well on the left.
When you pull the Thicc II out of the box and out of its static protective bag. Be ready to pull a lot of protective stickers off as well. The entire cooler and backplate are covered in them. That includes on the fans as well. There is even a second layer of sticker on the XFX logo as well.
As for documentation and accessories. You get an installation guide and a paper warning you that there isn’t a driver disc included and with information on where to get it from XFX or AMD. I would highly recommend going directly with AMD for the most up to date driver. They also include two different types of PCIe power adapters. One is a dual Molex to 6-pin power adapter. The other is two 6-pin PCIe to one 8-pin, together XFX is making sure you have options on the off chance your PSU doesn’t have the correct connections. That said, if you are missing the connections for one video card I would highly recommend avoiding adapters like this and going with a new power supply. Adapters could have you end up pulling to much power from a PSU that wasn’t designed for this type of load. I do like that they are both all blacked out though!
Card Layout and Photos
XFX has gone through a few different styles over the years. You can go back to my early experiences with them through reviews right here on LanOC to get a look at most of the different styles.
One thing that is really clear is XFX loves to change up their look and I mean completely every single generation. Sometimes that is for the good and other times it isn’t. I personally love the original 7970 with its all-metal cooler and the 290. But I will say that the last generation of cards have been a little crazy to me with their fake carbon fiber look. Because of that I was really happy to hear that XFX was changing things up again and from the images leaked early on they were going back to something closer to the 290/390 time frame using the black look. Well they did it, they dropped the ugly carbon fiber look and I like the clean all-black look of the new cards. They have kept things simple with a plastic shroud with a textured black finish that wraps around the top and bottom of the card. There isn’t any fancy in your face RGB lighting and they use just a little fake chrome around the fans and at the ends. That is of course if you don’t include the big 50’s American car looking grill. You know what though, it is unique and not just the same thing done over and over again. Their cooler is a dual axial fan design and the fans look to match up with the R9 290. As for the size, well the name of the card is the Thicc II and all memes aside it does fit that description. This is a big card in every dimension which I’m not a big fan of. I would prefer it to stick closer to the PCI height and stock close to the overall fan size for length. In the end it is 293 x 130 x 55 mm which is 23mm longer, 20mm taller, and 15mm thicker than the reference RX 5700 XT.
As I mentioned, I wouldn’t notice it normally but having just looked through past XFX cards, the dual fans on the Thicc look a lot like what was in their R9 290 only these have anew sticker in the middle with a unique shape and the new XFX logo. The fan shroud also has the new logo on the end just like that R9 290 as well only this time it isn’t backlit. Looking inside we can see that the heatsink has a vertical orientation which is normally preferred with an axial fan design, you don’t want to try to push air all the way the length of the card.
Around on the back, we can see the backplate. The big fan shroud is all plastic but the backplate is at least metal. It is spaced off the PCB though and Gamers Nexus has proven already that it could benefit from being up against the PCB with thermal pads to help be a functional part of the cooling, not just for looks like it is right now. I do like the slots cut in it though. While we are back here, seriously look at how big that fan shroud is, wrapping around the top makes it feel even bigger not to mention you can see that it is sticking out past the PCB as well.
The shroud is cut around the power connections at least. XFX stuck with the same 8+6 pin configuration that the stock card uses. They did flip them around and notch the PCB and backplate however to allow the heatsink to run closer without being in the way of the plug clips. Next to the power connections and almost hidden is a smaller hole. This gives access to a tiny switch on the PCB to flip between two BIOS. For overclocking dual BIOS are nice, but XFX is also using this to ship two different overclocks. One is a quiet mode with a lower power draw and the other is the big overclock for the Thicc II Ultra model that I am testing today which they expect boost clocks up to 1980MHz.
I’ve hidden it long enough, this is the chrome (plastic) grill on the end of the Thicc. Again it is unique and as a car guy I kind of like it. I don’t like the chromed plastic as much, however. Anyhow looking around the top and bottom edges of the card there are a few things that stand out. For starters inside you can see that the heatsink is split into three coolers with the largest being on the end running from just past the GPU to the chrome bumper. I don’t know why they would split up the heatsink that is over the GPU and the one at the end, however. All three are connected via heatpipes but I wish they tried to pack that additional cooling space in there, it is literally directly under the fan where the best cooling can be done. Hell the small heatsink on the end is completely hidden. The fan shroud design is weird in that there is an opening at the top and bottom, but it closes at the ends and especially for that smaller heatsink it basically traps it from airflow, that’s assuming it gets any from the fan, but it doesn’t look to be under that as well. Running axial fans with vertical fins on the heatsink, you do want them to try to not block airflow and it looks like XFX didn’t manage to do that. That grill at the end also shows us that the card size could have been a little smaller, I would prefer that grill be tight up against the heatsink, extending past the end of the PCB for open space isn’t efficient at all. But this is something XFX has been known to do the last few generations.
