There have been teasers, press conferences, architectural announcements, and pricing games all around – and all before the first card has even shipped. The run-up to the launch of AMD’s new Radeon RX 5700 series of video cards has been a dynamic and memorable time, and a very fitting outcome for a family of cards named after AMD’s legendary Radeon HD 5700 series. However, at some point all the showmanship must come to an end and the cards will fall where they may: launch day is upon us for AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 series and RDNA GPU architecture.

I’m not sure there’s anything traditional about an AMD video card launch at this point, but today’s launch is about as non-traditional as they come, right on down to the Sunday launch date. AMD announced their video cards almost a month ago at an epic (ed: that’s EPYC) E3 event, taking the wraps off of both their new CPUs and GPUs. Rather than hold anything back, AMD came to E3 with everything front-loaded: specifications, prices, architectural details; everything except a pile of cards to sell. So we’ve been waiting for this moment for some time now, to test AMD’s claims about power, performance, and features, and see how they translate into real-world gaming performance. AMD has a lot that they want to do in the video card space, and riding high on their success with Zen the company’s ambition is once again palpable.

Getting down to business then, today is the launch of AMD’s next generation of video cards, the Radeon RX 5700 series. Aimed at what these days is the midrange segment of the video card market, AMD is looking to carve out a new place for the company in the hearts of gamers who are looking for high performance video cards that won’t break the bank. These parts are, in turn, based on AMD’s Navi 10 GPU, which is the first GPU using the company’s new RDNA architecture. And, while Navi 10 is not AMD’s first 7nm GPU – an honor the Radeon VII and its Vega 20 beat it to – it’s the first 7nm GPU that you’re actually going to want to pay attention to.

Altogether, AMD is rolling out two(ish) cards today. At $399 we have AMD’s new class-leading Radeon RX 5700 XT, which is a full-fledged Navi 10 card with all the trimmings. Meanwhile, for the slightly more budget conscious, we have the $349 Radeon RX 5700 (vanilla), a cut-down Navi 10 card that gives up some performance for lower pricing and lower power consumption. Finally, AMD is also launching their own “Anniversary Edition” version of the 5700 XT, which features a factory overclock and will sell for $449. (This card will be a footnote for today’s article, as it’s a limited-edition card that AMD isn’t sampling)

AMD Radeon RX Series Specification Comparison
  AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT AMD Radeon RX 5700 AMD Radeon RX 590 AMD Radeon RX 570
Stream Processors 2560
(40 CUs)
(36 CUs)
(36 CUs)
(32 CUs)
Texture Units 160 144 144 128
ROPs 64 64 32 32
Base Clock 1605MHz 1465MHz 1469MHz 1168MHz
Game Clock 1755MHz 1625MHz N/A N/A
Boost Clock 1905MHz 1725MHz 1545MHz 1244MHz
Throughput (FP32) 9.75 TFLOPs 7.95 TFLOPs 7.1 TFLOPs 5.1 TFLOPs
Memory Clock 14 Gbps GDDR6 14 Gbps GDDR6 8 Gbps GDDR5 7 Gbps GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Transistor Count 10.3B 10.3B 5.7B 5.7B
Typical Board Power 225W 180W 225W 150W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 7nm TSMC 7nm GloFo/Samsung 12nm GloFo 14nm
Architecture RDNA (1) RDNA (1) GCN 4 GCN 4
GPU Navi 10 Navi 10 Polaris 30 Polaris 10
Launch Date 07/07/2019 07/07/2019 11/15/2018 08/04/2016
Launch Price $399 $349 $279 $179

For both gamers and AMD, the launch of the RX 5700 is an important one – and likely to be the most significant video card launch of the year. For consumers, this is the first series of high-volume video cards built on a 7nm process, pushing performance up and prices down at a time where video card pricing has been sluggish improve. For AMD, this launch gets their incredibly important RDNA architecture out the door to its first users, all the while renewing their competitiveness in the midrange market. The RX 5700 series aren’t flagship-level cards, but make no mistake: for AMD they’re still as important as any flagship launch.

