IT WAS AN EPIC BATTLE – RX 5700 XT & 5700 Roundup
I have a bunch of GPUs, more specifically custom RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 GPUs. We have the superhyped PowerColor Red Devil RX 5700 XT GPU. This thing goes for $450 USD for the limited edition model, but you can pick up the regular one for $440 USD with the difference being some accessories like an RGB mouse mat. Next we have the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 5700 XT OC, which is the most expensive RX 5700 XT in the bunch at a retail price of $460 USD. And then we have the MSI RX 5700 XT Evoke OC, which is a really interesting looking graphics card that retails for $430 USD. Moving on to the slightly slower RX 5700 models, we have the ASUS TUF X3 RX 5700 that goes for $380 USD, and lastly we have the Sapphire PULSE RX 5700 that sells for $360 USD.
Availability for all these GPUs is kind of all over the place, some of them are only available in some regions and some of them are difficult to find anywhere. Now I know that I’m missing a lot of other custom board partner cards from GIGABYTE and XFX, but we are working with what we have here. We are definitely going to talk about performance, thermals, acoustics, and of course find the overall best graphics card in this whole group.
PowerColor Red Devil RX 5700 XT
All right, so let’s start off with the physical aspects of these GPUs. Kicking things off with the PowerColor Red Devil RX 5700 XT, this thing is built like a tank. I mean it’s almost the same size – if not bigger – than my AORUS GeForce RTX 2080 TI, which I find to be pretty hilarious. It features a triple 90mm fan design with each fan featuring two ball-bearings, which is supposed to increase longevity. It also has the 0dB fan-stop feature where the fan stops spinning when temps are below 60°C. There is also get a metal backplate with the PowerColor logo that’s LED lit, which looks cool.
It’s also one of the longest GPUs in this group, coming in at around 11.8 inches and that’s due to the high density heatsink that features five heat pipes. You might also notice that the cooler itself is longer than the PCB, which sadly places the dual eight-pin power connectors at an odd location for routing cables, unless you decide to connect them from the bottom inside a case. Speaking of a case, I would highly recommend checking compatibility, especially if you plan on installing this inside an mATX form factor enclosure. Now this card has two modes, OC and silent. They have a power target of 220 watts and 180 Watts respectively, and you can switch between these modes using the BIOS switch located on the side of the card. The problem is that you have to uninstall the Radeon drivers first, then turn off the PC, flip the switch, boot into Windows, and then reinstall AMD drivers for the new mode to take effect. I don’t know why would you want to run this card in silent mode though, because it is an overkill graphics card in the first place, but that is something to keep note of. The rear I/O remains the same compared to the reference card, but you get fancy RGB lighting around the edge. They haven’t overdone the RGB with this graphics card and I appreciate that.
ASUS ROG STRIX RX 5700 XT OC
Moving on, we have the ASUS ROG STRIX RX 5700 XT OC. This model is a bit heavier than the PowerColor card despite being the same length and thickness. The design is roughly the same as any other STRIX graphics cards, so you get the same triple fan layout with the 0dB fan-stop technology. It also comes with a brushed metal back plane that features an ROG logo with RGB LED lighting. The heatsink on this thing is once again ginormous, it extends all the way to the end of the PCB. Interestingly enough the dual 8-pin power connectors are located at the right spot for easier cable management, which is of course thanks to the extended PCB.
The front shroud has a few subtle RGB strips, which is typical for a ROG themed product. The rear I/O is a copy and paste of the reference card. Just like the PowerColor model, this ASUS card has two BIOSes, one for performance mode and one for silent mode. If you decide to flip between those two modes you have to go through the same process I mentioned earlier. For $460 USD you are getting what you’re paying for, ASUS doesn’t cut any corners with this GPU. Compared to the reference design, it is much beefier and heavier, much like the PowerColor graphics card. However, I’m curious to see how it compares to the rest of the group.
MSI RX 5700 XT Evoke OC
Next up we have the MSI RX 5700 XT Evoke OC. This GPU looks really cool with this interesting champagne or gold color design. They have cut down on a lot of the gamer-y elements that you typically get with an MSI graphics card. It’s clean and simple and I like MSI’s approach here. Thankfully, it’s not as long as the PowerColor and STRIX models, but it is just as thick as those GPUs. Therefore, if you plan on installing this in a compact case, make sure you have proper clearance to accommodate one. The entire shroud is made out of metal except for the plastic grill at the back for airflow. You still get a metal backplate that looks gorgeous. Interestingly enough, there are zero signs of RGB on the evoke and I think that’s appropriate. RGB and gold… they really don’t go well together.
MSI uses a dual fan design with the Zero Frozr feature that stops spinning the fans under idle scenarios. As for the heat sink, it looks pretty robust. However, Steve from Gamers Nexus discovered something really interesting when he tore apart this GPU. Specifically, MSI decided to cheap out on the thermal pads covering the entire memory and VRM areas, which eventually led to higher temperatures for those modules. The core temps were fine from my testing, but it’s really an odd cost cutting decision from MSI for this GPU. If you’re interested in Gamers Nexus’ complete tear down and some of his findings, I’ll make sure to leave a link to that video in the description down below. The rear I/O remains the same as the others, and this GPU has both 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors. Unlike the PowerColor and STRIX models the Evoke does not come with any BIOS modes or switches, it’s simply a plug-and-play solution.
