Not long ago I took a look at the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra and while there were some aspects of the card that I liked, like the styling. I wasn’t impressed with its cooling performance and the price point that they had it listed. It was being sold as a flagship card but didn’t have flagship performance. Well XFX reached out and let me know that the price on the Thicc II was dropping and they had a new three fan design that would be coming, the Thicc III Ultra. Because I’ve seen a lot of people who think that the II and III in the names is the revision number, no it represents how many fans the card has. Anyhow I went through and retested all of our RX 5700 XT’s including the Thicc II Ultra and then tested the new Thicc II Ultra as well and today I’m going to check out the new card and see how it performed in our test suite. Is the new model enough to justify a flagship price? We will have to find out!
Product Name: XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra
Review Sample Provided by: XFX
Written by: Wes Compton
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 and while GPUz hasn’t been the best at showing information on the RX 5700 cards things have improved. This time around it has the boost and base clocks correct and they match the spec list from XFX. The Thicc II Ultra comes in with a boost clock of 2025 MHz and a base clock of 1810 MHz. For comparison, the reference card has a base clock of 1605 MHz and a boost of 1905 Mhz. The Gigabyte Gaming OC I just took a look at overclocked the base clock to 1650 MHz but had the same 1905 MHz boost clock and the Thicc II I previously took a look at was the only one previously that had an overclocked boost clock at 1980 Mhz and a 1730 MHz boost clock. So the Thicc II Ultra has a BIG overclock, even compared to the Thicc II.
The box for the Thicc III didn’t change too much from the Thicc II. They still have the black background and the red wrap-around with a fade to orange with the RX 5700 XT branding. But over on the right side everything is different. The model name up top has the new model name and below that is a new photo of the card. I just have to point out that I like that they actually have a picture of the card inside of the box right on the front, this should always be the case but it doesn’t happen that often. They also mention the number of display connections down below the picture. Now on the back nothing at all is different. All of the features highlighted are specific to RDNA and AMD, not the Thicc III. I think XFX is missing a chance to highlight things specific to them on the back. I would also like to see at least a few specifications mentioned back here like the card dimensions and clock speeds if possible as well. If shopping in retail, those are things you would need to know to help decide between cards on the shelf.
Inside, once you take the printed box off there is the main cardboard box. XFX uses a thick piece of foam up on top to keep the card safe and then the rest of the box is cardboard including the area cut to fit the card itself. The card comes in a static protective bag and completely decked out with plastic covering all of the fan shroud, fan centers, and the backplate and it can be a pain to take off. Then for documentation you get a warranty card that has your serial number on it and information on how to contact support. This is a lot easier than having to pull your card out to get that information if something goes wrong. There is also a paper explaining that no driver disc comes with the card and that you should download the driver from XFX. I personally would recommend getting the latest right from AMD though, no need to add a middle man. I included a picture of the Thicc III with the packaging behind it because I just have to point out how it doesn’t even look like it could come out of this box. XFX is really pushing the limits of their box size with this card as you can see with the inside of the box picture. The card is well protected, but on the ends there isn’t any room for extra protection so if it gets damaged it will be from that.
Card Layout and Photos
So it’s really obvious that the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra shares a lot of styling and design with the Thicc II Ultra that I already took a look at. Not that I would expect much different. There were issues with the Thicc II’s design, but I did expect that the Thicc III would share the same styling as the previous model given that it is the same generation and how close they are together in launching. So yeah you have that big plastic shroud with the curved top and bottom, but what is different this time around? Well, the biggest change is, of course, the move to three fans from two. The center fan is the largest and XFX went with two smaller fans on the outside. The fan blade design is also a little different as well, the two outside fans have a curved blade where the center fan doesn’t have that curve. In addition to the extra fan and the two fan sizes. The plastic fan shroud also has a lot more chrome this time around. Before chrome was used on the end of the card and as a thin accent around the fans, but here in between each fan there is a section of chrome. This isn’t a metal rig that has been chromed, just plastic and chromed plastic tends to add even more to a cheap feel in my opinion. But honestly that is something this generation already had with the big fan shroud using so much plastic, especially with it wrapping around to the back. Both this and the Thicc II also have a little plastic squeak when you grab it as well, nothing to worry about for actual use, but there is a difference in quality when you handle this compared to an all-metal Founders Edition card for example, or even the AMD reference blower card with its metal shroud.
