AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Review: Ultimate 1080p Gaming

AMD made a few exciting announcements in Las Vegas at CES 2020 this year. Among them was the announcement of a new mid-range GPU, the RX 5600 XT, which AMD touts as being the ultimate 1080p gaming card. This wasn’t too much of a surprise since leaks and rumors told us it was coming and what to expect. We just needed to test one and judge the performance for ourselves.

Specifications

The RX 5600 XT is based on AMD’s “Navi” core, using their RDNA architecture.  Scrolling down to the specifications chart we can see that the RX 5600 XT and RX 5700 share a lot of similarities. That’s because they’re the same 7nm die from TSMC but the RX 5600 XT has lower TDP, clock speeds, and memory bandwidth.

The new RX 5600 XT will not be offered as a Reference model and will only be available through AIB partners. They are offering only 6 GB GDDR6 versions, and as you can see above it has been widely adopted by their partners and will be available in stores today, 1/21/2020.

The RX 5600 XT is intended for 1080p with all the eye candy and can handle 1440p with a slight reduction in quality. The core is the same as the RX 5700 with 36 Compute Units (CU) and 2304 Stream Processors (SP) compared to the 40 CU and 2560 SP found in the RX 5700 XT.

The sample we received is the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro version which has 6 GB of GDDR6 memory. XFX is using six Micron GDDR6 IC’s running over a 192-bit bus which delivers 288 GB/s of total bandwidth at 12 Gbps speeds.

As with all the NAVI 10 GPUs, the 5600 XT is also PCIe Gen 4.0 when paired with a capable ZEN 2 CPU and an X570 motherboard. As compared to the 5500 XT, this is PCIe 4.0 x16 instead of being wired x8 as the 5500 XT is.

The XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro clocks in at 1235 MHz base and has a 1620 MHz maximum boost speed, 60 MHz above the suggested boost. You’ll also notice a Game Clock listed in the specs below, the XFX version is clocked in at 1460 MHz Vs the 1375 MHz reference. The boost clocks on the RX GPUs are determined on a per GPU basis and dependent on thermal and electrical conditions as well as die to die variances. The Game Clock is the minimum expected GPU speed while gaming under standard thermal and electrical conditions. This is not set in the BIOS and should be used as a guide to set expectations while running a typical gaming workload. The sample provided by XFX always ran at or near to its maximum rated boost speed of 1620 MHz.

Radeon’s reference details for the NAVI 10 family are in the list below :

Specifications RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 and RX 5500 XT
GPURX 5700 XTRX 5700RX 5600 XTRX 5500 XT
ArchitectureNAVI (RDNA)
Process7 nm
Transistors10.3 Billion6.4 Billion
Die Size251 mm²158 mm²
Compute Units403622
Stream Processors256023041408
ROPs6432
Texture Units16014488
Base Clock1605 MHz1465 MHz1235 MHz1685 MHz
Game Clock1755 MHz1625 MHz1375 MHz1717 MHz
Boost Clock1905 MHz1725 MHz1560 MHz1845 MHz
Memory8 GB GDDR66 GB GDDR64 or 8 GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth448 GB/s288 GB/s224 GB/s
Memory Interface256-bit192-bit128-bit
Peak Texture Fill Rate304.8 GT/s248.4 GT/s224.6 GT/s162.4 GT/s
Peak Pixel Fill Rate121.9 GP/s110.4 GP/s99.8 GP/s59 GP/s
TDP (Watts)225 W185 W150 W130 W
MSRP$449.00$379.00$279.00

$169.99 4 GB Model

$199.99 8 GB Model

GPU-Z

Here’s a GPU-Z shot of the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro. As you can see we have 6 GB of GDDR6 and boost clock speed of 1620 MHz. The game clock is listed as 1560 MHz with actual clock speeds typically found between these two values.