On the PCI bracket side, they did still put the XFX logo into the bracket. Given the cooler design there isn’t really going to be air flowing this direction but it is a nice touch. I would like to see the bracket be blacked out though to match the rest of the card and to match the rest of your case when installed. Especially with this being their most premium model. As for connections they ship the card with dust plugs for them all. You end up with three DisplayPort plugs and one HDMI slipped in which should cover what most people need.
Now there isn’t any lighting in the board on the top or front of the card for styling but I did notice that XFX has added status LEDs at the power connections that let you know if your cables are plugged in or not. I’m not 100% sure if I like the otherwise dark design without any lighting or not. I am happy though that they didn’t just shove backlit branding in my build like everyone else does.
Test Rig and Procedures
Motherboard: Asus Crosshair VIII HERO WiFi
Storage: Corsair MP600 2TB
Cooling - Noctua NH-U12S
Power Supply - Corsair AX1200w
Case - Primochill Wetbench
As always I like to start off my testing with a few synthetic benchmarks. 3DMark especially is one of my favorites because it is very optimized in both Nvidia and AMD drivers. It's nice to not have to worry about it being favored too much either way and the repeatability of the results makes it a nice chance to compare from card to card. I started off with the three Fire Strike tests which are old DX11 based tests. The three tests cover different detail levels which are roughly comparable with 1080p, 1440p, and 4k. The Performance test had the Thicc II up near the top of the charts and a big jump ahead of the original reference design. This was enough to push past the RTX 2080 and get closer to the 2080 SUPER. The Extreme test fell a little down below the Radeon VII but was again a big jump over the stock 5700 XT and over the RTX 2080. Then in the Ultra test, the result was even better, coming in over the 2080 SUPER but still behind the Radeon VII which loves the high detail tests with its truckload of memory.
The Time Spy tests are newer and are DX12 tests. These have favored the new RTX cards a lot now that Nvidia has focused more on DX12. So it wasn’t a big surprise to see the Thicc II down a little lower in the chart. It was 343 points ahead of the stock 5700 XT which as you can see helped it jump the 2060 SUPER with overclocks but the gap between it and the 2070 SUPER is still really large. The Extreme test was even worse with all of the 2060 SUPERs outperforming the Thicc II including the stock Founders Edition model. We did still have a nice jump over the reference 5700 XT though and that is important to see with the overclock the Thicc II has.
Then for the last benchmark, I went back to DX11 with the Unigine based Superposition benchmark. Here I focused on 1080p with a medium detail test and an extreme detail test. The Thicc II ran above the 2060 SUPER and above the Radeon VII but behind the 2070 SUPER FE. Again with a nice bump between it and the 5700 XT Reference card. The exception to this was at the higher detail where the overclocked 2060 SUPER from Gigabyte did edge out in front of the Thicc II just slightly but considering the reference 5700 XT was behind the 2060 FE at that detail it did show that the overclock helped get in front of most of the overclocked 2060 SUPER.
As for Virtual Reality, I love it but it is more demanding than traditional gaming. This is partially because of the resolutions needed to render for two eyes and because they render more than what is immediately visible. But also because of post effects to get the proper “fisheye” effect for it to look proper in your eyes with the HMD. You also have to have much higher expectations for frame rates in VR, skipping frames or lower FPS can actually cause motion sickness in VR. Because of that, I ran a few tests.
My first test was again in Superposition. This time I tested the VR Maximum and VR Future tests using the Vive resolution. Each result was in average FPS and at the maximum detail the Thicc II did really well, performing 3 FPS higher than the highest overclocked 2060 SUPER. At the future detail setting it did fall behind a little though, just like the reference card did but the overclock helped get it right with the Radeon VII and with the 2060 SUPER FE.
VRMark I tested two tests as well, one the higher current day detail level and another future-looking detail setting which they call the blue room. The result was similar. In the cyan room test the Thicc II did extremely well, with 11 FPS over the reference and 12/13 FPS above the fastest 2060 SUPER. But in the future looking test it fell behind all of the 2060 SUPER. In this specific situation, the blue room aka the future looking test is well below playable on anything tested, so not performing well there isn’t as much of a concern as not performing well in the current day high detail VR situations would be. The 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is going to handle all of your VR gaming just fine, if anything it might be more power than needed currently.
