AMD Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT review: Blazing new trails

AMD's latest graphics cards contain numerous cutting-edge technologies, and an all-new "RDNA" architecture that fixes previous Radeon drawbacks.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Power draw, thermals, and noise

We also tested the Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT using 3DMark’s highly respected Fire Strike synthetic benchmark. Fire Strike runs at 1080p, Fire Strike Extreme runs at 1440p, and Fire Strike Ultra runs at 4K resolution. All render the same scene, but with more intense graphical effects as you move up the scale, so that Extreme and Ultra flavors stress GPUs even more. We record the graphics score to eliminate variance from the CPU.

3dm Brad Chacos/IDG

The Radeon RX 5700 GPUs achieve higher scores than the RTX Super duo, even though Nvidia’s cards achieved better results in most real-world gaming tests.

We test thermals by leaving HWInfo’s sensor monitoring tool open during the F1 2018 five-lap power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end. AMD’s new GPUs weren’t recognized by HWInfo yet, so we used the company’s Wattman monitoring tool to measure temperatures in the Radeon RX 5700 series.

temp Brad Chacos/IDG

The blower-style cooler can’t keep temperatures as low as Nvidia’s dual-axial design, but it still gets the job done. Most importantly, and unlike the Vega 64 reference design, the Radeon RX 5700 GPUs aren’t unpleasant to be around. They’re a big improvement.

We test power draw by looping the F1 2018 benchmark for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else, and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

power Brad Chacos/IDG

Holy. Crap. Now this is unexpected! Ever since Nvidia revealed its Maxwell GPU architecture with the GeForce GTX 750 and 750 Ti all the way back in 2014, GeForce cards have absolutely pummeled their Radeon rivals. With AMD’s new RDNA graphics architecture and the leap to the 7nm process, the domination is over.

Pay attention to the Radeon RX 5700 versus the original non-Super RTX 2060, and the Radeon RX 5700 XT against the original RTX 2070. The Radeon GPUs were faster than those Nvidia GPUs in our gaming benchmarks, but the Radeon RX 5700 uses significantly less power than the RTX 2060, while the RX 5700 XT draws even with the RTX 2070.

The days of laughing at Radeon power efficiency (or lack thereof) are over. This is very encouraging for AMD’s future GPU development...though it remains to be seen what Nvidia’s architects are capable of when Team Green shifts to 7nm at some point in the future. 

Next page: Should you buy the Radeon RX 5700 series?

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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