AMD’s Radeon DNA (RDNA) architecture, in turn, is an interesting development. We’ll get into much greater detail later on, but at a high level RDNA is the most significant architectural development for AMD since the launch of Graphics Core Next in 2011. AMD and its engineers have made changes to their GPU architecture at some of its most fundamental levels, which comes with significant ramifications for performance, efficiency, and more. This is all to prepare their next-generation architecture for the company’s grand goals: RDNA and its successors will be in PC video cards, in APUs, in game consoles, and thanks to a partnership with Samsung, even in mobile GPUs.

Still, RDNA is only as valuable as the performance it brings, and this will especially be the case for the RX 5700 series. The first iteration of this architecture is all about changing the internal plumbing of AMD’s GPUs. As a result, there are no real marquee hardware features to speak of – AMD isn’t rolling out paradigm-changing features like ray tracing or the next Rapid Packed Math – so for consumers, the RX 5700 cards are essentially interchangeable with 2017’s Vega cards in terms of graphics functionality. Which is not to say that AMD is showing up empty-handed, but what new features it is rolling out – Radeon Anti-Lag and Radeon Image Sharpening – are software-based features that will be available to the entire Radeon product family. This means that the payoff for AMD needs to be in pricing, power consumption, and performance; the RX 5700 needs to deliver on the fundamentals.

Ultimately there are a lot of words I could spill on the subject of AMD, especially on today of all days, the launch of both their next-generation CPU and GPU architectures. But perhaps it’s best to keep things simple: today’s launch of the company’s Radeon RX 5700 series video cards and the RDNA architecture is a much-needed opportunity for the company to reset and recover in the video card space. Vega was ultimately underwhelming, Polaris is very long in the tooth, and AMD is still feeling the hangover from the cryptocurrency boom & busts. The company has held on to their consumer market share through aggressive pricing – RX 500 series cards are disruptively cheap – but AMD needs to be more visible and more profitable if they want to remain a viable competitor to juggernaut NVIDIA. Not to mention shoring up their position as Intel ramps up to become the third player in the video card space in the next couple of years.

Product Positioning, Availability & the Competition

Leading up to today’s launch, the announcement Radeon RX 5700 series has created quite a butterfly effect across the greater video card industry. With AMD having shown their cards early, NVIDIA, who has essentially been dominating the $300+ space since the start of the year, made their own preemptive move with the launch of the GeForce RTX 2070 Super and the RTX 2060 Super. A price cut in everything but name, the new Super cards saw NVIDIA essentially shift the performance of its $699 RTX 2080 and $499 RTX 2070 cards down to $499 and $399 respectively. These cards won’t go on sale for another two days (on a more traditional Tuesday), but it’s a launch that was clearly intended to shore up NVIDIA’s own position while taking some steam out of AMD’s launch.

AMD in turn made their own adjustments, cutting the price of their cards on Friday before they even launched. While the RX 5700 XT was originally set to launch at $449 and the RX 5700 (vanilla) at $379, these became $399 and $349 cards respectively before the first board was ever sold. These kinds of last-minute pricing shenanigans are not unheard of – first impressions count for a lot – however it’s been a long time since we’ve seen AMD and NVIDIA trading shots in quite such a direct manner. The net result is that, at least for the $349 to $499 segment of the video card market, the performance-per-dollar ratio just went up even more.

Overall, outside of today’s unusual launch date, this should be a pretty standard launch cycle for AMD. The company is launching with reference cards first, meaning that AMD and board partners alike will be selling cards based on AMD’s reference PCB and blower. Custom and semi-custom cards will come later, as supplies ramp up, board partners qualify their coolers, and new, GDDR6-capable PCBs are engineered. AMD has not disclosed how many cards are being distributed for the launch, but these days it’s rare to see a new generation of midrange (or better) cards not sell out at launch. So anyone interested in an RX 5700 card may need to act quickly.

