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AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Review: Look out, RTX 2060

1660 Ti-like pricing and better-than-2060 performance!

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
Editor's Choice
(Image: © AMD)

Starting off where AMD markets the card -- at 1080p resolutions using ultra settings -- what you may first notice is the card competing with and in 8 out of 11 titles, beating out a reference-clocked RTX 2060. While the margin of victory wasn’t big in most titles (an average of about 3 fps across all games) the new AMD card is still faster overall by about three-percent. 

Compared to the GTX 1660 Ti, which starts out around $20 less than the $289 Sapphire Pulse OC, the 5600 XT is about 19% faster on average. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t expect this card was going to punch up a weight class and reach 2060 performance levels, but it undoubtedly does.

The 5600 XT is still several percent slower than the RX 5700 and leaves the 5500 XT in the dust. In fact, there is so much room (performance- and price-wise) between the two AMD cards, there could be another SKU waiting in the wings. A 5600 non-XT variant has been mentioned around the web with more CUs disabled and slower memory, but this was confirmed by AMD to be an OEM-only part.

Part of the reason for this performance level is due to using the OC BIOS on the card. After we received an updated BIOS (our card was shipped with reference clocks and tested there initially), the card ran close to 1,700 MHz during the testing. This is compared to the 1,550 MHz the card ran with the reference BIOS or an increase of over 9-percent. Memory speeds were also boosted from the 1,500 MHz (288 GB/s) reference speeds to 1,750 MHz, increasing bandwidth by over 16-percent (288 GB/s to 336 GB/s). The performance will vary by card as each AMD partner card will have different clock speeds. 

In the end, we saw a difference of around 10-percent from the reference speeds to using the updated BIOS on the OC setting. Note for the Sapphire Pulse OC we have, the public will be able to buy cards with the updated BIOS. Just flip the switch to the overclock position, reboot, and enjoy.

Division 2

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Ghost Recon: Breakpoint

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Borderlands 3

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Gears of War 5

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Strange Brigade

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider

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Far Cry 5

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Metro: Exodus

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Final Fantasy XIV

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Forza Horizon 4

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Battlefield V

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  • logainofhades
    The Final Fantasy IV 1440p results are in the 1080p page, and the 1080p results are in the 1440p page.
    Reply
  • King_V
    This was actually better than I expected for the 5600XT, and, as the article stated, was exactly what AMD needed to do. Equaling or outdoing the 2060 while consuming less power was, I think, something Nvidia was not expecting. Nor was I, for that matter.

    It's definitely still the target card for my son's upcoming GPU upgrade. More definitively than I would've said prior to testing.
    Reply
  • Zizo007
    This shows how efficient Navi is and with a bigger die like Big Navi, performance should surpass the 2080 Ti. In the other hand 7nm Ampere is around the corner so AMD won't have the victory for long if they release Big Navi now.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Seems like a pretty awesome card when the only con is "Competing RTX 2060 has been on the market for a year". I may have to pick one of these up!
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    One thing that's probably worth noting is that all 5600 XTs currently available for sale will perform at least 10% slower out of the box than the results shown here, as they all include the old BIOS, since AMD didn't make that last-minute change until after they shipped to retailers.

    So, unless one performs a BIOS update on the card, they are going to be missing out on a lot of performance, at least until new stock starts shipping with the new BIOS. And I suspect most people are not going to be flashing the BIOS of their card, as that's not normally a thing you do with a new graphics card, and is not without risk. Is the card even going to be covered if someone bricks it during the flashing process? Also, as I understand it, the new BIOS only applies to OC models, so models shipping at stock clocks may not receive a BIOS update to the higher clocks, effectively making two versions of the 5600 XT with a 10%+ performance difference between them. It won't be clear which is which just from the product names, and even the OC models may potentially come with the original, substantially slower BIOS, as that's what they all currently use. That certainly makes for a messy launch, and should have probably been mentioned in the review.

    This review really should have included performance data for the original BIOS (that comes on the card), which is something the other 5600 XT reviews I've seen so far have done. It seems a bit bizarre that it wouldn't be included in the review, as this is not the kind of performance people will be getting from one of these cards right now, at least without flashing the card's BIOS.
    Reply
  • King_V
    cryoburner said:
    One thing that's probably worth noting is that all 5600 XTs currently available for sale will perform at least 10% slower out of the box than the results shown here, as they all include the old BIOS, since AMD didn't make that last-minute change until after they shipped to retailers.