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 the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra perform? No surprises at 1080p, nothing I tested would be considered any less than silky smooth with half of the results being in the 60-119 range and the other half being up over 120 FPS. High refresh rate monitors with high detail levels on modern games should be good here. Turning the resolution up to 1440p you can see the high refresh rate section drop, but 10 games are over 60 FPS, one is over 120, and just three are in the 30-60 range. The 5700 XT Thicc II looks to be perfect for 1440p gaming, some ultra-demanding games you may have to adjust slightly, but you won’t have trouble playing anything. Then at 4k, like in our synthetic testing, you can see the drop-off. That said I was still surprised that everything but one result would be considered playable. 4 games are over 60 FPS and a majority (9) are in the playable but not perfect range. So if you game at 4k with this card you can expect some lower framerates with modern games with a few at medium detail settings still being nice and smooth. “esports” titles and older games, however, should be solid at 4k. Overall I would aim for 1440p, but 4k could be do-able with lower detail or lesser demanding games.
As always I also have ALL of the actual results which are 14 tests run on 17 cards at three resolutions. That’s a lot of data to take in, so you might be as crazy as I am if you are sorting through it. But what will you find? Like with the synthetic tests I was mostly curious where the Thicc II Ultra compares with the Reference 5700 XT and how it compares with the 2060 SUPER which is also in the same price range. With the exception of one of the Far Cry 5 results at 1080p, the Thicc II Ultra was faster than the reference card in every other test and at each resolution. There are a few where they are basically the same FPS, but overall you get 2-6 FPS at 1080p and 1-3 FPS at 4k with the overclocked card. As for comparing with the 2060 SUPER, the 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra was always faster than even the highest overclocked 2060 SUPER. In fact in 8 of the tests it was running above the RTX 2070 SUPER and in a lot of the tests it didn’t, it wasn’t far behind at the lower resolutions, 4k not so much. This is similar to what I found with the 5700 XT at launch, but now with a little extra bump with the overclock XFX provides.
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 the 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is right near the top of the chart with just the 2080 Ti being faster. The reference 5700 XT is just behind it and then the 2080 SUPER.
Blender, the most popular and open-source 3D modeling software, on the other hand, didn’t have the 5700 XT up nearly as high. I was really excited about this test because not only is it one of my favorite compute tests, but this benchmark didn’t work at the 5700 XT launch so I can finally get a better look how the cards compare. I ran this one multiple times on both the reference card and the Thicc but on this one the reference card is actually better performing. Overall it performs right with the Vega 64. There is a HUGE gap between this and the 2060 SUPER however, 88 seconds to be exact. But the 2070 SUPER is also a lot faster as well, so the 5700 XT falls right in between the two. As for why it was slower than the reference card, I’m wondering if it is a thermal thing in the longer running benchmark. I will have to wait for the next section to confirm.
In Basemark all of the AMD cards completely fell on their face in the OpenGL tests. Even in the DirectX12 test they didn’t do especially well with the 2060 SUPER being faster here. The Thicc did get a little over 200 points over the reference card, however.
Then for the last compute test I ran the simple but always popular Geekbench 4 test. Once again the reference 5700 XT was just a hair faster and overall the 2060 SUPER was significantly faster. Even the older Vega 64 was out ahead by a good amount on this one.
Cooling, Noise, and Power
My last round of testing is also one of the most important when you have already decided which GPU you want and you are comparing between different models available. Obviously overclocks make a difference as well, but cooler design and how the card is overclocked plays a big role in temperatures, noise levels for the fans, and power usage. So here I’m going to take a look at those aspects. First, though I wanted to check out the power usage. For this, I ran two tests. On both, I monitored the power usage of our test system using a Kill-A-Watt. To put things under load I first use 3DMark to replicate a gaming load on both the CPU and GPU. For the 3DMark test the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra pulled 393 watts which was 15 watts over the reference 5700 XT. It's also important to note that this also puts up over even the overclocked RTX 2070 SUPER as well. The reference RX 5700 XT didn’t exactly pull low wattage so a bump, even small does put it right with the RTX 2080 FE. The second test was using AIDA64 to put just the card under load. In this one it was 18 watts over the reference 5700 XT at 314 watts. This was also significantly up over the RTX 2080 FE and the RTX 2080 SUPER.
My next round of tests were all about noise, specifically the fan noise that the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc Ultra put out. Now I will say before doing this review XFX did provide an updated BIOS which was focused on the fan profiles and the noise levels between the original and this profile were significant under load. Before getting into those though I did 100% and 50% fan speed tests to get an idea of the range of noise the card is capable of. Considering how loud the reference blower RX 5700 XT was anything would be an improvement here and the Thicc did just that. 100% fan speed came in at 55.1 decibels while at 50% it put out 38.1. This has the Thicc’s 100% noise levels a lot closer to the reference cards 50% numbers which is crazy. Of course, that is just what the card can do, for what it actually did I ran it for over a half hour in AIDA64 until the temperatures leveled off and documented the noise levels. It ended up at 37.8 decibels which means it is running a little less than 50% fan speed and this put it near the middle of our charts overall. The Founders Editon Nvidia RTX 5700 SUPER was right with it and there is still a lot of room to be quieter, but looking on the bright side still a big jump over the reference card.
