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    AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Review: The Successor to Polaris

    Announced back in CES 2020, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is meant to complete the current series of AMD video cards. While the RX 5700 series were meant to take on games at 1440p, the RX 5600 XT was made to run games at their highest settings at 1080p.

    Still king at 1080p within AMD’s ranks are Polaris-based video cards, specifically the AMD Radeon RX 580. Could the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT take the lead in its intended operating resolution and finally replace Polaris GPUs?

    AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

    GPU Navi 10
    Architecture RDNA 1
    Transistor Count 10.3 Billion
    Manufacturing Process 7nm
    Base Clock 1375MHz
    Game Clock 1620MHz
    Boost Clock 1750MHz
    Texture Units 144
    Render Output Units 64
    Compute Units 36
    Stream Processors 2304
    Throughput 7.2TFLOPS
    Peak Texture Fill-Rate 224.6GT/s
    Memory 6GB GDDR6, 12Gbps
    Memory Bus Width 192-bit
    Memory Bandwidth 288GB/s
    TDP 150W
    Power Connectors 1x 8-pin PCIe
    Display Connections 3x DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b
    Others PCIe 4.0

    The RDNA Architecture and Navi

    Previous cards of AMD employed the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. This time around, they using their new Radeon DNA (RDNA) architecture. The brand says that RDNA can deliver around 1.5x performance per watt compared to their previous GCN-based Vega 64 GPU.

    In addition, RDNA is also promising 2.3x performance per area. This is in direct comparison to the 495mm² die of Vega 64 to the 251mm² of 7nm Navi-based GPUs.

    Navi 10, in its full implementation, has 40 Compute Units with each housing 64 stream processors for a total of 2,560 stream processors. Each compute unit is able to pump out more performance by having two scalar units and schedulers. This allows every Compute Unit to have twice the Instruction Rate compared to previous architectures.

    These new Compute Units allow Navi 10 GPUs to have 25% more performance per clock compared to GCN-based GPUs. AMD is also using three new clock speed schemes on their RX 5000 series GPUs. On the RX 5600 XT, the GPU comes with three clock speeds: a Base Clock, a Game Clock, and Boost Clock.

    Like its name suggests, the GPU’s Base Clock is the lowest clock speed that the GPU can achieve when under load. Boost Clock, meanwhile, is the highest clock speed that the GPU can attain under optimal conditions.

    Game Clock, on the other hand, is the clock speed that the GPU averages while in-game. AMD measures this clock speed by running their new cards across 25 separate games and determining its average clock rate.

    Does it have Ray Tracing?

    At this time, the RDNA-based GPUs will only support ray tracing via Radeon Rays and Pro Render. AMD, however, is promising hardware-accelerated ray tracing at the dawn of its 7nm+ RDNA2-based GPUs. Based on their roadmap, GPUs that fully support ray tracing will arrive on 2020.

    New Software

    AMD is introducing a couple of new software with the release of the RX 5000 series. First off is AMD Radeon Anti-Lag. This allows whole system to pump out improved input-to-display response time.

    Radeon Image Sharpening (RIS) is being introduced this generation. RIS’ major advantage over NVIDIA DLSS is that developers don’t need to specifically implement this technique. Instead, Radeon Image Sharpening can be controlled via the Radeon Software.

    AMD says that their sharpening technique can stays close to the targeted resolution as possible. This means that 1080p images can be upscaled 1440p while 1440p images upscaled to 2160p only have minimal differences compared to native resolutions.

    There’s also minimal performance hit with RIS allowing players to enjoy sharper images without much downside.

    The RX 5000 series will also be taking advantage of AMD Radeon Chill. Introduced in Radeon Crimson ReLive, Radeon Chill allows the GPU to save power whenever it can while in-game.

    Radeon Chill regulates the framerate based on the movements while in-game. Essentially, it lowers the GPU performance when you are in a safe area or not moving while pumping up the clocks when movements are fast and erratic.

    AMD will also be using Radeon Boost. Much like Radeon Chill, Radeon Boost is entirely dependent on the motion of the player. But instead of saving power, Boost will intelligently reduce the resolution of the game in order to keep steady frame rate. AMD says that the scaling should not be realistically noticeable since Boost will only take place during a fast-motion scene.

    Up close with the XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro

    Unlike the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, AMD has stated that they will not be making reference cards for the RX 5600 XT. Instead of a reference card, we’ll be taking a look at the performance of AMD’s new cards from one of their Add-in Board partners: the XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro.

    The XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro isn’t exactly as thick as some other cards in the market. The THICC moniker can be attributed to its cooling solution. Dubbed as “THICC II,” this cooling solution from XFX combines two 100mm fans, copper heatpipes, and a massive heatsink to cool down the components inside.

    The backplate of the card is perforated to passively cool down the PCB. Embossed on the backplate of the card is the XFX logo in large fonts to show off the branding of the card.

