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MSI: Not Every AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Can Handle 14 Gbps Memory

The MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming is among the cards staying specced at 12 Gbps. 

The MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming is among the cards staying specced at 12 Gbps.  (Image credit: MSI)

In the latest episode of the MSI Insider podcast, hosts Eric Van Beurden, MSI marketing director, and Pieter Arts, MSI product marketing manager, had a discussion saying that not every single Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card can run its memory at 14 Gbps.

Unlike motherboards, graphics cards usually don't get many vBIOS updates, especially not a few days before launch. However, AMD did just that with the RX 5600 XT and boosted performance, likely in response to Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2060 price drop.

Beurden said that AMD's RX 5600 XT vBIOS increases the card's power limit, which in return enables it to run at higher clock speeds. However, the memory increase was never part of the update. This means that some brands that are bumping the memory from 12 Gbps to 14 Gbps are doing so at their own discretion. 

Clearing things up further, Arts said that AMD, just like Nvidia, supplies its partners with the silicon and memory chips necessary to build the graphics card. For the RX 5600 XT, AMD provided GDDR6 memory chips validated to operate at 12 Gbps. Although some memory chips might have overclocking headroom to run at 14 Gbps, MSI cannot guarantee its RX 5600 XT graphics cards' stability and longevity at 14 Gbps, since they weren't originally designed and tested for that speed.

ModelGame Clock RateBoost Clock RateMemory Speed
MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z1,615 MHz1,750 MHz14 Gbps
MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming X1,615 MHz1,750 MHz12 Gbps
MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming1,420 MHz1,600 MHz12 Gbps
MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Mech OC1,460 MHz1,620 MHz12 Gbps
MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Mech1,375 MHz1,560 MHz12 Gbps
AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT1,375 MHz1,560 MHz12 Gbps

It also looks like not every RX 5600 XT will receive the vBIOS update either. Depending on the graphics card's design and the quality of the silicon that's inside, it seems some of the entry-level models might not be capable of accommodating higher clock speeds. 

In MSI's case, its RX 5600 XT Gaming and RX 5600 XT Mech is not getting the vBIOS treatment. Their clock speeds will remain the same as previously announced. The Gaming X, Mech OC and Gaming Z variants, on the other hand, will enjoy the improved clock speeds. 

The MSI execs confirmed that the first batch of the RX 5600 XT was probably already en route if not already in retailers' hands upon the vBIOS release. Those might require the vBIOS update, but future products should already come with the latest vBIOS.

This whole situation ultimately unlocks the doors for vendors to release new models that already carry the latest vBIOS and 14 Gbps memory. 

As for MSI, it revealed the brand-new RX 5600 XT Gaming Z, which has the same clock speeds as the Gaming X model but with 14 Gbps memory onboard. The graphics card will be available in the middle of February.

  • InvalidError
    In the past, specs were usually known and pretty much final weeks if not months prior to launch. Today, nothing is definitive until after launch and manufacturers are done doing damage control from post-last-minute spec changes. Getting uncomfortably close to bait-and-switch territory.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Ugh - yeah. Messy. Very messy.

    Still a good card at its original specs as well, don't get me wrong - but there's going to need to be serious caution if someone wants one with the faster memory. And, given that AnandTech's analysis said that most of the performance gain was from the increased memory speed, that's the one that I want.

    Hell, for my son's use, I might see if I can, say, get the Pulse with the new BIOS, but then drop the GPU speed down to the lower settings. Some nagging corner of my brain wants to get the best fps/watt out of this rather than maximizing performance. And, at 2560x1080, this card won't need to be pushed to its limits yet.
    Reply
  • AlistairAB
    King_V said:
    Ugh - yeah. Messy. Very messy.

    Still a good card at its original specs as well, don't get me wrong - but there's going to need to be serious caution if someone wants one with the faster memory. And, given that AnandTech's analysis said that most of the performance gain was from the increased memory speed, that's the one that I want.

    Hell, for my son's use, I might see if I can, say, get the Pulse with the new BIOS, but then drop the GPU speed down to the lower settings. Some nagging corner of my brain wants to get the best fps/watt out of this rather than maximizing performance. And, at 2560x1080, this card won't need to be pushed to its limits yet.

    You can just buy any model and overclock to memory. Sure it might not hit 14gbps, but it might hit 13.5gbps obviating the need to wait. Or get one from a different brand, MSI has been very overpriced in all markets outside the U.S. for a while now ($50 markup for the Z model at least most likely)
    Reply
  • WinBlood
    Sounds like a product recall to me. Imagine having ordered the card thinking you could flash it :eek:
    Reply
  • setx
    That actually sounds more like OEMs don't want to cannibalize their lineup than technical problems: just think about 5 models of the same card with almost no difference. Of course they don't want to speed bump lower models to match "top" model.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    King_V said:
    Some nagging corner of my brain wants to get the best fps/watt out of this rather than maximizing performance.
    Even the higher-end models with aggressive clocks and 14Gbps RAM are pretty power efficient already. There's really no need to underclock it.
    setx said:
    That actually sounds more like OEMs don't want to cannibalize their lineup than technical problems: just think about 5 models of the same card with almost no difference. Of course they don't want to speed bump lower models to match "top" model.
    Bingo. That's too many variants of the same GPU, from one vendor, at launch no less. Outside of the memory (which AMD does NOT provide no matter what the article mistakenly says), I'd be surprised if even the lower-tier models aren't capable of hitting roughly the same clocks. There are plenty of other board vendors, however. The Sapphire Pulse that TH tested, for example, is only $10 more than a reference card.
    Reply
  • King_V
    WinBlood said:
    Sounds like a product recall to me. Imagine having ordered the card thinking you could flash it :eek:

    Care to elaborate?
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    InvalidError said:
    In the past, specs were usually known and pretty much final weeks if not months prior to launch. Today, nothing is definitive until after launch and manufacturers are done doing damage control from post-last-minute spec changes. Getting uncomfortably close to bait-and-switch territory.

    Only bait and switch if you get an inferior product. But if you get underpromised and overdelivered, not much grounds for a lawsuit.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    gggplaya said:
    Only bait and switch if you get an inferior product. But if you get underpromised and overdelivered, not much grounds for a lawsuit.
    AMD forbade reviewers from reviewing anything other than the reference card it provided on day-1, told reviewers to use the updated video BIOS for review and then manufacturers got stuck announcing that not all models are able to run at as-reviewed specs. So you end up with day-1 coverage saying that retail cards will get a BIOS update only to learn the next day that NOT all cards will get such an update.

    Many people will get screwed over with cards not performing as reviewed/advertised.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    InvalidError said:
    AMD forbade reviewers from reviewing anything other than the reference card it provided on day-1, told reviewers to use the updated video BIOS for review and then manufacturers got stuck announcing that not all models are able to run at as-reviewed specs. So you end up with day-1 coverage saying that retail cards will get a BIOS update only to learn the next day that NOT all cards will get such an update.

    Many people will get screwed over with cards not performing as reviewed/advertised.
    What? TH reviewed an OC non-reference board. You are misunderstanding the situation. MSI says that not all boards run (stock, at least) at those RAM speeds with the final BIOS provided by MSI (not AMD). Reviewed boards will perform as tested in the hands of consumers with the same board and the same OEM-supplied BIOS.

    All MSI is really saying is "Well, even with the new vBIOS, only models WE spec for 14Gbps will run at 14Gbps". Translation: The OEMs still determine all of the specs of their boards - as evidenced by 5 MSI models with different clocks.
    Reply