Back at CES, AMD officially introduced the RX 5600 XT, describing it as “the ultimate 1080p gaming card”. Launch day is now upon us and reviews are out, so we’ve gathered up details on UK availability, pricing, performance and specs.
The reference spec for the RX 5600 XT includes 36 Compute Units, 6GB of 12Gbps GDDR6 memory and a 1375MHz/1560MHz base/boost core clock speed. As we learned late last week, AMD began rolling out a new vBIOS to board partners ahead of launch, allowing memory speeds to be pushed up to 14Gbps and clock speeds to reach as high as 1750MHz out of the box. Not every board partner GPU will be launching with these improvements set at the factory though, so there will be some slight variances in speeds between different models.
During the reveal event, AMD gave several examples of the RX 5600 XT beating out Nvidia’s GTX 1660Ti in various games. We’ve published a launch day review for the Sapphire RX 5600 XT PULSE, which backs up those claims, with the RX 5600 XT holding a decent gain over the RTX 2060 and the GTX 1660Ti.
Over in the US, the RX 5600 XT is launching with an MSRP of $279. Now that we’ve arrived at launch day, we know that UK pricing varies between £250 and £300. At Overclockers UK, the cheapest option right now is the Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse, coming in at £254.99 with AMD’s newly released vBIOS improvements intact, bringing boost speeds up to 1750MHz and increasing memory speeds.
Next is the PowerColor RX 5600 XT Dual Fan at £259.99, which sticks to AMD’s reference 12Gbps memory speed and 1620MHz boost clock. At £299.99, you will find the RX 5600 XT Red Devil, with a beefier cooling solution, 1750MHz boost clock speed and 14Gbps memory out of the box.
More custom-cooled RX 5600 XTs will be made available in the weeks to come, including versions from the likes of ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte.
KitGuru Says: With reviews now up and pricing/availability confirmed, what do you all think of the RX 5600 XT?
It has been a turbulent week for AMD’s latest GPU. Announced at CES 2020, the RX 5600 XT was meant to take the fight directly to Nvidia’s GTX 16-series product line, with a $279 MSRP and cut-down specs compared to the RX 5700. Thanks to a new BIOS update, however, pushed just days before the GPU’s official launch, the 5600 XT is now positioned against the RTX 2060. What exactly has been going on, and is this GPU actually any good?
To begin explaining the events of the past five days, we need to cast our minds back to the announcement of the RX 5600 XT GPU at CES 2020. Using the same Navi 10 GPU configuration as the RX 5700 – meaning 36 Compute Units, 2304 Stream Processors – but with 2GB less VRAM and a narrower memory interface, AMD billed the 5600 XT as an ‘Ultimate 1080p’ GPU, designed solely to crush the GTX 1660 Super and GTX 1660 Ti.
That product positioning was confirmed again when I sat in on an online press briefing for the 5600 XT, as AMD went into some detail about how the 5600 XT was very much a 16-series competitor and it was not designed to face up against the RTX 2060. Regardless, Nvidia was working in the background to make the RTX 2060 more competitive and render the 5600 XT DOA. First we saw EVGA’s RTX 2060 KO priced at $299 (or $279 for early pre-orders), and then the official Nvidia product page dropped the Founders Edition price to $299/£275.
During this time, I had received my Sapphire Pulse RX 5600 XT model for review and started testing on Wednesday 15th, ahead of the launch on the 21st. The very next day – Thursday 16th – I received an email from AMD, saying:
‘SAPPHIRE will be providing a BIOS update for the Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card, expected to be available this morning, January 16, European time. The update is expected to deliver increased performance and may impact your existing testing results.’
Initially I was confused – I’d already successfully completely most of my testing, the card’s performance was more-or-less where I expected it to be (as we will see later on in this review), so I wasn’t sure what was going on with a new BIOS being pushed out. I remember thinking that perhaps some reviewers had been experiencing issues, that cards weren’t running as fast as they were meant to.
But that was not the case. What actually happened was, just five days before the official launch of the 5600 XT, AMD significantly adjusted some key specifications of the card. The power limit was raised from 150W TBP (total board power) to 160W TBP, with boost clock increasing from 1620MHz to 1750MHz, alongside a 2Gbps speed increase for the GDDR6 memory – up to 14Gbps, from 12Gbps.
Original BIOS spec, left, compared with updated BIOS spec, right.
Here is the official statement from AMD regarding this change:
‘Based on ongoing testing with our board partners, we have raised the GPU core and memory frequencies for overclocked Radeon RX 5600 XT SKUs to take advantage of increased thermal and electrical headroom built into partner’s custom designs. The updated VBIOS has been made available to our board partners for inclusion in select OC SKUs at launch. AMD is dedicated to disrupting the market with industry-leading compute products, and the new VBIOS makes the Radeon RX 5600 XT an even more powerful contender for high-performance 1080p gaming. Previously announced product specs are unchanged, as they remain AMD’s recommended reference design specs.’