Features and Architecture

The features and architectural changes were covered extensively back in July with the launch of AMD’s new mainstream GPUs which you can find in this link. There were some additions with the RX 5500 XT and Adrenalin 2020 launch which were also covered in December. Here’s a list of some of the NAVI features, following the links above will give more details.

  • RDNA architecture
  • Advanced 7 nm GPU
  • PCI Express 4.0 Support
  • Radeon Image Sharpening
  • FidelityFX
  • Radeon Anti-Lag
  • Radeon Game Boost

This sample from XFX also features their 2-slot THICC II Pro cooler which has copper GPU and Memory cooling components, copper composite heat-pipes, and an open airflow design with two 100 mm fans. The XFX site, as usual, is pretty scant on details aside from the obvious AMD/Radeon features of the card mentioned in the prior link. The site doesn’t even mention the dual position BIOS switch which is located next to the 8-pin PCIe power connector.

Retail Packaging and Accessories

The packaging for the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro card was simply a brown cardboard box that had XFX pressed into it. Typically we would do a photoshoot but there was really nothing to see since it was lacking the retail packaging But it did come with a 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power adapter.

Meet the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro

The RX 5600 XT from XFX sports the dual 100 mm fan THICC II Pro cooler with simple black plastic shrouding. It has a protective backplate which is made from aluminum, which will help with cooling and protect the PCB from accidental damage. The majority of the coloring is black with a hint of copper on the fan hubs that should blend into nearly any themed build.

Radeon RX 5700 XT

A Closer Look

According to AMD, the AIBs have a lot of freedom when it comes to assembly so the specific layouts may differ from model to model. This one from XFX has the same I/O layout as both the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT reference cards. It has three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs with support for display stream compression. In addition, it also has one HDMI output with 4k60 support. The XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro has ample power available with an 8-pin PCIe power connector allowing up to 225 W of in-spec power when combined with the PCIe slot. If you look closely you’ll see the BIOS switch just to the right of the PCIe power connector.

Below you can see the RX 5600 XT disassembled with a nice close-up of the NAVI 10 GPU die to the left. As you can see from the cooler pic above, it came with plenty of TIM so it took a bit of cleaning to make it that shiny. To the right is a close up of one of the six Micron D9WCW GDDR6 ICs.

Below we can see the power section of the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro with its 6 phase design, this is the same as the reference 5700s. They’re using ON Semiconductor NCP302045 45 A  power stages with ON Semiconductor NCP81022 and ON Semiconductor NCP81022N digital PWMs for control of the GPU and memory.

XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro on the test bench:

Test System and Benchmark Methods

Our test system is based on the latest mainstream Intel platform, Z370, and uses the i7-8700K 6c/12t CPU. The CPU is overclocked to 4.7 GHz on all cores/threads with cache set to 4.3 GHz. The clock speeds used to provide a good base to minimize any limitations the CPU may have on our titles, particularly when using the lower resolutions, and should be attainable with a good air cooler or better. The DRAM is in a 2×8 GB configuration at 3200 MHz with CL15-15-15-35-2T timings which is a middle of the road option that balances performance and cost.

Test System Components
MotherboardASUS ROG Maximus X Apex
CPUIntel i7 8700K @ 4.7 GHz / 4.3 GHz Cache
CPU CoolerEVGA CLC 240
Memory2×8 GB G.Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL15-15-15-35
SSDToshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS + Applications)
Power SupplyEVGA 750W G3
Video CardXFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro

Thanks go out to EVGA for providing the CLC 240 CPU Cooler and 750 W G3 Power Supply to cool and power the system, G.Skill for the Trident Z DRAM, and Toshiba OCZ for the 480 GB TR200 SSDs storage running the OS, benchmarks, and games. With our partners helping out, we are able to build matching test systems to mitigate any differences found between using different hardware. This allows for multiple reviewers in different locations to use the same test system and compare results without additional variables.

   

Below are the tests we run with a brief description of the settings. We have made some significant changes since the last update adding a few new titles and dropping some of the older games. More details can be found in the GPU Testing Procedure article which we have updated with our latest benchmarks.

