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Radeon is back with its second round of 7 nm GPUs. This time it’s the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. Unlike the Radeon VII which was based on the 2nd Generation Vega architecture, the new Radeon cards are built around Navi; a fully redesigned core aimed at performance and efficiency.
AMD/Radeon is launching the RX 5700 series GPUs as a mid-tier graphics solution intended to go head to head against the NVIDIA RTX 2060 and RTX 2070. Radeon is claiming similar or better performance and price as their NVIDIA rivals. Today we have both the RX 5700 XT and the RX 5700 to run through our usual gamut of testing and compare them directly against the competition. Let’s see how they make out.
The new Radeon RX GPUs are both based on the 7 nm Navi architecture and a completely new design dubbed RDNA. This new architecture enables new compiler techniques and have redesigned SIMD and compute units. It also incorporates a new multi-level cache hierarchy which reduces latency, power, and data movement. RDNA is optimized for efficiency and programmability while remaining compatible with the previous GCN architecture instructions. Below are some slides from AMD adding more detail to the architecture.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the improvements, we’ll get down to the differences between the new RX GPUs.
The RX 5700 XT is Radeon’s top offering in their new line-up at this time. The GPU has 40 Compute Units (CU) and 2560 Stream Processors (SP). The 5700 XT clocks in at 1605 MHz base and 1905 MHz maximum boost speed. You’ll also notice a Game Clock listed in the specs below. 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.
Moving on, the RX 5700 is slightly pared down compared to its sibling. While they both have 8 GB GDDR6 with 448 GB/s bandwidth over a 256-bit bus the RX 5700 has been reduced to 36 CU and 2304 SP. This gives the RX 5700 a slightly lower TDP of 185 W compared to 225 W for the 5700 XT. More details in the list below.
|Specifications RX 5700 XT and RX 5700|
|GPU||RX 5700 XT||RX 5700|
|Die Size||251 mm²|
|Base Clock||1605 MHz||1465 MHz|
|Game Clock||1755 MHz||1625 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1905 MHz||1725 MHz|
|Memory||8 GB GDDR6|
|Memory Bandwidth||448 GB/s|
|Peak Texture Fill Rate||304.8 GT/s||248.4 GT/s|
|Peak Pixel Fill Rate||121.9 GP/s||110.4 GP/s|
|TDP (Watts)||225 W||185 W|
Here’s a GPU-Z shot of both cards showing the differences between the two. Notice it says PCIe 4.0? These shots were taken on a new X570 motherboard which supports that protocol. As of this writing, GPU-Z has most of its functionality but is unable to capture the stock GPU speed. In the sensors tab, it does pick up the current and boost speeds properly though.
Radeon is introducing some new features in their Adrenalin drivers as well as keeping some previous ones such as Radeon Chill which is a game adaptive power-saving feature. The algorithm used has been improved to offer up to 2.5 times additional power savings over previous versions. Once enabled, Chill monitors your game and reduces or increases the frame-rate accordingly based on the refresh rate of your monitor and the in-game action. If using a monitor with a 60 Hz refresh rate during static scenes when your player is standing still the FPS could drop as low as 30 but will quickly ramp up to 60 FPS during fast movement to maintain smoothness. The goal is to reduce excessive frame rates allowing the GPU to conserve energy.
Here’s an example of some of the power savings based on AMD’s internal testing.
Fidelity FX is an open-source developer toolkit which will be available on GPUOpen in the coming weeks which features Contrast-Adaptive Sharpening (CAS). CAS offers a balance of visuals and performance by drawing out details in low-contrast areas.
Radeon Image Sharpening
Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS) featured in the Adrenalin 2019 Edition drivers is based on CAS which we saw above but RIS doesn’t need per-game integration but works broadly across games based on DirectX and Vulcan APIs. RIS works to counteract the blurring or softening that occurs from using Anti-Aliasing with very little impact on performance.
Below are some comparison images and a performance graph.
Radeon’s Anti-Lag feature is designed to help reduce input lag or the amount of delay between clicking a mouse or a keystroke and when the resulting action is seen on screen. This is oversimplified but the Anti-Lag software works to keep the CPU and GPU frames more in sync with each other to avoid delays when one could be waiting on the other which improves response times. This can have a minor impact on frame rates but benefits with improved latency.
Performance Driven Design
Radeon has put some thought into the design of the “blower” style cooler aiming for a balance between performance and acoustics. This new cooler uses an aluminum shroud and backplate. The backplate is only featured on the XT model as well as a 7-phase power design. Radeon is also using a graphite material instead of paste for thermal transfer between the die and the heat sink.
