AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT review

Navi is finally here

Our Verdict

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is absolutely a great graphics card. Even in a more competitive graphics card scene than we've ever witnessed, it stands out.

For

  • Excellent 1440p gaming performance
  • Plenty of forward-looking features
  • Affordable

Against

  • No ray tracing
  • Blower-style cooler

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT comes at a time when AMD is dominating the CPU sales charts. Processors like the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X and the brand new Ryzen 9 3900X have enabled AMD to make a comeback to the high-end of the processor market that nobody saw coming even a few years ago. 

However, even with the AMD Radeon VII, revealed back at CES 2019, AMD has been struggling to release a graphics card that really took the world by storm. 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 excellent gaming performance, along with a wealth of new features. Even compared to the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT still stands its ground.

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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 head-to-head with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super.

But, that’s where things get a bit 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 was about $150 (about £120, AU$215) more expensive at the time. However, the $399 (about £315, AU$580) Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Super kind of takes the wind out of AMD’s sails. 

Right now, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is trading blows with the 2060 Super, delivering performance sometimes higher and sometimes lower, depending on the test. This means that the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is still absolutely worth your time and money, but it doesn't quite blow away the competition. 

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Features and chipset

AMD Navi graphics cards aren’t the first mainstream-accessible graphics cards to be based on a 7nm manufacturing process, but they are the first to be built from the ground up for gaming. 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 compete head-to-head with the Radeon VII, thanks to its new RDNA architecture. This architecture should be able to deliver 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 on the battlefield, providing Radeon Image Sharpening. This will intelligently sharpen 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 this will work on most games, without developers needing to jump in.

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 tech, 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 don’t really care about image quality, but are more interested in raw performance. And, with AMD Radeon Anti-Lag, those users should see much lower latency. This mode will essentially tell your processor to wait to send new frames to the GPU until its ready. 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.

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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

Performance

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 machine. 

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. 

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We saw the same thing repeated when we looked at in-game benchmarks, too. In Metro Exodus, the AMD Radeon RX 5700XT was able to hit 64 fps, compared to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070’s 61. And, surprisingly, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is even able to produce playable 4K performance at 4K, giving us 30 fps at Ultra settings – that is, if you consider 30 fps playable for a PC game. 

However, one thing we have to talk about is the blower cooler on the reference card we reviewed. These coolers make sense for smaller builds, as they don't need expert airflow to effectively cool. At the same time, we can't help but feel that a dual-fan design would allow for lower temperatures – we saw the 5700 XT reaching up to 81 degrees Celsius. 

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is a powerful graphics card, and is definitely worth your consideration if you're looking for an upgrade. And, especially if you've been on an old GCN card like the old AMD Radeon RX 500 or 400 series, you're going to get a lot of bang for your buck. 

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Final Verdict

The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT is without a doubt one of the best AMD graphics cards we’ve seen 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 to its value from the recently-released Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2060 Super. 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.