The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is arriving at a time when the company is dominating CPU sales. Processors like the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X and the brand new Ryzen 9 3900X have enabled AMD to make a dramatic comeback to the high-end of the processor market that nobody could have guessed a few years ago.
However, even with the unveiling of AMD Radeon VII, revealed back at CES 2019, AMD has been struggling to release a graphics card able to catch people’s attention in the same way as its CPUs. The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, and to a lesser extent the Radeon RX 5700, are taking the new RDNA graphics architecture and hoping to make it a hit in a post-Nvidia Turing world.
And, well, this graphics card succeeds. The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT takes its original target, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, to task, delivering great gaming performance, along with a plethora of new features. Even compared to the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT still holds its own.
Pricing and availability
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is available today for $399 (about £315, AU$580), however there is an anniversary edition available with a beautiful design and higher clock speeds for $449 (about £350, AU$650). At both price points, it’s going toe-to-toe with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super.
But, that’s where things get a bit more complicated. You see, before the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super was announced on July 2, the AMD Radeon RX 5700XT compared very favorably to the RTX 2070 Founders Edition, which cost about $150 (about £120, AU$215) more at the time. However, the $399 (about £315, AU$580) Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Super kind of steals AMD’s thunder.
Right now, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is trading blows with the 2060 Super, sometimes outperforming and sometimes underperforming, depending on the test. This means that the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is still absolutely worth your time and money, but it’s not head and shoulders above the competition.
Features and chipset
AMD Navi graphics cards aren’t the first mainstream-accessible graphics cards to use a 7nm manufacturing process, but they are the first to be built from the ground up with gaming as its main goal. AMD hopes to boost rasterization performance in games by tailoring its graphics architecture specifically around gaming – rather than the compute-focused performance of the AMD Radeon VII.
In practice, this means that even with a technically weaker GPU, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is regularly able to stand up to the Radeon VII, thanks to its new RDNA architecture. This architecture should be able to provide up to 1.25 times the performance at the same clock speed as the previous GCN, or Graphics Core Next. This boost to performance-per-clock is joined by the benefits to power efficiency brought by the move to 7nm.
There are plenty of important software features in the AMD Radeon RX 5700XT, as well, however.
It seems like AMD is meeting Nvidia head on, providing Radeon Image Sharpening. This intelligently sharpens images – rather than just a straight sharpening filter, RIS is contrast-aware, so you don’t end up with any strange looking artifacts or textures in complicated scenes. The best part is that it doesn’t necessarily need developers to jump in for it to work on most games.
However, if developers do jump in, they can enable Contrast Adaptive Sharpening, or CAS, through the new FidelityFX system. This is an open-source library of image-improving technologies, and should theoretically work on most GPUs – if not now, then in the future. But, obviously these effects will work best on AMD processors.
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 also has a feature for the esports players out there, who are less focused on image quality, and are more focused on raw performance. And, with AMD Radeon Anti-Lag, those users should see much lower latency. This mode will essentially tell your processor to wait until the GPU is ready before sending new frames to it. That way, there shouldn’t be a buffer of frames waiting to be displayed, which can result in input lag in fast-paced titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Test system specs
CPU: 3.8Ghz AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (12-core, 70MB cache, up to 4.6GHz)
RAM: 16GB G.Skill TridentZ Royale DDR4 (3,400MHz) Motherboard: ASRock Taichi X570
Power Supply: Corsair RM850x
Storage: 2TB Gigabyte Aorus M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4) Case: Corsair Crystal Series 570X RGB
Operating system: Windows 10
No matter how many cool software features come to AMD Navi, the most important thing, especially in a post-Nvidia Turing landscape is raw performance. And, well, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is a 1440p monster.
Playing games like Metro Exodus and World War Z in 1440p is an absolute breeze with this AMD graphics card, and we don’t notice any huge drops in performance, no matter how demanding the game is. The AMD Radeon RX 5700XT does struggle a little bit when you turn it up to 4K, but at the end of the day, it’s not designed for that kind of workload anyway.
That’s reflected in our benchmarks, too. In our 3DMark TimeSpy Extreme tests, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT had no problems matching the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super, reaching 4,119 compared to 4,117 on the latter.
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is no doubt one of the best AMD graphics cards we’ve come across in years. It provides excellent 1440p gaming performance, and plenty of features that will actually be usable from day one.
However, it’s impossible to ignore the impact from the recently-released Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2060 Super to the AMD’s value. If AMD is able to drop prices on this card by about 50 bucks or quid, this graphics card will be a no-brainer. But, until then, it’s harder to recommend.
Still, AMD Navi absolutely does show promise, and if this is the first iteration of its new graphics architecture, we’re excited to see what it can do in the future.