XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II Review: Navi Power Plant
The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II
A Large Custom Cooler to Tame the 5700 XT
While AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 Series offers impressive performance and marks an auspicious debut for the new RDNA graphics architecture, there is no question that AMD’s reference blower designs leave much to be desired.
As has been pointed out (rather vocally, at times) the RX 5700 XT reference design is both loud and hot – not the ideal combination. AMD assures us that temps of up to 110 C are “expected and within spec” for this GPU, but concerns over its useful lifespan at such temps – as well as performance-robbing thermal throttling – are perfectly valid.
The complaints about AMD’s reference cooler design disappear when we start looking at custom solutions from board partners, and another option has hit the market with the new XFX THICC II, a card with a name that could only come from the company that brought us the Radeon RX 590 FATBOY.
- XFX ZeroDB Fan Technology
- XFX Dual BIOS
- XFX Ultra HD Support
- AMD Radeon Anti-Lag Technology
- AMD FidelityFX
- AMD Radeon Image Sharpening
- AMD Radeon FreeSync Technology
- AMD Radeon VR Ready Premium
- Model Number: RX-57XT8DFD6
- Bus Type: PCI-E 4.0
- Chipset version: Navi
- Performance Category: Enthusiast
- Stream Processors: 2560
- Memory Bus: 256 bit
- Memory Type: GDDR6
- GPU Clocks (Base Clock / Game Clock / Boost Clock): up to 1605MHz / 1755 MHz / 1905MHz
- “Game Clock” is the expected GPU clock when running in typical gaming applications, set to typical TGP (Total Graphics Power). Actual individual game clock results may vary
- Display Output
- Display Port: 1.4 with DSC
- HDMI Ready: 4K60 Support
- Max Supported Resolution (DIGITAL): up to 8K resolution at 60 Hz or 5K at 120 Hz
- Output – Display Port: 3
- Output – HDMI: 1
- External Power: 1x 8-pin and 1x 6-pin
- Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 600 watt
- XFX Recommended Power Supply: 750 watt
- Windows 10 64-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, Linux 64-bit
- Physical Dimensions: 293 x 130 x 55 mm (11.54 x 5.12 x 2.17 inches)
- Other Features:
- DirectX 12 Support
- RDNA Architecture
- 2nd Gen 7nm GPU
- Radeon Software
Introducing the XFX THICC II. Built on the acclaimed Ghost Thermal 2.0 designs to yield lower temperatures and heightened performance that adapt to the intensity of the moment. With nearly twice the heatsink surface area and 35% less fan noise, the THICC II brings you ahead of the curve.
Get the very best FPS the 5700 XT Series can deliver. Thanks to the 2 100mm fans, the THICC II stays cool and quiet, allowing you to achieve higher boost clocks.“
The XFX RX 5700 XT THICC II Design
The card gets its name from the THICC II cooler, a 2.5-slot design with a pair of 100mm fans atop a large heatsink integrating four 6mm heat pipes. As with many custom coolers these days the XFX THICC II is silent at idle, using the “Zero DB Fan System” to spin up the fans only as needed under load.
“Built on the acclaimed Ghost Thermal 2.0 designs to yield lower temperatures and heightened performance that adapt to the intensity of the moment. With nearly twice the heatsink surface area and 35% less fan noise, the THICC II Cooler brings you ahead of the curve.”
This THICC II cooler is, well, thick; measuring a robust 2 1/8 inches in that dimension. The card is 11 1/2 inches long as well, and extends a full inch in height above the expansion bracket – so your case will need to be able to accommodate a taller GPU design.
The rear of the card offers probably the most interesting aspect of the design, which is a chrome-finished grill that reminded me instantly of 1950’s automobile design. The THICC II also offers a full backplate, and overall this custom design felt very premium with solid build quality.
The Clock Speed Advantage
It’s interesting to note from the GPU-Z screenshot taken with this new XFX card that the base clock speed of this XFX card is 1442 MHz, with a reported boost clock of 2084 MHz.
While this number might seem erroneous when looking at AMD’s official specs for an RX 5700 XT or even XFX’s product sheet for this THICC II card (with clocks up to 1605 / 1755 / 1905 MHz), a look at the BIOS info from a reference 5700 XT via TPU’s database shows a base frequency of 1400 MHz.
Clock behavior of AMD products seems to be a grey area in the current generation, and while that may seem like a pot shot in light of recent news of Ryzen CPU boost clocks the reality is that I have personally found odd disparities even in our AMD-provided press sample of the 5700 XT, which had clocks that were higher across the board than even a custom card with a factory OC when I compared the two in our Sapphire PULSE 5700 XT review.
What this boils down to is GPU-Z reported base/boost clocks of 1419MHz/2039MHz from the Sapphire PULSE, 1434MHz/2069MHz from our AMD press sample, and 1442MHz/2084MHz from this XFX THICC II card. This makes the THICC II the highest-clocked RX 5700 XT we’ve tested to date, and while more testing and comparisons of GPU clocks under load will need to be done to tell the full story, but we can at least provide some game benchmarks today. We should see some nice performance gains with this card.
|PC Perspective GPU Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9700K|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4-3200 32GB (16GBx2)|
|Storage||CORSAIR Neutron Series XTi 480GB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit (1903)|
|Drivers||Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.7.5, 19.9.1 (XFX THICC)
GeForce Game Ready Driver 431.36, 431.56 (RTX 2080 SUPER)
All games were run at 2560x1440 using ultra preset settings, and DX12 when available. Due to a recent update that invalidated prior results using World War Z this game has been removed from the test suite until all cards can be re-tested – meaning that the lone Vulkan representative has been eliminated. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love Epic and always-connected/forced update behavior for games?)
We begin our quick look at performance using this XFX THICC card in alphabetical order with Far Cry 5. Rather than annotate the charts I’ll offer a brief synopsis after the results.
Far Cry 5
Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
World of Tanks enCore
Performance, as expected given the higher clocks and large cooler design, is excellent from the XFX THICC II card. While these are not huge gains, with an average increase of roughly 3 FPS in the games tested, this is still the highest-performing RX Radeon 5700 XT card we’ve benchmarked.
How much of an increase in power did these higher clocks demand? And just how effective (and quiet) is this THICC II cooler? The next section answers these questions, and it’s just below this paragraph!
Temps, Noise, and Power
Is this 2.5-slot dual-fan THICC II cooler up to the task of taming the RX 5700 XT’s Navi 10 GPU? To this end there is a BIOS switch with both a performance and quiet mode available, and as these do not affect clock speeds and the card shipped in the performance mode by default, I left it there for testing.
This performance BIOS selection will offer the best default temps – and should also allow the card to boost higher and for longer intervals, though as I will discuss I also tested the card at a slightly higher fan speeds to match the noise level of a reference card and see how much more effective this cooler design is when both cards were producing the same amount of noise.
Beginning with default performance BIOS behavior we recorded load temps of 74 C with a 91 C hot spot. The fans were spinning up to 1758 RPM during this test, which is well below their capability but was fairly quiet (more on noise output next). Idle temps in our testing were 48-49 C in a ~24 C room, but this will fluctuate a lot with any zero-RPM idle GPU based on case airflow and ambient temps.
In order to see how much more effective the THICC II cooler was at the same noise levels of a reference card I found that setting a 60% fan speed created almost identical output, finding that the card’s performance BIOS mode defaults to about 50-52% fan speed under load (according to Afterburner, at least).
With 60% as the new fan speed I re-ran the temperature test and this time it was 67 C, 84 C hot spot in the ~24 C room. A sizable reduction in temps for a ~500 RPM increase in fan speeds (rising to 2362 RPM under load) – but at what cost to noise output?
As this is a Zero RPM idle GPU it goes without saying that there is no noise output until the card is under load. With the performance BIOS selected I recorded 43.8 dBA with the SPL meter positioned 12 inches from the card on our open testbed system, and perceived noise with the card inside a case will be much lower. When the card was manually set to 60% fans to approximate the load noise level of a reference 5700 XT I recorded 48.7 dBA, though this did rise slightly into the ~49.5 dBA range under load.
Those seeking lower noise can switch to the alternate BIOS mode with this XFX card or create custom fan profiles, but when looking at the system power draw numbers below you may rethink this as the reality of overclocked Navi 10 power requirements is revealed to be…significant.
Under load the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II consumed more power than any card tested to date with this new platform. Even more than an RTX 2080 Ti FE!
375W is pretty staggering, though the reality of measuring from the wall is that the actual GPU consumption is much lower. The CPU, memory, motherboard, and SSD are all consuming power, and a percentage of the power from the wall is lost to the power efficiency of an 80 Plus Gold rated PSU. Still, all of the cards on the chart above were tested using this exact system and the same power meter, so the relationship between cards is accurate.
This XFX card offers really high performance, but Navi 10 – 7nm notwithstanding – is a power hungry GPU with even a mild factory OC like this.
The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II is a beast of a graphics card. It offers the best Navi performance we’ve seen to date, and it is cooler and more quiet than AMD’s reference design. The cooler design is large but understated, with zero RGB effects to distract from its seemingly retro car-inspired design aesthetic.
This card is clocked higher than a reference RX 5700 XT, and while the THICC II cooler still manages to keep it cooler than the reference design in spite of the OC the cooler isn’t a quiet as it could be with a less aggressive approach – by default. The presence of BIOS switch with a quiet mode will allow lower noise output with an expected performance penalty, and such a switch also means BIOS flashing is less risky should you wish to tinker with firmware.
Bottom line, as tested (with the card’s performance mode) the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT THICC II offers higher performance and about 5 dBA lower noise than the reference design, which is a formula for success from any custom design. The card offers good build quality and a 3-year warranty from XFX, and at its $419 USD list price is an easy card to recommend if you’re shopping for a Navi GPU.