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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)

AMD’s 5600 XT, specifically the Sapphire Pulse OC used for testing, has really shown some mettle in our performance tests, being able to match and perform a bit better than Nvidia’s more costly (even after price drops) reference RTX 2060. It did so while using less power, too. EVGA’s pre-emptive strike lowering prices during CES 2020 week and other partners now seemingly joining the movement, now seems like a necessary response. 

But of course if you’re intrigued by Nvidia’s RTX features for much-improved lighting and reflections in some games, the future-looking feature could be worth paying a bit extra for.

Performance will, of course, vary between vendor and cards due to the difference in clock speeds between 5600 XT models. But if you have one that is able to sustain clocks close to that 1,700 MHz range and along with the bump in memory speeds over reference, the RTX 2060 has some stiff competition. 

Compared to the RX 5700 it is based on, the higher-end card still performs several percentage points better. There is a large price and performance gap between the 5600 XT and 5500 XT, but this gap will be filled only in the OEM space at this time. Those who seek performance and price ranges between them will have to look an older Vega 56 or similar-performing Polaris-based cards, or to variations of the Nvidia 1660 Ti. 

(Image credit: AMD)

The Sapphire card we used for testing and the Dual-X cooling solution does a good job of keeping the card’s temperatures in an acceptable range. It does so without drawing attention to itself and is quiet throughout testing. The high clocks (1,750 MHz Boost/ ~1,700 MHz actual) and 14 Gbps memory (versus 12 Gbps reference) takes this card to a different level. 

Pricing on the Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse OC will be $289. This is $10 over the pricing AMD announced ($279) but is expected as the Pulse OC has much higher specifications than the reference model. Games are not included with this SKU, however AMD is offering 3 months of Xbox game pass with the purchase. If we compare this to the RTX 2060, it comes in at $299 or more and is, overall, slightly slower than the Pulse OC. Power use is also a bit less. AMD really hit its target with the 5600 XT, in particular with card partner’s higher clocks and performance. 

Compared to the 5500 XT launch,  which was marred with a less-than-stellar driver along with a price-to-performance ratio that wasn’t positive versus its competition, the 5600 XT is a complete 180. Here the card will compete with or beat the reference RTX 2060, costs a bit less, and uses a bit less power. AMD really hit the sweet spot here on all fronts, especially with the highly clocked models. If you’re looking for a graphics card that can easily handle 1080p and even most games in 1440p, the RX 5600 XT is a great choice in the sub $300 range.

MORE: Best Graphics Cards

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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