GPUs

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT (Sapphire Pulse) Review: Killing the RTX 2060 & 2060 Super in one Blow

While AMD’s first wave of Navi cards put the pressure back on NVIDIA, Little Navi was a more luke-warm affair. The Radeon RX 5500 XT came in 4GB and 8GB variants. The former was marginally faster than the competing GTX 1650 Super but also costed more. The 8GB model was more problematic. It was priced the same as the $200, GTX 1660, a markedly faster GPU and it’s only defense was “more VRAM”. In the end, the RX 5500 XT failed to have the same impact as its Navi 5700 siblings. Now AMD is back with yet another Navi 10 GPU, the RX 5600 XT set to go up against the RTX 2060 at a lower price tag.

RX 5600 XT die

Like the 5700 series, the RX 5600 XT is also based on the Navi 10 die. Other than the lower clock speeds and cut-down memory bus (and the strange choice of disabled CUs), it’s identical to the RX 5700.

Radeon RX 5700Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT
Shading Units2,3042,304
Texture Units144144
ROPs6464
Base Clock Rate1,465 MHz1615MHz
Boost Clock Rate1,725 MHz1,750 MHz
Memory Clock14 Gbps14 Gbps
Memory Capacity8GB GDDR66GB GDDR6
Memory Bus256-bit192-bit
Memory Bandwidth448 GBps336 GBps
L2 Cache4MB4MB
TBP180W160W
Price$349$289

If you ignore the 192-bit bus, the Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT is identical to the vanilla 5700 on paper. With the new vBIOS, the boost clock and memory clocks are in the same ballpark and so is the TDP. The only difference is the bus width and the resulting memory bandwidth. However, considering that the 5600 XT is aimed at 1080p gaming, that shouldn’t have much of an impact.

Heatsink and Build

The PCB and VRM analysis will accompany the updated review with the additional GPU benchmarks

The Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT heatsink has three heat-pipes. The heatsink itself is a standard brushed aluminum array with a fancy backplate.

The Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT comes with a BIOS switch, allowing for a dual-BIOS setup. One suited for high-performance while the other for silent operation. This is also helpful if you screw up while flashing the BIOS. All you have to do is switch to the alternate one and fix the bricked BIOS.

The shrouds and the fans are made of rather flimsy plastic. Interestingly, the fans are connected by standard Molex connectors, rather than soldered. This makes replacing them a relatively easier affair.

TestBench

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X @ 4.5GHz

GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super|Radeon RX 5600 XT

Motherboard: ASRock X570 Taichi

Memory: Trident Z Royal 8GB x 2 @ 3600MHz CL15

PSU: Corsair HX1000i

Gaming Benchmarks

Our RTX 2060, GTX 1660 Super and RX 5700 benchmark data needed some updates so they have been excluded for now. Extremely sorry. Please bear with us as we recompile them. We'll do a separate piece comparing the 5600 XT with all those cards at 1080p and 1440p across 11 titles. 

The Radeon RX 5600 XT pretty much slaughters the NVIDIA RTX 2060 lineup. It easily beats the RTX 2060 (not included above), but the surprising part is how it matches up to the RTX 2060 Super in some titles. Quite remarkable really. After the mediocre launch of the RX 5500 XT, this was a much-needed victory for AMD.

In Borderlands 3, the Radeon RX 5600 XT performs more or less on par with the RTX 2060 Super. Granted, it is an AMD sponsored title, but let’s not forget that there’s a gap of more than $100 between these two GPUs.

Overclocking and Thermals

Using the updated BIOS, the RX 5600 XT hovers in the 1710-1720MHz range in most games. The temperatures are also quite steady, with the hotspot temp topping out at 71 degrees. Interestingly, the RX 5600 XT rarely consumed more than 4GB VRAM at 1080p. The only exception was Metro Exodus where the VRAM usage touched 5.5GB.

We were able to overclock the Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT by +70 on the core and +50 on the memory. The results were…less than satisfying:

Although we were able to push another 70MHz on the core, the power draw quickly reaches the 160W ceiling, forcing the card to throttle. So, the benefits of overclocking the RX 5600 XT are questionable at best. Again, like the other Navi cards, the memory just refuses to overclock. Conversely, on NVIDIA cards, we’ve been easily able to increase the memory frequency by 500-800MHz on even the cheapest of Turing GPUs.

Related: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Performance Benchmarks: Old vs New BIOS

Power Consumption

Stock

Under stock conditions, the Radeon RX 5600 XT drew a maximum of 127W and the core temperature topped out at 65-66 degrees. This was while running Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at 1440p Ultra. When we overclocked the card, the temps, as well as the power draw, spiked sharply.

OC

The hotspot temperature touched 80 degrees while the GPU power-draw crossed 160W. This is in-line with the updated specs, but considering that we saw little to no performance boost upon overclocking, it’s a bit disappointing. All in all, although a great option for gamers, Navi continues to be a headache for overclockers.

Conclusion: A Solid Win for AMD

The Radeon RX 5600 XT is a solid win for AMD. Not only does it trump the RTX 2060 it also manages to perform on par with the $400 2060 Super in certain titles. The temps are across the board and the TDP is also in-line with the NVIDIA competition. There is one concern though. As of now, only four RX 5600 XTs support the faster vBIOS out of the box. The rest of the cards are ~5% slower: 130MHz lower boost clock and 2Gbps slower memory. While even the cheapest RX 5600 XTs will easily beat the vanilla RTX 2060, this is going to confuse a lot of consumers. Make sure you check the specs before you buy the card. They can be found at the respective AIC’s official website. Example:

Areej

Computer Engineering dropout (3 years), writer, journalist, and amateur poet. I started Techquila while in college to address my hardware passion. Although largely successful, it suffered from many internal weaknesses. Left and now working on Hardware Times, a site purely dedicated to.Processor architectures and in-depth benchmarks. That's what we do here at Hardware Times!
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