XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra review: A roaring muscle car, barely heard

XFX fixes flaws to field a fat, fantastic graphics card.

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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.

gta v Brad Chacos/IDG

Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2018 benchmark for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

power Brad Chacos/IDG

The original Thicc II pushed AMD’s Navi GPU hard with a hefty overclock, and the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra drives even harder. The lofty 1,935MHz overclock requires a similarly lofty power draw. As a result, the Thicc III joins only the monstrous GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and last generation’s notoriously inefficient Radeon Vega 64 (neither pictured in the graph above) as the only graphics cards to push our benchmarking machine’s whole-system power draw past 400 watts in this testing configuration.

Forget about efficiency. This muscle car’s engine goes full-power, more V8 than hybrid—though again, the Quiet BIOS dials things back to much more reasonable levels if it’s a concern for you. (It shouldn’t be if you’re buying a graphics card like this.)

The real question is how the cooler design handles all that power and the heat this beastly overclock throws off. The answer? Exceptionally well. We test thermals by leaving either AMD’s Wattman (for Radeon GPUs) or EVGA’s Precision X1 (for GeForce GPUs) open during the F1 2018 five-lap power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temps Brad Chacos/IDG

Look at that. Temperatures never top 70 degrees Celsius in our test. At 68 degrees, the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is one of the coolest high-end graphics cards we’ve tested—a full 8 degrees cooler than the Thicc II, even with a much more aggressive overclock. Better yet, the card is very quiet, delivering subjective noise levels on a par with the best thermal solutions around. As you’d expect, the Quiet BIOS makes the graphics card hard to hear even under full load.

It’s safe to say that the original Thicc II’s rocky thermal performance is a thing of the past. XFX responded to those concerns with a flat-out outstanding cooler design for the Thicc III Ultra.

Next page: Should you buy the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra?

At a Glance
  • The refined triple-fan XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra pushes the pedal to the metal while fixing the cooling flaws of its predecessor. This muscle car roars, but you'll barely hear it.

    Pros

    • Excellent gaming performance
    • Stunningly gorgeous design
    • Dual-BIOS switch
    • Idle fan stop feature for silent desktop use
    • PCIe 4.0 compatible
    • Supremely cool and very quiet

    Cons

    • Very high power consumption
    • Long, thick card won't fit in some cases
    • No real-time ray tracing capabilities
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