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’ve seen RTX price cuts and the launch of Nvidia RTX Super graphics cards. But as of early 2020, how do the best of these cards compare against one another?
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. Which is the better card for 1440p gaming?
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 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 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, noise, pricing
One of the starkest 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 complement of partner cards. It took a little longer for those to appear for the RX 5700 XT, but there is now a wide range of options to pick from. Some are better than others, with the weaker cooled versions costing around $380, while the fancier designs can reach $430, but there is plentiful choice if you want a cool and quiet 5700 XT.
Triple fan designs tend to be the most chilly, but there have been some build quality concerns with some designs, so make sure to look up specific reviews of your chosen card before buying to make sure it doesn’t fall into that camp.
The RX 5700 XT reference design is a noise one, though adding some washers can make a big difference.
Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super comes in both Nvidia’s Founders Edition reference edition, and third-party variants, with a wide choice of coolers to choose from. All are relatively quiet, and Nvidia’s version is certainly chillier and quieter than the reference RX 5700 XT. But then they are all far more expensive. The 2070 Super tends to sell between $500 and $570.
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.
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.
The RTX 2070 is the Super (expensive) 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. But as frustrating as it is that we had to wait for it, in 2020 it’s still a better card than the 5700 XT. The only caveat here is that it’s more expensive too.
It offers performance that closes in on the stock RTX 2080, typically exceeding the 5700 XT by a tangible number of frames per second, and it does it with exclusive features and a quieter and cooler fan configuration than the reference design. But it is at least $100 more expensive, and in some cases as much as $150. If you have a FreeSync display and don’t mind sacrificing 10-20% performance (before overclocking) then the 5700 XT is a great option.
It’s certainly better than the RTX 2060 Super and worth considering if you lean towards team red. But if you want the card that performs best at any resolution, especially 1440p, the RTX 2070 Super is it.
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