AMD’s top-tier Navi graphics cards are the RX 5700 XT and RX 5700. They are built on the same Navi 10 GPU core with hardware locks on stream processors and core clocks to keep one faster than the other. For the privilege of the XT’s higher performance and curiously dented cooler shroud, you have to pay a $50 premium. Is it worth it? To find out, we pitted the Radeon RX 5700 XT vs. RX 5700 in a one-on-one shootout.
The crux of this comparison was always going to be down to performance. The raw power of these two cards is their biggest differentiating factor, so the question is, is it worth spending an extra $50 for the added capabilities of the 5700 XT? Let’s take a look at the specifications first to get an idea of what we’re dealing with.
|Radeon RX 5700 XT||Radeon RX 5700|
|Memory||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6|
The first difference between these two cards is in their number of compute units. The 5700 XT has just over 10% more with 40, versus the 5700’s 36. That equates to the same difference in stream processors and should be a major component in the differentiating performance between the two cards.
Another major factor is the clock speed. The base clock is 150MHz higher on the 5700 XT and its “game clock,” the typical clock speed you can expect during sustained load, is 130MHz more. That too aids the performance improvements of the 5700 XT, though that gap can be closed with overclocking. The boost clock is much greater on the XT, but unless you have strong cooling from a third-party card, it’s not a speed you’ll likely hit with regularity.
That said, some buyers with high-end aftermarket cooling and some overclocking have managed to push their cards well north of 2GHz on a sustained basis.
Memory wise, both cards are the same with identical configurations of GDDR6 and an identical resulting bandwidth. The 5700 XT has a sizeable uplift in TDP requirements, making it a greater candidate for aftermarket cooling, though could suggest there would be greater overclocking headroom on the 5700.
As for how this all affects real-world performance, we turn to our suite of benchmarks that we conducted during our initial review of the two cards.
In our 3DMark Time Spy test both cards perform well. The 5700 XT was able to keep level with the RTX 2060 Super and the Radeon VII, with the 5700 lagging behind by just a hair over 10%. Considering its noticeably cheaper, that’s a fair result.
In gaming tests, both cards prove to be very capable at both 1080p and 1440p, with more than playable frame rates (40-80FPS) at 4K in Fortnite, Battlefield 5, and Civilization VI. Across the board we see the RX 5700 perform within roughly 10 percent of the 5700 XT. In some cases, it’s even closer.
If you’re just looking for overall performance, the 5700 XT is clearly the better card, but if value for money is important to you and that extra $50 would be more useful elsewhere, the 5700 holds its own. That’s especially true at 1440p, where it manages well over 100 FPS in Civ VI and close to it in BF5 and Fortnite.
Cooling and overclocking
One of the biggest issues facing the RX 5700 XT and 5700 at launch, was that the reference blower coolers weren’t up to the task. Although there have been some who have found that new heat paste and added washers can make quite a difference, the out of the box coolers on those cards aren’t great. They’re loud and they don’t cool the GPU well enough to prevent throttling, which is why, out of the box, many reference cards struggle to hit the speeds that AMD claimed.
Fortunately, third-party variants are far more capable, delivering cooler and quieter cards, and unlocking far more impressive overclocking. In early testing after the cards’ release, IgorsLab overclocked a 5700XT to more than 2.1GHz on the core, leading to an 11% performance uplift in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Others have pushed the card further since, seeing overclocks as high as 2.3GHz.
The 5700, on the other hand, is limited by AMD, so it can’t overclock to the same extremes right out of the box. IgorsLab hit a wall at 1,800MHz on the core with a 20% increase in power limit. Fortunately, there are ways around that limit. A BIOS flash will give you all the same overclocking headroom as a 5700 XT, just without the additional four compute units. That means that with the right cooling, you can take a 5700 and make it as fast as a 5700 XT.
The 5700 brings the value
The AMD RX 5700 and 5700 XT are an exciting release from AMD. The first to use the new RDNA architecture, these cards are hotly competitive with Nvidia’s Super Turing GPUs and offer excellent 1080p and 1440p gaming ability. Considering how hot and loud the reference cards get though, we would really recommend buying third-party cards or adding your own aftermarket cooling.
If you don’t want to overclock, the 5700 XT is the card to buy as it’s certainly more powerful. But make sure to look up individual reviews, as some models have far better cooling solutions than others. If you do overclock, though, and are comfortable flashing the card’s BIOS, the RX 5700 is a better choice. You’ll hit 5700 XT speeds without too much difficulty and save yourself some money too.
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