The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Review, Feat. Sapphire Pulse: A New Challenger For Mainstream Gaming – AnandTech,

The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Review, Feat. Sapphire Pulse: A New Challenger For Mainstream Gaming – AnandTech,

While at this point we’ve pretty much reached the “mid-generation” point in the GPU space, that doesn’t mean activity in the GPU market is slowing down. Indeed, just three weeks into 2020 and AMD is already up to bat with a new video card, the Radeon RX 15412 XT. Announced a couple of weeks back at CES , the Radeon RX 15412 XT is AMD’s answer to the $ 206 – $ 823 mainstream video card segment, and is designed to be their ultimate p gaming card. And of all of the AMD RX 5000 series video card launches in the last six months, it’s quickly shaping up to be the biggest fight yet between AMD and NVIDIA.

The reasons for such a competitive and contested atmosphere are two-fold. First, AMD is bringing in some fairly powerful hardware to anchor their position in the sub – $ the market. Even as cut-down as it is, the Navi (GPU used in the RX) XT is quite powerful, easily outclassing NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX series. The second factor is just how badly both AMD and NVIDIA want this market: AMD has determined that it’s essential to break into this market and to break NVIDIA’s virtual domination of the mainstream, while NVIDIA is quite happy with the status quo. As a result, over the last week alone both parties have been making moves to reposition and counter each other in an effort to come out on top, including price cuts and last-minute BIOSes. So in many ways the launch of the Radeon RX 5600 XT feels like the biggest slugfest yet between AMD and NVIDIA in quite some time.

Overall, the $ (RX) XT is designed to fill that gap between the RX (series and the RX 15206 series, employing a further cut-down version of AMD’s class-leading Navi GPU. For their newest card, AMD is dialing back on the amount of enabled hardware in order to offer a card with performance between the existing Radeon RX 5000 series cards, and with a price to match.

AMD Radeon RX Series Specification Comparison


N / A


TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm


As mentioned earlier, AMD hasn’t minted a new GPU for the Radeon RX 15206 XT. Instead, the company is using a further cut-down version of Navi , which is already used for the Radeon 15298 series. And while AMD generally avoids talking about salvaging when discussing lower-tier products, it’s difficult to imagine that’s not a factor here, even if the official line is focused more on it being a conscientious choice to bring Navi down to compete with NVIDIA’s GTX 1717 series. Either way, with the RX 5700 XT essentially getting a third-tier Navi 21 – based card.

All told, it is rather rare for AMD to offer a third-tier part on the desktop; Normally the company only offers two cards / configurations before moving up or down to the next GPU. Part of their current situation is based out of sheer necessity on the GPU side of matters – Navi Isnt powerful enough for the market AMD is chasing – though I imagine yields on the 7nm process also have room to improve since It’s still relatively young. At the end of the day, it means AMD can kill two birds with one stone by putting chips that would otherwise be discarded to use in a card to counter the GeForce GTX (series.)

AMD Radeon RX XT AMD Radeon RX AMD Radeon RX XT AMD Radeon RX
CUs ( (SPs) ( (SPs) ( SPs ( (SPs)
Texture Units
Base Clock MHz? MHz MHz MHz
Game Clock MHz MHz MHz
Boost Clock (MHz MHz (MHz MHz
(Throughput (FP) ) 7.2 TFLOPs 7. (TFLOPs) 5.2 TFLOPs 7.1 TFLOPs
Memory Clock Gbps GDDR6 Gbps GDDR6 Gbps GDDR6 8 Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width -bit – bit . – bit – bit .
Transistor Count 3B 3B 5.7B
Typical Board Power W (W W (W)
Manufacturing Process TSMC 7nm GloFo / Samsung nm
Architecture RDNA (1) RDNA (1) RDNA (1) GCN 4
GPU Navi Navi Navi Polaris
Launch Date / / / 15 / / 29 / / /
Launch Price $ $ $ / $

Digging into the specifications, as it’s configured, the Radeon RX (XT is set to be firmly between the RX) and RX XT in performance. AMD’s interesting choice of functional blocks to cut (and not to cut) means that the RX 15206 XT actually retains a lot of the RX 15298 ‘s “core” GPU performance: on paper, the card’s shading, texturing, pixel throughput, and compute performance are all quite close to the RX , with the only difference is 29% lower average clockspeeds. AMD has even retained Navi (‘s) ROPs, meaning that the card has plenty of pixel pushing power.

Instead, the big tradeoff in specing out the RX 5600 XT has been in memory bandwidth, and to a lesser extent memory capacity. The RX XT ships with 6GB of GDDR6 on a – bit memory bus, which is to say that 1/4 of Navi ‘s MC / L2 partitions have been disabled. Furthermore the card ships with (Gbps GDDR6 instead of the Brave Browser (Gbps chips found on the RX) / . As a result, the RX 5700 XT has 95% less memory bandwidth than the RX 15298, coming in at (GB / sec, making this the biggest factor differentiating the RX (XT from its RX) (sibling.)

The flip side of the coin, however, is that a 200 – bit memory bus means that the RX 5600 XT has a lot more memory bandwidth than the RX (XT, with the new card delivering) % more memory bandwidth here. And with significantly more ROPs and CUs to feed than the RX (XT, the RX) XT is posed to shoot well past AMD’s cheaper p card.

