MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming ZJanuary 2020
The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT has finally arrived and while the launch didn't go smooth, the end product is a card that should definitely spice up the mainstream graphics segment. The Radeon 5600 XT is positioned not only against NVIDIA's Turing GeForce GTX lineup but also GeForce RTX lineup of graphics cards, with a starting price of $279 US.
The Radeon RX 5600 series uplifts AMD by bringing a modern architecture design and moving away from its GCN design featured on the Polaris GPUs. This allows AMD to bring more streamlined graphics performance in modern workloads and gaming titles. AMD was already ahead of the curve in utilizing new techs such as HBM and smaller process nodes and Navi is no exception. Aside from the new graphics architecture, AMD has also introduced GDDR6 memory and a smaller 7nm process node for their mainstream lineup which is a big update from the 14nm process on Polaris and Vega series cards.
While the Radeon RX 5600 series cards bring new technologies and features to the segment, the tech itself doesn't come cheap. We can see this in the table illustrating previous mainstream cards and their price segments. In that regard, the RX 5600 XT has definitely seen a markup in the prices of mainstream graphics cards. Also, there was the whole performance upgrade scene where AMD had to change the specifications of the card at the very last minute to compete against the NVIDIA price cuts for their GeForce RTX 2060. We will talk more about this in the review ahead.
AMD Radeon GPU Segment/Tier Prices
|Ultra Enthusiast Tier||Radeon R9 Fury X|
Radeon R9 Fury
Radeon R9 Nano
|Radeon R9 Fury X|
Radeon R9 Fury
Radeon R9 Nano
|Radeon RX Vega 64||Radeon RX Vega 64||Radeon VII|
|$499 US||$499 US||$699 US|
|Enthusiast Tier||Radeon R9 390X||Radeon R9 390X||Radeon RX Vega 56||Radeon RX Vega 56||Radeon RX 5700 XT|
|Price||$429 US||$429 US||$399 US||$399 US||$399 US|
|High-End Tier||Radeon R9 390||Radeon R9 390||N/A||Radeon RX 590||Radeon RX 5700|
|Price||$329 US||$329 US||N/A||$279 US||$349 US|
|Mainstream Tier||Radeon R9 380X|
Radeon R9 380
Radeon R9 370X
Radeon R9 370
|Radeon RX 480|
Radeon RX 470
|Radeon RX 580|
Radeon RX 570
|Radeon RX 580|
Radeon RX 570
|Radeon RX 5600 XT|
|Entry Tier||Radeon R7 360||Radeon RX 460||Radeon RX 560||Radeon RX 560||Radeon RX 5500 XT
Radeon RX 5500 XT
|Price||$109 US||$129 US||$99 US||$99 US||$199 US
Well, in terms of performance the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT 6 GB is supposed to be much faster than the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti at about 20% average. This would allow AMD to reach near RTX 2060 performance at a lower price point which is very impressive on paper. To cut down the costs, AMD had to go with 6 GB GDDR6 memory whereas their RX 5500 XT supports up to 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM. It is quite the sacrifice but in the market where the RX 5600 XT is competing, you won't find much aside from 6 GB cards (RTX 2060, GTX 1660 Ti, GTX 1660 SUPER).
Unlike the GeForce RTX cards which had some feature advantage over the Radeon RX 5700 series cards, the GeForce GTX cards don't feature RTX/DLSS support. This puts them just on par with the Radeon RX 5600 series in feature set with the exception of the Turing NVENC encoder which does an exceptional job for gamers on a budget. The Radeon RX 5600 is supported by the latest AMD Adrenaline 2020 Edition bringing features such as Radeon Boost, Integer Scaling, Radeon Image Sharpening, Radeon Anti-Lag, and Freesync support. These are an impressive list of features on their own and something to really consider when comparing AMD's and NVIDIA's budget tier range of cards.
So for this review, I will be taking a look at the MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z. This is MSI's new and flagship custom design for the Navi 10 GPU that features dual TORX 3.0 fans along with the renowned MSI features such as Zero Frozr and Smooth heat pipe design. The card has an MSRP of $339.99 US which is a hefty $60 US premium over the reference MSRP.
The AMD Radeon RX 5600 Series Family
The AMD Radeon RX 5600 series lineup is made up of a single desktop and mobility variant. The desktop variant is the Radeon RX 5600 XT which I will be testing today in custom flavor from MSI while the mobility variant is the upcoming Radeon RX 5600M which should feature similar specs as the Radeon RX 5600 XT but with notebook optimized clock speeds and TDP.
AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT 6 GB Official Specifications ($279 USD MSRP)
Rocking 36 Compute Units or 2304 stream processors on its Navi 10 XLE GPU, this card offers the same core count as the Radeon RX 5700. The clock speeds for the Radeon RX 5600 XT are tuned at 1130 MHz base, 1375 MHz game, and 1560 MHz boost. This would also lead to much lower TDP, around the 160W range while the Radeon RX 5700 has a TDP of 180W. The card will be able to put out 7.19 TFLOPs of Compute horsepower.
Coming to the memory design, this is where we start seeing major differences between the Radeon RX 5700 and the Radeon RX 5600 XT. While the Radeon RX 5700 rocks an 8 GB GDDR6 memory with a 256-bit wide bus interface, the Radeon RX 5600 XT would rock a 6 GB GDDR6 memory with a 192-bit bus interface. The Radeon RX 5700 also delivers a higher 448 GB/s bandwidth, utilizing the 14 Gbps DRAM dies while the Radeon RX 5600 XT would offer 288 GB/s bandwidth, utilizing slower 12 Gbps DRAM dies. The card will require a single 8-pin power connector & display outputs include a single HDMI 2.0b and triple DisplayPort 1.4 ports.