  • UL 3DMark Time Spy – Default settings
  • UL 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) – Default settings
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider – DX12, “Highest” preset (will add RTX when it has been patched)
  • The Division 2 – DX12, Ultra preset, VSync Off
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation – DX12, Crazy preset, GPU focused
  • Far Cry 5 – Ultra defaults
  • F1 2018 – Very High defaults, TAA, and x16 AF, Australia track, show FPS counter
  • World of Tanks: Encore Benchmark – Ultra defaults
  • Battlefield V  – DX12, Ultra defaults

Synthetic Benchmarks

Our first set of benchmarks hails from Underwriters Laboratories who acquired Futuremark back in 2014. Earlier in 2018, a rebrand occurred and since that time, Futuremark is now UL. The benchmarks have not changed, just the name. We chose to stick with 3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) and 3DMark Time Spy as these tests give users a good idea of performance on modern titles.

3DMark Fire Strike (Extreme) is a DX11-based test that UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games using 1920×1080 resolution. 3DMark Time Spy is a DX12 benchmark designed for Windows 10 PCs. It supports new API features such as asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, multi-threading, and runs at 2560×1440 resolution.

As you can see above, the RX 5600 XT GPU did well in Firestrike Extreme topping the RTX 2060 and edging close to the RX 5700 once overclocked. Moving to our DX 12 Benchmark things seemed to spread out with Nvidia having a definite lead over the RX 5600 XT at stock. Once overclocked the Red Team gained a 4% lead over the RTX 2060.

Gaming Benchmarks

Moving on to the gaming benchmarks, we have updated our testing suite to bring more modern titles into the mix. Gone are GTA V, Crysis 3, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, which were replaced with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, World of Tanks: enCore benchmark, F1 2018, Battlefield V, and Far Cry 5. We also updated to The Division 2 and Ashes of the Singularity to AOTS: Escalation. The games should provide a good view of the overall performance of the card with many of these are DX12 games.

Throughout our gaming tests WOT:e is the only benchmark where the RTX 2060 had such a definitive lead over the RX 5600 XT this game seems to be green-friendly even the 1660 cards did very well here. Moving on to F1 2018 we see strong performance from the RX 5600 XT and overclocked it’s pushing past the RTX 2060 again.

Testing with Far Cry 5 and The Division 2 show identical results between the RX 5600 XT and the RTX 2060 and a big lead over both of the GTX 1660 cards.

During our last set of 1080p tests, the RX 5600 XT edged ahead of the RTX 2060 in SOTR. BFV, on the other hand, the RX 5600 XT needed an overclock to come out ahead.

Here again, we can the RX 5600 XT needed that boost from overclocking to tie with the RTX 2060 but still bested the GTX 1660 cards at stock.

1440p

As you can see the higher resolution results are about 50/50 for hitting that 60 FPS sweet spot. With a slight quality reduction in some of the titles, the RX 5600 XT would make a very suitable 1440p gaming card.

UPDATE:

As with other AIBs, XFX has released an updated vBIOS for the RX 2600 THICC II Pro which can be downloaded here. There are two BIOS files, one for silent running and the other for performance operation which is the one we’re interested in. There’s also an  AMD BIOS Flash/Update Utility which is Windows-based and works very well to simplify the operation.

At this time the new performance vBIOS only raises the GPU core clock boost from 1620 MHz to 1740 MHz which is a substantial increase. The memory, however, is going to remain at 12 Gb/s for the foreseeable future to maintain stability of the card. There were some performance improvements in all titles we test. How much was very dependant on the title itself but were including a list so you can see for yourself.