Of course, I had to compare the Thicc III Ultra to the Thicc II Ultra and here is a shot. Given the additional fan, it is actually not as long as I expected it to be. But at 315 mm it is still very long. The Thicc II is 293 mm which was longer than the Gigabyte Gaming OC, which even that card I would call long lol. The triple-fan design does a much better job of just packing the entire card with fans where the Thicc II had more space between the fans and had room on both ends of area that wasn’t getting direct airflow. As far as the other dimensions, the Thicc III is a hair taller than the Thicc II at 131 mm where the Thicc II was 130 and it is thicker as well at 57 mm vs 55 mm.
I was curious about the different fan sizes and I have the calipers out anyhow si I did take a look at both cards. Basically, the center fan on the Thicc III is 100 mm as are the two fans on the Thicc II and the two smaller fans on the Thicc III are both 90 mm.
With the calipers, I did want to show what the extra height of the card does compared to a standard PCI height card like the Gigabyte Gaming OC or the reference card. You can see how the Thicc III sticks up almost 25mm up above the top of the PCI bracket on the back. Your case will have to account for that extra height though some of it is “free” height because the power cables are down at the PCB level so it is space that would be taken by the cables anyhow. I also measured the width and it came in a touch under the 57 mm that is listed, but make no mistake this is a fat card like the name also implies. Officially that is 2.7 slots wide, so don’t plan on mounting anything directly under it.
Now the heatsink design up under the fan shroud and it does still have the three heatsink split design where the four heatpipes running from the GPU change heights. But is there anything about the design that is different? Well anyone who saw Gamers Nexus’s coverage of the Thicc II will be curious if they fixed the VRM cooling plate, yes they did. The design looks exactly the same only this time around it is copper not stainless steel for much better heat transfer. The heatsink design, while basically the same does also extend out a little longer to match the Thicc III’s longer card length as well. You can see at the end of the card how it does still reach the chrome grill. That point of view also lets us be able to see the ever so slight thickness addition where the grill now has a bit of a gap on the shroud edge. The all chrome grill is still going to be love or hate, I think the look is kind of cool, like a classic car, but normally I hate chromed plastic so I’m sure others won’t like so much chrome being used. Even if the grill was blacked out it would look good though!
Up on the top edge of the card, there are a few things going on. Funny enough though, none of them are big backlit branding logos in RGB like so many companies are doing. So I have to give XFX props for that. In fact the Thicc III has even less branding than the II because the additional fan didn’t leave room for their new logo on the fan side. Anyhow up on top we have the power connections tucked away down at the PCB height. As I mentioned earlier this recessed plug design helps make the height of the card usable, it adds extra heatsink space in the space that your power plugs would be using anyhow. The plugs did change though. The Thicc III pulls more power and with that XFX switched to a dual 8-pin configuration for power this time around. Right next to that there is a small home in the backplate, just like on the Thicc II, where they have installed a tiny dual BIOS switch. The switch has two different BIOS on it, a quiet mode and a performance mode.
So the view of the back of the Thicc III Ultra also helps show the overall size of the card and just how much plastic is used. The PCB area of the card, which is a standard card size, uses an all-metal backplate. Then you can see the contrast for the plastic shroud that wraps around the top and covers the end of the card where the heatsink sticks out past the PCB. I do like that XFX covered up the end where with their 500 series cards the heatsink just hung out past the end. This side of the card is the most visible when it is installed In a normal case so it is nice that It is all blacked out. Even the huge XFX logo is blacked out using a gloss finish on the textured backplate.
As for display connections, you get the same layout as the Thicc II Ultra and just about every other card on the market anymore. You get three DisplayPort connections and one HDMI. Now I would prefer that the HDMI be at the bottom like Gigabyte did on their card, just to keep it less confusing with it in between two of the DisplayPort connections. But that is such a small detail. The bracket has the XFX logo cut in it and a few other ventilation holes, not that the cooler design is pushing air this direction at all.
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. Going into testing the RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra there are a few things I should note. I did retest ALL of our RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT cards during this one. Drivers were updated and numbers weren’t making sense. This is on top of the normal driver issues that I have been having with this launch that sometimes mean rebooting part of the way through my testing after results randomly drop in performance. This includes the Thicc II and it did change the performance I saw on the Thicc II down slightly, this wasn’t in any way to make the Thicc III look better, it was only to remedy numbers that didn’t make sense (every RX 5700 was testing slower than when I first tested them).
