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

The handful of misgivings we had with XFX’s original Thicc design are gone. The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is one of the best custom versions of one of the best GPUs you can buy for 1440p gaming.  

dsc00785 Brad Chacos/IDG

XFX leaned hard on the Radeon RX 5700 XT, supercharging the Thicc III Ultra’s clock speeds to the fastest performance we’ve seen yet. Doing so requires a substantial power draw, but the overhauled triple-fan “Ghost” thermal design handles it capably, delivering some of the coolest temperatures and quietest noise levels we’ve seen (and heard) in a high-end graphics card, albeit at the cost of an extra inch of length. A secondary Quiet BIOS silences it even further for a minor performance cost. The chrome-and-black muscle car aesthetic of XFX’s Double Dissipation-inspired design remains drop-dead gorgeous—one of my favorite custom graphics card looks in recent memory.

Better yet, at $440, the Thicc III Ultra is priced the same as its impressive, yet flawed predecessor. It easily justifies the $40 premium over the reference Radeon RX 5700 XT, spitting out frames virtually as fast as the $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super while leaving the $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super in the dust. Believe it or not, at $440, the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is a pretty good value.

The only drawbacks? The Thicc III Ultra is a massive graphics card, three slots deep and well over a foot long. You’ll need a spacious case to squeeze this in, and a 600W or more PSU to handle its power. AMD Radeon graphics cards also lack dedicated hardware for real-time ray tracing, though few games support the cutting-edge technology at this point.

The XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra also runs neck-and-neck with Sapphire’s sublime Nitro+ as our favorite custom Navi design. Sapphire’s card costs $10 more but delivers flashier features: a metal-clad exterior, impressive and extensive RGB lighting, and nifty software that mixes resolution downscaling with AMD’s Radeon Image Sharpening technology to deliver ultra-fast frame rates with minimal visual degradation. XFX’s card stands out for its stunning muscle car-evoking aesthetic design, even lower temperatures, and out-of-the-box performance better than its Sapphire rival, albeit barely.

dsc00795 Brad Chacos/IDG

Vroom

The Radeon RX 5700 XT also excels at high refresh-rate 1440p gaming with few visual compromises, or even 4K gaming with graphics dialed down to High in some games. It’s a beast. If you’re using a 60Hz 1440p monitor or a high refresh rate 1080p display, the $350 Radeon RX 5700 non-XT might be a better option. Conversely, if you want to tap into cutting-edge real-time ray tracing in the handful of games that support it, step up to the $500 Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super rather than the $400 GeForce RTX 2060 Super, which is considerably slower than the AMD card and requires some significant visual trade-offs for ray tracing. If you’re indifferent about ray tracing, definitely opt for the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra over the RTX 2070 Super, as AMD’s option delivers virtually the same performance for much less money.

Bottom line: XFX nailed the do-over. While the original Thicc II was fun, fast, and flawed, the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is fun, fast, and almost flawless. It’s highly recommended and easily earns our Editors’ Choice award. Don’t be surprised if the original Thicc II is phased out soon, because this superior successor nailed it.  

This story, "XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra review: A roaring muscle car, barely heard" was originally published by PCWorld.

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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