Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse Review 163

Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse Review



Sapphire Logo

AMD today launched the Radeon RX 5600 XT to capture the sub-$300 graphics market. At a starting price of $279, it sits between the RX 5500 XT 8 GB and the RX 5700. The RX 5500 XT, which launched just weeks ago, is plenty capable for 1080p gaming, much like the GTX 1650 Super. What AMD was lacking in its product stack, however, was a product to compete with the GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660 Super—something that can game at 1080p max details or high frame-rates in e-Sports gaming. This is where the RX 5600 XT steps in with the promise of future-proofing your 1080p setup for the next few years. In this review, we have with us the Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse, a factory-overclocked version.

The Radeon RX 5600 XT is designed to be significantly faster than the RX 590, which was launched to serve this market segment, but fell behind the GTX 1660-series. It's an even battle between AMD and NVIDIA here since neither brand offers real-time ray-tracing in this segment. The RX 5600 XT is price-matched with the GTX 1660 Ti. AMD already put out its performance claims in its CES 2020 keynote address, where the RX 5600 XT is shown beating the GTX 1660 Ti. NVIDIA recently brought the RTX 2060 down to $299. NVIDIA's cheapest ray-tracing capable card barely budged from its $350 price until now. This would have been NVIDIA's lure to get you to spend a bit extra for ray-tracing, but AMD had its own surprise.

Just days ago, AMD revised the limits for the RX 5600 XT custom designs. These include a roughly 10% increase in GPU frequency, a staggering 15% increase in memory clock, and higher power limits so the GPU can sustain boost clocks better. The idea here is to erode the performance lead the RTX 2060 has against the original specs of the RX 5600 XT, but there's a big catch. RX 5600 XT inventories with original specs have already been shipped across the globe for its January 21 market-availability, which means the revised specs have to be implemented via a BIOS update.

AMD carved the Radeon RX 5600 XT out of the 7 nm "Navi 10" silicon by enabling the same number of compute units as the RX 5700, at 36, but narrowing the GDDR6 memory bus to 192-bit and lowering memory amount to 6 GB. The 36 RDNA compute units work out to 2,304 stream processors. Other vital specs include 144 TMUs and 64 ROPs. The memory clock of the RX 5600 XT is set at 12 Gbps (GDDR6-effective) originally, which works out to 288 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The GPU is clocked at 1375 MHz "gaming" clocks, with up to 1560 MHz boost clocks, but with the new BIOS, these clocks are significantly dialed up, to 1615 MHz gaming and 1750 MHz boost on the Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse. These clocks vary from partner to partner, adding to the confusion. In this review, we've tested the card with both the original specced Sapphire Pulse BIOS and the new BIOS version to highlight the performance gap between the two versions.

The Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse features the company's proven Dual-X cooling solution that offers idle fan stop and a highly optimized fan-curve to keep noise down. The card draws power from a single 8-pin PCIe power connector, much like most RX 5600 XT cards out there which sell at or near the $279 MSRP. The Sapphire Radeon RX 5600 XT Pulse costs $289, a tiny $10 premium more.

Radeon RX 5600 XT Market Segment Analysis
RX 590$2002304321469 MHz1545 MHz2000 MHzPolaris 305700M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
GTX 1660$200 1408481530 MHz1785 MHz2000 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR5, 192-bit
GTX 1070$3001920641506 MHz1683 MHz2002 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RX Vega 56$2603584641156 MHz1471 MHz800 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1660 Super$2301408481530 MHz1785 MHz1750 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1660 Ti$2701536481500 MHz1770 MHz1500 MHzTU1166600M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
GTX 1070 Ti$4502432641607 MHz1683 MHz2000 MHzGP1047200M8 GB, GDDR5, 256-bit
RX 5600 XT$2802304641375 MHz1560 MHz1500 MHzNavi 1010300M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse$2902304641615 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RTX 2060$3001920481365 MHz1680 MHz1750 MHzTU10610800M6 GB, GDDR6, 192-bit
RX 5700$3302304641465 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$375 4096641247 MHz1546 MHz953 MHzVega 1012500M8 GB, HBM2, 2048-bit
GTX 1080 Ti$7003584881481 MHz1582 MHz1376 MHzGP10212000M11 GB, GDDR5X, 352-bit
RX 5700 XT$3802560641605 MHz1755 MHz1750 MHzNavi 1010300M8 GB, GDDR6, 256-bit


Package Front
Package Back

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back
Graphics Card Front Angled

Sapphire's card looks identical to the RX 5700 XT Pulse. It uses relatively clean geometry paired with highlights in red and silver. The metal backplate explores the "Pulse" theme even further with a waveform resembling a heartbeat line.

Graphics Card Dimensions

Dimensions of the card are 25.5 x 13.5 cm.

Graphics Card Height
Graphics Card Back Angled

Installation requires a little bit over two slots in your system, so it's a three-slot card.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include three standard DisplayPort 1.4a and an HDMI 2.0b.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

The board uses one 8-pin power connector. This input configuration is specified for up to 225 watts of power draw.

Multi-GPU Area

AMD's Navi generation of GPUs no longer supports CrossFire. DirectX 12 does include its own set of multi-GPU capabilities, but the implementation requires game developers to put serious development time into a feature only a tiny fraction of their customers might ever use.

In this area, you'll also find a dual-BIOS switch, with the default setting being "Boost" and the other BIOS "Silent". It not only runs a quieter fan curve, but also comes with slightly lower clocks and voltages, which helps the card stay cool with even the reduced fan speeds.


Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

Sapphire's thermal solution consists of two separate pieces—the fan assembly and the cooling plate. The two fans are large, 100 mm in diameter.

Under the hood we find a copper baseplate paired with three heatpipes to transport heat away from the chip quickly. Unlike the RX 5700 XT Pulse, this piece of the cooler also provides cooling for the memory chips and voltage regulation circuitry.

The backplate is made out of metal; it adds to the card's aesthetic and protects components on the PCB when handling the card.

High-resolution PCB Pictures

These pictures are for the convenience of volt modders and people who would like to see all the finer details on the PCB. Feel free to link back to us and use these in your articles or forum posts.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

High-res versions are also available (front, back).

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