XFX Radeon RX 6700 XT Merc 319 review: Big, beautiful, and utterly silent

Stay frosty.

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Power draw, thermals, and noise

We test power draw by looping the F1 2020 benchmark at 4K for about 20 minutes after we’ve benchmarked everything else and noting the highest reading on our Watts Up Pro meter, which measures the power consumption of our entire test system. The initial part of the race, where all competing cars are onscreen simultaneously, tends to be the most demanding portion. 

This isn’t a worst-case test; this is a GPU-bound game running at a GPU-bound resolution to gauge performance when the graphics card is sweating hard. If you’re playing a game that also hammers the CPU, you could see higher overall system power draws. Consider yourself warned.

power Brad Chacos/IDG

Nvidia GPUs prevent our computer from fully going into idle in the five minutes of downtime we use for this test, though it does so after a longer duration. That’s new to this Ryzen 5900X platform; we didn’t see it on our old Intel-based testbeds, nor with AMD Radeon graphics cards installed. We’ll have to change our methodology going forward and poke around the behavior to understand it more fully. 

The XFX Merc 319 draws slightly more energy than the reference Radeon RX 6700 XT, but that’s to be expected given its higher power limit and faster clock speeds. This hotrod still draws less power than the RTX 3070 and roughly the same energy as EVGA’s overclocked (but slower) RTX 3060 Ti, however, which shows just how power efficient AMD’s new RDNA 2 architecture is.

We test thermals by leaving GPU-Z open during the F1 2020 power draw test, noting the highest maximum temperature at the end.

temp Brad Chacos/IDG

It takes a lot of heavy metal and abundant thermal pads but the XFX Merc 319’s bespoke cooling design rocks our socks. The card stays over 10 degrees cooler than AMD’s reference board while running in absolute silence. While it’s not reflected in the chart above, XFX’s Merc 319 manages to keep internal components (like memory and the hotspot GPU temp) anywhere for 3 to 5 degrees Celsius cooler than even Sapphire’s fantastic Nitro+. If you want to overclock your graphics card, the XFX Merc 319 is more than up to snuff.

Should you buy the XFX Radeon RX 6700 XT Merc 319?

Reiterating what we spent several hundred words on in our reference Radeon RX 6700 XT review, you probably shouldn’t buy any graphics card right now. Cards sell out instantly and appear on resale sites for twice the price or more. I’d recommend most people sit on the sidelines and stream their PC games via Nvidia’s GeForce Now service until the dust settles. In a sane world, the Radeon RX 6700 XT is priced about $80 too high, and the XFX Merc 319 adds another $90 to that to hit its $570 price point. By contrast, last generation’s equivalent XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra launched at $440.

xfx radeon rx 6700 xt merc 319 6 Brad Chacos/IDG

But we’re not living in a sane world, and in today’s reality, the XFX Radeon RX 6700 XT Merc 319 is well worth the money. AMD’s latest GPU plays games at 1440p and high refresh rate 1080p with no visual compromises in traditionally rasterized games. XFX’s best-in-class custom cooler isn’t just frigid, it’s downright inaudible—and flat-out gorgeous. Pairing such a potent cooler with upgraded dual 8-pin power requirements and a BIOS switch means the XFX Merc 319 should also be on your shortlist if you’re looking to push performance even further via manual overclocking.

There are a few minor nitpicks to make. The graphics card is physically massive--make sure it can fit in your case before you buy. XFX’s nice factory overclock makes no difference to practical gaming performance, so this card isn’t tangibly faster than the much cheaper reference model. AMD’s weak ray tracing performance is limited to 1080p with reduced visual settings until the company rolls out a rival to Nvidia’s DLSS feature. And while I adore this card's hot-rod vibes, the Merc 319's clean aesthetic lacks an option to customize onboard lighting. If you’re an RGB enthusiast, consider Sapphire’s rival Nitro+ RX 6700 XT instead.

Don’t let those tiny qualms dissuade you if you’re somehow able to actually land your paws on this. The XFX Radeon RX 6700 XT Merc 319 is a fantastic graphics card, full stop.

This story, "XFX Radeon RX 6700 XT Merc 319 review: Big, beautiful, and utterly silent" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • The XFX Merc 319 tames AMD's Radeon RX 6700 XT with a massive custom cooler that stays both frosty and utterly silent. It's a beauty to look at as well. This is a great graphics card for 1440p gaming but it's limited to 1080p with ray tracing active. We aren't taking price into consideration given market conditions during a pandemic-driven global GPU shortage.

    Pros

    • Great 1440p and 1080p gaming performance
    • Exceptional cooler stays frosty and inaudible
    • Gorgeous, hot rod-inspired design
    • 12GB of memory bolstered by Infinity Cache
    • Dual-BIOS switch, higher power limits for overclockers
    • Gets faster when paired with Ryzen 5000

    Cons

    • Massive size may not fit in all PCs
    • No DLSS-like feature means AMD's ray tracing performance is lackluster
    • Price is high, but will be much higher on the street during global GPU shortage
    • Aggressive "Merc" logo and lack of RGB might turn some people off
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