AMD's premium Navi graphics cards are the RX 5700 XT and RX 5700. Both are based on the same Navi 10 GPU core with hardware locks for stream processors and core clocks to keep one faster than the other. For the privilege of the XT's higher performance and oddly dented cooler case, you'll have to pay a $ 50 premium. Is it worth? To find out, we pitted the Radeon RX 5700 XT against the RX 5700 in a single shootout.
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
To see how these cards can keep up with the new Nvidia super cards, read our original review of the RX 5700 XT and 5700 and our direct comparison with the Nvidia RTX 2060 Super.
The essence of this comparison has always been performance. The raw power of these two cards is their greatest differentiating factor. So the question is whether you should spend an additional $ 50 on the additional features of the 5700 XT.
Let's look at the specs first to see what separates these two cards:
|Radeon RX 5700 XT||Radeon RX 5700|
|Basic clock||1.605 MHz||1,465 MHz|
|Music box||1,755 MHz||1.625 MHz|
|Boost clock||1.905 MHz||1.725 MHz|
|memory||8 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6|
|Bandwidth||448 Gbps||448 Gbps|
|Price||$ 399||$ 349|
The first big difference is the number of processing units. The 5700 XT has 40 more than 10% more than the 5700 36. This corresponds to the same difference in the stream processors and should be an essential part of the differentiation performance between these two cards.
Another big difference is the clock rate. The base clock of the 5700 XT is 150 MHz higher. The "music box" – the typical clock speed that you can expect with sustained load – is 130 MHz higher, which also supports the performance improvements compared to the 5700, although this gap can be closed by overclocking. The boost clock is also much larger on the XT, but unless you're chilled a lot by a third-party card, it's not a speed you'll likely get on a regular basis.
The 5700 XT has a significant increase in TDP requirements, making it a larger candidate for aftermarket cooling. However, this could indicate that the 5700 offers more overclocking scope. However, some buyers with high-end aftermarket cooling and some overclocking have managed to push their cards far north of 2 GHz.
Finally, both cards have identical configurations of GDDR6 video memory and bandwidth.
As to how all of this affects actual performance, let's look at the set of benchmarks we ran when we first reviewed the two cards.
Both cards perform well in our 3DMark Time Spy test. The 5700 XT could keep up with the RTX 2060 Super and the Radeon VII, with the 5700 lagging slightly more than 10%. Given that it's noticeably cheaper, that's a fair result.
In game tests, both cards have proven to be very powerful at both 1080p and 1440p, with more than playable frame rates (40-80FPS) at 4K in Fortnite, Battlefield 5 and Civilization VI. We see across the board that the RX 5700 works within about 10 percent of the 5700 XT. In some cases it is even closer.
If you're just looking for overall performance, the 5700 XT is clearly the better card. However, if value is important and the additional $ 50 would be more useful elsewhere, the 5700 can hold its own. This is especially true for 1440p, where it manages well over 100 FPS in Civilization VI and nearby in Battlefield 5 and Fortnite.
Cooling and overclocking
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
One of the biggest problems when starting the RX 5700 XT and 5700 was that the reference fan coolers were not up to the task. They are just not great. They are loud and do not cool the GPU well enough to prevent throttling. For this reason, many reference cards have difficulty in achieving the speed claimed by AMD. However, some owners have found that new thermal grease and added washers can make a big difference.
Fortunately, third-party variants are far more powerful, deliver cooler and quieter cards, and enable more impressive overclocking. In early tests after the cards were released, IgorsLab overclocked a 5700XT to more than 2.1 GHz at its core, resulting in an 11% increase in performance in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Others have pushed the card further and see overclocking up to 2.3 GHz.
The 5700, on the other hand, is limited by AMD, so it cannot immediately overclock to the same extremes. IgorsLab hit a 1800 MHz wall at its core with a 20% increase in performance limit.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around this limit. A BIOS flash offers you the same overclocking scope as a 5700 XT, only without the additional four processing units. That means you can take a 5700 and make it as fast as a 5700 XT with proper cooling.
The 5700 brings the value
The AMD RX 5700 and 5700 XT are an exciting release from AMD. These cards are the first to use the new RDNA architecture. They are very competitive with Nvidia's RTX 20 series “Super” GPUs and offer excellent 1080p and 1440p gaming capabilities. Given the heat and volume of the reference cards, however, we recommend purchasing third-party cards or adding your own aftermarket cooling.
If you don't want to overclock, you should buy the 5700 XT as it is certainly more powerful. However, be sure to look up individual reviews as some models have far better cooling solutions than others. If you overclock and want to flash the card's BIOS easily, the RX 5700 is a better choice. You can easily reach 5700 XT speeds and save some money.