XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra review: A high-performance muscle car of a GPU

It's high-performing, a little loud, extremely impressive, and in need of some slight tinkering for peak performance.

Credit: Brad Chacos/IDG

Should you buy the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra?

It’s a shame about the launch batch BIOS woes, but don’t sleep on the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra. This is a high-performing, extremely gorgeous graphics card that chews through 1440p gaming or high refresh rate 1080p gaming without fail.

xfx radeon rx 5700 xt thicc ii ultra 3 Brad Chacos/IDG

XFX leans hard on AMD’s Navi GPU to crank performance. Across our testing suite, the Thicc II Ultra is an average of 4.6 percent faster than the reference RX 5700 XT at 1440p resolution, and even more so in DirectX 12 games—it’s 9 percent faster in Division 2, for example, and 6.5 percent faster in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It blows past the $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super and lands within spitting distance of the $500+ RTX 2070 Super—sometimes it’s faster. Pair it with a FreeSync variable refresh rate monitor and you’ll have one hell of a gaming setup, though like all Radeon GPUs, it lacks real-time ray tracing capabilities. That cutting-edge lighting technology is still in its infancy, however.

And hot damn, this graphics card is gorgeous—perhaps my favorite ever. I can’t state that strongly enough. Taste is subjective, and the “Thicc” branding is pretty cringey, but the Thicc II Ultra lives up to it. The cooler on this plus-sized card is a big improvement over the reference RX 5700 XT’s blower-style fan.

Pushing Navi this hard has its drawbacks, though. The Thicc II Ultra draws significantly more power than the reference model and Nvidia’s GeForce rivals. Taming the heat that fierce power draw generates requires the fans to spin at high speeds, which makes the card a bit louder than many custom designs. Neither is egregious enough to diminish my affection for this beast of a graphics card though, and the added noise somewhat adds to the hot rod feel, weirdly enough. Your mileage may vary.

xfx radeon rx 5700 xt thicc ii ultra 4 Brad Chacos/IDG

The fan speed problems with the first wave of cards to hit the shelves is a major issue, and one that directly affects both quality of life and in-game performance. XFX has already fixed the issue via a BIOS update available on the Thicc II Ultra’s page, and representatives told me that all cards coming from the factory now have the adjusted BIOS preinstalled, so these issues should only affect very early adopters. That said, if you buy this card and discover it suffers from the flaw, be sure to install that BIOS ASAP. It sounds scary, but it isn’t. The process is painless and takes only a few minutes.

Bottom line: Even with the quibbles, XFX achieved exactly what it set out to do here. The $440 XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra is a captivating, high-performance muscle car of a graphics card, complete with a chromed-out grille and a gentle roar when it puts the pedal to the metal. The power draw, slightly high fan noise, and soon-to-be-alleviated fan speed issues in the launch batch forces us to dock it a half-point in the final rating and prevent us from giving the Thicc II Ultra an Editors’ Choice award. Nevertheless, it’s highly recommended, even though you might need to tinker under the hood in true hot rod-like fashion to get the card running at peak potential. It’s slightly flawed but mighty fine.

I think the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc II Ultra might hold a special place in my heart for a while. 

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Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos

PC World (US online)
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