Retail Packaging and Accessories
The packaging for the new Radeon RX cards has a simple black and red theme to it. There isn’t a lot of info on the outside of the box aside from the model, AMD’s address information and a sticker sealing the package. The overall design is different between the RX 5700 and the RX 5700 XT packaging. The 5700 is packaged in a slide-out inner box but the XT gets a bit more daring. The packaging for this one simply slides apart in two pieces after the tamper-proof stickers have been removed. Both GPUs are packed in tight-fitting foam on the inside of the box, very well protected from accidental damages.
Neither one of the cards comes with any accessories or installation media. All you’ll find is a warranty card and some environmental information.
Meet the Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700
Both of the RX 5700 graphics cards sport a blower-style cooler with aluminum shrouding. The XT model has a bit more contour and flair with some additional red accents as well as the word Radeon which glows red from LED-backlighting. The majority of the coloring is a dark grey which should be able to blend into nearly any themed build.
Radeon RX 5700 XT
Radeon RX 5700
As you can see the RX 5700 is a bit more simple and also doesn’t come with the full aluminum backplate that the XT model does.
A Closer Look
Both the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT have three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs with support for display stream compression. In addition, they also have one HDMI output with 4k60 support. Both RX cards also have 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power connectors allowing up to 300 W of power when combined with the PCIe slot.
Below you can see the RX 5700 disassembled, these cards share the same PCB with the only difference aside from the GPU is the XT model has one additional power phase. On the left is a nice shot of the RX 5700 GPU die with the 8 GB of Micron GDDR6 around it. We also have a picture of the inside of the heatsink. The memory and power bits use thermal tape to transfer heat to a full-length aluminum plate, with it connected to the vapor chamber that you can see exposed over the die where it makes direct contact using the graphite TIM.
Below we can see the power section of the RX 5700 XT with its 6+1 phase design, you can see the open solder pads between the last GPU VRM and the memory VRM. On the XT model, this area is populated with an additional VRM and choke.
Radeon RX 5700 XT on the test bench showing off its back-lit Radeon branding.
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 provides 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|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Maximus X Apex|
|CPU||Intel i7 8700K @ 4.7 GHz / 4.3 GHz Cache|
|CPU Cooler||EVGA CLC 240|
|Memory||2×8 GB G.Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL15-15-15-35|
|SSD||Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS + Applications)|
|Power Supply||EVGA 750W G3|
|Video Card||RX 5700 and RX 5700XT|
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
Our first set of benchmarks hail 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 which UL says the graphics are rendered with detail and complexity far beyond other DX11 benchmarks and games. This benchmark runs at 1920×1080. 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, both of the RX GPUs excelled in Firestrike Extreme. Moving to our DX 12 Benchmark things really tightened up with only a few percents separating the similar cards.
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. Many of these are DX12 games.
Here again, we see the RX 5700 holding its own or better while the RX 5700 XT and the RTX 2070 are trading blows between the WoTe and F1 2018 benchmarks. The 2070 pulls ahead by several percent in WoTe while the 5700XT manages a small margin of victory in F1 2018.
Testing during Far Cry 5 and The Division 2 results for the RX 5700 XT were almost identical to the RTX 2070 while the RX 5700 is starting to outpace the RTX 2060. Far Cry 5 shows a larger difference of around 5%.
Now, these two titles we really start to see the Radeon cards excel. The Adrenalin drivers work very well allowing the RX 5700 and 5700 XT to easily outpace the competition.
The results for Ashes of the Singularity kind of surprised me. This benchmark hasn’t typically been very friendly to AMD GPUs but here again, both of the Radeon cards bested their NVIDIA Competitors.
2560×1440 and 4K UHD Results
Below are the higher resolution results starting with 2560×1440 and 3840×2160 (4K UHD). These resolutions are more fitting for the cards we are testing as the 1080p results can have a ceiling on them from the CPU (even at 4.7 GHz).
Our high-resolution results tell a similar story of the RX cards matching or beating its head-to-head competitor in most cases. In some titles, it’s too close to call, in others, the AMD cards show a significant lead. The takeaway here is the RX 57xx cards are quite capable at 2560×1440 (WQHD) resolution managing 60 FPS in all games not named AOTSe. Most of the titles are well over 60 FPS with a few pushing into the 100 FPS range.