    The two 100mm fans at the top come with 0dB technology, which is a fancy way for manufacturers to tell customers that the fans won’t spin until the card hits 60°C. Once over 60°C, the fans will kick in to cool the card.

    The shroud of the XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro has a little alcove near the end of the card that reveals its 8-pin PCIe power connector. AMD lists the RX 5600 XT to have a TDP of 150W, which means that the single 8-pin PCIe power connector should supply plenty of power to the card.

    In terms of display connections, the card comes with the customary list of ports. Three DisplayPort 1.4 connections and a single HDMI 2.0b port are available for your displays.

    System and Benchmarks

    We put the XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro to a battery of synthetic benchmarks and games to see what kind of numbers AMD’s brand new card can pump out.

    • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600X 4.1GHz
    • RAM: Team Group T-Force Vulcan Z 2x 8GB DDR4-3200
    • Motherboard: ASUS Prime B350-Plus (BIOS 3806)
    • PSU: EVGA 650 GQ Gold 650W
    • OS: Windows 10 Build 1903
    • Driver: Adrenalin Edition 20.1.1

    AMD has advised us that a public driver will be released coinciding with the launch to retail of the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT. VBIOS of the first batch cards will also need updating to eke out a bit more performance from the card.

    We have encountered some problems with AMD’s drive at the time of writing. Hopefully, we’ll be able to take a look at the RX 5600 XT again once official drivers without any bugs start circulating.

    Synthetic Benchmarks

    3DMark Fire Strike

    Designed to showcase the DirectX 11 API, the Futuremark 3DMark Firestrike became a standard in benchmarking as it not only tests the capabilities of the GPU, but also the capabilities of the whole system for a complete stress test.”

    3DMark Time Spy

    With its pure DirectX 12 engine, built from the ground up to support new API features like asynchronous compute, explicit multi-adapter, and multi-threading, Time Spy is the ideal benchmark for testing the DirectX 12 performance of modern graphics cards.

    As expected, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT places just above its predecessor, the RX 580, in terms of synthetic benchmarks. It was even able to beat last generation’s NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti.

    Gaming Benchmarks

    Metro Last Light

    It is the year 2034. Beneath the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow, in the tunnels of the Metro, the remnants of mankind are besieged by deadly threats from outside – and within. Mutants stalk the catacombs beneath the desolate surface, and hunt amidst the poisoned skies above.

    Rise of the Tomb Raider

    A follow-up to the reboot of the series, Lara is now searching for a lost treasure that his father was investigating before his passing. Following the same gameplay as Tomb Raider reboot from 2013, the Rise of the Tomb Raider is a worthy title under the Tomb Raider series.

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

    Now an experienced covert operative, Adam Jensen is forced to operate in a world that has grown to despise his kind. Armed with a new arsenal of state-of-the-art weapons and augmentations, he must choose the right approach, along with who to trust, in order to unravel a vast worldwide conspiracy.

    Hitman 2016

    There is a world beyond ours. Beyond nations, justice, ethics. It never sleeps. It exists everywhere. And once you enter…there is no going back. Welcome to the World of Assassination. You are Agent 47, the world’s ultimate assassin.

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    The last entry in Geralt’s adventure, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt aims to perfect The Witcher formula. A follow-up to The Witcher 2, which was also regarded for its technical marvel, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a perfect candidate for a benchmarking tool as it runs consistently and stresses most cards with its beautiful graphics.”

    Like in our synthetic benchmarks, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is able to outpace its precursor by quite a margin. The card was even able to beat the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 in Hitman 2016 by a few frames.

    Temperature

    AMD’s single-fan solution has not been implemented in this card since we are reviewing an AIB card. Thanks to the THICC II cooling solution of XFX, the card’s thermals are quite manageable while being quiet.

    The idle temperatures might be a bit high, but let’s remember that the card does not turn on its fans until it hits the 60°C mark. This essentially translates to a silent-operating card when under minimal load.

    The card peaked at 70°C under heavy load. Since this is a dual-fan card with an open design, the video card is able to dissipate heat quite efficiently without hearing the whirring of the fans.

    Conclusion

    Just like the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT strikes a good balance of performance and price. At just USD 279, the card can play games at 1080p at the highest settings like a champ.

    In terms of sheer performance, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT beats its predecessor by a significant amount. It can even make other cards beyond its price range a good sweat with the amount of frames it can pump out.

    Though there are currently some teething issues like its drivers, AMD currently has a good track record of keeping their drivers up-to-date (for their PC components at least) as well as adding more features in the future.

    Priced at USD 279 or around PhP 14,000 in the Philippines, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is a worthy successor to the Polaris GPUs. This is why we’re giving AMD mid-range video card our seal of approval.

    If you’re playing at 1080p and are in need of a dire upgrade to play all the games you want at its highest settings, then the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT should be a card on your shortlist.

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