AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT Review 163

AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT Review

Architecture & Features »


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AMD today takes a swing at the lucrative performance segment of PC graphics with the Radeon RX 5700 series. This price band, ranging from $350 to $500, has graphics cards you'd want for serious gaming at resolutions of 1440p and above, or 1080p with high refresh rates. The lack of much serious competition from AMD for the past couple of years has given NVIDIA an unchallenged dominance with which it could sell the 6 GB GeForce RTX 2060 for as high as $400 on some partner models, and the RTX 2070 starting at $500, with some partner models even touching $600.

NVIDIA's generally high pricing for its RTX 20-series has been supported by the GPU's new real-time raytracing and AI acceleration capabilities, which do seem to take up billions of transistors on the silicon. NVIDIA was also the first adopter of the GDDR6 memory, which may have been pricey initially. AMD's official position on real-time raytracing for the client segment is that while it is one of the new innovations, it's not a killer feature that should influence your buying decisions. Today's 3D games are still rasterized and will be for the foreseeable future. You should hence base your buying on classic parameters, such as gaming performance, energy-efficiency, noise, future-proofing, and overclocking-headroom, or so believes AMD.

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 lineup consists of two models at this time: the RX 5700 XT and the RX 5700. Both cards are based on the swanky new "Navi 10" silicon built on the 7 nanometer silicon fabrication process at TSMC. This is AMD's second 7 nm GPU after "Vega 20." Unlike Vega, which used HBM2 memory, Navi is more purpose-built for the client segment and retains the conventional single-die package and external memory chips. This is AMD's first GPU to implement GDDR6, the new high-performance memory standard with a data rate as high as 14 Gbps, which translates to 448 GB/s of memory bandwidth across the 256-bit wide memory bus, which is similar to the bandwidth the "Vega 10" silicon achieved with 2048-bit HBM2 memory.

Navi also implements PCI-Express gen 4.0, a new bus standard that doubles host interface bandwidth over PCI-Express gen 3.0. AMD is also launching its "Valhalla" desktop platform today, which combines a 3rd generation Ryzen processor with a motherboard based on the AMD X570 chipset. This is the only platform with PCIe gen 4.0 support until Intel "Ice Lake" comes along. Of course, Navi Radeon RX 5700 fully supports older PCIe standards and should run at gen 3.0 or lower just fine. The blurbs "7 nm" and "PCIe gen 4.0" are extensively used in AMD's packaging of these products, as if to say that "Navi" is a generation ahead of the competition that's stuck with 12 nm and PCIe gen 3.

"Navi" isn't an optical shrink and upscaling of AMD's existing GPU IP to 7 nm (which is what "Vega 20" was). Instead, it introduces the first major update to the core number-crunching machinery of the GPU since 2013, when AMD introduced Graphics Core Next (GCN). In its place, AMD is debuting the new RDNA SIMD architecture, which has numerous innovations that increase IPC over GCN without losing the kind of parallelism that made GCN rock at general compute applications. On the following pages, we will dive deep into the nuts and bolts of RDNA.

AMD also used the opportunity to update its display engine, adding support for more display formats and 8K over a single cable due to DSC 1.2a, or 4K at higher refresh rates. Radeon RX 5700 also has updated multimedia hardware acceleration to support some of the newer consumer video formats, such as H.265 HEVC and VP9 at various 4K and 8K resolutions.

The Radeon RX 5700 XT we are examining in this review today leads the pack at $399, a whole $100 cheaper than the GeForce RTX 2070 and recently announced RTX 2070 Super. There is a slightly faster AMD 50th Anniversary Edition of this card at $449, but it is a very limited launch and won't be considered standard for this SKU. The RX 5700 XT maxes out the 7 nm "Navi 10" silicon featuring 2,560 stream processors, 160 TMUs, and 64 ROPs. That's right, AMD has finally broadened its render-backends to improve raster performance. Until now, only the larger Vega GPUs and their high-end predecessors had such a high ROP count. NVIDIA implemented 64 ROPs on its performance-segment GPUs since "Maxwell". The RX 5700 we are reviewing in a second review today is a slightly cut down sibling that's $50 cheaper at $349.

Our exhaustive coverage of AMD's 7/7 Launch Day includes the following content:
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core processor | AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core processor | AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card | AMD Radeon RX 5700 graphics card | AMD Zen 2 Memory Performance Scaling | Ryzen 3900X and 3700 on X470 vs X570 platforms | Radeon RX 5700 XT Navi PCI-Express 4.0 Performance Scaling | ASRock X570 Taichi motherboard | ASUS Prime X570-Pro motherboard

Radeon RX 5700 XT Market Segment Analysis
RX Vega 56$300 3584641156 MHz1471 MHz800 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1660 Ti$280 1536481500 MHz1770 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1070 Ti$4502432641607 MHz1683 MHz2000 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RTX 2060$3401920481365 MHz1680 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 5700$3502304641465 MHz1625 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
GTX 1080$5002560641607 MHz1733 MHz1251 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5X, 256-bit
RTX 2060 Super$4002176641470 MHz1650 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RX Vega 64$500 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti$7003584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$4002560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070$4802304641410 MHz1620 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2070 Super$5002560641605 MHz1770 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
Radeon VII$6803840641802 MHzN/A1000 MHzVega 2013230M16 GB, HBM2, 4096-bit
RTX 2080$7002944641515 MHz1710 MHz1750 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Super$7003072641650 MHz1815 MHz1940 MHzTU10413600M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit
RTX 2080 Ti$11004352641350 MHz1545 MHz1750 MHzTU10218600M11 GB, GDDR6, 352-bit
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