This past week was slammed for us. We posted reviews of the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5800X, Ryzen 9 5900X, and Ryzen 9 5900X, all available on our YouTube channel. In the time since, we’ve been working on Ryzen memory benchmarks, including an upcoming piece featuring Wendell of Level1Techs and Buildzoid of AHOC. That piece will focus on ranks, channels, and Zen 3’s newly exaggerated behaviors with regard to interleaving and scaling. More on that soon. For hardware news this week, the big story is a GN-exclusive about NVIDIA MSRP targets and BOM cost suggestions for an RTX 2060-style replacement.
Hardware news this past week has been busy, with the main coverage being AMD's Zen 3 CPUs (5000 series, like the 5950X, 5900X, 5600X, and 5800X), which we covered in a news piece previously. Following that, for this news recap, we've been updated on the MSI "scalping" story, RTX 3080 and 3090 inventory numbers for a European retailer, and how EVGA is still getting through day-one orders for the RTX 3080. Additional stories include Intel's quasi-announcement of Rocket Lake's timelines, NVIDIA's A6000 and A40 GPU specs, and Razer's cringe-worthy credit card.
We’re reviewing the NVIDIA RTX 3080 FE today, where new testing methods for pressure analysis, acoustics, and game benchmarks are all in place. We also have a separate upcoming piece involving Schlieren photography of the RTX 3080 FE card, but we can show a short clip of that here as a preview. More on that soon. These cards are so complex -- especially thermally -- that the hardest part was figuring out how to segment the content in a way that’s usable and also possible to complete. Today, our focus is on rasterized games, hybrid rendered games, and path-traced games, alongside basic thermals, acoustics, pressure, power, and coldplate flatness. We have a separate piece going up today for a tear-down of the RTX 3080 (but a quick note that we finished all testing prior to the tear-down, as always). We’ll have more on PCIe generation results, but rest assured that our benchmarks use the best-performing bench, and more thermals.
Note: This is a transcript from our video review of the NVIDIA RTX 3080 Founders Edition card. You can watch that here (or embedded below). We also have a tear-down video coming up.
If you would like to learn about our new GPU testing methodology, we have a video on the channel here.
The AMD RX 5600 XT Jebaited Edition video cards launched yesterday, and the company created a mess by completely changing what the video card was meant to do before launch. Basically, it initially shipped as more of a 1660 Super competitor, but ended up being overhauled to become a 2060 competitor. This is overall a good thing from a price competition standpoint, but a horrible mess for buyers and manufacturers of the cards. The update came in the form of a VBIOS flash that can increase performance upwards of 11%, but not all the shipped cards have the VBIOS applied, meaning customers will be buying cards that perform worse than what reviews show. Worse still, some cards will never have that VBIOS available, with some partners splitting their 5600 XT into two SKUs. It’d sort of be like if the 1660 and 1660 Super were sold under a single name, but with two completely different performance classes. In today’s content, we’re going to help you flash 5600 XT cards to unlock the full performance, assuming your card has made such a VBIOS available. This will also apply to other AMD video cards.
In this hardware news episode, we're announcing our charity drive to support Australian wildlife affected by bushfires, including a special charity auction modmat, and we're also covering notable topics in the industry. Cyberpunk 2077 gets coverage, X670 / 600-series chipsets for AMD Ryzen 4000 CPUs are up for discussion, big Navi rumors are debunked, Microsoft is going carbon negative, and more.
Show notes continue after the video.
Other than the high heat felt by GDDR6 on MSI’s initial Evoke, our criticism over MSI’s poorly positioned and sized thermal pads also started some fires at the company. Shortly after our coverage, a few members of the MSI video card team flew out to us to discuss the issue, decisions that were made, and talk about the best way to fix it while remaining within the logistical confines of manufacturing. MSI had confirmed our testing, but also told us that it was working on solutions. Today, we’re revisiting the MSI Evoke to see if those promises have been met.
The original issue was that MSI used thermal pads which were only about 40% of the size of the top two memory modules, but also had poor mounting pressure and pads located far off-center. Further, the backplate was necessary to this test, as it acted like a thermal trap without any thermal interface between it and the PCB. The MSI Evoke ended up with the worst GDDR6 thermals out of all the partner 5700 XT cards we tested when noise-normalized and was among the worst even when auto. The 5700 XT reference was the only one worse.