Within AMD’s product stack, these new cards will be the backbone of AMD’s product lineup. The company’s Vega family of cards was already on its way out due to competition from NVIDIA, so this will be the final push for those cards. That will leave the Radeon VII above the RX 5700 cards, and then the RX 500 series below it. And while AMD hasn’t announced any other Navi GPUs, sooner or later those cards will get pushed out too by a lower-tier Navi GPU.

Trickier, perhaps, is placing the new cards within a historical context for AMD’s product lineups. Is the Radeon RX 5700 series the successor to the RX Vega series, or the RX 500 series? In terms of pricing and absolute performance, it’s closer to the former. However in terms of die size and relative performance gains, these cards feel a lot like the next-generation successors to Polaris. It’s a bit of an academic question – buyers are going to focus on perf-per-dollar first and foremost – but how these cards are framed will have an impact on how they’re received.

Sizing up the competition, AMD was originally going to launch these cards against NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2060. Now with the launch of the Super cards and the impending retirement of the RTX 2070, those matchups have changed. NVIDIA’s competition is now the RTX 2060 Super at $399, and the RTX 2060 (vanilla) at $349, both prices directly opposite AMD’s new cards. AMD in turn comes in with the edge on manufacturing process, as they’re using TSMC 7nm versus the 16nm offshoot that NVIDIA uses, however NVIDIA comes in with a notable feature advantage thanks to ray tracing and variable rate shading support. AMD and NVIDIA’s cards are not equal in features, and that will play a big part in their value.

Ultimately, today’s launch isn’t a case of a next-generation card coming in and wiping the floor with its last-generation competition; like the RTX 20 series launch last year, the RX 5700 launch is a more gradual shift in pricing and performance. GPU development is expensive, 7nm is even more expensive, and everyone is playing things a lot more conservatively than they did earlier this decade. For the moment then, the RX 5700 series can largely be considered to be part of the same generation of GPUs as the RTX 20/GTX 16 series, for all of the benefits and downsides that entails. The upside is that we get more to talk about, and get to form a more nuanced opinion, but for anyone looking for a simple recommendation for a new video card, there won’t be anything quite that simple with this launch.

Finally, both AMD and NVIDIA will be looking to tip the scales with game bundles. On the AMD side, the company is launching both its new CPUs and GPUs with their new Xbox Game Pass for PC bundle, which will see the products come with a 3-month voucher for Microsoft’s new game subscription service. Meanwhile NVIDIA is bundling Wolfenstein: Youngblood with its RTX 2060, while the new RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 Super cards get that plus Control as well.

July 2019 GPU Pricing Comparison
Radeon VII $699 GeForce RTX 2080 Super
  $499 GeForce RTX 2070 Super
Radeon RX 5700 XT $399 GeForce RTX 2060 Super
Radeon RX 5700 $349 GeForce RTX 2060
Meet the Radeon RX 5700 XT & Radeon RX 5700
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  • Zoolook13 - Friday, July 19, 2019 - link

    1080 has 7,2 Billion trans, and 1080 Ti has 11,7B IIRC, so your figures are all wrong and there is a number of features on Navi that isn't in Pascal, not to mention it's vastly superior in compute.
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - link

    At the end of the day, the 5700 is on the identical performance per watt and performance per dollar curve as the "advanced" Turing GPUs. From that we can infer that that "advanced" Turing features really don't amount to much in terms of performance.
    Also, the AMD RDNA GPUs are substantially smaller in die area than the NVidia counterparts. More chips per wafer, and thus lower production costs. AMD likely makes more money on each sale of Navi than NVidia does on Turing GPUs.
  • CiccioB - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - link

    So having "less features is better" is now the new AMD fanboys motto?
    The advanced Turing express its power when you use those features, not when you test the games that:
    1. Have been optimized exclusively for GCN architecture showin
    2. Use few polygons as AMD's GPUs geometry capacity is crap
    3. Turn off Turing exclusive features

    Moreover the games are going to use those new feature s as AMD is going to add them in RDNA2, so you already know these piece of junks are going to have zero value in few months.

    Despite this, the size is not everything, as 7nm wafer do not cost as 12nm ones and being small is a need more than a choice:in fact AMD is not going to produce the bigger GPUs with all the advanced features (or just a part of them that fit on a certain die size, as they are going to be fatter than these) on this PP until it comes to better costs, the same is doing Nvidia that does not need 7nm to create better and less power hungry cards.
    These GPUs are just a fill up waiting for the next real ones that have the features then next console will enjoy. And this will surely include VRS and somewhat a RT acceleration of some sort as AMD cannot be without to not be identified as being left in stone age.
    You know these piece of junk will be soon forget as they are not good for nothing but to fil the gap as Vega tried in the past, The time to create a decent architecture was not enough. They are still behind and all they are trying is to make a disturbance move just by placing the usual discounted cards with not new features exploiting TSMC 7nm granted allocation for Ryzen and EPYC.

    It does not cost AMD anything stil making a new round of zero margin cards as they have done all these years, but they gain in visibility and make pressure to Nvidia with it features rich big dies.
  • SarruKen - Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - link

    Last time I checked the turing cards were on 12nm, not 16...
  • CoachAub - Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - link

    The article states in the graphic that Navi has PCI-e 4.0 Support (2x bandwidth). Now, if this card is paired with the new X570 mobo, will this change benchmark results? I'd really like to see this card paired with a Ryzen 3000 series on an X570 mobo and tested.
  • CiccioB - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - link

    No, it won't. Today GPUS can't even saturare 8x PCIe-3 gen bandwidth, do having more does not help at all. Non in the consumer market, at least.
  • peevee - Thursday, July 11, 2019 - link

    They absolutely do saturate everything you give them, but only for very short periods necessary to load textures etc from main memory, which is dwarfed by loading them from storage (even NVMe SSDs) first.

    BUT... the drivers might have been optimized (at compile time and/or manual ASM snippets) for AMD CPUs. And that makes significant difference.
  • CiccioB - Friday, July 12, 2019 - link

    Loading time is not the bottleneck of the GPU PCIe bandwidth, nor the critical part of its usage. Lading textures and shade code in .3 secs instead of 0.6s does not make any difference.
    You need more bandwidth only when you saturate the VRAM and the card starts using system memory.
    But being much slower than VRAM, having PCIe 2, 3 or 4 does not change much: you'll have big stuttering and frame drops.
    And in SLI/cross fire mode PCIe 3 8x is still not fully saturated. So at the end, PCIe 4 is useless for GPUs. It is a big boost for NVe disk and to increase the number of available connections using half of the PCIe 3 lines for each of them.
  • msroadkill612 - Thursday, July 25, 2019 - link

    "Today GPUS can't even saturare 8x PCIe-3 gen bandwidth, do having more does not help at all. "

    It is a sad reflection on the prevailing level of logic, that this argument has gained such ~universal credence.

    It presupposes that "todays" software is set in stone, which is absurd. ~Nothing could be less true.

    Why would a sane coder EVEN TRY to saturate 8GB/s, which pcie 2 x16 was not so long ago when many current games evolved their DNA?

    The only sane compromise has been to limit game's resource usage to mainstream gpu cache size.

    32GB/s tho, is a real heads up.

    It presents a competitive opportunity to discerningly use another tier in the gpu cache pool, 32GB/s of relatively plentiful and cheap, multi purpose system ram.

    We have historically seen a progression in gpu cache size, and coders eager to use it. 6GB is getting to the point where it doesnt cut it on modern games with high settings.
  • ajlueke - Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - link

    In the Radeon VII review, the Radeon VII produced 54.5 db in the FurMark test. This time around, the 5700 produced 54.5 db so I would expect that the Radeon VII and 5700 produce identical levels of noise.
    Except for one caveat. The RX Vega 64 is the only GPU present in both reviews. In the Radeon VII review it produced 54.8db, nearly identical to the Radeon VII. In the 5700 review, it produced 61.9 db, significantly louder than the 5700.
    So are the Radeon VII and 5700 identical in noise? Would the Radeon VII also have run at 61.9 db in this test with the 5700? Why the discrepancy with the Vega result? A 13% gain in noise in the identical test with the identical GPU makes it difficult to determine how much noise is actually being generated here.

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