So the Thicc III Ultra has a monster overclock on both the base clock and the boost clock so I am excited to see how it compares to the other 5700 XT’s that I previously reviewed. Most of the other cards didn’t set themselves out much from the reference. Anyhow my first round of tests was 3DMark Fire Strike, all three detail settings. These are DX11 and the RX 5700’s have done really well on these, or more specifically the Nvidia counterparts haven’t done very well on these. In the Performance detail test, the Thicc III gained just over 500 points over the Gaming OC which was enough to compete with the RTX 2080 FE here. As the detail went up the Radeon VII and 2080’s improved but the Thicc III still stood out compared to the three other 5700 XT’s.
Now with the DX12 focused Time Spy tests you can see how the newer Nvidia RTX cards catch up again. Where before the 5700 XT was running with the 2070 SUPER and the RTX 2080 here the highest overclocked 2060 SUPER was still out ahead of the Thicc III, but only by a small margin in the base test. The higher detail Extreme setting however the 5700 XT’s fall down the chart. Again the Thicc III is out ahead of the other RX 5700 XT’s in both tests.
Then the last synthetic benchmark is Superposition which is a Unigine engine based test. At the medium detain the RX 5700 XT’s did really well but the Thicc III did the best, even outperforming the Radeon VII. The extreme detail setting however they drop down from being out in front of the RTX 2060 SUPER by a nice amount to running with the stock RTX 2060 SUPER Founders Edition.
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. Like in the other Superposition test, the RX 5700 XT’s all did much better in the high detail current day focused test where they fell behind in the VR Future test. In fact, the Thicc III did especially bad in that one but it was the fastest of the 5700 XT’s in the VR Max detail. This put them all out ahead of the RTX 2060 SUPERs but there is a big gap between them and the 2070 SUPER.
I also ran two tests in VRMark. The Blue room test is a future-looking test, just like in Superposition and then the Cyan Room test which is high detail at today's levels. The results were similar. The bleu room results were behind the 2060 SUPER but the cyan room results were great. The Thicc III has a full 6 FPS on the Thicc II and is out ahead of all of the XT’s tested.
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 9 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 48 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 III Ultra perform? Well like all of the other RX 5700 XT’s it dominated at 1080p and performs well at 1440p. In fact, the Gaming OC and the Thicc III look exactly the same on these charts. Like with the Gaming OC, if you start looking at the detail numbers you will find a lot of the results are extremely close to bumping up to the next step. But even with the lines drawn this way 7 results over 120 FPS and the other 9 over 60 FPS is good at 1080p. That should be good for high refresh rate monitor gaming at all but the highest detail settings in the most demanding games. 1440p does have 4 results down below 60 FPS, most were around 55-59 FPS, but if you want smooth 60+ FPS gaming you might have to make a few adjustments. But a majority of the results were still over with 11 over 60 FPS and 1 over 120 FPS still. Were the Thicc III did excel was the 4k results. The Gigabyte Gaming OC went 1 60 FPS, 14 30 FPS, and 1 under 30 FPS and the Thicc III did 3/12/1. I still wouldn’t consider it a great 4k card, but the overclock was enough to bump a few results up into the green at least.
Now the actual results from all of that testing is where you will find a lot more information. You just have to be crazy enough to dig through it all. When looking at these results, I was, of course, curious to see if the Thicc III performed out ahead of all of the other RX 5700 XT’s like it did in the synthetic benchmarks. But on top of that, I wanted to see how the overclock effected where it stands in between the RTX 2070s and the RTX 2060 SUPER. For all of these results, I sorted everything by 1440p performance, because that is the sweet spot for this card, that means there are a few situations were 1080p performance for cards lower in the chart will be better and I know there are a lot of times that at 4k that happens as well.
So how did the XFX Thicc III do? Well as the Borderlands 3 results that were just added and only tested on the RX 5700’s show this is the fastest 5700 XT of the four cards that I have tested. Though at 1080p there are times were the gap is very small or even some of the other XT’s are a touch faster. What I was more impressed with though were a lot of the situations where the other RX 5700 XT’s were running close to the RTX 2070 SUPER, the overclock helped bring them even closer or in the case of World War Z match performance at the ultra detail and be even faster at the normal detail. Overall the Thicc III gets 2-3 FPS over the other 5700 XT’s were the Thicc II struggled to stand out against the other cards at all in most tests.
