XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO Review: The 14 Gbps Difference
XFX Adds 14 Gbps Cards to their 5600 XT Lineup
Back on January 6 of this year when AMD announced the RX 5600 XT, the product was positioned as an “ultimate 1080p gaming” solution. But then EVGA (and NVIDIA) stole their thunder with the announcement of the RTX 2060 “KO” at the same $279 price point as AMD’s upcoming GPU.
In answer to this, AMD could have lowered the price of the 5600 XT to be more competitive, but that would have changed the messaging as it couldn’t best an RTX 2060, and thus would not offer “ultimate 1080p gaming” after all. In a move that will probably make an interesting chapter in a book someday, AMD rushed to increase both GPU clocks and (more importantly) memory bandwidth for the about-to-be-released RX 5600 XT, with day-one VBIOS updates from their partners the result.
The chaotic nature of this move from the originally announced 12 Gbps to 14 Gbps GDDR6 was exactly what might be expected from such a circumstance. It added a layer of confusion to the launch, and, far worse, it fragmented the market for these new cards from day one. You see, not every vendor was willing to both increase GPU clocks and memory clocks, and board/cooler designs were not just finalized, they had already shipped in many cases.
When we initially reviewed the RX 5600 XT, we had been sent a Sapphire card ahead of the launch for our testing. About a week before launch we were contacted about the decision to increase performance via a VBIOS update, with the requisite update files shared. The VBIOS update was successful, and our launch review featured results that were faster than the RTX 2060 overall.
But XFX did not choose to push memory speeds past their original 12 Gbps spec; VBIOS updates were offered, but these only increased the GPU clocks, and thus did not significantly affect performance. But we have a new card for your inspection today, and it ships with 14 Gbps memory.
- Model Number RX-56XT6DF46
- Product Name AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
- Product Description XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO-14GBPS 6GB BOOST UP TO 1620M D6 3xDP HDMI
- Bus Type PCI-E 4.0
- Game Clock 1560MHz
- “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.
- Boost Clock Up to 1620MHz
- Stream Processors 2304
- Memory Bus 192 bit
- Memory Clock 14 Gbps
- Memory Size 6 GB
- Memory Type GDDR6
- Card Profile: Dual Slot
- Thermal Solution: DD Fansink
- 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI
- HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4 HDR with Digital Stream Compression 1.2a (DSC 1.2a) support which offers a single-cable visually lossless 4K/240Hz, 4K/120Hz/HDR or 8K HDR 60Hz experience
- External Power: 8-pin x1
- Minimum Power Supply Requirement: 450 watt
- XFX Recommended Power Supply: XFX 500W PSU
- Card Dimensions: 11.02 x 5.83 x 1.73 inches / 28 x 14.8 x 4.4 cm
“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 II PRO Card
Before looking at the performance results here is a quick look around the card. This card implements a dual-fan cooling solution, and is of a considerably shorter overall length than the triple-fan design of the RX 5600 XT THICC III ULTRA we looked at previously. This card is 11.02 inches in length, while the THICC III Ultra is 12.83 inches long.
Display connectivity is comprised of a single HDMI 2.0b port and three DisplayPort 1.4 ports. Power is supplied via a single 8-pin PCIe connector.
XFX offers this description of the THICC II Pro cooler design:
“The THICC II Pro line of coolers expands on previous THICC II 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.”
Features include (via XFX):
- 100% copper GPU and memory heatsink
- 4 x 6mm copper composite heatpipes
- Newly enhanced open air design
- 100 mm dual fan with Zero DB fanstop technology
The card is equipped with a dual BIOS, with the intention of offering both high performance and lower fan noise modes. As you can see, this is more than a fan curve adjustment as the clocks are lower with the low-noise BIOS:
Left: default “performance” BIOS position. Right: “low noise” BIOS position.
Now let’s see how this 14 Gbps version compares to the performance of the 12 Gbps THICC III Ultra we tested previously.
We ran through five of the same 1080p game benchmarks from our previous XFX RX 5600 XT review, using identical hardware and settings.
Run at 1920×1080 with the “ultra” preset, we’ve found this DX11 title to offer more consistent frame times on AMD hardware. In these tests we were interested in performance relative to both the 12 Gbps XFX card, and the RTX 2060 FE.
An inauspicious start for this THICC II Pro, but we have to consider the disparity in GPU clock speeds between the XFX cards. The THICC III Ultra 12 Gbps card has a 1660MHz Game Clock and a 1750MHz max Boost Clock, while this new THICC II Pro offers a significantly lower 1560MHz Game Clock and a 1620MHz max Boost Clock.
Still, the GPU clocks are clearly less important than memory bandwidth with the RX 5600 XT, and this “slower” THICC II with 14 Gbps memory offered an average of 2.7 FPS above the 12 Gbps THICC III Ultra in F1 2018 at these settings. There continues to be no good reason to buy a 12 Gbps version of this GPU.