Results

  • 3DMark Time Spy – 7191 marks > 7484 marks
  • 3DMark Fire Strike X – 9098 marks > 9468 marks
  • SOTR – 90 > 91 FPS
  • AOTSe – 50 > 53 FPS
  • FC5 – 107 > 112 FPS
  • F1 2018 – 107 > 109 FPS
  • BFV – 96 > 101 FPS
  • DIV 2 – 88 > 89 FPS
  • WOT:e – 140 > 146 FPS

As you can see the majority of the results landed somewhere between the original stock performance and our overclocked results.

Overclocking

One thing that needs to be said here is that midway through testing some AIBs released an updated vBIOS for their cards which raised the GPU’s power limit, boost clocks, and memory bandwidth. This sample from XFX didn’t receive a new vBIOS so these results could differ slightly from others although we can assume they’re fairly close as an increase of 10 W TBP (total board power) isn’t all that much.

Overclocking of the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro was done using AMD’s new Adrenalin 2020 software which does include a tuning section. We started with a custom fan profile to take advantage of the THICC II Pro cooler which works very well. Keeping the GPU die a bit cooler will typically yield a much better stable overclock and the XFX cooler was nice and quiet so sound levels weren’t an issue.

The GPU core was raised from 1620 MHz boost up to 1780 MHz, which was as high as it would go and remain stable. The memory was boosted from 1500 MHz up to 1800 MHz. As you can see from the results in our testing it made for a potent combination giving us a better than 10% performance boost in many of the tests.

I have to admit I struggled initially. I could get 1780 MHz on the core or 1860 MHz for the memory but any time I tried to combine the two I would get a green screen that required a reset of the PC. That is until I discovered the BIOS switch which must have opened up the power limit and enabled overclocking of both the core and memory.

As mentioned above, Radeon’s new Adrenalin 2020 software suite was used for overclocking. This year AMD has done a fairly extensive overhaul on its software. Overclocking options are found in Radeon Settings under the Performance section and Tuning tab. From this initial window, you can do an automatic overclock of the core and memory or even undervolt the GPU. There’s also a “manual” button which will take you to a new screen.

As you can see, the manual option is broken down into four tuning options: CPU, VRAM, Fan, and Power. Each of these sections has a button that needs to be enabled which will open up some sliders that will allow you to changes settings. These sliders work on a percentage basis but there are also advanced overclocking options available. Enabling the advanced option presents you with an adjustable fan curve, CPU/Voltage cure, and a memory slider that shows the actual memory speed. The core speed/voltage slider is a bit awkward as it doesn’t really report what speed you are applying, but there is a fine-tuning option as a drop-down just below the curve for more precise adjustments.

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Multi-GPU

As was mentioned earlier the RX 5600 XT and the RX 5700 both use the same die. There are differences in clock speeds and memory but that didn’t stop us from trying to run them in a multi-card setup. Enabling crossfire is done in the global graphics section of the Radeon 2020 software but you need to select the advanced settings before it will be displayed.

Surprisingly after enabling the MGPU setting the screen flashed and we were running the RX 5600 XT and RX 5700 in crossfire. The next step was a bit of testing. We fired up 3DMark and Time Spy ran without a hitch kicking out an impressive score of almost 13K.

Sadly, that’s where the excitement ended, SOTR would crash when trying to run the benchmark and the rest of our suite would run but the results were the same as a single GPU. Possibly because of the mixed GPUs or that CFX/SLI support just isn’t the same as it used to be; either way, it doesn’t appear as though it’s going to work at this time. It’s a shame since $700 worth of GPUs were scoring above the $1200 RTX 2080 Ti in that one test.

Temperatures and Power Use

We test power consumption by running through the game benchmarks of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and F1 2018 at stock speeds. We monitor temperatures throughout this testing with the peak temperature what is listed in the data below. In order to more accurately simulate real gaming conditions, the benchmarks are extended (time) to allow the card to settle.

As we can see above, the temperatures of the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro were very well controlled reaching a maximum of 73°C during Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Thanks to the THICC II Pro cooler and a custom fan profile the maximum temperature was much lower while overclocked at a steady 60°C.