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 Thicc III did well here with almost a 200 point gap between it and the Thicc II.
In blender, one of my favorite compute benchmarks, the big overclock didn’t help. In fact, the Gaming OC came out on top here. All four of the RX 5700 XT’s are bunched up with a clear gap between them and the RTX 2070 SUPER which is ahead and a huge gap between them and the RTX 2060 SUPERs as well.
Basemark performance of the Thicc III Ultra was noticeably ahead of all of the other RX 5700 XT’s but it did still have the same performance issues with OpenGL that the other AMD cards had. The overclock was even enough to pull past the Radeon VII in DX12.
Geekbench still favors the reference card and the hardly overclocked Gaming OC over the two XFX cards, but the Thicc III still did better here than the Thicc II. Overall none of the RX 5700 XT’s did very well though with the older RTX 2060 being just slightly ahead and the 2060 SUPER way out in front.
The last compute benchmark was the new Geekbench 5 test and I have only started filling in the number on this one so I currently only have the RX 5700 results. The Thicc III did top the chart at least on both the Vulkan and OpenCL results
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. You then still have to pick from stacks of different models from all of the different manufacturers. The prices range, some look different than others, and sometimes like with Gigabyte and Asus they also have different gaming specific higher-end brands all together like Aurous. This time around the Gaming OC is still a Gigabyte branded card but with any of those models, it is stuff like cooling performance, noise, and power that will set them apart. Short of any exceptional overclock they perform at least mostly close to each other in all of the standard tests. So here I am going to test power usage, fan noise levels across a few different situations, and cooling performance.
Power usage is the first I’m going to check out. 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. Now all of the RX 5700 XT’s have pulled a lot of power, but XFX most definitely cranked things up even more for the Thicc III Ultra. I’m told they turned it up 20 watts over the Thicc II Ultra which already pulled 210 watts where the reference is at 180 Watts. So with that in mind, it isn’t a big surprise to see the Thicc III Ultra up near the top of the charts here at 423 watts of system draw. That is exactly 20 watts over what the Thicc II Ultra did, but this also pushes it over the Radeon VII and right with the RTX 2080 Ti which is a little crazy. The AIDA64 stress test is a little better looking when we take out some of the CPU power usage (but not all obviously). The Thicc III Ultra came in at 329 watts here and the gap between it and the 2080 Ti is at least larger. Overall though, you can expect big power draw from this card if you are running in the performance mode, quiet mode does drop down to 195 watts, however (card setting, not total system draw).
My next round of tests were focused on card noise levels. For this I ran three tests, using our decibel meter at 18 inches away for each. I tested 100% fan speed and 50% fan speed to get a look at the overall range of noise the card can make. Then I put it under load using AIDA64 stress test for a half hour, when the temperature leveled off I measured the fan noise there as well to show a worse case of what you can expect with the stock fan profile. So first off, the triple-fan cooler for the Thicc III, the fans come in running at 3647 RPM which is in the middle of the pack. But like the Thicc II which also ran at a lower RPM range than most of the cards tested, the Thicc III ended up being a lot noisier than the RPM would indicate. Normally you can see a direct correlation between RPM and 100% fan speeds but not this time around. It is loud, but funny enough still not at loud as the reference blower design. The 50% noise levels, on the other hand, a actually really good and are over 4 decibels lower than the Gaming OC which is also a triple fan design. The load results were what I was most curious about, in the real world with a heavy extended workload how much noise would it put out? The Thicc III came in at 38.8 decibels which was louder than the Thicc II and the Gaming OC. This basically ends up being on the high end for aftermarket coolers, but you can see a clear separation from the Thicc III and most of the reference designs, especially the Radeon RX 5700 XT reference card which was very loud. In other words, where the Thicc II was quiet I wouldn’t say the same about the Thicc III. But it isn’t obnoxious as well.
