Radeon RX 5700 And 5700 XT Review: AMD Brings The Fight Back To NVIDIA - Tech Cable


The unveiling of the Radeon 5000 family and Ryzen third-gen chips at Computex made it clear this was going to be a special year for AMD. Its latest CPUs include a monster 12-core chip for just $499. And with its latest video cards, the Radeon RX 5700 ($399) and RX 5700 XT ($349), AMD is finally bringing its long awaited "Navi" architecture (now called Radeon DNA, or RDNA) to a consumer GPU.

But NVIDIA was paying attention. Last week it announced beefed up "Super" versions of its RTX cards, which, on paper, seemed to erase AMD's performance advantage. All of this is great news for gamers, who now have a strong new lineup of affordable mid-range graphics cards to choose from. But AMD is once again at risk of being overshadowed by its flashier competitor. (No wonder it rushed out a last-minute price drop.)



Hardware

The Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT reference cards we're reviewing resemble the Vega 56 and 64 on the surface: they have an understated, almost minimalist design. There's a slight notch on the 5700 XT's case, which looks a bit like it got dented during shipping, but AMD says it helps to improve airflow. Both cards feature "blower" coolers, which rely on a single fan to pull in air and eject heat from your case. That's supposed to mean you won't have to worry as much about hot air building up in your PC. But blower cases also heat up very quickly, limiting their ability to be overclocked. If that's something you're concerned with, you might be better off waiting for third-party cards with dual and triple-fan cooling options.


What matters most, of course, is what's under the hood: AMD's RDNA architecture, previously known to enthusiasts as "Navi." The Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT are built on a 7 nanometer process, which makes them more efficient than the 14nm Vega. This isn't a first for AMD -- the beefy Radeon VII, which remains its high-end option, is also a 7nm card, but one built on its older "Graphics Core Next" (GCN) platform.

The real benefits for the Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT come from AMD's revamped computing unit design, as well as a higher bandwidth and lower latency memory. Most important is the more efficient graphics pipeline, which the company says will allow for better performance per clock, in addition to higher speeds. AMD claims that an RDNA card will be about 50 percent faster than a GCN card with the same clock speed and power consumption.


RADEON RX 5700RADEON RX 5700 XT
Compute Units3640
TFLOPs7.959.75
Memory8GB GDDR68GB GDDR6
Base Clock1.47 GHz1.6 GHz
Game Clock1.625 GHz1.76 GHz
Boost Clock1.73 GHz1.9 GHz

Both new GPUs also support PCIe 4.0, which will offer twice the bandwidth of the PCIe 3.0 standard found on modern PCs. That should help to reduce load times in games with faster NVMe drives, If you're excited about PCIe 4.0 though, just be aware that you'll need to snag a new motherboard to take advantage of it. And at the moment, it's only supported in AMD's X570 chipset with third-generation Ryzen CPUs. Not surprisingly, Intel is trying to downplay the importance of PCIe 4.0 today, since the current standard can still handle 4K/144Hz displays without any issue. At the very least, AMD is showing that it's new platform is future proof. Sony, for example is already touting incredibly fast load times for the next PlayStation, which will also run AMD's RDNA hardware.

The Radeon 5700 XT features 40 compute units, 2,560 stream processors and a boost clock speed of 1.9GHz. The 5700 is based on the exact same hardware, but it has four fewer compute units, 2,304 stream processors and tops out at 1.73GHz. Both cards include 8GB of GDDR6 RAM, instead of the HBM2 memory from AMD's last few GPUs. Technically, HBM2 offers faster bandwidth, but AMD says the move to GDDR6 allows for more flexibility when designing GPUs. As for ports, both offer three DisplayPort connections and an HDMI port. The Radeon 5700 relies on a single 8-pin power connection, while the XT uses an 8+6 pin configuration.

So what are AMD's new cards going up against? Originally, the company positioned the 5700 XT as something that could clobber NVIDIA's RTX 2070, while the 5700 against the RTX 2060. In most cases, the new Radeons were noticeably faster. But now they're competing with the speedier RTX Super cards, which makes things a bit more complicated.