AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT And RX 5700 Review: 7nm Navi Debuts

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Radeon RX 5700 Series: Overclocking, Power, And Noise

We also spent some time overclocking the Radeon RX 5700 XT using the WattMan driver control panel built into AMD's Adrenaline Edition drivers, to tweak and tune a few things and see what kind of additional performance we could squeeze out of the card.

Like previous-gen Vega-based Radeons, when the GPU is boosting, frequencies and voltages scale upwards (power and temperature permitting) based on the GPU's workload at the time. With the WattMan tool built into AMD's drivers though, users have the ability to manually alter frequencies, voltages, fan speeds and the power target, to fine tune performance, power, and acoustics of the product.

radeon 5700 breakout

In previous-generation Radeons, though the GPUs had multiple sensors built-in, a single sensor has been used to determine the GPU temperature and data from that sensor was used to control the card's thermal profile. Starting with the Radeon VII though, and continuing on with the Radeon RX 5700 Series, AMD has incorporated a network of multiple thermal sensors at strategic locations across the GPU die. Data gathered from this array of sensors is used to determine what AMD is calling the "Junction Temperature" on the Radeon RX 5700 series, and it's the Junction Temperature data that is used to tune the cards' power and thermal profiles. AMD claims the increased resolution and accuracy from the additional thermal sensors allows it to increase overall performance, because thermal throttling based on the Junction Temperature is more reliable and effective.

The WattMan tool built-into the Radeon RX 5700 series' drivers offer manual tuning, along with automatic under-volting and automatic GPU and Memory overclocking. Unfortunately, a bug in the initial drivers caused a problem with the thermal profile, which couldn't easily be remedied. A new driver was sent yesterday, but due to time constraints we couldn't dig into overclocking quite as deeply as we would have liked.

5700 oc temps and clocks

That said, we did spend some time tweaking the Radeon RX 5700 XT's frequency curve and saw some nice performance gains. We cranked up the max boost clock only slightly, but bumped things up by a few percent across the rest of the curve. We also cranked the power target up to its maximum and increased the fan speed as well.

oc1


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We ultimately saw the boost clock jump up to over 2GHz, with a max GPU temperature of 83°C; the junction temperature was a much toastier 110°C at its peak, however. Still, we gained a healthy 5% in Tomb Raider and 2.5% in 3DMark Time Spy. With some additional tweaking, we're confident performance could have been increased even further.
 

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet
Before bringing this article to a close, we'll cover a couple of final data points for power consumption and acoustics. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored noise output and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea of how much power each configuration used while idle and also while under a heavy gaming workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone. It's a relative measurement that does give you a decent view of how much additional, or less power draw a graphics card is placing on a system.

power

All of the cards we tested used similar amounts of power while idling, but under load, the Radeon RX 5700 series cards were significantly more power-friendly than previous-gen Radeons. Despite clearly outperforming its older sibling across the board, the Radeon RX 5700 XT used 100 watts less than the Radeon RX Vega 64, which is a testament to Navi's improved efficiency. NVIDIA's Turing GPU architecture is even more efficient, however. Although it's manufactured at 12nm (versus 7nm for Navi), and has millions more transistors, the TU104 GPU powering the higher-performing GeForce RTX 2070 Super uses similar amounts of power. And the smaller RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super used the least amount of power overall.

Acoustically, the Radeon RX 5700 series cards are also significantly quieter than any previous gen Vega card while under load, when using their default fan profiles. While idling, AMD's new Navi cards are very quiet. Under load, the fans on the cards do spin up significantly and they are clearly audible in a typical system, but we wouldn't consider the cards loud at all. They are marked improvement over previous-generation Radeons, for sure, but not as quiet as NVIDIA's competing GeForce RTX series counterparts.

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