How did this happen, and why?
In case the title did not strongly enough to allude to what this article will be, I will be addressing the way the RX 5600 XT was launched, the issues observed, and the impact on the industry as a whole if things like this continue.
I did a full review at the stock speeds without the updated VBios here. However, in this piece, we will discuss the launch and also show the performance we observed along with analysis of this GPU and, more importantly, GPU launch sets some very dangerous precedents, which I’m sure we all would like to avoid.
The Radeon RX 5600 XT GPU was announced with some defined specs at CES 2020. While many were excited to see the new GPU offer some performance prowess to the mid/upper-tier mainstream segment. NVIDIA’s partner EVGA had announced a $300 RTX 2060 KO, which was evident to anyone watching, was designed to snuff out the RX 5600 XT before it even got a start. On top of this, NVIDIA officially pulled back pricing on the RTX 2060 to $300 as well, which left little meat on the bone for AMD’s new card to take its stance in the market.
This is where the story takes a nasty turn. AMD decided at the 11th hour that the appropriate response to the new KO GPU model and the RTX 2060 price drops was to release a VBios update, which increases the GPUs clock speeds to help it compete with the RTX 2060 vs. the original competitor, the 1660 SUPER. Taken at face value, many enthusiasts may not bat an eye at the fact that the performance increase requires flashing the GPU VBios. One thing to keep in mind is that at this price range, there is a large number of users who are not comfortable flashing a motherboard BIOS, which is increasingly more accessible and less risky than a graphics VBios. So, we now have a product launching that to get the performance the user observes in a review you must take on the task of flashing the firmware themselves to get the jump in performance over the out of the box clocks.
The issue of BIOS flashing will admittedly go away quickly as the first run of retail cards is usually not significant, but that’s still thousands if not tens of thousands of users globally that have to make this change to their new GPU potentially.
As evidenced by the launch presentation deck, it shows that AMD had targeted 1060 users, which is the bulk of the gamers, according to Steam’s hardware survey, along with comparing their upgrade path expectations compared to the competing current-gen cards from NVIDIA, the 1660 Ti and 1660 SUPER.
Now that we have a very abridged version of why this happened so let’s take a brief look at the events leading up to this launch and the experience I had with the process of updating the XFX RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro and trying to review it.