    So, unless one performs a BIOS update on the card, they are going to be missing out on a lot of performance, at least until new stock starts shipping with the new BIOS. And I suspect most people are not going to be flashing the BIOS of their card, as that's not normally a thing you do with a new graphics card, and is not without risk. Is the card even going to be covered if someone bricks it during the flashing process? Also, as I understand it, the new BIOS only applies to OC models, so models shipping at stock clocks may not receive a BIOS update to the higher clocks, effectively making two versions of the 5600 XT with a 10%+ performance difference between them. It won't be clear which is which just from the product names, and even the OC models may potentially come with the original, substantially slower BIOS, as that's what they all currently use. That certainly makes for a messy launch, and should have probably been mentioned in the review.

    This review really should have included performance data for the original BIOS (that comes on the card), which is something the other 5600 XT reviews I've seen so far have done. It seems a bit bizarre that it wouldn't be included in the review, as this is not the kind of performance people will be getting from one of these cards right now, at least without flashing the card's BIOS.

    An excellent point - and what I'm seeing from the Anandtech review (not done reading) makes me wonder if the ideal for this card is the original reference clocks, but with the memory boosted to 14GB.

    EDIT: I do admit I dislike the messiness. It seems somewhat akin to the RX 560 - 896 vs RX 560 - 1024 issue. Maybe THIS should've been the 5600 vs 5600XT, and if the OEM version has lesser performance than even the 5600 (non-XT), maybe call that 5600 LT?

    EDIT 2: a brief look at NewEgg seems to indicate a lot of OC variants having slightly later release dates (Jan 23, Jan 27) with slightly higher prices (289 to 309, vs the 279 for the "base" versions). At least, that's what it seems like.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    I see this article is the victim of cut and paste.... the how we tested header refers to the wrong card. How many other mistakes creapt in? Hopefully no more than in the headers used for formatting. Beyond that, THIS is a card to watch, or grab after a BIOS update, for right now.
    Reply
  • TCA_ChinChin
    King_V said:
    An excellent point - and what I'm seeing from the Anandtech review (not done reading) makes me wonder if the ideal for this card is the original reference clocks, but with the memory boosted to 14GB.

    EDIT: I do admit I dislike the messiness. It seems somewhat akin to the RX 560 - 896 vs RX 560 - 1024 issue. Maybe THIS should've been the 5600 vs 5600XT, and if the OEM version has lesser performance than even the 5600 (non-XT), maybe call that 5600 LT?

    EDIT 2: a brief look at NewEgg seems to indicate a lot of OC variants having slightly later release dates (Jan 23, Jan 27) with slightly higher prices (289 to 309, vs the 279 for the "base" versions). At least, that's what it seems like.
    I don't think it's like the Rx 560 issue. That was a fiasco with intentionally misleading advertising similar to GT 1030 crap that Nvidia did. This is just free performance if you do an update. It's a messy and unprofessional launch, but nowhere near the intentionally misleading products of rx560 and gt1030 variants.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    TCA_ChinChin said:
    I don't think it's like the Rx 560 issue. That was a fiasco with intentionally misleading advertising similar to GT 1030 crap that Nvidia did. This is just free performance if you do an update. It's a messy and unprofessional launch, but nowhere near the intentionally misleading products of rx560 and gt1030 variants.
    The thing is we don't know if/when all models will get this update:
    AMD said:
    The updated VBIOS has been made available to our board partners for inclusion in select OC SKUs at launch.
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/15422/the-amd-radeon-rx-5600-xt-review/2
    The Pulse (which has the improved VBIOS) is what was sampled to all the tech sites for review, so that's what people are going to see in reviews/benchmarks, at least for now. But if they go out and buy an RX 5600 XT they could be getting a card that's slower than what they saw in those reviews by a not-insignificant amount. Seems like a pretty good chance people could be misled, whether intentionally or not.
    Reply
  • TCA_ChinChin
    TJ Hooker said:
    The thing is we don't know if/when all models will get this update:

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/15422/the-amd-radeon-rx-5600-xt-review/2
    The Pulse (which has the improved VBIOS) is what was sampled to all the tech sites for review, so that's what people are going to see in reviews/benchmarks, at least for now. But if they go out and buy an RX 5600 XT they could be getting a card that's slower than what they saw in those reviews by a not-insignificant amount. Seems like a pretty good chance people could be misled, whether intentionally or not.
    I guess we'll see. Like I said though, as of now, the situation is unprofessional, not misleading. It remains to be seem whether or not every model of 5600xt can receive this update. If every model can be updated, then there is no misleading at all, simply an unprofessional launch. If not, then we can say it is misleading and then debate if it was intentional or not.
    Reply