Moving up to 4K UHD resolution, we can see both party’s cards fall short of that magic 60 FPS number, but that is to be expected as these are mid-range cards for high(er) FPS 1080p gaming and 2560×1440 gaming at 60 FPS. Still, a couple of settings can be changed and on a few games, 60 FPS can be achieved on more than just the XT and two games.
Overclocking the Radeon RX cards was limited to about 100 MHz above the max-boost clocks for the RX 5700 but the RX 5700 XT gave a bit more and managed to run 2100 MHz (up from 1905 Mhz) through our testing. The memory on both cards was quite stubborn. Pushing the memory a bit over where it wanted to run would result in a system crash so we settled in at 905 MHz for both cards up from 875 MHz stock speed.
As you can see there were improvements with both cards performance levels. In reality, testing in gaming it added up to 5 FPS but on the RX 5700 XT that added about 40 W to the power usage pushing whole system wattage from 367 W up to 410 W in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This also necessitated increasing fan speeds to keep the temperatures down and the blower-style cooler just started to get very noticeable over the system. For the most part, I have never seen the need to overclock my graphics cards as the gains typically aren’t worth it for gaming. Competitive benchmarking is a whole different story and I’m sure that we’ll have a bit more leg-room once the add-in-board partners start releasing their versions of the new Radeon RX cards.
For overclocking the Radeon the application Wattman was used, it’s still a bit clunky and could really be condensed into a smaller GUI making all options available without scrolling through it. It does work and although the ranges are limited it was still enough to max out both the RX 5700 XT and the RX 5700. When setting the GPU overclocking into manual, Wattman will “optimize” and make a suggestion for your GPU overclock. You can still go past this but not by a lot. It recommended 1750 MHz for the RX 5700 but the card was able to run at 1800 MHz. You also have the ability to save OC profiles for Wattman, but there isn’t an option to set the overclock at Windows start.
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 I hinted at above – the temperatures, especially on the XT version are already getting high at 80 °C under load with the stock fan curve; I assume that’s to keep the noise level down. The RX 5700 ran 10 degrees cooler throughout testing. They were both fairly quiet with the RX 5700 XT making a bit more noise but both were quite tolerable and not overly noticeable over the other system fans. These are blower-style coolers which do have advantages such as exhausting the hot air directly out of the case, but they can get very noisy when the fan speeds are increased manually which was done during overclocking. One other thing to mention is that the full aluminum shrouding really does transfer heat and as such the body of the RX 5700 cards is quite warm to the touch.
Overall, the performance from the RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT was right where Radeon said it should be. With the shrink to 7 nm and an overhaul to the core design, Radeon has made many improvements that show in the real world by adding performance and dropping power consumption over similar products from their GCN line.
The coolers are adequate and quiet enough for stock operation, but when pushing the XT with an overclock that blower quickly becomes too noisy since ramping it up is the only way to keep the OC stable. The RX 5700 was still quiet enough but as I mentioned earlier the overclocking was limited and the resulting “real world” benefits were too small to make it worthwhile. The added noise and power consumption tend to eclipse any gains. This may change as the process matures along with the drivers (Radeon always seems to improve significantly with driver optimizations) and the AIB partners start to release some proprietary cards with enhanced cooling and power solutions.
In the end, Radeon has delivered a much-needed alternative in a very competitive price bracket. Once you get down to the nuts and bolts and compare these cards directly you have the RX 5700 facing off against the RTX 2060. I would say that the RX 5700 has slightly better performance on average but it also has a higher price tag at $380 vs. the comparable $350 RTX 2060. Looking at the RX 5700 XT vs. the RTX 2070 the price ($449) and performance are right on par with each other making it hard to criticize Radeon’s price model. These cards are right where they belong in the market and, at least for myself, did exactly what they were supposed to do.
As many are likely aware, shortly before the launch of the new Radeon RX 5700 cards NVidia took a shot across the bow by revealing performance numbers for their seemingly last-minute addition to the RTX lineup in the RTX “Super” cards. These updated cards are re-release of the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 which both carry an elevated amount of CUDA cores when compared to their non-super predecessors. In essence, the RTX 2060 is using a 2070 core, the RTX 2070 is using a 2080 core. This change bumped the cards performance up several percent along with the price drop to $400 and $500 dollars respectively and meant to thwart these AMD cards.
However, AMD has also responded to this and responded with a price reduction. Now you can pick up the RX 5700 for $349. The price for the RX 5700 XT has also been reduced to $399. This price change puts the price and performance side of things squarely back on AMD.
– Shawn Jennings (Johan45)