The most common component review request from our viewers over the past few months has been the RX 5700 XT Red Devil. Powercolor was never able to get stock to send us one, but we finally sniped one when it popped-up on Amazon. This will likely be the last 5700 XT we review, unless something major comes out – or a THICC III – so we’ll finally have a fairly full picture of how the entire stack aligns compared to the much-praised RX 5700 XT Red Devil from PowerColor. The Red Devil has easily been the most universally recommended in comment threads and for review, and so we’ll be benchmarking it for thermals, noise, and build quality in today’s review.
We bought the Powercolor RX 5700 XT Red Devil for about $440 on Amazon, which puts it into the most direct engagement with Sapphire’s Nitro+ or MSI’s Gaming X variants of the RX 5700 XT GPU. We’ll be looking at the PowerColor card for thermals, acoustics, power budget, and fan/frequency response.
XFX’s highest-end RX 5700 XT might be called the THICC Ultra, but our review will look into whether it’s THICC in name only or if this meme-ified card can take cooling seriously. With all the plastic embellishments, the meme of a name, and the $450 price-point, this entire card’s existence seems mismatched and dichotomous. It’s got the professional look and high-end price-point, but the name of something you’d expect to find on AliExpress. As the most expensive 5700 XT we’ve bought or received yet, today we’ll tear into the XFX THICC for thermal performance, cooler quality, build quality, and positioning versus competition.
XFX has the RX 5700 XT THICC listed at $430 and $450, with our option being the more expensive of the two. By the listings, the only difference is the frequency, where the RX 5700 XT THICC II Ultra is clocked at an alleged 1730MHz to the THICC II non-Ultra’s 1605MHz base clock. If the cooler works well on the more expensive, higher-clocked model, it’ll work well on the lower-clocked one; that said, certain design failures can’t be overcome simply by lowering clocks, and we’ll be talking about that today.
Other than announcing our upcoming collaborative stream with overclocker Joe Stepongzi (Bearded Hardware), we're also talking Threadripper specification leaks, 6000MHz memory overclocking, RDNA 2 and Zen 3 roadmap information, and smaller items. For us, though, we're excited to announce that we're streaming some liquid nitrogen extreme overclocks with AMD parts this weekend. We haven't run both the 5700 XT and 3900X under liquid nitrogen at the same time, so we'll be doing that on Sunday (9/15) at 1PM Eastern Time (NYC time). On Saturday (9/14), we'll be streaming the efforts to overclock just the 3900X under liquid nitrogen. Joe Stepongzi, pro overclocker with a decade of experience in the 'sport,' will be joining us to help run the show.
We’ve reviewed an onslaught of cards from the RX 5700 series, including the RX 5700 and XT reference models, the Sapphire Pulse XT, MSI Evoke XT, and RX 5700 Red Dragon by PowerColor. Today, we’re looking at another non-XT model: The Sapphire RX 5700 Pulse is going head-to-head with the PowerColor RX 5700 Red Dragon, with the AMD Reference card tagging along to provide some much-needed perspective that, although there will only be one winner between these two AIB cards, both are a massive upgrade over AMD’s blower design.
As a reminder that’s hopefully unnecessary, the real difference from one board partner card to the next hinges upon thermals and acoustics, not necessarily gaming performance. There certainly can be a gaming performance impact, but this is typically limited to less than 2% change in performance from baseline for the RX 5700 series cards. AMD already maxed the silicon as much as it could and boosting isn’t as sensitive as NVIDIA cards; further still, the AMD RX 5700 non-XT model is artificially limited (without modifications, which are possible) to a SET frequency of 1850MHz (not necessarily GET). This, along with maxing the silicon, relegates most changes from cards to what we call “quality of life” features, like significantly reduced noise levels, PCB designs that might be more accommodating to one case or another, and reduced thermals. VBIOS power limitations are also at play, where VBIOS changes can allow cards to draw more power than reference, but won’t necessarily yield performance benefits as a result. Finally, another useful feature present on both the Sapphire and PowerColor models is dual VBIOS, which allows a backup if the user botches a flash.
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