Upon further clarification from AMD, the updated BIOS only applies to factory overclocked cards. In other words, reference spec of the card remains unchanged, as it was announced with 12Gbps memory and lower boost clocks. Now, if AMD’s partners wish to do so, they can make use of the new BIOS to get better performance for their factory overclocked models. This means there may still be some cards which adhere to the reference spec, but this is up to each manufacturer to decide.
Either way, in all the time I have been reviewing GPUs for KitGuru – and speaking with Allan Campbell, Editor in Chief who previously reviewed GPUs for KitGuru – neither of us can remember such a significant or late change to a graphics card’s specification. I’d go as far to say that this is an unprecedented move from AMD. Clearly the company felt the need to respond to Nvidia’s price cuts of the RTX 2060, so short of dropping the already announced $279 MSRP, AMD did what it could to make its cards run faster.
Aside from the immediate increase to performance, which we will observe throughout this review, this move has several implications. First, and I confirmed this with a number of AMD’s partners, is that there is already existing 5600 XT stock in the channel ready to be sold on the 21st. There is no way to now update the BIOS on those cards, so the responsibility will fall on the consumer. This is far from ideal – firstly, the end-user would have to know that the BIOS needs updating. They would also have to be comfortable doing it themselves, and even though it is a simple process, things can easily go wrong.
To prove that last point, I can share from my personal experience. I received three 5600 XT cards – the Sapphire card, I updated successfully and saw increased memory and clock speeds. However, I also updated a Gigabyte model too, which saw increased clock speed but memory speed was unchanged. Lastly, I also received an MSI card which simply would not update the BIOS due to a ‘subsystemID mismatch’ issue. MSI later sent us a second BIOS, but getting in touch to say that a third BIOS would be arriving in the next couple of days, as the second one was also not final.
Three cards, three varying levels of success. To be clear, I am not blaming the partners here. To my mind, AMD pushing a new BIOS only five days before the launch has somewhat pulled the rug out from the AIB’s feet. Of course, AMD may say that the BIOS update is optional and up to each manufacturer, but realistically if one company does it, they all have to do it or their card is going to perform noticeably slower.
If these specifications had been announced at CES 2020, or even if the cards had arrived with the new BIOS and we were simply told that specs had been updated since the announcement, this would not be an issue and we could’ve got on with testing no problem. The issue is that the update was so last-minute, everyone was left scrambling to catch up.
|RX 5600 XT||RX 5700||RX 5700 XT||RX Vega 56||RX Vega 64|
|Architecture||Navi||Navi||Navi||Vega 10||Vega 10|
|Transistor Count||10.3 billion||10.3 billion||10.3 billion||12.5 billion||12.5 billion|
|Base GPU Clock||n/a||Up to 1465MHz||Up to 1605MHz||1156 MHz||1274 MHz|
|Game GPU Clock||1375MHz||Up to 1625MHz||Up to 1755MHz||n/a||n/a|
|Boost GPU Clock||Up to 1560MHz||Up to 1725MHz||Up to 1905MHz||1471 MHz||1546 MHz|
|Peak Engine Clock||n/a||n/a||n/a||1590 MHz||1630 MHz|
|Peak SP Performance||Up to 7.19 TFLOPS||Up to 7.95 TFLOPS||Up to 9.75 TFLOPS||Up to 10.5 TFLOPS||Up to 12.7 TFLOPS|
|Peak Half Precision Performance||Up to 14.4 TFLOPS||Up to 15.9 TFLOPS||Up to 19.5 TFLOPS||Up to 21.0 TFLOPS||Up to 25.3 TFLOPS|
|Peak Texture Fill-Rate||Up to 224.6 GT/s||Up to 248.4 GT/s||Up to 304.8 GT/s||Up to 330.0 GT/s||Up to 395.8 GT/s|
|Peak Pixel Fill-Rate||Up to 99.8 GP/s||Up to 110.4 GP/s||Up to 121.9 GP/s||Up to 94.0 GP/s||Up to 98.9 GP/s|
|Memory||6GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB GDDR6||8GB HBM||8GB HBM|
|Memory Bandwidth||288 GB/s||448 GB/s||448 GB/s||410 GB/s||483.8 GB/s|
Above we have a table of key specifications for the card. These are the reference figures, which according to AMD remain unchanged. Our Sapphire Pulse card in for review, however, has received the new BIOS and is a factory overclocked model. Its rated boost clock is 1750MHz, with a game clock of 1615MHz, while memory clock is now 14Gbps. That last change is enough to raise memory bandwidth from 288GB/s to 336GB/s, a 17% increase.
