This section contains many slides directly from AMD, therefore I am giving them the space to promote their chosen features and I will be assessing them accordingly and where I think there is or is not tangible value.
Radeon RX 5700 Series
The new RDNA architecture for the RX 5700 series has alot of changes compared to what we saw in GCN or at least that’s what AMD wants to convey. I, however, think this is an incremental progression or improvement over the many years they have spent building GCN. Now please keep in mind this is NOT a slam on Radeon or the RX 5700 series in any way this is actually a great thing. I like to see improvements and optimizations of core technology to ensure that things are constantly improving. Now, you also cannot become complacent in this industry or your tech can stagnate and I believe that’s part of what happened along with a major engineering lead gained by Intel back in the Conroe days and other incremental projects and investments which gave them the R&D potential to make such leaps and bounds we have seen over the last decade plus. Now the script has been flipped and AMD has made some strategic investments in key tech including the development of ZEN and of course Radeon RX 400 and 500 series which was the start of trying to be competitive again. They now can leverage the capital they have gained from the success of ZEN/Ryzen to reinvest and double down on strengthening their core graphics architecture.
While Radeon RX VEGA may have been the swan song for Raja, the previous head of RTG, it was the beginning of some very necessary moves to get where we are at today.
Radeon RX 5700 Series GPU
AMD has had a long history of looking at the market and offering value to the gamers. While not necessarily clamoring for the flagship performance as we see with Nvidia and cards like the 2080 Ti which offer 4K/60+ across many AAA titles, Radeon has taken a more conservative and concise approach. rather than hitting with a missile barrage, they take a surgeon scalpel and try to delicately carve out exactly what they need to deliver a great gaming experience where most gamers reside which is 1080p/1440p based gaming. Rather than focusing on pure FPS numbers, they are looking at ways to introduce new tech that can help gamers have a better experience.
Now I see how this can be construed as Anti-AMD or Anti Nvidia/RTX, but it’s really not. This is more me voicing my internal monologue on what I see happening in the industry and how each of these two (soon to be 3 *intel I’m looking at you*) competitors in the PC graphics space are approaching their product stack. Now having the top dog fastest card is awesome as there are many enthusiasts who fall into this niche, but it is that precisely ‘a niche’ and I myself am in it. Most gamers game at 1080p with 1440p starting to take hold and there’s no denying that fact and that a large amount of the gaming market is on older GPUs in some cases up to 3 or 4 generations old. With that considered, the new RDNA architecture in these 7nm NAVI GPUs and the integral design of the two 5700 series cards I have here today are designed for pushing the perf at below 4K gaming where most of the world resides. They can game at 4K but there are better options at that level, and there are also better 1080p options as well thanks to Nvidia’s release of SUPER, but that’s something we will discuss in the performance analysis.
Radeon RX 5700 XT
The RX 5700 XT is the top dog as far as AMD GPUs go for the foreseeable future, which in reality could be merely a few days as you never know when they may have another GPU ready to launch. The RX 5700 XT sports a 7nm RDNA powered NAVI GPU with 40 compute units, 2560 stream processor along with 8GB GDDR6. The 5700XT has a nominal ‘gaming’ clock of 1755 which is where most people could expect the card to clock to under gaming scenarios. There is also an advertised ‘boost’ clock of 1905 but I would treat that as quick burst rather than actual clock speed. As you can see from the AMD supplied charts, the XT model should eclipse the performance of the VEGA 56 at 1080p while the XT is at 1440p. I know that sounds confusing, I am confused as well. Then AMD goes on to show the cooling solution and use of graphite thermal pad for the GPU for its claimed performance, which I will replace with paste as time allows to test if it is truly better for perf or only longevity. Lastly, AMD claims that the RX 5700 XT is ‘the best GPU for 1440p’ and has a direct comparison against the RTX 2070, and we will indeed test this for ourselves, and we even have a couple of the games listed in our test suite.