Far Cry 5
Another DX11 title, this was run at 1920×1080 using the “high” preset and standard textures.
In Far Cry 5 the 14 Gbps THICC II Pro was able to do what the 12 Gbps THICC III Ultra could not, outperforming the RTX 2060 in this test by an average of 2.6 FPS (and 6 FPS ahead of that 12 Gbps 5600 XT).
The lone DX12 title in this review, this was run at 1920×1080 using the “high” preset.
Metro Exodus is one of the more challenging tests of GPU performance even at the “high” preset (there’s also “ultra” and “extreme” if you really want to push things). As we saw with the Far Cry 5 result the THICC II Pro 14 Gbps again leapfrogs the RTX 2060, though just 1.1 FPS separates these cards. The THICC III Ultra is 7.9 FPS behind this new 14 Gbps card.
The lone Vulkan API test here, Star Control was run at 1920×1080 with “high” preset settings.
Somehow the THICC II Pro 14 Gbps finished behind the THICC III Ultra here, suggesting that at these settings the higher GPU clocks of the 12 Gbps card more than mitigated the disparity in memory bandwidth. Both cards finished ahead of the RTX 2060, which is expected considering AMD’s general performance advantage in Vulkan tests (in my experience, anyhow).
World of Tanks enCore
We wrap things up with a lighter DX11 test, with World of Tanks enCore not presenting much of a challenge at 1920×1080 even at the “ultra” preset.
In this final test all of the tested cards produced very high frame rates, and here the higher memory bandwidth from the THICC II Pro 14 Gbps afforded it a comfortable lead over the THICC III Ultra, with an average FPS advantage of 7.3. The RTX 2060 did out-perform both of these Radeon cards in this particular test.
Power, Temps, and Noise
Looking first at power from the wall, we see that the THICC II Pro draws a bit less power under load, but not to any significant degree. These are total system measurements, of course, so don’t consider this the final word in power draw from any GPU.
Moving on to temperatures, at idle this will depend on case airflow and ambient temperature as the XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II Pro makes use of a zero-RPM idle fan profile. On the open test bed I recorded 33 C in a ~19 C room at idle, if you’re curious.
Load temps were generated using 10 consecutive iterations of the Metro Exodus benchmark, run at 2560×1440 with the Ultra preset (DX12). I recorded max temps of 65 C GPU, 80 C hot spot, and 72 C memory in a ~19 C room.
As to noise, of course the card is silent at idle, and with the SPL meter (+/- 1.4 dBA accuracy) positioned just 12 inches from the fans I recorded levels ranging from 33.1 dBA to 35.1 dBA. The max fan speed under load was 1551 RPM (44%).
I mentioned in our initial XFX 5600 XT review that it was hard to fault XFX for not offering a VBIOS that overclocked memory to speeds that these chips simply weren’t designed for, but the fact that other AMD partners offered higher performance made the XFX lineup far less attractive.
January seems like a very long time ago now, and XFX now offers the level of performance we expect from an RX 5600 XT with 14 Gbps memory. Unfortunately the market for this GPU remains fragmented. This is on AMD, and not XFX.
The current 12/14 Gbps fragmentation is exactly why AMD chose to drop PCI Express 4.0 support for 300/400 series motherboards! Not only were there concerns that the older boards couldn’t “reliably run the more stringent signaling requirements” of PCIe 4.0, but they considered that “the potential for confusion is too high”. They were right.
What we now have is a market with cards carrying the “Radeon RX 5600 XT” name that may have very different performance levels out of the box, and may or may not offer 14 Gbps memory as a VBIOS update.
As far as this particular XFX THICC II PRO card goes, I don’t really have any complaints – other than list pricing (more on this shortly). This card offers that higher 14 Gbps performance level from its RX 5600 XT GPU, though the GPU clocks are considerably lower than the THICC III Ultra we previously tested. Naturally, a 14 Gbps version of that Ultra version now exists, and XFX is keeping their lineup segmented as we would expect.
And now we get to pricing. I was initially going to conclude that, at $299.99, this card was simply too expensive for this level of performance. The THICC II Pro offers what should be considered baseline performance for a 14 Gbps RX 5600 XT, and while I think AMD put their partners in an awkward position with the day-one VBIOS update strategy, consumers obviously shouldn’t have to worry about that. But XFX has addressed this. A check of current street prices this morning shows a $20 price drop in effect on Amazon and Newegg, making this a lot more attractive.
Bottom line, this card represents what the RX 5600 XT should have looked like at launch, and while the list price of $299 feels high, the current $279.99 retail (we hope this is a permanent drop) places it just $10 above the lowest-cost 14 Gbps RX 5600 XT available. And XFX does offer a very quiet cooler to sweeten the deal a bit more.
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 card is on loan from XFX for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The card remains the property of XFX but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.
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.
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Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by XFX for this review.
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