At the original price points AMD set for Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 XT, it was going to end up stuck between GeForce RTX 2070 Super, GeForce RTX 2060 Super, and GeForce RTX 2060. But with Radeon RX 5700 pinned at $350 and Radeon RX 5700 XT selling for $400, they’re head-to-head against Nvidia’s 2060s. The result is a much more straightforward comparison.
Across our benchmark suite, Radeon RX 5700 XT averages 9.9%-higher frame rates than the GeForce RTX 2060 Super. Radeon RX 5700 averages 11%-higher frame rates than the GeForce RTX 2060. The GeForce RTX 2070 Super does serve up average frame rates 6.9% higher than Radeon RX 5700 XT, but it costs an extra 25%.
Compared to AMD’s previous generation, Radeon RX 5700 XT achieves 15%-higher average frame rates than Radeon RX Vega 64 at a $100-lower launch price and 76% of the power consumption. And get this—the boutique Radeon VII averages just 3.8%-higher frame rates across our suite and costs 70% more!
Assuming AMD’s lower prices stick, and assuming Nvidia doesn’t clap back, the Navi-based Radeon RX 5700-series cards storm onto the scene with strength that many enthusiasts weren’t expecting. Matching the competition’s fourth- and fifth-fastest gaming cards doesn’t sound particularly impressive. But remember that the Vega generation never caught up to Nvidia’s Pascal-based line-up. And although the Turing GPUs were derided for their high prices, they did bump performance up at least one tier. To AMD’s credit, Navi delivers its speed-up with more grace than past launches. Both 5700s use less power than their predecessors. They generate appreciably less noise. And the Radeon RX 5700s serve up almost universally better performance than competing GeForce RTX 2060s at the same prices.
So now that AMD sports superior performance per dollar in a great many of today’s games, the company asks gamers to answer the million-dollar question: Just how much does real-time ray tracing mean to you in 2019, really? Everyone’s response is going to be different and there is no incorrect opinion. For those who’d rather not spend today’s money on a small (but growing) list of games with ray tracing support, AMD has a couple of relatively high-end solutions worth considering. On the other hand, if you’re willing to trade some performance for Nvidia’s RT and Tensor cores, these Radeons probably weren’t going to change your mind since they can’t do ray tracing anyway.
Let’s talk power consumption. Radeon RX 5700 XT uses about 20% more power than GeForce RTX 2060 Super through our Metro benchmark sequence. The Radeon RX 5700 uses about 11% more power through the same test compared to GeForce RTX 2060. If we take each card’s average frame rate across our benchmark suite and divide by the typical gaming power consumption we measured, the Radeon RX 5700 XT provides 0.43 FPS/watt. Radeon RX 5700 achieves 0.47 FPS/watt, as does the GeForce RTX 2060 Super. Nvidia’s vanilla 2060 is only slightly more efficient at 0.48 FPS/watt. So relative to the competition, AMD’s Radeon RX 5700-series fares well in efficiency. Naturally, the company is leaning hard on its early move to 7nm manufacturing and architectural improvements that facilitate Navi’s improved performance per watt. There’s no doubt Nvidia will make a similar move, likely in 2020, and derive all the benefits of a process change as well. But for now, AMD is playing catch-up by any means necessary.
To counter Nvidia’s Wolfenstein/Control game bundle, AMD is giving Radeon RX 5700-series customers three-month access to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass for PC, including the upcoming Gears 5. You won’t have anything to show for the bundle once three months is up, but we think that’s enough time to pick through the 100+ available titles and play through the most exciting ones.
Not all is perfect in Navi-land, though. The flagship Radeon RX 5700 XT runs really hot. AMD did commit to bringing down the noise levels of its reference cooler, which means the fan doesn’t spin up past a certain point. Under duress, clock rates can be pushed below AMD’s rated base specification as junction temperatures exceed 100 degrees C. Our power consumption measurements show the card’s sensors intervening to keep thermals under control.
The Radeon RX 5700 demonstrated other strange behaviors. Mainly, it consistently dialed fan speeds back under even normal gaming workloads, causing temperatures to increase. AMD won’t go into detail on what’s happening there. If we were to guess, though, it looks like the fan responds quickly to a rapid increase in temperature, up to its maximum rotational speed. As the change in temperature slows, the fan slows to allow higher thermal readings and better acoustics. This theory falls apart somewhat when we see the same behavior under FurMark, where clock rates clearly suffer as the fan does something similar. It’d be far preferable for AMD’s thermal solution to ramp up gradually like Nvidia’s Founders Edition cards. We’ll continue experimenting with the fan curve to see if it’s reacting deliberately or if this is a bug that needs to be addressed. Fortunately, none of what we saw seems to adversely affect gaming on Radeon RX 5700 or Radeon RX 5700 XT.
We still have a lot of work to do with these cards. Because the power, thermal, fan speed, and clock rate experimenting ate up a couple of afternoons, there wasn’t time to tackle AMD’s Anti-Lag or Radeon Image Sharpening technologies. We also know GeForce RTX 2080 Super is landing in a few days. We’re just one week into July and it has already been 2019’s busiest month in graphics. Stay tuned as the Tom’s Hardware labs continue cranking out data and analysis.
Image Credits: Tom's Hardware
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