Do note that these are the reference specifications which are since the cards release not being followed by AIBs. AIBs are instead using custom BIOS's to deliver higher clocks for both GPU and VRAM along with higher TDP limits of up to 160W.
AMD Radeon RX 5000 '7nm Navi RDNA' GPU Lineup Specs:
|Graphics Card||Radeon RX 5700 XT 50th Anniversary||Radeon RX 5700 XT||Radeon RX 5700||Radeon RX 5600 XT||Radeon RX 5500 XT||Radeon RX 5300|
|GPU Architecture||7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)||7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)||7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)||7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)||7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)||7nm Navi (RDNA 1st Gen)|
|Stream Processors||2560 SPs||2560 SPs||2304 SPs||2304 SPs||1408 SPs||1408 SPs|
|TMUs / ROPs||160 / 64||160 / 64||144 / 64||144 / 64||88 / 32||88 / 32|
|Base Clock||1680 MHz||1605 MHz||1465 MHz||1130 MHz||1670 MHz||TBD|
|Boost Clock||1980 MHz||1905 MHz||1725 MHz||1560 MHz||1845 MHz||1645 MHz|
|Game Clock||1830 MHz||1755 MHz||1625 MHz||1375 MHz||1717 MHz||1448 MHz|
|Compute Power||10.14 TFLOPs||9.75 TFLOPs||7.95 TFLOPs||7.19 TFLOPs||5.19 TFLOPs||4.63 TFLOPs|
|VRAM||8 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6||6 GB GDDR6||8 GB GDDR6|
4 GB GDDR6
|3 GB GDDR6|
|Bandwidth||448 GB/s||448 GB/s||448 GB/s||288 GB/s||224 GB/s||168 GB/s|
|Price||$449 US||$399 US||$349 US||$279 US||$169 US (4 GB)|
$199 US (8 GB)
|Launch||7th July 2019||7th July 2019||7th July 2019||21st January, 2020||7th October 2019||28th August, 2020|
Radeon RX 5600 "7nm Navi RDNA GPU" Feature Set and A Word on HW-Enabled Ray Tracing
While we would share a few tidbits of the RDNA architecture itself below, there are also some highlights we should mention for the Navi GPU. According to AMD themselves, the Navi 10 GPU will be 14% faster at the same power and should consume 23% lower power at the same clock speeds as Vega 64 GPU. The AMD Navi GPU has a die size of 251mm2 and delivers 2.3x perf per area over Vega 64. The chip packs 10.3 Billion transistors while the Vega 10 GPU packed 12.5 Billion transistors on almost twice the die space.
Also, when it comes to ray tracing, AMD is indeed developing their own suite around it. According to their vision, current GCN and RDNA architecture will be able to perform ray tracing on shaders which will be used through ProRender for creators and Radeon Rays for developers. In next-gen RDNA which is supposed to launch in 2020 on 7nm+ node, AMD will be bringing hardware-enabled ray tracing with select lighting effects for real-time gaming. AMD will also enable full-scene ray tracing which would be leveraged through cloud computing.
New Compute Unit Design
Great Compute Efficiency For Diverse Workloads
- 2x Instruction Rate (enabled by 2x Scalar Units and 2x Schedulers)
- Single Cycle Issue (enabled by Executing Wwave32 on SIMD32)
- Dual Mode Execution (Wave 32 and Wave 64 Modes Adapt for Workloads)
- Resource Pooling (2 CUs Coordinate as a Work Group Processor)
As you can tell, AMD is changing a lot in terms of architecture with RDNA (Radeon DNA) compared to GCN. There's a new Compute unity design, a more streamlined Graphics pipeline & a multi-level cache hierarchy. Aside from the GPU architecture, support for GDDR6 memory is another major change that brings AMD's graphics cards on par with NVIDIA in utilizing modern memory designs for higher bandwidth.
The MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z is one of the fastest RX 5600 XT models around, featuring fast GPU clocks, 14 Gbps memory, a superb cooling solution, and a beefy VRM design which single-handily beats out the RTX 2060 making it a perfect choice for 1080p and even entry-level 1440p gamers, If you can dish out the extra $60 US premium that MSI is asking, then the Gaming Z is the best RX 5600 XT variant to get your hands on!
- Best card for 1080p gamers, faster than an RTX 2060
- Huge performance uplift versus Polaris cards
- Excellent Performance Per Watt
- No BIOS flash required in Gaming Z variants
- Much cooler than the reference model
- Much quieter than the reference model
- Great factory overclock out of the box
- 14 Gbps memory modules on the Gaming Z
- Amazing Shroud design with Twin Frozr 7 & backplate
- Performance and Silent Mode Options in Dragon Center App
- TORX 3.0 cooling system with finned aluminum heatsink
- First GPUs Built Entirely on 7nm Process node
- PCI-e Gen 4.0 Support
- Good I/O (DSC 1.2a for 8K 60 Hz, Triple Display Ports 1.4 HDR, HDMI 2.0)
- Very High Price ($340 US+)
- No dedicated hardware for Ray Tracing
- Not a lot of overclocking headroom left
- Messy Launch & lower-clock factory shipped BIOS in existing models