I wasn’t initially sure how much difference the new BIOS would make, but considering I’d already tested the card with the original (reference spec) BIOS, we can directly compare results in this review.
While at this point we’ve pretty much reached the “mid-generation” point in the GPU space, that doesn’t mean activity in the GPU market is slowing down. Indeed, just three weeks into 2020 and AMD is already up to bat with a new video card, the Radeon RX 5600 XT. Announced a couple of weeks back at CES 2020, the Radeon RX 5600 XT is AMD’s answer to the $200-$300 mainstream video card segment, and is designed to be their ultimate 1080p gaming card. And of all of the AMD RX 5000 series video card launches in the last six months, it’s quickly shaping up to be the biggest fight yet between AMD and NVIDIA.
Often we see a lot of fanfare when companies launch their latest flagship products, but those products often come at the high-end of the price spectrum, so it is refreshing to get a new launch of some lower-cost alternatives. SteelSeries is launching a trio of new peripherals today all aimed at the budget-conscious gamer with the new Rival 3 Gaming Mouse, as well as the Apex 3 and Apex 5 gaming keyboards.
What constitutes a gaming mouse? It is certainly not just the RGB lighting, although most, including this product, offer customizable lighting. The mouse sensor is one of the key aspects, and SteelSeries worked with PixArt to develop a new sensor which they’ve dubbed the TrueMove Core optical sensor. The new sensor offers 8500 CPI, one-to-one tracking, and over 300 IPS and 35G of acceleration capability. For a mouse in this price bracket, it is very capable.
|SteelSeries Gaming Mouse|
|Sensor CPI||True 8500|
|Acceleration||300 IPS / 35 G|
|RGB Backlighting||3 Zones|
|Onboard Storage||5 profiles|
|Main Buttons||SteelSeries 60 M Click Rating|
The Rival 3 is a right handed mouse (if you need an ambidextrous they offer the Sensei series) which weighs in at just 77 grams. It offers three zones of RGB backlighting which achieves 750 lux, making this the brightest LEDs in any SteelSeries mouse. There are six buttons and the main buttons feature a SteelSeries switch rated at up to 60 million clicks, whereas a comparable Omron would only be rated at 10-20 million. The casing is finished in matte black, so it should stand up well to the test of time.
The mouse features customization through the SteelSeries Engine software, and offers onboard storage for five profiles, so even if it’s not used with the software, you can still choose your CPI profile on the go.
The new Rival 3 Gaming Mouse is available globally today for a MSRP of $29.99.
|SteelSeries Gaming Keyboards|
|Apex 3||Apex 5|
|Switch Type||POM Reinforced Membrane||Hybrid Mechanical|
|Key Cap||Standard MX 4mm throw|
|Onboard Storage||No||5 profiles|
|Media Keys||Yes with Volume Wheel||Yes with Volume Wheel|
|Wrist Rest||Detachable Magnetic||Detachable Magnetic|
SteelSeries is also launching two new gaming keyboards which feature anti-ghosting and RGB lighting, without breaking the bank. The Apex 3 is launching today with an MSRP of $49.99, and the Apex 5 is available globally for $99.99.
The Apex 3 features an upgraded and reinforced membrane switch, which SteelSeries says offers an improved key feel. The keyboard offers ten zones of RGB backlighting as well, and a magnetically attached wrist rest. There’s dedicated media keys, and a volume wheel as well, and the keyboard offers three routes for cable management so you can route the USB cable out the left, right, or middle of the keyboard. Finally, the Apex 3 is rated for IP32 water resistance, so it should survive an accidental spill.
The Apex 5 ramps up the features, as expected since it is literally double the price of the Apex 3, but for $99.99 this gaming keyboard offers hybrid mechanical switches, which are true mechanical switches, but which feature the smoothness of a membrane switch coupled with the click of a blue switch. The keys are also individual backlit with per-key RGB lighting.
The Apex 5 features the same OLED display as the Apex 7 and Pro lineup, which can be used to view in-game info, song information, and more. The OLED is coupled with media keys, and offers five onboard profiles meaning the keyboard can remember your settings as you move it from device to device.
The Apex 5 also features a full aluminum frame, and offers a premium magnetically attached wrist rest.
All of these products are available globally today. Check out SteelSeries.com for more details.
We’ve known for quite some time now that the PlayStation 5 is on the way this year, with Sony eyeing up an early 2020 reveal followed by a November launch. The console itself might only be part of the story though, as the next version of the PlayStation VR headset may launch at the same time.
