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AMD To Continue Offering Reference Design for RX 5700, RX 5700 XT

With the introduction of AMD's AIB partners' custom designs for the Navi-based RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT graphics cards, rumors (ie, reports) started to float around of AMD's discontinuation of their reference designs. However, AMD's own Scott Herkelman confirmed via Twitter that the company isn't transitioning its reference designs to an EOL (End of Life) status, and that they will continue to be offered in the traditional venues.

However, Scott did say that AMD is in the stage of transitioning their AIB partners fully to their own custom designs. This means that AMD will likely keep the market cornered on blower-style designs, that can be bought by users planning to stick their own aftermarket cooling solution and just want the cheapest possible card. This way, AIB partners will always sell Radeon cards under their own brand names, instead of something like "ASUS Radeon RX 5700".

XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II Graphics Card Pictured

We're willing to bet that whoever came up with the name "Fatboy" for a 3-slot thick RX 590 graphics card at XFX, is also behind the new Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II. This 3-slot "thick" RX 5700 XT is characterized by a symmetric combination of cooler shroud and back-plate, which fuse at the card's tail end into a chrome grille, which probably explains the name THICC (a slang for people voluptuous below the waist). Under all this, the card uses a custom-design PCB that's somewhat similar to the reference-design, with minor modifications near the power inputs (upside down connectors to help with clearance with the tall cooler), and the use of conventional cylindrical capacitors.

A pair of 100 mm fans ventilate a large aluminium fin-stack heatsink underneath the shroud. The card probably features idle fan-stop. The heatsink consists of two aluminium fin-stacks arranged along the ends of a few copper heat pipes that make direct contact with the GPU. The clock-speeds of this card are not known, since the box doesn't appear to have any "OC" markings. Like most other AMD add-in board (AIB) partners, XFX is expected to launch the Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II and its other cost-effective sibling some time mid-August.

Custom-design RX 5700 XT to Start at $399: PowerColor

AMD's add-in board (AIB) partners are preparing to launch custom-design Radeon RX 5700-series graphics cards leading up to mid-August, 2019. Although it wouldn't take dates, PowerColor revealed that its custom-design Radeon RX 5700 XT cards would start at USD $399. This is the same price at which all AIB partners sell AMD's reference-design RX 5700 XT.

PowerColor's parent company, TUL, has designed custom-design Radeon graphics cards for recent entrant ASRock. It's fairly possible that PowerColor's $399 RX 5700 XT will bear physical resemblance to ASRock's RX 5700 XT Challenger with differences in the form of color-scheme, cooler shroud, and decal designs. Nearly all AIB partners could have custom-design RX 5700 XT cards starting at $399, but innovating pricier, beefier premium designs that have superior cooling solutions, such as the ASRock Taichi. It will be very interesting to see what factory-overclocked speeds they ship with.

ASRock Confirms Mid-August Launch of its Custom RX 5700 XT

ASRock confirmed that its custom-design Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics cards will launch in the 2nd week of August, 2019. Most AMD add-in board (AIB) partners are expected to announce their custom-design RX 5700-series graphics cards around that time. ASRock responded to a buyer's query about the RX 5700 XT Challenger, one of the three known custom-design RX 5700 XT products by the company, besides Phantom Gaming and Taichi. AMD debuted the RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 on the 7th of July, and the two are currently only available in reference-design boards through various AIB partners.

Custom Radeon RX 5700-series Only by Mid-August: AMD

In our reviews of the Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700, we observed that while AMD made leaps with performance/Watt, the cards felt let down by the archaic lateral-blower cooling solution that hit up to 43 dBA at load, and with temperatures of the RX 5700 XT GPU reaching up to 92°C - unacceptable for a GPU that only draws 220 W. The reference cooler of the RX 5700 also exhibited some very strange fan-speed behavior at high temperatures. Much of our praise for the RX 5700-series was conditional to the hope that add-in-board (AIB) partners will innovate good cooling solutions that are quiet and keep the GPU cool. We have these custom-design graphics cards based on the two GPUs to look forward to, but according to a Reddit post by Scott Herkelman, who leads the Radeon brand at AMD, we might have to wait a little longer.

Herkelman stated that custom-design graphics cards based on the Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 will start hitting the shelves only by mid-August. He added that he is working with his team to get many of these custom-design cards in the hands of reviewers before that, so consumers have review data ahead of availability. He also acknowledged that the reference cooling solution is the biggest drawback of the reference design, and that he "liked the idea" of providing reference-design cards with dual-fan or triple-fan axial flow reference cooling solutions similar what NVIDIA provides with its Founders Edition cards.

