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AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT vs. Nvidia RTX 2070 Super

AMD’s RX 5700 graphics cards might be AMD’s most powerful GPUs at the moment, but they’re aimed at capturing the mid-sector of the market. Designed to compete directly with Nvidia’s RTX 2060 and 2070, the 5700 XT and 5700 are the very reason that we saw RTX price cuts and the launch of Nvidia RTX Super graphics cards in 2019. As of late 2020, how do the best of these cards compare against one another? And more importantly, should you wait for the RTX 3080 or RX 6900 XT?

After reviewing both the 5700 XT and the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super, we grabbed both cards and pitted them against one another in a head to head to see which is worth a spot in your gaming rig.

Pricing and availability

Nvidia RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The 5700 XT varies wildly in price between manufacturers. AMD’s GPU launched with an MSRP of $399, and although you can still find some cards around that price, most of them are between $420 and $450. MSI and Gigabyte 5700 XTs see frequent sales, though, often knocking the price down to around $380.

Production of 5700 GPUs was officially ended in early October 2020, so those prices are likely to rise in the coming months as stock dwindles.

Nvidia’s offering is slightly newer, releasing two months after the 5700 XT in September 2019. It’s more than slightly more expensive, though. The 2070 Super launched with an MRSP of $499, but most new cards sit around $550. Some even push as high as $600. Frankly, it’s hard to justify a 2070 Super at this point with the upcoming launch of the RTX 3070. That card is launching with the same $499 price tag, but with performance that exceeds the 2080 Ti.

If you’re planning on buying a 5700 XT or 2070 Super, though, it’s worth looking at the secondhand market. You’ll save around $100 with the 5700 XT, with secondhand cards going for around $350. The savings are even higher with the 2070 Super, with some cards going for as much as $180 less than the card’s MRSP. Most cards, however, sit near $420.

For the 2070 Super, the secondhand market will be the only option soon. Stock is low at most retailers already, and with RTX 30-series GPUs making the rounds, Nvidia likely won’t replenish that stock. In fact, there are several third-party sellers on sites like Amazon and Newegg selling 2070 Supers for around $700.

Performance

Although there are some physical and feature differences between these two cards, when it comes to graphics, the most important factor for most is performance. Before we get to our benchmark results, though, let’s take a look at the specifications of these cards to see how they measure up.

Radeon RX 5700 XT RTX 2070 Super
Process node 7nm 12nm
Shader units 2,560 stream processors 2,560 CUDA cores
Tensor cores N/A 320
RT cores N/A 40
Base clock 1,605MHz 1,605MHz
Boost clock 1,905MHz* 1,770MHz
Memory 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6
Memory speed 14Gbps 14Gbps
Bandwidth 448GBps 448GBps
TDP 225w 215w
Price

*Note: The Radeon RX 5700 XT’s “boost clock” is its theoretical maximum under stock conditions and will likely only be met for fractions of a second. Its more typical clock speed is around 1,755MHz.

Since AMD and Nvidia cards are built differently, not every specification is directly comparable. That said, there are some intriguing take-homes from these numbers. The 5700 series has seen a big increase in clock speed over older GPU lines like Vega, helping bring AMD card clocks to near-parity with Nvidia GPUs at stock. AMD has also used GDDR6 rather than the more expensive HBM of recent generations. The memory runs at an identical speed and configuration to the Nvidia part, resulting in the same bandwidth for both cards. The 5700 XT does draw a little extra power, though.

In our 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, the 5700 XT had a strong showing, pulling even with the RTX 2060 Super. It also nearly matched the score of the far more expensive AMD Radeon VII, but it fell behind the 2070 Super by just over 1,000 points.

That difference was less pronounced in games, with specific titles tending to perform better on one card more than the other. In Fortnite, the RTX 2070 Super was clearly the more capable card, enjoying between a 10 frames per second and 30 fps advantage over the 5700 XT. The gap was far less obvious at 4K than 1080p, but the 5700 XT was always behind by a noticeable margin.

Battlefield V was far more favorable to AMD, with the 5700 XT and Radeon VII outpacing the 2070 Super, particularly at 1440p. Civilization VI and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, however, are where the 5700 XT fell apart. There, the 2070 Super dominated AMD. Whether those extra frames are worth an extra $100 to $150 is a call you’ll have to make. One thing is clear: The 2070 Super is the more powerful card when it comes to gaming.

Cooling and noise

AMD Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

On the reference designs, the 2070 Super beats the 5700 XT in terms of cooling and noise. AMD’s dated blower-style cooler is no match for the 2070 Super’s dual-fan setup. However, when it comes to third-party options, there’s a little more to the story.

As mentioned, new 5700 XTs are more plentiful than new 2070 Supers, so you have more options when shopping for the cooling setup you want. Most cards around $400, like the Sapphire Pulse and Gigabyte Gaming OC, come with a standard dual-fan design. If you’re willing to spend closer to $450, there are plenty of triple-fan cards, too, including the XFX Thicc III Ultra and Asus’ ever-popular Strix card.

The reference design runs particularly hot, though, as do most third-party options. Cooling solutions are plentiful, but with a hotter GPU, it’s hard to escape the noise. The thermal performance varies by model, so we suggest looking up reviews of the particular model you’re interested in before pulling the trigger.

On Nvidia’s side, there isn’t much to report. The 2070 Super runs cooler and quieter on the reference design, and most third-party cards only further that. That said, there are far fewer third-party options if you’re looking for a new card.

Ray tracing and image sharpening

A big feature of the RTX generation of graphics cards is their support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing. This is possible because of the Turing GPU’s addition of RT cores, which crunch the complicated numbers behind real-time lighting effects. Although AMD has done ray tracing in the recent past, its RX 5700 XT does not have that capability. Although ray tracing massively hamstrings performance on the most powerful graphics cards, even with Nvidia’s own deep-learning super-sampling helping it along, it’s just not something AMD cards can do right now.

What they can do, though, is image sharpening. Thanks to Radeon Image Sharpening and FidelityFX, AMD’s 5700 XT can leverage an image-sharpening algorithm, which is a clever post-processing effect that can clear up some blurriness that’s commonly found when applying heavy-handed anti-aliasing. It doesn’t have much of a performance impact, either.

There are also a bunch of new features in the new AMD Adrenaline 2020 drivers, like integer display scaling and Radeon Boost, which are welcome additions to the software suite.

If you’re sticking with team red and still want ray tracing, you’re in luck. AMD’s RX 6000 cards should launch soon, showing off the power of RDNA 2 (present in the PS5 and Xbox Series X). Details for these cards aren’t confirmed yet, but the consoles will support hardware ray tracing, so AMD’s new cards should, too.

The RTX 2070 is the Super (expensive) card we deserve

Nvidia RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The Nvidia RTX 2070 Super is arguably the 2070 we should have had when the RTX generation first launched. It’s simply a binned RTX 2080 with some cores turned off. As frustrating as it is that we had to wait for it, it’s still a better card than the 5700 XT. The only caveat here is that it’s more expensive and getting harder to find.

The Nvidia RTX 2070 allows performance that closes in on the stock RTX 2080. It has a softer sounding and cooler fan configuration, among other exclusive features, and usually exceeds the 5700 XT by a tangible number of frames per second. However, it’s between $100 to $150 more expensive.

If you have a FreeSync display and don’t mind giving up 10% to 20% of performance (before overclocking), then a great option for you is the 5700 XT.

That said, it’s worth waiting to see what the future offers rather than buying an older card. The new-generation RTX 3000 Nvidia cards will be readily available, and the impending launch of AMD’s next-generation GPUs is in sight.

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