Sapphire PULSE RX 5700
Now that wraps up the RX 5700 XT models, so let’s quickly take a look at the RX 5700 GPUs starting with the Sapphire PULSE RX 5700. There is nothing really special here with the design. It features a dual fan layout and underneath that lies a robust cooling solution that’s packed with specific VRM and memory cooling modules. There is not a lot of RGB going on over here, but you do get a simple Sapphire logo on the edge that’s LED lit. One of the cool features of this GPU is that the user can easily replace the fans by simply removing one screw located underneath the blades. It’s connected to the rest of the shroud frame by pins, which is pretty neat, especially if you plan on cleaning the heatsink later on. It’s very unique in my opinion.
As for the rest of the card, you get a metal back plate, 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors, and a standard rear I/O. There is a BIOS switch that switches between performance and silent mode. Keep in mind that the process for switching between them is pretty much identical to what I just mentioned earlier with the PowerColor and the STRIX. Now interestingly enough, the sample that we received came with silent mode enabled out of the box, which was pretty odd. Therefore, we had to go through the process of reinstalling drivers and then switching to performance mode. If you’re someone who’s currently rocking the PULSE RX 5700, just make sure that you’re running it in performance mode because I’m not sure if it’s just our sample or all of them. Just something I thought you should all be aware of.
ASUS TUF X3 RX 5700 OC
Our final contender for this roundup is the ASUS TUF X3 RX 5700 OC. It’s the most expensive RX 5700 model that we have, and out of the box I’m getting stealth vibes and I really like it. It has a complete matte black frame with a triple fan layout and a little bit of TUF branding that blends in pretty well. It’s also a very big and beefy GPU featuring the DirectCU III cooling solution that brings copper heatpipes into direct contact with the GPU die for better cooling. You also get a metal backplate that looks really nice in my opinion. The rear I/O has the usual reference outputs, and there are both 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors that are located at a comfortable spot for easier cable management. Surprisingly, there are no signs of RGB lighting, which is nice. It doesn’t come with a dual BIOS switch like some of the earlier models, it’s simply a plug-and-play solution.
Now having looked at the physical aspect of all of these cards, it’s time get into performance, but before that let’s quickly go over the frequencies of these individual GPUs because they are a factory overclocked out of the box. Above you can see an overview of the Base and Game Clocks on the RX 5700 GPUs. The ROG STRIX model has the highest frequencies, followed by the PowerColor GPU and then the MSI Evoke OC. They offer a welcome upgrade over the reference model, and from our testing all three graphics cards were able to sustain core clocks above the expected game clocks during our 10 minute game load test.
Switching over to the RX 5700, the TUF graphics card takes the edge here by sporting be highest Game Clock, followed by the Sapphire PULSE. However, with the TUF GPU we were only able to sustain an Average Core Clock of 1698MHz during our 10 minute game load tests.
Now let’s switch over to gaming, and as you can see the results were on-par with our expectations given the price points of these GPUs. The ROG STRIX RX 5700 XT took the lead in every game that we tested and that is thanks to the higher factory overclock it came with out of the box. That being said, the PowerColor GPU is almost as good as the STRIX card and it’s $20 cheaper. The MSI Evoke OC does pretty well too, and honestly I have nothing to complain about for the price.
The RX 5700 cards didn’t perform as well as I expected them to. The Sapphire and TUF GPUs performed literally the same, and had zero perceivable improvement versus the stock reference card. If I had to choose one, I’d get the Sapphire card because it’s a bit more low profile and it costs less than the TUF GPU. We also tested the different modes within these graphics cards to see how much performance you’re gaining or losing, and as you can see with the ROG STRIX 5700 XT you’re not losing that much when switching to silent mode. In fact, it still manages to outperform the PowerColor GPU in OC mode. Speaking of the PowerColor GPU, there is a noticeable difference in both modes and that’s obviously due to the different power limits. And the same story applies to the Sapphire card.
Temperatures / Acoustics / Power Consumption
Overall, temperatures look pretty respectable. Analyzing the RX 5700 XT group, the MSI Evoke OC ran the coolest, but keep in mind that these are the core temps and not VRM or memory readings. And as I mentioned earlier, referring back to Steve’s video, the thermal performance on the MSI card for the VRM and memory weren’t the best and that’s due to their poor thermal pad design, which is definitely something to keep note of. The STRIX card ran a bit hotter compared to the PowerColor GPU, but nothing significant and they’re all noticeably better than the reference card from AMD. Switching over to the RX 5700’s, the Sapphire card ran the hottest followed by the TUF, which was really surprising considering they performed identically. That was a bit odd, but I think I have an explanation for that which I’ll get into right after our sound test.
For starters, these cards were running under full gaming load in their respective performance modes. When you look at the acoustic performance of these GPUs, specifically the RX 5700s, the Sapphire card was the quietest. That was expected give that compared to the TUF model the Sapphire is programmed to allow hotter GPU temperatures before really ramping up its fans. With the XT models, the ROG STRIX GPU was the quietest when compared to the MSI Evoke OC and PowerColor Red Devil.
Finally, here’s a quick overview of power consumption. The ROG consumes the most amount of power followed by PowerColor and then the MSI Evoke. The ASUS TUF RX 5700 draws almost the same amount of power as the reference model, while Sapphire PULSE is really not very far behind.
That pretty much concludes this roundup, and I would love to know your thoughts about which one would you pick. I’m personally leaning towards the ROG STRIX GPU because it’s the fastest in the group, but it’s also the quietest, with the downside being that it consumes a lot of power. Among the non-XT RX 5700s, I’m leaning towards the Sapphire PULSE model because it’s cheaper than the TUF graphics card. The PULSE also performs identically to TUF GPU as well, but there’s no significant performance gains compared to the reference graphics card from AMD. If you’re interested in any of these let me know what you guys think about this roundup!