AMD’s RX 5700 graphics cards have finally given Nvidia some competition at the low end of its RTX graphics line up. That’s great news for gamers everywhere. With competition comes price cuts and performance boosts, which is exactly what the new lineup of Nvidia RTX Super graphics cards represents. But how does it compare against AMD’s best and brightest RDNA, Navi graphics cards?
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|
|Shader units||2,560 stream processors||2,560 CUDA cores|
|Memory||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6|
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 that are worth noting. 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 most 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 has 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 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 proved to be 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, proved to be the 5700 XT’s undoing. There the 2070 Super dominated the AMD competition. Whether those extra frames are worth an extra $100 is a little harder to decide, the 2070 Super is clearly the more powerful card.
Cooling and noise levels
One of the most stark differences between the launch of the AMD RX 5700 graphics cards and the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super, was that the latter launched with a full compliment of partner cards. While that is likely down to Nvidia’s Founders Edition effectively competing directly with its board partners and AMD’s focus on a blower-cooler for its reference design, it does mean that we’re still waiting on third-party Navi cards nearly a month after the release of the standard version.
But whether we’re comparing third-party cards with reference cards, or Nvidia’s Founders Edition against AMD’s reference design, there is a clear difference: Nvidia’s cards are cooler and quieter. The dual-fan design of the Founders Edition card is far quieter and more capable than the traditional blower on the 5700 XT. It’s good for a blower, but it’s not great and can get rather noisy. Adding some washers can make a big difference, but at this time, the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super runs much cooler and quieter than the 5700 XT.
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 can and has done ray tracing in the recent past, its new 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.
The RTX 2070 is the Super card we deserve
The Nvidia RTX 2070 Super is arguably the 2070 we should have had when the RTX generation was first launched. It’s simply a binned RTX 2080 with some cores turned off. As frustrating as it is that we had to wait a year for it, the card is here now, and in 2019, it’s priced placed exceedingly well within the market. It offers performance that closes in on the stock RTX 2080, typically exceeding that of the nearest competition (the RX 5700 XT) by a tangible number of frames per second, and it does it with exclusive features, and a quieter and cooler fan configuration.
The RX 5700 XT on the other hand, is cheaper by quite a sizeable margin. That’s not nothing, but it is about all it has going for it in this matchup. While stock of the RTX 2070 Super is low, the Radeon card is certainly a viable option, especially if you have a FreeSync display. With the cooler the way it is, though, we’d suggest waiting for third-party options which will be quieter, cooler, and likely overclock quite well if early testing from enthusiasts is anything to go on.
It’s also the best AMD card available right now. With the performance so close to the Radeon VII, we really wouldn’t recommend AMD’s Vega 20 GPU. It’s bang for buck is just not there. The 5700 XT’s certainly is, and it makes for a better buy than the comparatively priced RTX 2060 Super, but it’s just not quite enough to catch the suited-up 2070.
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