AMD Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT review: Blazing new trails

AMD's latest graphics cards contain numerous cutting-edge technologies, and an all-new "RDNA" architecture that fixes previous Radeon drawbacks.

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Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade ($50 on Humble) is a cooperative third-person shooter where a team of adventurers blasts through hordes of mythological enemies. It’s a technological showcase, built around the next-gen Vulkan and DirectX 12 technologies and infused with features like HDR support and the ability to toggle asynchronous compute on and off. It uses Rebellion’s custom Azure engine. We test the DX12 renderer with async compute off.

strange brigade Brad Chacos/IDG

Strange Brigade tends to perform very well on AMD hardware, and the Radeon RX 5700 series beats down the similarly priced RTX 2060 and 2060 Super. If AMD stuck to its original pricing, it wouldn’t have beaten the 2060 and 2070 Super duo. Cutting the price was a smart move. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider ($60 on Humble) concludes the reboot trilogy, and it’s utterly gorgeous. Square Enix optimized this game for DX12, and recommends DX11 only if you’re using older hardware or Windows 7, so we test with that. Shadow of the Tomb Raider uses an enhanced version of the Foundation engine that also powered Rise of the Tomb Raider.

sotr Brad Chacos/IDG

Now here’s an interesting result. Shadow of the Tomb Raider usually favors Nvidia architectures, but AMD’s RDNA has apparently closed the gap. The Radeon RX 5700 is neck-and-neck with the RTX 2060 Super here! And the Radeon RX 5700 XT is well ahead of it.

Ghost Recon Wildlands

Move over, Crysis. If you crank all the graphics options up to 11, like we do for these tests, Ghost Recon Wildlands ($50 on Humble) and its AnvilNext 2.0 engine absolutely melt GPUs, even with a sequel due later this year. It’s by far the most strenuous game in our suite, even with newer stunners like Division 2 in the mix. 

grw Brad Chacos/IDG

Ghost Recon Wildlands also prefers Nvidia’s GPU architecture in general—or at least it used to. The overhauled RDNA architecture definitely shook something up, leveling the playing field in games that preferred GeForce GPUs in prior generations. The Radeon RX 5700 duo manages to draw effectively even with both Super cards here—as well as the far pricier $700 Radeon VII.

F1 2018

The latest in a long line of successful games, F1 2018 ($60 on Humble) is a gem to test, supplying a wide array of both graphical and benchmarking options—making it a much more reliable (and fun) option that the Forza series. It’s built on the fourth version of Codemasters’ buttery-smooth Ego game engine. We test two laps on the Australia course, with clear skies.

f1 Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia’s RTX Super GPUs blow well past the Radeon RX 5700 family here, especially at the more popular 1440p and 1080p resolutions. But again, AMD’s price cut changes the tune, with the $350 Radeon RX 5700 surpassing the $350 RTX 2060 in performance, and the $400 Radeon RX 5700 XT blowing well past the $400 RTX 2060 Super at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

GTA V

We’re going to wrap things up with a game that isn’t really a visual barn-burner, but still tops the Steam charts day in and day out. We test Grand Theft Auto V ($30 on Humble) with all options turned to Very High, all Advanced Graphics options except extended shadows enabled, and FXAA. GTA V runs on the RAGE engine and has received substantial updates since its initial launch.

gtav Brad Chacos/IDG

Third time’s a trend. GTA V has performed better on GeForce hardware ever since it launched years and years ago, but now, the Radeon RX 5700 and 5700 XT draw even with Nvidia’s pricier RTX Super options. The vastly more expensive Radeon VII is still a loser here.

Next page: Power, thermals, and noise

At a Glance
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