I did want to point out though, normally the fan speed charts that have the RPMs listed almost perfectly match both noise level charts but the XFX was a little off. I suspect that this is because of the slightly limited airflow at the top and bottom of the card, per RPM it is louder.
My last round of testing is the most important in my opinion. How did the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra do in thermal testing? For this I use AIDA64 unce again to put the card under load. I let it run for a half hour or longer depending on how long it takes for the temperatures to level out and be consistent. I then document what it is running at. I do this twice, once with the stock fan profile and then again (after a cooldown) with the fans at 100% fan speed. The idea is to see what the out of the box performance is then to see how much headroom the card has left. So the stock fan settings had the card running at 70 degrees Celsius. Not exactly my idea of great, you can see that most of Nvidia’s own Founders Edition cards were a touch less and all of the aftermarket cards are aiming for 65c or less. But still 18 degree’s less than the reference card which ran extremely hot. Then with the fan cranked up it ran at 56c. Again better than the reference card by 10 degrees this time. But as you can tell from the chart, this is still on the high side when compared with other cards. The 14 degrees does show a little room for better cooling, but we know from the noise testing (and from the original BIOS XFX sent the card with) that a more aggressive profile would end up cranking the noise levels up a lot.
While doing the stock fan profile temperature testing I also pulled out the Flir to get a few images of the Thicc. I was just curious if there were any hot spots or if the large plastic shroud that has gaps between the heatsink and shroud would show pockets of cool or hot air. I can say that for sure you can see there is a warmer spot on the backplate near the bottom. More importantly, though you can also see how the plastic shroud kindof holds the heat back at the top where maximum airflow would be beneficial. Towards the front especially you can see the heat in the small gap and at the front where there isn’t anywhere to go. The heatsink design with that big gap between heatsinks in the middle shows in the fan side picture as well where you can see the PCB running extra hot in that area.
Overall and Final Verdict
With all of the testing out of the way, we can finally sit down and run through what XFX has going for them on the RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra and what issues the card has. Now once you get past the name which with the spelling of Thicc and the addition of Ultra is a little weird, not to mention extremely long. The Thicc is actually a great looking card. XFX redesigned their lineup once again and they managed to come up with a design that is simple and clean but is also unique. The end looks like a classic car grill and the touches of chrome also fit that theme as well. I do think this might be the best looking 5700 XT on the market or at least one of them. Not using RGB lighting was a nice touch, in my opinion, there are lots of options who pack in lighting but few will skip it altogether.
Of course, that same fan shroud is also a source of a lot of the cards issues. One being that they used way too much plastic. But to go with that, the card is huge. Every single dimension is bigger than it needs to be which is of course where the Thicc name came from. But if we are going this big I really want every little cubic cm inside the shroud to be filled with GPU cooling heatsink and they didn’t do that. There is a big gap right in between the two halves of the heatsink and there was room to fit more cooling power in lots of the shroud. The shroud also plays a role in limiting airflow at the top and bottom. All of this leads to cooling performance that I think could have been better, especially with this being a flagship card.
Now the rest of the performance wasn’t too bad though. When comparing the Thicc II Ultra to the AMD reference RX 5700 XT it outperformed it in all of the gaming and synthetic benchmarks. Helping edge the card up even higher when compared with Nvidia’s SUPER lineup. The cooling issues did seem to hold things back on longer term compute benchmarks though where the Thicc didn’t do as well. The RX 5700 XT was already a little power hungry and overclocking it didn’t help that. It also didn’t do too bad in noise testing though cooler improvements could help it be even quieter. Overall though this is still a great performing card for gaming at 1440p or high refresh rate 1080p.
As for pricing, the MSRP is $449.99 which puts the Thicc II Ultra up near the top end on the 5700 XT market. Currently you can find it a little cheaper on Amazon though. At the MSRP I think the XFX is a little under-gunned. Being a top end card means top end performance and it is a little lacking on the cooling performance. I would also love to see them potentially bring back more metal in the shroud design and cut down on the size unless it is needed. You are getting a great looking card and performance is still really good. At the RX 5700 XT launch I loved the cards but the blower design was just horrible in noise and cooling. If that is your reference point the Thicc is a big improvement and it does make the RX 5700 XT marketable. I just think that the non-ultra model might be the more feasible one from XFX or the Ultra at the current Amazon prices ($433). But asking top of the market prices for a card with a few important flaws is a tough sell.
Live Pricing: HERE