GPUs Graphics Reviews

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT review – with the last-minute BIOS boost to an efficient RTX-2060 killer?

AMD made an interesting move at the last moment and shifted the Radeon RX 5600 XT into a new performance class virtually overnight via BIOS upgrade. This review will answer whether this goes well and whether one can beat the now targeted opponent in the form of the GeForce RTX 2060 6GB. Spoilers I can at this point however already once that the power consumption will offer a surprise. At least in direct comparison to the GeForce RTX 2060. Crowbar or moneybox? We'll settle that today, I promise.

Important preliminary remark

However, due to the amount of information, I have written an extra article about the circumstances of this BIOS exchange, which explains the whole thing in detail. One can read this now under “AMD’s BIOS castling of the Radeon RX 5600 XT and the consequences for consumers and board partners: BIOS tangle, cooler differences and some crashes” for a better understanding. There I also describe the possible problems a potential buyer might face.

But back to the Powercolor RX 5600 XT Red Dragon. In this review I focused on the new BIOS in performance and silent mode when benchmarking the card and compared these two results with the performance mode of the old BIOS. The old silent mode is pretty silly, so I left it out. The GeForce GTX 1650 Super will certainly be annoyed by this. The bandwidth increase of up to 17% with 14 instead of 12 Gbps is of course brutal and you will notice it very clearly in the measurements.

I tested all cards again on the new test system with the Ryzen 9 3950X and focused the card selection on the direct opponents. Thus, besides the RTX 2060 6GB, a GeForce GTX 1660 Super and the 1660 Ti are included as well as the two RX Vega and the RX 5700 and 5700 XT from the AMD portfolio. There wasn’t more time to do so, as the BIOS only arrived on Friday (and then anothers on the weekend), whereby Windows had also received a few patches.

The fact that the GeForce RTX 2060 has been picked out as a counterpart is probably primarily due to its price. Because the UVP of 299 euro for the RX 5600 XT is set quite high, so that a slower card with original BIOS simply would not have been sold. Because with approx. 300 euro one lies exactly in the range, where there are the most favorable RTX cards in the trade. It will be however exciting to see, how much the better equipped models of the RX 5600 XT will then really cost in the shop and how large the price difference to the most favorable RX 5700 will be. This is exactly where I see a big problem. Unless AMD lets the rather hapless RX 5700 die slowly, whose price gap to the much faster XT version is simply much too small.

Either way, I will be surprised what this BIOS-enhanced Radeon can (and cannot) do. However, all three cards (Powercolor as AMD sample, MSI and Sapphire self-procured retail cards) had sporadic stability problems under longer full load and very extensive memory usage, which the board partners could confirm to me. If you get into such problems yourself, which can happen (but not with all cards), you can get back to stable areas with 50 MHz less memory clock. This only as additional info at the edge, because I will of course keep at it.

 

Technical data and picture gallery

The design is kept very simple and is dominated by the two chrome rings of the fan mounts. There are no big design highlights, which rather speaks for this more timelessly designed card. It is a true dual-slot card and is also quite light, which simplifies installation.

Matching this, the overview of the most important features:

Length (outer edge of slot bracket to end of card) 24 cm
Installation height (top edge of PCIe slot to top of the card) 12.5 cm
Installation depth at the front (cooler assembly to the underside of the board) 3.5 cm
Rear mounting depth (board to outside of backplate) 0.5 cm
Weight: 800 g
Shroud: Black with chrome applications
Aluminium, powder-coated
Output: 3x DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0
Features 1x 8-Pin

The four most important tabs of the MorePowerTool show a first overview of the individual BIOS settings:

The obligatory GPU-Z screenshot of both BIOSes is also included:

Finally, the table gives a nice overview of the remaining technical data of the current and older comparison models:

Karte Powercolor
RX 5600 XT
Red Dragon
MSI
RX 5700
Gaming X
AMD Radeon
RX Vega 64
AMD Radeon
RX Vega 56
MSI
RTX 2060
Gaming X
Architektur (GPU) Navi 10 Navi 10 Vega Vega Turing TU-106
CUDA Kerne / SP 2304 2304 4096 3585 1920
(36 CU) (36 CU) (64 CU) (56 CU) 240 Tensor/ 30 RT
Textureinheiten 144 144 256 224 120
Textur-Füllrate (Gtexels/s) 233.3 248.4 395,8 330 330
Basis-Takt (MHz) 1560 1465 1274 1156 1365
Boost-Takt (MHz) 1620 (max.) 1625 (typisch)
1725 (max.)
1546 1471 1830
Speicher 6 GB GDDR6
12/14 Gbps
8 GB GDDR6
14 Gbps
8 GB HBM 8 GB HBM 6 GB GDDR6
14 Gbps
Busbreite (Bit) 192 256 2048 2048 192
Speicherbandbreite (GB/s) 336 448 483,8 410 336
ROP 64 64 64 64 48
L2-Cache 4 MB 4 MB 4 MB 4 MB 3 MB
TGP/TBP 135/150 W 185 W 295 W 219 W 160 W
Mrd. Transistoren 10,3 10,3 12,5 12.5 7.2
Die-Fläche (mm²) 251 251 495 495 314
Node 7 nm 7 nm 14 nm 14 nm 14 nm

Test system and software

As always, I benchmark with my own PresentMon GUI and interpreter software, which fills the Excel charts and extrapolates the graphical output (and only that one) in such a way that all graphs are exactly long and thus a uniform and comparable time line is created. The remaining evaluations up to percentiles and bar graphs are based on the real raw data from the measurement. The benchmark system is new and has been upgraded in some areas. Also because of this I have all games and cards once again completely new measured and tested.

 

I have also summarized the individual components of the test system in tabular form.

Test System and Equipment
Hardware:

AMD Rayzen 9 3950X
MSI MEG X570 Godlike

4x 8GB G.Skill FlareX DDR4 3200
1x 2 TByte Aorus (NVMe System SSD, PCIe Gen. 4)
1x Seagate FastSSD Portable USB-C
Seasonic Prime 1300 Watt Titanium PSU

Cooling:
Alphacool Eisblock XPX Pro (AM4, 2066)
Alphacool Eiswolf (modified)
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
Case:
Lian Li T70, Raijintek Paean
Closed cCse / Open Benchtable
Monitor: BenQ PD3220U
Power Consumption:

Non-contact direct current measurement on PCIe slot (riser card)
Non-contact direct current measurement at the external PCIe power supply
Direct voltage measurement at the respective connectors and at the power supply unit
2x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500 MHz multichannel oscilloscope with memory function
4x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50, current clamp adapter (1 mA to 30 A, 100 KHz, DC)
4x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355, probe (10:1, 500 MHz)
1x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012, digital multimeter with memory function

Thermal Imager:
1x Optris PI640 + 2x Xi400 Thermal Imagers
Pix Connect Software
Type K Class 1 thermal sensors (up to 4 channels)
Acoustics:
NTI Audio M2211 (with calibration file)
Steinberg UR12 (with phantom power for the microphones)
Creative X7, Smaart v.7
Own anechoic chamber, 3.5 x 1.8 x 2.2 m (LxTxH)
Axial measurements, perpendicular to the centre of the sound source(s), measuring distance 50 cm
Noise emission in dBA (slow) as RTA measurement
Frequency spectrum as graphic
OS: Windows 10 Pro (1909, all Updates)

 

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About the author

Igor Wallossek

Editor-in-chief and name-giver of igor'sLAB as the content successor of Tom's Hardware Germany, whose license was returned in June 2019 in order to better meet the qualitative demands of web content and challenges of new media such as YouTube with its own channel.

Computer nerd since 1983, audio freak since 1979 and pretty much open to anything with a plug or battery for over 50 years.

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