Various Reference Radeon RX 5700 Series Graphics Cards Pictured

AMD reference-design Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 graphics cards will launch on the 7th of July, and the company's various add-in-board (AIB) partners are ready with their inventories. VideoCardz scored pictures from various such board partners. As for the cards themselves, all of these are based on the AMD reference-design. The RX 5700 reference-design is in mass-production, contrary to older reports. All these packages appear to indicate reference clock speeds. In select markets, all of these packages include the Xbox Game Pass for PC, which gives you a 3-month access to vast library of full game titles from Microsoft.

There still are no picture leaks on custom-design Radeon RX 5700-series graphics cards, which suggests that they will be launched a little later. At Computex we spotted several new graphics card cooling solutions from AMD partners, confirming that custom-design cards are a go. The reference Radeon RX 5700 XT has an MSRP of $449, while the RX 5700 is priced at $379. As for the limited-edition Radeon RX 5700 XT AMD 50th Anniversary Edition, it will be available online through AMD.com in select markets, priced at $499. You pay the extra $50 for an exclusive product design, higher clock speeds, and likely some AMD goodies, such as an AMD|50 t-shirt.

NVIDIA To Stop Differentiation of Better Binned A-dies for AIB Factory Overclocked Cards

A report from Tom's Hardware.de claims that multiple industry sources have confirmed that NVIDIA will stop offering higher-binned, differentiated A-dies of their Turing silicon. If you'll remember, the company introduced specific A-binned chips for AIB partners to ship with factory overclocks to customers, due to their higher overclockability - and likely, better power consumption profile - when compared to non A-binned dies. This practice was reserved to the company's best, though, in the form of the TU104-400A-A1 die (compared to the TU104-400-A1 dies used in non-overclocked versions of AIB graphics cards). The company is now seemingly killing this practice by offering a one-off Turing die with no such limitations.

This move by NVIDIA - on which we reported firsthand here at TPU - was likely a solution to somewhat less than ideal yields for its TU-104 chips, ensuring partners could provide the best experience to users who were willing to pay the most. The fact of the matter is that AIB partners were locked out of overclocking non-A dies should they acquire them (which were going for less than their higher-binned A-cousins), though the end-user would not see such a limitation - besides the one imposed by the expectedly less capable dies present on those non factory-OC'd cards.

ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics Cards in Pictures

As NVIDIA's AIB partners gear-up for launch of the $149 GTX 1650, more and more of their custom designs are popping up and about for interested buyers to start taking their picks. Remember that the GTX 1650 launch will be entirely partner-driven, with no reference design or NVIDIA-sold version of the graphics card.

GIGABYTE has seen the lid come off on no less than four graphics cards: three dual-fan configurations in the form of the GAMING OC (with LED lighting and the longest of the cards at 265 mm), WINDFORCE OC (sans RGB lighting and smaller at 229 mm), and the 1650 OC (1680 MHz Boost). An interesting proposition will be GIGABYTE's MINI ITX OC, which shrinks down dimensions considerably to just 152 mm length (sacrificing one of the two fans in the process).

DigiTimes: GPU Price-Cut Campaigns to Increase in Duration, Discounts, as Manufacturers Digest Unsold Inventory

According to DigiTimes, NVIDIA and AMD partners are doing their best to digest unsold graphics card inventory via promotions and discounts. The idea here is that they can achieve increased amounts of revenue and move a lot of the graphics card stock they accumulated following (and counting on) the crypto craze. This move will certainly affect their bottom line when it comes to profits, but that's just what these companies have to do. Hardware sold at a tiny profit is always better than that which stays in the warehouse simply deprecating, and these companies know it best.

DigiTimes cites the example of AMD-partner TUL corporation which manages the PowerColor brand, saying that they achieved, via promotions, an increase of 115% in revenues on January (over their December values). This increase in revenue still compares negatively YoY, where it's still 85.7% lower compared to January 2018. And despite the increase revenue, profits declined to the red: the company had net losses of NT$10.31 million in January 2019 and EPS of negative NT$0.31. Some hard times could be coming for AIB partners, who will have to bite the bullet on pricing to move their stockpiles of older generation graphics cards.

