XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro review: A good graphics card in a weird place

AMD's last-second tinkering with Radeon RX 5600 XT specifications hurts XFX's Thicc II Pro

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Should you buy the XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro?

You won’t be disappointed if you buy the XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro.

xfx radeon rx 5600 xt thicc ii pro 4 Brad Chacos/IDG

It delivers killer 1080p gaming at high refresh rates and ultimate visual quality, as well as solid 1440p gaming. The blacked-out aesthetic of the custom cooler remains drool-worthy, even if it isn’t quite as thicc or blinged-out as other Thicc models, and XFX includes desirable dual-BIOS and idle fan stop features for a good all-around experience. AMD’s new Navi architecture is much more energy-efficient than past Radeon GPUs, too. In a sane world, the mere $20 premium XFX charges for this card would be well worth the price.

The vicious AMD and Nvidia counterpunching around the launch of the Radeon RX 5600 XT has caused the Thicc II Pro to lose a bit of its luster, unfortunately.

You’ll probably need to flash a new VBIOS onto your card to get the best performance in the wake of AMD’s last-minute tweaks. That’s not difficult, nor unique to XFX—pretty much all of the first Radeon RX 5600 XT shipments are affected—but it’s not very user-friendly for a $300 purchase. Even once you do, XFX’s “Pro-tuned” BIOS for the Thicc II Pro doesn’t apply overclocks as fiercely as the $290 Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT does, nor does it increase memory clock speeds.

xfx radeon rx 5600 xt thicc ii pro 11 Brad Chacos/IDG

In some games, that doesn’t matter much, but in several games, the faster speeds give the Sapphire Pulse up to a 10-percent performance advantage even with a sticker price that’s ostensibly $10 less. (We’ve seen it as high as $300 on the street.) Sapphire’s card also runs extremely quiet and offers a dual-BIOS switch, but it’s uglier than the XFX Thicc II Pro. Sapphire also managed to get its upgraded VBIOS onto most Pulse cards sold in North America, negating extra legwork on your end.

At $300, the XFX Thicc II Pro goes head-to-head with the new EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO, as well as Nvidia’s own reduced-priced RTX 2060 Founders Edition. EVGA’s card is louder than XFX’s and lacks a dual-BIOS switch, but it also offers about 10 percent more performance, as well as real-time ray tracing capabilities limited to GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs alone at this point. You also don’t need to bother with manual BIOS flashing to get your best performance from GeForce cards, unlike Radeon RX 5600 XT models.

The XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro is stuck between Sapphire’s rock and EVGA’s hard place.

xfx radeon rx 5600 xt thicc ii pro 10 Brad Chacos/IDG

If AMD’s last-second VBIOS shenanigans hadn’t occurred, XFX’s card would be a much more compelling option, offering a sleek, attractive, solid-performing custom model for a mere $20 premium. Sapphire and Nvidia came hard in the wake of the Radeon RX 5600 XT’s CES reveal, however. You won’t be disappointed with the Thicc II Pro if you buy one, but unless you place a high value on its gorgeous RGB-barren aesthetic—which isn’t even quite as pretty as past Thicc iterations, due to the removal of chrome accents—it’s hard to recommend over the higher performance of the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT and EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO.

It’s a good graphics card surrounded by great options—and one that’s sadly been somewhat kneecapped by AMD’s eleventh-hour product decisions.

This story, "XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro review: A good graphics card in a weird place" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • The XFX Radeon RX 5600 XT Thicc II Pro is a good, well-designed graphics card for no-compromises 1080p gaming, but it suffers from AMD's last-second product decisions.

    Pros

    • Excellent 1080p gaming performance
    • Fast GDDR6 VRAM, PCIe 4.0 support
    • Attractive, sleek design
    • Idle fan stop feature for silent desktop use
    • Dual-BIOS switch
    • Very quiet

    Cons

    • Not as fast as RTX 2060 or RX 5600 XT at similar prices
    • Have to manually install critical performance-boosting BIOS
    • No real-time ray tracing capabilities
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