Power use on this 150 W card peaked at 302 W (system) overclocked and 239 W while at stock both during our SOTR test. A quality 500 W PSU should be plenty, including overclocking both CPU and GPU and still allowing for headroom and quiet operation.

Conclusion

Overall, the performance from the RX 5600 XT was right where AMD said it should be for ultimate 1080p gaming. The RX 5600 XT and RTX 2060 were trading blows back and forth throughout all of our testing. This battle is going to come down to pricing and preference.

The THICC II Pro cooler on this XFX performed very well as expected and managed to keep the temperatures controlled nicely at both stock and while overclocked. XFX also did a great job feeding power to this 6 GB model with an 8-pin PCIe connector and the 6+1 power stage arrangement there was more than enough clean, stable power to push this 150 W card.

Radeon has filled out its product stack starting with the RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 in July, the RX 5500 XT which handles 1080p gaming very well, and now the RX 5600 XT rounding things out as an affordable entry into 1440p gaming. This new addition from Radeon is a serious competitor for the RTX 2060 in performance and pricing.

As for pricing, AMD is suggesting an SEP of $279.99 for the RX 5600 XT although it is strictly an AIB card so pricing is going to rely heavily on AMD’s partners. As for the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro we tested, we haven’t seen any finalized pricing for it at this time. We weren’t surprised that Nvidia is also repricing its reference RTX 2060 at $299.99 to beef up the competition but a quick filter at Newegg.com reveals the majority of the RTX 2060 SKUs are still in the $350 range. If these prices remain the same that makes the RX 5600 XT very attractive as a more affordable alternative.

In the end, AMD has done a fine job with its “ultimate 1080p” gaming card which will also handle 1440p gaming quite well. The RX 5600 XT handled everything we threw at it with ease and won’t break the bank. I have no issues giving this one a thumbs up!

– Shawn Jennings (Johan45)

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  1. EarthDog
    Beast of a card, this!!!!

    Paul's Hardware showed it beating the 2060 Founder's and the EVGA 2060 KO in his review. The only reasons I could see nVidia only using a price cut to compete with such a card is A) They didn't truly know the extent of its performance B) They're counting on RTX to still sell the lower priced 2060s that are now closer to the 5600's price or C) They're releasing new GPUs this year. I think some combination of A and B is most likely.
    Vishera
    Paul's Hardware showed it beating the 2060 Founder's and the EVGA 2060 KO in his review. The only reasons I could see nVidia only using a price cut to compete with such a card is A) They didn't truly know the extent of its performance B) They're counting on RTX to still sell the lower priced 2060s that are now closer to the 5600's price or C) They're releasing new GPUs this year. I think some combination of A and B is most likely.

    Historically AMD have generally offered a bit more performance and/or for a bit less cash at a given point. I'm assuming nvidia didn't really have anything else to put in this spot performance wise, so rather than offer yet another performance boosted card, they dropped pricing of one already in that area to more aggressively compete.
    I think Anandtech summarised it well. The faster 5600XT models with higher overclocked bios was fighting against the 2060 in performance, although cheaper cards might not offer the same factory OC. The 1660 Ti is pretty much irrelevant in the market so beating it isn't much of a victory. 1660S while a bit slower is much cheaper so that provides another value point to consider.
    I have to wonder if people really do optimise that much for performance value. I'd argue it is close enough not to matter, that going red/green or other factors are more significant in a buying decision. Still, more choice isn't usually a bad thing. nvidia might have too many cards this gen even if not all are really current.
    Fair point. I would argue most people buying a 5600XT by itself to put in a custom rig would likely OC themselves anyways, so I don't think the fact the the cards are factory OC'd anyways matters a great deal. That performance is likely obtainable with a stock card still. Hats off for AMD though, they've been really crushing the CPU market, and it looks like their GPUs aren't anything to scoff at anymore either. Not to say that Polaris was exactly making a mad dash to catch up in the lower end to midrange, either.