AMD Outs UEFI-ready Video BIOS for Radeon VII, Company Promises One-click Updater

As a follow-up to our story from Monday about AMD missing out UEFI BIOS support for its Radeon VII graphics cards, AMD has come out with a quick response. The company in a statement said that it is ready with a UEFI-ready video BIOS for the Radeon VII, and has released the BIOS to its partners. This explains ASRock's timely release of its BIOS update. The company also assured those unwilling to manually update their video BIOS that it will have one-click automatic BIOS updates posted on the AMD website very soon. AMD reiterated that the older BIOS and the new one with UEFI GOP support won't have any performance differences. The new BIOS will make your machine start up faster, since your motherboard will no longer need to load CSM. AMD's full statement follows.
AMD has released a BIOS for the Radeon VII with UEFI GOP included for our AIB partners. We will also make a one click installable BIOS available to end users via AMD.com. We do not expect gaming performance differences between the non UEFI BIOS and the UEFI GOP included BIOS, although the non UEFI BIOS may experience slower boot times from cold boot.
Update: The AMD BIOS Updater is located here: www.amd.com/en/support/radeonvii-vbios-eula

Sapphire Radeon RX 590 NITRO+ Special Edition Spotted

As the expected November 15th release date for AMD's Radeon RX 590 inches closer, more leaks of AIB cards have started trickling in. Sapphire's Radeon RX 590 NITRO+ is just the latest to appear. Much like the ASUS ROG STRIX version leaked earlier, Sapphire design is using a hefty cooler for what amounts to a mid-range graphics card. The design looks to be the exact same as their RX 580 NITRO+ with just a fresh coat of paint to spruce things up. They are using the same shroud, dual fans, large aluminum heatsink, and full cover backplate on both graphics cards. That said, the change to a bright blue shroud gives the RX 590 NITRO+ a unique appearance that should at the very least help it stand out against its more mundane black and white designs of the competition.

In regards to actual specifications, the RX 590 features the same 2304 Stream processors, 144 TMUs (texture mapping units), and 32 ROPS (render output units) as the RX 580. This is because the Polaris 30 design used in the RX 590 is just a die shrink of Polaris 20 used in the RX 580. Obviously with a die shrink typically comes improved performance, usually via higher clock speeds. Currently, the final clock speeds for Sapphire's Radeon RX 590 NITRO+ are not known. However, if the rumored reference boost clock of 1545 MHz is correct, an overclock pushing that a step further is likely. Meaning performance should be improved compared to what we have seen in various leaks thus far.

Graphics Card Manufacturing Being Moved From China in Bid to Escape Import Tariffs - Price to Increase 5-10%

The trade war between the US and China has been raging for a while now, and graphics cards are a minimal part of the goods affected. However, these are some of the most sought-after products in the hardware community, and thus deserving of special attention. Added tariffs, however, will either a) be absorbed by companies, or b) be passed on to customers at increased retail pricing. Since companies don't want to reduce their profit margin, and know consumers will buy less product at higher prices, steps are being taken by AIB (Add In Board) partners from both AMD and NVIDIA in moving graphics card manufacturing out of China.

Options being most seriously considered and acted upon stand as Taiwan and Mexico, where the lack of any additional tariff, added to relatively cheap labor, would allow manufacturers to keep operating costs relatively stable - and thus end user pricing. However, while this search for alternate manufacturing locations continues, the tariffs are already being pressed upon graphics cards makers, and it's expected that pricing of graphics cards will be facing increases of 5-10% in the coming months. As if we needed additional price increases in some old (and especially new) product lines...

Jon Peddie Research Releases its Q2-2018 Graphics Card Report

The add-in board market decreased in Q2'18 from last quarter, while NVIDIA gained market share. Over $3.2 billion dollars of AIBs shipped in the quarter. The market shares for the desktop discrete GPU suppliers shifted in the quarter, Nvidia increased market share from last quarter, while AMD enjoyed an increase in share year-to-year.

Add-in boards (AIBs) using discrete GPUs are found in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, rendering and mining farms, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They are sold directly to customers as aftermarket products or are factory installed by OEMs. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry with their discrete chips and private, often large, high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

NVIDIA: Don't Expect Base 20-Series Pricing to Be Available at Launch

Tom Petersen, NVIDIA's director of technical marketing, in a webcast with HotHardware, expressed confidence in the value of its RTX 20-series graphics cards - but threw a wrench on consumers' pricing expectations, set by NVIDIA's own MSRP. That NVIDIA's pricing for their Founder's Edition graphics cards would give partners leeway to increase their margins was a given - why exactly would they sell at lower prices than NVIDIA, when they have increased logistical (and other) costs to support? And this move by NVIDIA might even serve as a small hand-holding for partners - remember that every NVIDIA-manufactured graphics cad sold is one that doesn't go to its AIB's bottom-lines, so there's effectively another AIB contending for their profits. This way, NVIDIA gives them an opportunity to make some of those profits back (at least concerning official MSRP).
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