Radeon RX 5700
The RX 5700 NON-XT model is a similar GPU die but with 36 compute unit part with 2304 shaders. it also has 8GB GDDR6 onboard but clock rates are lower here. The RX 5700 shows a ‘game’ clock of 1625MHz while the peak, burst or ‘boost’ clock slides up to 1725MHz. The performance shows is labeled ‘conquer 1440p gaming’ which now seems like the RX 5700 and the RX 5700 XT are fighting for the same place? I am confused but I digress, they compare the RX 5700 to an RTX 2060, and the numbers are fairly within margins of what I have seen, it is a clear cut performer.
PCIe 4.0 Support
With the introduction of Ryzen 3000 series and the X570 chipset which is launching alongside the Radeon RX 5700 series, we are looking at today. These bring with them support for PCIe Gen 4, which is great, but it begs the question, ‘is PCIe 4.0 necessary for a graphics card?’ and the easy answer is NO. But it’s not quite that simple as there are specialized workloads which may benefit such as the Edge case that AMD has shown below.
Now, yes PCIe 4.0 may very well help with these tasks, but this is once again a very edge case and many editors and content professionals tend to use professional workstation hardware when performing this sort of work. This would be an extreme Edge case for a gaming GPU. Now one thing as far as benchmarks that show it, UL released an update to 3DMark which allows you to test the available bandwidth for your PCIe GPU. this you can definitely see a higher score, but it does divert from the core logic behind why AMD made these GPUs which is to improve gaming performance.
So does PCIe 4.0 improve gaming performance with the RX 5700 series cards? Well, not that we have seen within our narrow cross-section of titles and benchmarks we tested. We will have charts sharing performance of the RX5700 series tested on both our standard Z370/8700K testbench along with benchmarks run on the new X570/3700X PCIe 4.0 testbench
Radeon Multimedia Engine
With The new GPU much like Nvidia did in Turing, AMD is introducing a new stronger video encoding engine within the NAVI based GPUs. This can be used for hardware accelerated video encoding for higher resolution and framerates which means a better game streaming experience for content creators.
FidelityFX (Open-source Image Quality Toolkit)
Fidelity FX is interesting as first off its open source, so works with anything and it does help clarify images within games but it’s hard to demonstrate, and since we have enjoyed games for a long time without it, much like I said of the RTX tech, I’m not sure how much of a difference this will make for gamers as I rarely sit and look at details on a wall while I’m gaming. Normally I’m working on missions, shooting at stuff or driving a car really fast in games like Forza. I don’t know how much sharper images will really change my gaming experience but I am open to finding out as I use the card more and experience games with the tech, enabled and disabled.
Radeon Image Sharpening
Here we have another sharpening mode called Radeon Image Sharpening and while the FidelityFX focused on small areas for adaptive sharpening the Radeon image sharpening takes it further. they claim that running the Radeon Image Sharpening has a menial or even no impact in performance which if true is great. But once again this goes to show where rather than chasing top FPS, RTG is focusing on improving visuals for gamers which is a good and bad thing. I am ok with adding stuff to create a visually pretty game similar to RTX and its features but I do question how much of a difference it really will make to gamers as most of the time in many games we are darting around place to place and not really looking at the sharpness of lines on specific surfaces. That’s one of the reasons I truly enjoy DLSS is that the sharpness issues/artifacts don’t really bother me as they are rarely noticeable in actual gameplay.
Radeon Anti-Lag is something I find very cool, and it’s a way that RTG claims they have figured out to optimize latency to give competitive gamers a leading edge by significantly reducing latency in competitive titles by enabling the feature. In games where frame time and response matter, eliminating latency can be key to winning or coming up short.
According to RTG, this is accomplished by eliminating the latency between CPU completing work, then feeding to the GPU where there can be induced latency as the GPU can be a frame or two behind the CPU. RTG, in theory, corrects this to a measure by overlapping the workloads which can then allow simultaneous computation and less latency so that when you move the game moves or much closer than with it off. There is an impact in the performance of course but they do not detail how much, so it is something we will try to test if there is interest in us covering that.