Overclocking the Radeon RX 5700 XT: 2.1 GHz on Liquid Cooling

After testing AMD's new Radeon 5700 GPUs and Nvidia's RTX Super response, we're particularly excited about the value that the latest Radeons offer. While GeForce RTX boards still dominate in the high-end range, the $ 400 5700 XT at a set price is very attractive. But what if we push the new hardware to its limits?

We're using EK's new Vector water block for satnavs and we'll find out right away, because they were kind enough to send you immediately for this test. In our first test of the RX 5700 series, we found that if we increased the fan speed of the 5700 XT to 100%, we could increase the GPU from ~ 1800 MHz to 2050 MHz.

Shortly afterwards, Igor & # 39; s LAB published an interesting piece, in which users' results were shown how it is possible to bypass AMD imposed BIOS overclocking limits. Some simple but ingenious changes to the Windows registry allow us to bypass the AMD limits, raise the GPU frequency to 2300 MHz, while increasing the performance limit.

Of course, the GPU silicon has to be good enough to run 2.3 GHz, and unfortunately none of our retail cards was able to run even 2.2 GHz. We saw the limit at 2.1 GHz, which is still an overclocking of ~ 18%, so we expect a nice performance boost.

After a one-hour F1 2019 loop, the 5700 XT in its standard configuration runs with the reference cooler in the blower style at around 1780 MHz. The card reaches its maximum operating temperature of 84 degrees in a room with an ambient temperature of 21 ° C.

Under the same conditions in which the EK Vector block was installed and attached to a 240 mm cooler with two quiet 120 mm fans, the 5700 XT reached a maximum of only 45 ° C. This corresponds to a massive drop in temperature of 39 ° C. The GDDR6 memory also dropped by 20 degrees and the VRM temperature by up to 30 degrees.

With the "EvenMorePower5700XT" registry change installed, we found that 2.1 GHz is the limit of our Asus and PowerColor reference cards. We tried some other optimization profiles, but the same hard 2.1 GHz limit was observed for our hardware.

This remains a decent overclocking of 18% and since the 5700 XT was only 9% slower on average than the RTX 2080 (not super), this overclocking should advance the 5700 XT. Of course, you can also overclock the RTX 2080, but other than that, we're trying to get a 2080-like performance with a significant discount. So let's start our i9-9900K GPU test bench and see how the liquid-cooled 5700 XT behaves.


The first test on our bench was F1 2019, where we see a modest 9% increase in performance for the average frame rate and a slightly less impressive increase of 6% for the 1% low result. This allowed the 5700 XT to keep up with the GTX 1080 Ti at 2.1 GHz, although it was still 5% slower than the RTX 2080, which wasn't exactly a big margin, but we hoped that overclocking would give better results .

Battlefield V shows a much less impressive 5% increase in average frame rate performance, although the 1% low performance has been improved by 7%. This 1% low is still somewhat weak compared to the RTX 2080, but it is close enough for savings of almost $ 150.

Rainbow Six Siege has had the most impressive win yet, namely a 10% increase in performance at an average frame rate. This pushes the 5700 XT ahead of the standard 1080 Ti, but it's still slower than the RTX 2070 Super and much slower than the RTX 2080 Super.

Next up is Metro Exodus and here we see a slight 7% improvement in performance from 72 fps to 77 fps and that wasn't enough to catch the 2070 Super itself.

When testing with Resident Evil 2, there was a further increase of 7%, although this time it was sufficient to at least correspond to the RTX 2070 Super.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider disappointed with a 6% performance improvement overclocking, but that was enough to at least match the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2070 Super.

Another 6% gain is seen testing Fortnite. Here we record an additional 6 fps. In our opinion it is not worth the effort.

Division 2 shows a 7% increase in performance for 2.1 GHz overclocking and that was enough to match the RTX 2070 Super in this title.

The DiRT Rally 2.0 shows a slight increase of 5% from 102 to 107 fps, which is a disappointing result for this game.

The Radeon RX 5700 XT has already killed it in Forza Horizon 4, and here we see that the 3% weak improvement overclocking was still enough to occupy the top spot, although we would suggest that we are likely at that point CPU limited.

Far Cry New Dawn offers a 7% increase in performance and puts the 5700 XT right on the heels of the RTX 2080 Super.

In World War II, overclocking performance improved by 6%.

Our last test shows a very disappointing 4% increase in performance in Assassins Creed Odyssey when overclocking is applied.

power consumption

With an average performance increase of 7%, you will see an increase in power consumption of almost 40%, since the GPU power consumption was increased from only 186 watts to 258 watts (!)

If you look at the total system consumption, the overclocked 5700 XT shows a 25% increase in power consumption, making it a little more power-hungry than the Vega 64 and around 30 watts more than the RTX 2080 Ti. In other words, 2.1 GHz overclocking destroys the efficiency of RDNA.

What just happened

To put it bluntly, it was disappointing. By simply looking at the power consumption of the otherwise very efficient 7 nm navigation architecture, we found out why AMD restricted the frequency with which these cards can be operated.

The Radeon RX 5700 XT is a great product and really good value for money. We have high hopes for the upcoming AIB models, with which you can get the cards ready for use immediately. On the other hand, your chances of getting this thing on RTX 2080 Super or even Vanilla 2080 are slim – even at 2.2 GHz it's a stretch. Sure, in some games that are cheap for the red team, the 5700 XT will cause excitement, but overall it won't be able to keep up with the more expensive RTX models.

If you spend $ 140 on the EK Vector Navi block, the price of the 5700 XT rises to $ 540. For that money, you can buy the RTX 2070 Super, which offers a similar level of performance. Raising the cost of the 5700 XT by 35% to get 10% more performance is not a good investment for purely reasons.

Would you prefer an RTX 2070 Super or a liquid-cooled Radeon RX 5700 XT? This is up to you and your interest in a custom liquid cooling setup.

A third option would be to wait for the board partners to launch better air-cooled 5700 XTs, and frankly, that option makes the most sense. We tested our 5700 XT boards with decent air coolers. They still work at 2.1 GHz and make very little noise. The temperatures are in the range of 70 degrees. Expect custom AIB 5700 XT cards to hit the shelves sometime next month.

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