The last round of testing was focused on the thermal performance and this is where the Thicc II really fell behind previously. The RX 5700 XT reference design struggled to keep the GPU cool, adding even more power on top of that is a big challenge and the Thicc III went 20 watts above even what the Thicc II did. So I was surprised to see that it ended up at the bottom of our chart with the stock fan profile. I do think that XFX was more aggressive with this profile, you can tell because of the results in the noise testing as well. A profile that aimed for a few degrees higher would run even quieter, but they aren’t too worried about that because they have a quiet BIOS that cuts the power draw down to just above the reference levels. For my second thermal test I ran the same AIDA64 stress test, but with the fans cranked up to 100%. The idea here is to see what the delta is between the stock fan profile and the max cooling capacity. This will show how much more room is left for cooling/overclocking and also show if the fan profile is extremely aggressive. The Thicc III dropped down from 60c to 50c which does confirm the aggressive fan profile. But there is still some headroom left in the cooler as well. This was also 6 degrees less than the Thicc II, even with that additional 20 watts of power being pushed to the GPU. This is also the lowest of the fours RX 5700 XT’s that I have tested as well.
While I was doing thermal testing with the stock fan profile I did also take a few thermal images. The goal with these wasn’t for actual temperatures, but to just look for hot spots and get an idea of if the cooler has even cooling. Behind the fans, you do see the normal hot and cold side but all three fans are consistent showing that the heatpipes are doing a good job of spreading the heat across the cooler. The backplate doesn’t have any big hotspots but you can see all of the vents and just how much warmer the PCB is behind them. I talked about it with the Thicc III, but the overall fan shroud design does limit airflow a lot with this design. Packing in an additional fan, changing the VRM plate to copper, and adding a little to the length of the cooler did help a lot with cooling but there is still room for improvement in airflow and it shows on the top edge thermal image. You don’t see much heat coming out of the end of the card but you can see how the shroud cuts off airflow at the ends and with how it wraps around the top, especially at the PCB where it is still very warm.
Overall and Final Verdict
Well, it isn’t very often we get the chance to see two different card designs from the same generation. But I can say that the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is a significant improvement over the Thicc II Ultra that I previously took a look at. XFX improved the cooling performance by adding an additional fan, swapping the VRM heat plate to copper like it should have been all along, and with a slightly longer heatsink. Did Gamers Nexus’s review of the Thicc II which pointed out a few issues and stirred up a lot of drama cause the Thicc III to come out? I think that XFX may have already been working on the three fan model, but I’m willing to bet it pushed for it to come out quicker! Now the cooler design still shares a lot with the Thicc II and that includes its simple/clean styling. I think that is the best thing XFX has going on, these are great looking cards that don’t lean on RGB lighting at all and don’t follow the angular shapes that a lot of the other cards use. They are simple and to the point. The Thicc III Ultra also really ups the overclock over the Thicc II Ultra and it really shows in the performance.
Now the cooler design, especially the fan shroud does have a few big downsides as well that weren’t really improved on from the Thicc II to the Thicc III. In fact, I mentioned that the use of chrome-plated plastic wasn’t going to be everyone’s favorite feature and the new triple-fan cooler actually doubles down and adds even more. But the big issue with the shroud design is just how big the card is and the Thicc III did add to that even more. On top of that there is a LOT of plastic and it doesn’t help the overall feel, it squeaks and makes noises when you hold it and feels a lot less solid than other aftermarket cards not to mention when you compare it to the metal shroud on the reference design. The big overclock that the Thicc III Ultra gets also means it pulls a lot of power, significantly more than even the Thicc II, pushing the power usage up in the range of the RTX 2080 Ti at times. It's honestly amazing given the power usage that XFX still manages to improve on the cooling performance compared to the Thicc II.
Now my other big complaint with the Thicc II at the time was that they were selling it at $450 which was the most expensive RX 5700 XT available. Flagship prices for a card that the performance just didn’t match. With the Thicc III Ultra now available XFX’s product lineup has adjusted. The Thicc II Ultra is now available for $419 and also has a $20 off code available on Newegg right now. The Thicc III then comes in at $439.99. Both prices are much better this time around and better represent what you are getting. With the big overclock and big cooler the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra now better fits that flagship pricing and is priced $10-$40 less than some of the other high-end cards helps compensate for some of the card's downsides as well. In fact, with the Borderlands 3 or Ghost Recon codes that AMD offers along with the 3 month Xbox Game Pass this ends up being a good buy. Especially with the performance compared to what Nvidia has to offer right now and with this running significantly better than the blower reference design.
Live Pricing: HERE