PlayStation VR isn’t the most high-tech headset around but it is one of the most comfortable and accessible, with plenty of software support to boot. So far, PSVR has sold over five million units, making it a market that Sony wants to remain in. There hasn’t been as much talk about PSVR 2 as the PS5 but one VR publisher claims that the headset will arrive this year.
Apollo 11 VR and Titanic VR creators, VR Education Holdings, recently held its latest quarterly financial call with investors. As reported by VRFocus, the company specifically listed PSVR 2’s launch as part of its outlook for the rest of the year:
“2020 will see Sony release the PlayStation 5 and a new version of the PlayStation VR headset (PSVR), which will further expand the high-end VR user base; the Group intends to support this device with its current suite of showcase software”.
Now this company isn’t exactly the biggest name in VR, but if Sony does plan on launching the PS5 with VR support, then it makes sense that it would be reaching out to a broad range of developers in order to drum up software support. With the PS5 reveal event expected to be taking place quite soon, we may be hearing much more on this in the next few weeks.
KitGuru Says: PSVR had several great years, although now we are reaching a point where PC VR games are surpassing the capabilities of the PS4. With the PS5, Sony should be able to overcome that problem for the forseeable future, opening the door for games like Stormlands, Asgard’s Wrath and more.
One of the key advantages of a publisher having its own storefront, is the fact that all profits go directly to the publisher, unlike 3rd party storefronts which take a percentage of the profits. This is not only beneficial to the publishers themselves, but also consumers, as it means that the publisher is able to afford to reduce the price of games at a much deeper level, due to that tighter control. Such is the case with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, which currently has all versions of the game at 85% off on the Ubisoft Store.
The flash sale has listed the Standard Edition for £7.50 (85% off), the Gold Edition for £12.60 (85% off), and the Ultimate Edition for £15.00 (85% off). The Division 2 released in March of 2019, to favourable critical reviews. It was seen as a worthy successor to 2016’s The Division, although sales for The Division 2 on console were less than desired. Still, the game proved to be popular on PC, and even received a nomination for ‘Best Multiplayer Game’ at the 2019 Game Awards.
The flash sale will be running until the 23rd of January at 9am. Ubisoft are also hosting a Lunar New Year sale, offering Rainbow Six Siege for £6.80 (60% off), Assassin’s Creed 2 for £2.92 (66% off), and Anno 1800 for £27.49 (45% off), to name a few. The Lunar New Year sale will be running until the 31st of January, and features almost 400 discounted titles. The Division 2 meanwhile, will be on sale for less than 48 hours.
KitGuru says: What do you think of The Division 2? Do you use multiple digital game stores? What’s your favourite Ubisoft franchise? Let us know down below.
In October 2019, Noctua introduced the Chromax Black range of its most popular CPU coolers. The company has today announced it is adding to the Chromax Black series with an updated version of its low-profile NH-L9a cooler for AMD AM4 platforms.
The latest CPU cooler to be added to the Noctua Chromax Black range is the NH-L9a, the new Chromax Black NH-L9a is a revised version of the previous NH-L9a low profile CPU cooler for AM4 sockets, which now features a completely all-black appearance with a black coated heatsink and black NF-A9x14 PWM fan.
The NH-L9a has proved popular among PC enthusiasts installing AMD Ryzen processors into small form factor cases for HTPC builds. Noctua says regardless of the new appearance, the Chromax Black NH-L9a will offer the same thermal dissipation performance as the original version, as well as offering 100% RAM compatibility and excellent PCIe device support while giving a new sleek and stealth look.
“AMD’s Ryzen platform has become more and more popular over the last few months, not only for high-end builds but also for compact HTPCs and Small Form Factor systems”, says Roland Mossig (Noctua CEO). “We’ve already introduced the black NH-L9i low-profile cooler for Intel in October, but now we also want to give design-conscious AMD users a new option with the black version of NH-L9a-AM4!”
The Noctua Chromax Black NH-L9a now offers improved aesthetics and due to its slim 23mm heatsink and low profile 14mm fan, the cooler stands at just 37mm overall height, for maximum compatibility in small form factor systems that offer minimal CPU cooler clearance. A compact footprint means the cooler complies to AMD’s specified socket keep-out zones, so there is no interference with memory modules.
Just like the original Noctua NH-L9a, the new Chromax Black version utilises the company’s SecuFirm2 low profile mounting system for a quick and easy installation process and is supplied with Noctua’s enthusiast-grade NT-H1 thermal compound. The Chromax Black NH-L9a is available now via Amazon priced at £45.99 and is backed by a six-year manufacturer’s warranty.
KitGuru says: It’s great to see Noctua adding another one of its popular CPU coolers to the Chromax Black range, the black design means the NH-L9a will be easier to integrate into more systems where the CPU cooler is visible.