Power draw, thermals, and noise
We also tested the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra using 3DMark’s 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.
Fire Strike performance doesn’t seem to correlate with real-world games performance very strongly anymore, as these results would put it ahead of the more powerful $700 GeForce RTX 2080 Super—which it definitely isn’t. We’ll probably switch to another synthetic benchmark soon.
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.
Pushing Navi to such high clock speeds definitely stresses its efficiency. While the reference RX 5700 XT delivers energy efficiency on a par with, or slightly better than, Nvidia’s rival RTX GPUs, the ramped-up clock speeds in the XFX Thicc II Ultra suck down a lot more power—even more than the previously mentioned RTX 2080 Super, which is in an entirely different performance class.
And while the results aren’t included here because we used XFX’s fixed Performance BIOS, if you try using the as-shipped Performance BIOS with fan speed woes, the power draw goes up significantly—to the same levels as the monstrous $1,200 GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Download that new BIOS pronto if you buy one of the first wave of this card.
All that said, the 394W this card draws isn’t unreasonable, but a side effect of drawing that much power is having to dissipate the heat. We test thermals by leaving either AMD’s Wattman (for Radeon GPUs) or EVGA’s Precision X1 (for GeForce GPUs) open during the F1 2018 five-lap power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.
XFX’s Thicc II Ultra is a lot chillier than AMD’s blower-style reference cooler, and subjectively, much quieter as well. But this isn’t the quietest card I’ve ever tested. Even with the fixed Performance BIOS, the fan speeds tend to hover at 2,100rpm to 2,300rpm under load, which is a lot faster than many competing custom designs. It’s no doubt needed to keep the heat from that high power draw in check, and thus allow the Thicc II Ultra to boost to such high performance levels, but XFX clearly leans toward cooler temperatures than lower noise levels.
The card isn’t unpleasant to be around though, unlike the notoriously bad Radeon Vega reference coolers. And we actually love the idle fan stop feature (common on high-end custom cards). Utter silence during standard desktop usage is delightful.
Next page: Should you buy the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra?