MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming Z review

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Final words and conclusion

.final words

It has been an exciting week with the performance BIOS updates for the premium SKUs of the 5600 XT series graphics cards. You take a Radeon RX 5700 (non-XT), remove two GDRR6 and lower the clocks, that in a nutshell is the 5600 XT. And with the cheaper price tag and a bit of tweaking, this could be a serious success. All by itself as a GPU, NAVI sits fairly close towards last-gen Vega performance levels. So the improved architecture works out well for AMD, it just works. Depending on how and where you measure the performance overall is at the very least interesting and in that respect the Radeon RX 5600 XT is fighting off the 1660 running to 2060 series from NVIDIA (with exceptions here and there) and the premium clocked models closing in on 2060 Super. Then there is, of course, the discussion on how relevant you find hardware-accelerated Raytracing support. Most of you don't care at this time, but much like anything in the tech industry, anything and everything will evolve, so this year we will likely see say a 5800 with just that.   

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.performance

As mentioned, Radeon RX 5600 XT show good performance in the 1920x1080 and Quad HD resolutions 2560x1440 realm of resolutions and sits at Radeon VEGA level performance. That is not a bad position to be in reality as that includes the newer titles like Battlefield V, Metro: Exodus and others. Obviously architectures differ compared to NVIDIA but also last-gen VEGA, and that means you'll be seeing wins and losses in perf compared to team green as well as that vega series. 6GB versus 8GB is a bit of an icky thing, I do prefer 8GB cards and would always recommend that. That said at Full HD, 6GB seems to be pretty decent, but for any graphics card close to 300 USD or above, I would say 8GB was the better way to go. The rDNA architecture does show strength and IPC increase, especially seen from Polaris the results are pretty amazing. The cost of ownership for Polaris at the time of writing is, of course, a much better proposition. But overall, yeah we're not disappointed. 


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We've added another chart (above) to show you how close the premium OC SKUs we've tested thus far are all together. So really it doesn't matter what brand you choose, your choice needs to be based on price, design, and cooling. The reference clocked SKUs will perform slower but can be tweaked just as well as the more premium OC SKUS. The same goes for tweaking, which is limited on the clock frequency, voltage and memory. Ergo the cards all tweak the same.

.pricing

The XT overall as a reference product is priced at 279 USD. The custom boards are roughly that same amount of money. We expect some boards to be more premium and more expensive. In this price category I, however, feel you should not be passing 300 bucks. At the time of writing, MSI did not yet have a final price at hand due to the new SKU OC configuration. I would not be surprised to see this Gaming Z SKU run towards € 349 / 329 USD.

.cooling & noise levels

The card sits at roughly 58~59 Degrees C while gaming, and that is totally fine. The fan will be from ramping up at a strong temperature increase, but it ramps down and settles in a very silent 35 DBa fashion at low RPM during gameplay. We've have heard minuscule bits of coil whine at best. But I do want to note that any graphics card at a high-enough FPS will make some coil-whine. 

.energy

The TDP for this XT we measure to be roughly 163 Watts. That number varies a bit per game title, workload, resolution and even refresh rate of course. It's an okay wattage, especially compared to the competition's products with the same performance bracket.



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.conclusion

The Gaming Z edition of the 5600 XT is an interesting product, and actually even feels more attractive compared to the MSI 5700 (Non-XT), but the final pricing will be key here. If that is too expensive, grab a reference clocked model and tweak it to the max, it's all the same. You'll also very likely be able to flash an OC firmware into the reference models. From what I understand from MSI though the revision B models of the Gaming Z that end up in retail will be updated slightly based on the higher GDDR6 clock frequency. But yeah, apply a tweak and you'll sit at that 5700 performance level, that's a fact. All cards perform the same and tweak the same, so in that respect it's all a bit of a boring flurry. Your choice should be based on things like acoustics, temps, and price. Let's do more with less is a thing you often see in the technology sector, most processors are the same, just binned and reconfigured. For a more mainstream GPU figured, well we can design multiple GPUs, but that is expensive. So with the RX 5600 they simply use the 5700 and reconfigured things a bit. There's nothing wrong with that, and as you guys confirmed, the 5700 series has been a hit from the very beginning. So I expect the same for the 5600 series, albeit a notch slower at a starting price of 279 USD this might become a very attractive gaming GPU in both the 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 resolution domain. The aesthetic design is very nice, the noise levels good and the performance in line with all other 5600 XT premium model cards we have tested. The looks are good, we see a nice metal backplate and yeah, it's just a matter of how much you are willing to spend on a graphics card versus how acceptable you deem 6GB to be? I mean the performance up-to WQHD really isn't an issue. Tweaking wise you'll bump an easy 10% extra out of the card. Overall a nice design and well-performing product. Certainly recommended for the more avid and casual PC gamer. The aesthetic design is very nice, the noise levels good and the performance more or less reference. Pricing is every though, the Gaming X model just went live at 329 USD so 339 is likely the end price for the Gaming Z, and that is simply too high considering a PULSE OC from Sapphire is 289 USD. That would be a 50 USD difference for exactly the same performance.


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