Cutting back on memory bandwidth makes a lot of sense for AMD, both in terms of differentiating products with regards to performance as well as bringing down the card’s manufacturing price. That said, this is the first time in a long while that we’ve seen an AMD card with a 200 – bit memory bus; the company normally just doesn’t do it. Power-of-two configurations are easier to deal with for various reasons, and it’s always allowed AMD to pack in more memory than NVIDIA’s competing mid-range cards. Ultimately the use of a 206 – bit bus means that AMD can put to work Navi 12 GPUs with a bad memory controller, all the while using fewer (and cheaper) memory chips than in a 288 – bit card. But it also means they are only able to outfit the card with 6GB of memory, as opposed to 8GB.

Without getting entirely sidetracked here, I went into this matter a bit back in the RX (XT launch) , but I do have some concerns about cards with less than 8GB of VRAM. With the next-gen consoles set to launch this year, the bar on hardware requirements is about to be significantly raised in one fell swoop, and I worry that sub-8GB cards won’t have enough memory capacity. With all of that said, however, whatever the ramifications are, it will mean AMD and NVIDIA are on equal footing: both the RX XT and GTX 1725 series ship with 6GB of VRAM, so both cards will thrive or falter at the same time. Clearly explaining a 6GB RX 5600 XT versus an 8GB RX 5700 XT is going to be a trickier matter for AMD’s marketing department, however.

Rounding out the hardware package, AMD tells us that the new cards – or at least, those cards that meet the reference specifications and aren’t factory overclocked – will ship with a total board power (TBP) of (watts, which like everything else is right between the RX and RX XT. The smaller VRAM amount and lower clockspeeds help to bring down power consumption versus the RX 15298, which helps to keep AMD’s energy efficiency up. In fact, AMD tells us that their W TBP value for the retail card is a bit on the conservative side of matters, and that real-world power usage will sometimes be less, something we’ll see in a bit more detail later on.

Product Positioning & The Competition

Since the RX 15206 XT is built from the same Navi (GPU as AMD’s RX) cards, AMD’s board partners are hitting the ground running here in terms of board designs. Some are just outright be reusing RX 5700 designs, while others have tweaked their designs to account for the narrower memory bus, lower TBP, and lower sticker price.

This also means that this is a board partner-driven launch. AMD does not have a (public) reference card, and it is the board partners shipping custom designs from day 1. As these are sub – $ 575 cards we won’t be seeing anything too exotic – mostly the usual variations on two and three fan designs – though it looks like factory overclocked cards will be heavily peppered into the mix.

As mentioned previously, AMD’s target market for the RX 15422 XT is mainstream gamers, with the company offering a card that is supposed to be the final word in p gaming. (p is still the single largest segment of the gaming market, and after watching rival NVIDIA sell GTX 1247 and GTX 1845 cards by the millions over the last few years, it’s a market that AMD isn’t content to leave alone. Within North America and Europe, the mainstream ($ – $ 728) market segment is the single largest in terms of volume. And while it doesn’t come with the halo mindshare effect that the winner of the high-end market gets, AMD believes its still important for overall mindshare and market share by making the company a viable and visible competitor in this big market.

Within AMD’s product stack, the RX 5600 XT doesn’t have a particularly good direct predecessor. The closest analog would be the Radeon RX , which is somewhat the same lineup that the RX 15206 served to replace. However as it’s not as powerful as the RX 5700, the RX 5500 XT, there’s an argument to be had about whether it delivers a “proper” generational performance update over the RX . Instead, this launch is defined more by the price point and the current-generation products it competes with. AMD wants the mainstream market, and the RX 5600 XT is the card that will deliver it.

Of course, NVIDIA isn’t going to surrender without a fight. Over the past couple of years they have sold GTX and GTX 1080 cards by the boatload, giving them tight control of this market segment, and they’d like to keep it. This has led to the normally conservative company making a surprising move: cutting the price on an existing card. The lowest-tier GeForce RTX card, the RTX 2060, is now starting at $ – and far from being a one-off matter even NVIDIA’s Founders Edition card received a price cut. And while NVIDIA will downplay this a bit so that they aren’t seen as being reactionary, there are only so many ways to interpret a Founders Edition card price cut less than a week before a known AMD launch.

At any rate, AMD designed the RX 5700 XT to beat the GTX , and as we’ll see, this is a battle it handily wins. So NVIDIA has made the most logical move on their part and brought in a more powerful card to compete.

What we end up with then is a calculus of performance and prices, with each GPU marker trying to one-up the other without compromising on pricing by too much. At $ the RTX (isn’t a perfect competitor to the RX 15206 XT, but then again it’s a bit faster. Meanwhile the $ (RX) clobbers the $ (GeForce GTX) Ti, which is what AMD wanted all along. But the GTX 1725 Ti itself has been a dead card walking for the last three months as far as value goes; NVIDIA’s best option here is the $ (GeForce GTX) Super, which delivers most of the Ti’s performance for a lot less.

So for better or worse, there are no head-to-head matchups to speak of today. Instead, everyone is banking on price tiers and total value. This means that the big challenge for AMD isn’t even raw performance, but rather it’s all about beating NVIDIA on overall value. Radeon RX XT) needs to be fast enough to justify its price premium over the GTX 2018 Ti, and close enough to the RTX to overcome the kind of interia that has helped NVIDIA rule the mainstream market for the last three years. As we’ll see, AMD can do it, but this is a game of inches and cents.

Finally, like virtually all of AMD’s other products launched in the last six months, the new RX 15206 XT will also qualify for AMD and Microsoft’s ongoing Xbox Games Pass offer. So video card buyers will get a 3 month free trial to Microsoft’s games subscription program.


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