AMD’s Navi cards finally hit the market last week. Although most media outlets gave priority to the Ryzen 3000 lineup, the RX 5700 GPUs still pack quite a punch and that too without costing a leg or two. We witnessed one of the biggest price-wars of the graphics card market earlier this month, with NVIDIA releasing the Super cards to render the older RTX cards and the RX 5700 lineup (at the initial prices) obsolete. AMD in a surprising move retaliated by slashing the MRPs of the Navi GPUs, making them a whole lot enticing all of a sudden. The dust has settled and here we are ready to analyze how consumer-friendly these 7nm GPUs really are.
7nm, Navi and the RDNA Graphics Architecture: Retiring GCN and Vega
Navi is based on the new RDNA architecture which has been designed from the ground-up for gamers. However, the first iteration still has some vestiges of the older GCN design here and there, mainly the compute engine, but that’s not a bad thing, it only retains the best parts.
One of the main changes in RDNA is better performance per clock-cycle thanks to reduced latency and improved efficiency. This is essentially an IPC uplift like Zen 2 and makes the Navi GPUs especially suited for gaming. Basically, the layout of the GPU design has been overhauled, and the same blocks have been placed to make the whole system more viable.
As you can see, the cache system has been redesigned and the graphics pipeline has gone through some notable changes. All in all, RDNA aims to achieve three things:
- Better core efficiency through a shared design called the Dual Compute Unit (DCU)
- Higher frequencies while consuming less power
- Reduced latency using the DCU design
On paper, it seems fine and dandy, but let’s see how it works in the real world compared to NVIDIA’s 12nm Turing architecture.
- CPU: Intel Core i7-8700K
- RAM: Trident Z Royal @ 3200MHz
- HDD: WD Black 4TB
- PSU: Corsair HX1000i
The latest version of Radeon drivers was used in parallel with similar GeForce ones to keep things balanced.
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT: Gaming Benchmarks
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the Radeon RX 5700 XT is slightly slower than the GeForce RTX 2070 Super, but easily trounces both the RTX 2060 Super as well as the 2070. The deltas are especially pronounced at 4K. All this while costing the same as the lowest-end Super card.
The Division 2
The Division 2 features one of the best implementations of DirectX12 seen till date: Asynchronous Compute, improved CPU overhead, and a well-rounded PC port overall. Despite being an AMD title though, the RTX 2070 Super is a bit too much for the RX 5700 XT to handle, but the latter still puts up a good fight rendering more than 60FPS at QHD.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Although I thoroughly disliked the plot and characters, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a gorgeous game and an excellent benchmarking application. Here the RX 5700 XT once again pulls its punches and is not that far behind the higher-priced RTX 2070 Super. The Navi card easily pushes 70FPS at QHD and manages to yield 40+FPS at 4K. And that too in an NVIDIA sponsored title at that, weird times!
Ashes of the Singularity
Ashes of the Singularity is often known as the first child of the DirectX12 API with a fully loaded graphics menu, courtesy of AMD and Oxide Games. You’ve got Vulkan, DX11, DX12, as well as support for multi-GPU configs using the latter. The Radeon’s advantage is quite clear, and at 4K, the RX 5700 XT is just a few FPS short of the RTX 2070 Super while holding a lead of 10% over the RTX 2060 Super.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
The RTX 2070 Super is ahead of the RX 5700 XT at 1440p, but at 4K, the delta is almost negligible. The RTX 2060 Super is slower than the RTX 2070 in this title, possibly due to the shader deficit. At QHD, only the RTX 2080 manages to hit 60FPS using the Ultra quality graphics preset, but the rest of the cards aren’t that far behind, and a few tweaks should get them home.
Strangely, the Navi cards seem to be performing quite well in NVIDIA optimized titles. Seems like whatever drawbacks GCN had that made them lag behind their GeForce counterparts have all been rectified. In Metro Exodus, the RX 5700 XT is faster than the RTX 2070 Super (again) and almost manages to creep up to the RTX 2080. At 1440p, the gaps are more prominent, but they shrink to irrelevant figures at 4K.
Thermals and Temperature
I had already heard reports that the RX 5700 XT runs hot, and I got to witness that first-hand today. Although the power draw is comparable to the RTX 2070 Super, the thermals are a bit of an issue, at least in case of the reference model. Have a peek:
The GPU (the core) actually hit 100 degrees during a short benchmark run while the average temperature hovered north of 80. The memory isn’t well cooled either and crossed into the post-80 territory too.
Coming to the TDP, according to GPU-Z, the Radeon RX 5700 XT consumed 185-190 watts (just the GPU) on an average with a max of 197. This is in-line with AMD’s official 225W total board power rating and in the same range as the Turing architecture. However, keep in mind that the RTX cards leverage the 12nm node while Navi is based on the 7nm process. By the time NVIDIA launches its Ampere cards, team red should get more time to optimize the power draw of the RDNA+ architecture for the Navi 20.
Conclusion: Just Buy it!
I’m going to quote a certain outlet’s initial evaluation of the GeForce RTX cards from last year, for their competitors,
The Radeon RX 5700 XT is an excellent graphics card, marking AMD’s return to the upper-midrange GPU space along with the cut-throat pricing the company is known for. The 5700 XT is roughly 5-8% slower than the RTX 2070 Super, but when you look at the price tag, you’re going to have to shell an additional $100 for the latter. Even if you throw in the fancy ray-tracing feature, I’m still finding it hard to recommend the Supers over Navi. They’re just so damn well priced.
PS: You might want to wait for the third-party cards. Given that Navi overclocks nicely, you might be rewarded for your patience.
Cover image, just in case you like it: