XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra Review

Manufacturer: XFX XFX AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra Review

When AMD’s Radeon RX 5600 XT launched last month there was more than a little confusion surrounding its actual specs, as AMD changed things up just before the review embargo was set to lift.

And while core clocks received a big boost compared to what was originally announced, the most talked-about change was the apparent revision to memory speed. Suddenly a product introduced with 12 Gbps memory moved up to 14 Gbps with a simple firmware update!

Or…did it? It turns out that this memory boost was not universal, and in fact cards had already been manufactured and shipped using the slower 12 Gbps GDDR6 memory – and not all were even capable of being reliably overclocked to meet AMD’s late revision.

Let’s be honest about this: AMD faced either another pre-launch price drop (as with the RX 5700 series) or a spec bump to compete with the new lower price of some NVIDIA RTX 2060 cards. AMD chose to boost specs, and for many cards – including our Sapphire Pulse from the launch review – that gave end-users a hefty core and memory overclock via VBIOS update.

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Today’s review focuses on the 12 Gbps side of things, with the XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra a high-end option that does not feature 14 Gbps memory – though it of course offers much higher GPU core clocks from its latest VBIOS. Will this 12 Gbps limit affect its performance too much when compared to NVIDIA’s RTX 2060? This is especially important as this card retails for $329, positioning it directly against the RTX 2060 at retail.

Product Specifications
  • Model Number: RX-56XT6TBD8
  • Bus Type: PCI-E 4.0
  • Game Clock: 1660MHz
  • Boost Clock: Up to 1750MHz
  • Stream Processors: 2304
  • Memory Bus: 192 bit
  • Memory Clock: 12 Gbps
  • Memory Size: 6 GB
  • Memory Type: GDDR6
  • Card Profile: Dual Slot
  • Thermal Solution: DD Fansink
  • Outputs
    • DisplayPort: 3 (1.4 HDR)
    • HDMI: 1 (2.0b)
  • Requirements
    • External Power: 8-pin x1, 6-pin x1
    • Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 450 watt
    • XFX Recommended Power Supply: XFX 500W PSU
  • Card Dimensions: 12.83 x 5.83 x 1.73 in / 326 x 148 x 44 mm
  • Warranty: 3 years
Pricing

$329.99 USD

Manufacturer Description

“The Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card is the world’s most technologically advanced card for 1080p gaming. The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is powered by the highly acclaimed RDNA architecture delivering a boost in gaming performance. Designed with exceptional power-efficiency for high-fidelity gaming, equipped with up to 6GB of GDDR6 high-speed memory, and PCI Express 4.0 support, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT delivers ultimate 1080p gaming performance.”

The XFX RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra

At nearly 13 inches in length (actual LxHxW dimensions 12.83 x 5.83 x 1.73 inches) this THICC 3 Ultra is a long GPU that won’t fit in every case.

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The advantage of such a large design of course is the cooling potential, and the THICC 3 offers three fans on its sizable heatsink to cool the GPU without generating much audible noise.

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“The THICC III Pro line of coolers expands on previous THICC III designs. Featuring copper GPU and Memory cooling components, copper composite heatpipes, and an open airflow design for improved thermal performance. All while maintaining the elegant look of the THICC line of graphics cards.”

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Specs: A Fluid Concept

The table below offers both the originally announced specs from AMD and the specs of this XFX THICC 3 Ultra card, updated with what XFX calls their “Pro Tuned BIOS”. This VBIOS update offers speeds about 10% above the original reference.

AMD Navi GPUs
RX 5500 XT RX 5600 XT
(Announced)
RX 5600 XT
(XFX THICC 3 Ultra)
RX 5700 RX 5700 XT
GPU Navi 14 Navi 10 Navi 10 Navi 10 Navi 10
Compute Units 22 36 36 36 40
Stream Processors 1408 2304 2304 2304 2560
Game Clock 1717 MHz 1375 MHz 1660 MHz 1625 MHz 1755 MHz
Boost Clock 1845 MHz 1560 MHz 1750 MHz 1725 MHz 1905 MHz
Texture Units 88 144 144 144 160
ROPs 32 64 64 64 64
Memory 4GB/8GB GDDR6 6GB GDDR6 6GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6 8GB GDDR6
Memory Data Rate 14 Gbps 12 Gbps 12 Gbps 14 Gbps 14 Gbps
Memory Interface 128-bit 192-bit 192-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s 288 GB/s 288 GB/s 448 GB/s 448 GB/s
Transistor Count 6.4B 10.3B 10.3B 10.3B 10.3B
Die Size 158 mm2 251 mm2 251 mm2 251 mm2 251 mm2
Process Tech 7 nm 7 nm 7 nm 7 nm 7 nm
TDP 130W 150W 160W 185W 225W
Launch Price $169/$199 $279 $329 $349 $399

The clock speeds of this XFX card are actually higher than those of the Sapphire card we previously reviewed, with a 1650 MHz Game Clock vs. 1610 MHz with the Sapphire Pulse. The Boost Clock is 1750 MHz – same as the Pulse. Of course the big difference is that 12 Gbps GDDR6 memory, which is good for 288 GB/s on a 192-bit bus. This was AMD’s original spec for the RX 5600 XT, though cards with 14 Gbps memory boast 336 GB/s on the same bus.

Performance

I tested the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC 3 along with a few other AMD and NVIDIA cards at 1080p, using all-new benchmarks conducted using the latest drivers as of mid-January 2020. I also compared the performance of this XFX card against the Sapphire RX 5600 XT from our launch review in a few 1440/Ultra benchmarks, to match the settings from those earlier results.

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 20.1.1
GeForce Game Ready Driver 441.87

We begin with the new results at 1920×1080. By no means is this group of graphics cards complete, with NVIDIA’s RTX 2060 SUPER and 1660 Ti notably absent. However, the 2060 SUPER is close enough to a stock RTX 2070, and the 1660 SUPER close enough to a 1660 Ti, to make this a practical comparison (at least until some more cards can be tested).

The Division 2
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This first DX12 benchmark result has the RX 5600 XT ahead of the RTX 2060, but the older Vega 56 lurks not far behind. Could it be that without the memory overclock a 5600 XT isn’t much faster than a Vega 56 in these benchmarks? We’ll look at a few more results – and a couple of other graphics APIs – to try answering this.

F1 2018
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A DX11 test, F1 2018 presents a couple of interesting data points. First, this test is not NVIDIA’s best showing with some surprisingly low 95th and 99th percentile frame times from the RTX cards on the top half of the chart. AMD’s drivers have improved performance with this title considerably since the last time we looked at it. But, more importantly for this review, this XFX RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra card fails to best the older Vega 56 card in this test. The two are effectively tied, with less than one FPS separating them.

Let’s see these two compare with another – and more AMD-friendly – DX11 test.

Far Cry 5
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While the RX 5600 XT does best the Vega 56 this time, it’s still pretty close with less than 3 FPS separating them. The RTX 2060 was faster in this test, boasting a 3.4 FPS lead with these settings.

Moving alphabetically through the benchmark results, we reach another DX12 test next.

Metro Exodus
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Metro Exodus (run in DX12 mode with the high quality preset) is another example of this RX 5600 XT falling short of the Vega 56. And both of these AMD cards were slower than the RTX 2060 Founders Edition in this test. Not exactly what AMD would have preferred – though, remember: this 12 Gbps variant is closer to the original RX 5600 XT announced at CES, which was supposed to compare favorably to a GTX 1660 Ti and not an RTX 2060.

What about another DX12 benchmark? Next up is Shadow of the Tomb Raider to provide another look at the great Vega 56 vs. 5600 XT fight we didn’t know we couldn’t live without. Until now.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
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These results come as something of a surprise, with the RX 5600 XT on top of the Vega 56 – but still behind the RTX 2060. AMD did very well overall in this test at 1080/high, however, with the RX 5700 XT sitting above the RTX 2070 SUPER at the top of the chart.

Next up is a Vulkan test – and under-represented API in our suite. The standalone Star Control benchmark provides DX11, DX12, and Vulkan tests, and we went with this last option at the “high” detail preset.

Star Control
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In this review’s sole Vulkan API test the RX 5600 XT is significantly faster than both the RTX 2060 and Vega 56, giving this card its best showing yet. And for the second test in a row the XFX RX 5700 XT THICC II edges out the RTX 2070 SUPER FE at the top of the chart – only this time it’s more expected given the typical AMD edge with Vulkan.

We’ll wrap up these 1080p benchmarks with the DX11 WoT enCore test.

World of Tanks enCore
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In our final test the RX 5600 XT bests the Vega 56 but finishes well back of the RTX 2060. It’s telling to see its position vs. the GTX 1660 SUPER here (which was virtually tied with the Vega 56). The factory-overclocked MSI Gaming X variant of the GTX 1660 SUPER we tested is so close to the level of a stock 1660 Ti that we can use it as a stand-in here, and again glimpse the performance level AMD was originally targeting.

14 Gbps and 1440p

Recycling results from our launch coverage of the RX 5600 XT – which used 1440/ultra settings – we actually see a different story than the one told at 1080/high. Yes, it is once again made clear that pushing higher resolutions is a better way to measure GPU performance – though both 1080 and 1440 should really be tested in every review. A GPU like the RX 5600 XT targets 1080p, after all.

So what do we find if we compare the XFX THICC 3 Ultra against both the originally shipped and then updated Sapphire Pulse VBIOS? This:

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With Far Cry 5 at 1440/ultra the Sapphire RX 5600 XT was faster than an RTX 2060, even with AMD’s original specs. It’s interesting to note that, with its 12 Gbps memory, the THICC 3 Ultra is only slightly ahead of the pre-flashed Sapphire Pulse card, even though its GPU clocks from XFX are higher than the flashed Sapphire. In a nutshell, the Sapphire Pulse, even with a lower Game Clock, has a large lead with its faster 14 Gbps VRAM.

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The lead from Sapphire’s faster Pulse card is smaller with Metro Exodus, and the 5600 XT really isn’t enough GPU for a game like this at 1440/ultra anyway with average FPS well under 60 with both cards.

The next couple of charts show – among other things – the THICC 3 Ultra and Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT, both with their updated performance BIOS.

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We could keep going, but ultimately the memory speed of the RX 5600 XT is a big contributing factor to overall performance, so vendors offering 14 Gbps – be it out-of-box or with a user VBIOS update – will have the edge. But what about longevity? XFX is offering a 3-year warranty with this THICC 3 Ultra card, and I don’t blame them for not choosing to push 12 Gbps memory with a hefty 24/7 OC.

If I can assume that the Sapphire Pulse we initially reviewed will last at least 3 years with zero issues at 14 Gbps, it’s clearly the better buy with its lower MSRP and better performance compared to this XFX card. In fairness to XFX, AMD’s partners should never have been put in this position in the first place.

Power Consumption

How much power did this large, factory-overclocked, triple-fan RX 5600 XT consume? Considering its position relative to the Vega 56 it might come as a surprise…

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In our final test the RX 5600 XT bests the Vega 56 but finishes well back of the RTX 2060. It’s telling to see its position vs. the GTX 1660 SUPER here (which was virtually tied with the Vega 56). The factory-overclocked MSI Gaming X variant of the GTX 1660 SUPER we tested is so close to the level of a stock 1660 Ti that we can use it as a stand-in here, and again glimpse the performance level AMD was originally targeting.

Thermals and Noise

Thermals were not the strength with this THICC 3 Ultra cooler – out of the box, anyhow, with a max recorded (delta) temps of 50 C core, 62 C hot spot, and 60 C memory after a couple of 1440/ultra benchmark runs.

More strenuous thermal testing is on the roadmap, but for now these results are enough to compare it to the previously-tested Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT, which offered 41 C core, 47 C hot spot, 47 C memory under the same conditions. Why the disparity? Design and thermal paste/pad application are possible culprits, but there’s an easier explanation. This XFX RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra cooler is the quietest under load that I can remember. I recorded just 32.9 dBA with my SPL meter – and with a noise floor of 32 dBA it was very nearly silent.

This card uses a fan profile with a zero-RPM fan at idle, and in my testing it never went above 1216 RPM (34%) under load. A more aggressive profile would lower those load temps, but would result in audible noise. End-users get to make that choice using their favorite GPU tweaking software, but I would have a cooler profile for the tested performance BIOS position.

Conclusion

I’m actually reviewing two different things here, with both AMD’s Radeon RX 5600 XT GPU with 12 Gbps memory, and the XFX THICC 3 Ultra card itself. Based on the results from this review it would be easy to peg the 5600 XT as a new GPU that barely trades blows with the Vega 56 at 1080/high, and was slower than the RTX 2060 in most of those tests.

Our conclusions are tainted by questions about the long-term effects of overclocking memory with these RX 5600 XT cards, and here XFX has chosen not to push memory speeds past their original spec. One the one hand it’s hard to fault them for not offering a VBIOS with what amounts to a heavy 24/7 overclock, and on the other hand there are partners with higher performance (and better price/perf ratios) that did choose to OC the VRAM to 14 Gbps.

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The VBIOS Switch on the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra

XFX could very well decide to update their RX 5600 XT firmware again and bump VRAM up to 14 Gbps, and move the fan speeds up a bit under load as well. And users can take matters into their own hands and change these settings themselves, assuming the risk (and potential loss of warranty coverage) in the process.

As mentioned above, AMD shouldn’t have put their partners in this position in the first place. Having to choose between assurance of long-term stability and being competitive – with the only alternative being to lower prices and reduce margins – is not exactly an ideal situation. NVIDIA’s push to lower RTX 2060 prices has clearly been disruptive.

Bottom line, this XFX RX 5600 XT THICC 3 Ultra’s performance makes it a very hard sell at $329. I’m torn because it is a very, very quiet card under load (I literally couldn’t hear it over the CPU fan in my system), but this does come at the expense of thermals with the default fan profile.

Review Disclosures

This disclosure statement covers the way the product being reviewed was obtained and the relationship between the product's manufacturer and PC Perspective.

How Product Was Obtained

The GPU is on loan from XFX for the purpose of this review.

What Happens To Product After Review

The GPU remains the property of XFX but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.

Company Involvement

XFX provided the product sample and technical brief to PC Perspective but had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.

PC Perspective Compensation

Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by XFX for this review.

Advertising Disclosure

XFX has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.

Affiliate Links

This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases made through those links.

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

1 Comment

  1. Raul

    Hi there!

    I have one question:
    So if you’d have to choose between an RX 5600 XT SAPPHIRE PULSE and RX 5600XT THICC III ULTRA, which one would you go for?
    I’m currently building a gaming PC and I’m in between these two. I live in the UK so the RX 5600XT THICC III ULTRA comes in at £268 whilst the SAPPHIRE is £275. Therefore they’re quite the same in price.

    It would be highly appreciated if you could let me know your opinion on this!

    Kind regards,

    Raul.

    Reply

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